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TEXTING AND DRIVING DON’T MIX

Posted on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 at 1:26 pm    

Recent statistics show that distracted driving is a factor is a factor in more than 1 million car crashes annually. Texting is the number one distracted driving activity by a long shot. People may not realize just how dangerous texting really is.

An individual texting while driving will take his eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which results in a 23% increase in the chance of an accident. Putting this in perspective, for the average driver if you are driving at 55 miles per hour while texting, that means that you travel approximately the length of an entire football field while sending a text.

Car & Driver Magazine recently performed an experiment to determine just how dangerous texting and driving can be by comparing it to driving while intoxicated. The magazine tested how long it would take to apply the brakes and upon being given a red signal when legally impaired at a BAC of .08 when reading an email, and when sending a text. Sober drivers took an average of .54 seconds to brake. Legally intoxicated drivers needed an additional 4 feet. It required an additional 36 feet when reading an email, but it took a whopping additional 70 feet when sending a text.

In another test conducted by the Transportation Research Laboratory of London, researchers found that texters had slower response times and were more likely to drift in and out of lanes, and drove even worse than drivers who were high on marijuana.

Many argue that texting is even more dangerous than drunk driving. A statistic often cited is that in 2014, 431,000 were injured and 179 were killed due to car accidents involving distracted drivers. That same year, drunk driving was responsible for 290,000 injuries and claimed 9,967 lives. And, while the number of accidents and deaths resulting from drunk driving is declining, the number of accidents and deaths resulting from distracted driving and texting keeps climbing year after year.

One consequence of the ever-increasing numbers of accidents related to distracted driving is that NHTSA is putting more and more focus on addressing the dangers of distracted driving. You can help by setting a good example for your children by not texting or engaging in other distracting driving behavior.

Source: An article appearing at distracteddriveraccidents.com on 11/23/16 entitled “Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving?” by Kiernan Hopkins

TIPS TO KEEP YOUR TEEN DRIVER SAFE

Posted on Thursday, May 18th, 2017 at 1:31 pm    

As parents we all worry about our sons and daughters driving, especially when they are in their teenage years. Insurance company USAA offers the following tips to help keep your teenage driver safe:

• Be a Good Role Model. Children are like sponges and they absorb everything you do, good and bad. This means as parents we need to practice good, safe driving habits at all times. And we should avoid all types of distractive driving including talking on the phone, reading or texting, changing GPS settings, etc. while driving.

• Encourage Practice. Be sure your teen son or daughter gets plenty of practice driving to improve their skills. It takes time to learn how to drive well.

• Consider a Tracking Program. Such systems use GPS as devices to track your teen’s driving habits such as braking, acceleration, speed, etc. Reviewing such information with your teen can open up opportunity to discuss safe driving habits.

• Schedule Coaching Time. Help ease your teen into driving by offering more hours behind the wheel with a parent or driving coach.

• Talk About Safety Early. Sessions about safety should start long before your child begins driving. Even elementary age school children are ready to hear the message that phones are not safe to use while driving.

• Teach Your Teen to be a Cautious Passenger. Teach your children not to ride with friends who text, talk on the phone or otherwise engage in unsafe driving habits.

Source: Article appearing at usaa.com entitled Tips to Help Keep Your Teenage Driver Safe.

HOW CAN YOU TELL IF YOU ARE A GOOD DRIVER?

Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 at 1:36 pm    

Most of us think that we are good drivers. However, experts say it’s not how we feel about our driving skills that matters. And surveys suggest that most of us consistently overrate our driving acumen.

Walter Meyer, a veteran traffic safety consultant, says that “If people are flipping you off and honking at you and flashing their brights at you all the time, you are doing something wrong. Are you driving too slow in the left lane for no reason? Are you failing to signal or take your turn? Yes, there are jerks who will honk at you or give you the finger for no reason, but if it’s happening to you on a regular basis, then you are the problem.”

Joe Giammona, the CEO of The Driver Training Group, adds that “A good driver actually makes the road safe for the bad drivers out there.”

It turns out that there are a variety of objective ways to evaluate your road skills.

One way is to use an app. Highway Hero is an app developed by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company to evaluate your driving skills. The app tracks and scores your driving behavior based on acceleration, hard braking, hard cornering, speeding and phone usage while driving.

Liberty Mutual reported that at first glance the results have been encouraging. Overall, the average Highway Hero score among users is 84 out of 100, which equates to a good driver. One of the biggest problem areas revealed by the Highway Hero is phone usage while driving. Yes, people who knew that they were being evaluated and that using the phone while driving would result in a lower score, still used their phone while driving. Another app that gives even more detail is called Automatic and is available at https:.//www.automatic.com/.

While most drivers can be rehabilitated, if bad driving habits are a result of a physical problem such as deteriorating eyesight, it may be time to give up the keys. If you are over fifty, you may wish to consider a driver refresher course which can help you address any bad habits that you have developed over the years.

According usatoday.com, the three riskiest driving behaviors are:

1. Drinking and driving. Most traffic related deaths are caused by drunk drivers.

2. Driving while tired.

3. Speeding. Research has shown that speeding increased the risk of an accident. Yet, a full 35% of
drivers admit to driving fast.

Although not mentioned in the USA Today article, another very risky driving behavior is distracted driving. As I’ve noted in several of my recent blog articles, NHISA believes that this is a significant factor contributing to a jump in the number of highway fatalities in the past 2 years.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com entitled Are you a good driver? Well, you probably think you are by Christopher Elliott published on March 26, 2017.

IF YOU ARE OVER 50, CONSIDER TAKNG A DRIVER REFRESHER COURSE

Posted on Thursday, May 11th, 2017 at 5:15 pm    

According to the AARP, if you are over 50, even the most experienced drivers can benefit
from brushing up on their driving skills.

A refresher course such as the one offered by AARP will help you learn the current rules of the road, defensive driving techniques and help you operate your vehicle more safely in an increasingly challenging driving environment. Courses also help you learn how to manage and accommodate common age-related changes in vision, hearing and reaction time.

These courses also help you learn:

• How to minimize the effects of dangerous blind spots
• How to maintain the proper following distance behind another car
• The safest way to change lanes and make turns at busy intersections
• Proper use of safety belts, airbags, antilock brakes and other new technology found in today’s cars
• How to monitor your own and others’ driving skills and capabilities
• The effect that medications can have on driving
• The importance of eliminating distractions such as using a cell phone, smoking, or eating while driving

You can register on line to take a course by going to aarpdriversafety.org

Source: An article entitled Why Take a Driver Safety Course? posted on the AARP website at www.aarp.org in November 2013.

TIPS FOR SAFE DRIVING IN DANGEROUS WEATHER

Posted on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 at 1:38 pm    

The United States Department of Homeland Security offers these safety tips to help avoid dangerous problems created by dangerous weather:

• Plan long trips carefully and check the weather forecast before heading out. If bad weather is forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary.

• Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

1. Antifreeze levels
2. Battery and ignition systems
3. Brakes
4. Exhaust system
5. Fuel and air filters
6. Heater and defroster
7. Lights and flashing hazard lights
8. Oil
9. Thermostat
10. Windshield wiper equipment

You or your mechanic should be sure that all of these systems are in good working order before heading out, particularly in bad or potentially dangerous weather.

Additional things to keep in mind, according to the Department of Homeland Security:

• Keep your gas tank full

• Never drive through a flooded area. Even as little as 6” of water can cause a vehicle to lose control and possibly stall. In a foot of water, many cars will float.

• Beware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Floodwaters may have weakened the roadway and could cause a collapse under the weight of a car.

• If a power line falls on your car, you are at risk of electrical shock and should remain in your car until a trained person removes the wire.

• Winter weather requires that tires with adequate tread for winter weather driving, and you should make sure that your tires are the type suited for winter driving conditions and not designed solely for summertime driving.

Source: www.ready.gov/car

LOOK TWICE-SAVE A LIFE

Posted on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 at 8:14 pm    

With the surprisingly warm weather in February, you may have already noticed quite a few motorcycles out on our highways recently. May is officially Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month. I suspect this probably because in May the days become consistently warmer and more and more motorcycles are on the road.

Unfortunately, after a few months of colder weather, most motorists are not yet used to seeing motorcycles on the road again.

And, unfortunately, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, motorcycles fatalities have risen on an average of 10% per year over the last 20 years. NHTSA states that, per vehicle mile travelled, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely than a passenger car occupant to die in a traffic crash. A significant percent of motorcycle fatalities involve a crash with a car, truck or other vehicle turning left in front of them. Approximately 33% of motorcycle crashes are intersection-related. And, because motorcycles are relatively small compared to other vehicles on the highway, it is easy for drivers of automobiles to misjudge the speed of a motorcycle.

Here are several tips offered by NHTSA on how to best “Share the Road” with motorcyclers:

• Remember a motorcyclist has the same rights and privileges as any other motor vehicle on the highway.
• Always allow the motorcyclist a full lane width. Never try to share the lane with a motorcyclist. A motorcycle needs the full lane to maneuver safely.
• Because motorcycles are small and can be difficult to see, it can make it much more difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle.
• A motorcycle can easily be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look due to its smaller size. Therefore, always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
• Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Most motorcycles do not have self-cancelling signals and sometimes riders will forget to turn them off. Be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
• Road conditions that may be a minor annoyance for most motorists can pose a major hazard to a motorcyclist. Consequently, motorcyclists may need to change speeds or adjust positions within a lane suddenly in order to react to road or traffic conditions, such a potholes, gravel, wet pavement, etc.

Soon you will be seeing signs courtesy of ABATE springing up throughout our area, reading “LOOK TWICE – SAVE A LIFE – MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE”. Good advice for motorists everywhere for the coming season.

Source: An article appearing at ruralsafetycenter.org on 02/22/17 entitled “May Is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month”.

FORD TO RECALL APPROXIMATELY 441,000 VEHICLES FOR DANGEROUS DEFECTS

Posted on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 at 1:48 pm    

Ford Motor Company recently announced that it would recall approximately 441,000 vehicles in North America to repair potentially dangerous defects. The vehicles involved include some versions of the popular Escape SUV and Fusion sedan.

According to USA Today, a new recall is being issued to address a defect which could result in an engine fire in the vehicle. This recall involves 230,756 vehicles outfitted with the 1.6 liter GTDI engines. Apparently, the engines can overheat due to a coolant circulation issue that can result in the cylinder head cracking and causing an oil leak which could potentially cause an engine fire. This defect has been linked to 29 reports of fires in the U.S. and Canada but, according to Ford, no injuries related to the defect have been reported.

The second defect is related to a tab in the side door latch on some 210,619 vehicles which could break and possibly cause the door to swing open while driving. Ford noted that no record of any crashes or injuries connected to this defect. This recall involves certain versions of the 2014 Fiesta, 2013 and 2014 Fusion, and the 2013 through 2014 Lincoln MKZ.

More information regarding this recall should be available at the Ford website or by contacting your local Ford dealer.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com entitled Ford recalls 441,000 vehicles, including Escape, Fusion by Nathan Bomey posted on March 29, 2017.

TESLA ‘AUTOPILOT’ CAR STRIKES POLICE MOTORCYCLE

Posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at 2:02 pm    

Phoenix police recently confirmed a collision between a Tesla Model X operating on autopilot and a Phoenix police office on a police motorcycle. According to a report appearing in USA Today, the officer stopped his motorcycle for a red traffic signal and then noticed that the Tesla stopped behind him began moving forward. This prompted the officer to jump off his motorcycle and move away. The Tesla then struck the fallen motorcycle. No damage was reported to either vehicle and the police officer later estimated that the Tesla was moving at about only 3 miles per hour.

The Tesla driver told the police officer at the scene that the Tesla was in the autopilot mode. A spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department stated that investigators were unable to collaborate that statement and that no further investigation will be conducted because it was a very minor collision and the officer was not harmed.

Sargent Alan Pfohl speaking on behalf of the Phoenix Police Department stated that “It was pretty much a tap.” “It wasn’t even a reportable collision. If it wasn’t involving an officer, we would not have even investigated it.” The USA Today article also notes that Telsa company executives declined to comment on the record.

Source: An article appearing at USA Today entitled Tesla ‘autopilot’ car hits Phoenix police motorcycle by Megan Cassidy of The Arizona Republic posted on March 28, 2017.

COULD SELF-DRIVING CARS PROVIDE MOBILITY FOR THE ELDERLY

Posted on Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 at 1:38 pm    

Many older individuals and automakers are looking to self-driving/autonomous cars as a way to provide mobility for the elderly after they are unable to drive an automobile themselves. According to the Institute for Highway Safety, by the year 2030, the number of individuals over the age of 70 living in the United States is expected to increase to 53.7 million people. In 2014 there were approximately 30.9 million U.S. residents over age 70.

Joseph Coughlin, the Director of MIT’s AgeLab, stated that currently approximately 70% of the people over age 50 live in suburbs where on-demand services such as Uber and Lyft are not available.

Even if services such like Uber and Lyft are available, many individuals may not be able to afford such services for regular use. Furthermore, a recent study estimates that approximately 22% of baby boomers are now or at risk of becoming elder orphans, that is elderly adults with no children available to provide transportation. And thus, Mr. Coughlin noted that autonomous vehicles might be a way to close the coming mobility gap for an aging society.

Many automakers including Audi, GM, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Mercedes Benz, Volvo and BMW are engaged in the development of autonomous vehicles.

The engineers involved in the development of autonomous vehicles are generally aware of the importance of considering the elderly in designing self-driving cars. For example, one of the big fears expressed by the elderly is the fear of ending up in the wrong destination. Oliver Rumph-Steppat, head of BMW’s United States Production Requirements Engineering Division, stated that one way that manufacturer’s may address this fear is to rely on voice recognition systems.

Volvo plans to put approximately 100 highly automated XC90 vehicles in the hands of real world drivers in Sweden later this year as a part of its Volvo Drive Me program. And a spokesman for Volvo noted that one of the goals of this program is to see how older drivers handle the new technology.

Source: An article appearing at nytimes.com on March 23, 2017 entitled Self-Driving Cars Could Be Boon for Aged, After Initial Hurdlers by Mary M. Chapman.

WHICH STATES HAVE THE WORST DRIVERS?

Posted on Thursday, April 13th, 2017 at 1:43 pm    

According to a study done by CarInsuranceComparison.com, the top ten states for the worst drivers are: Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Dakota, Delaware, New Mexico, Nevada, Alabama, Arizona and Montana. To reach this conclusion, CarInsuranceComparison.com analyzed data from NHTSA and looked at five categories: fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, failure to obey traffic signals or wear seatbelts, drunken driving, speeding and careless driving.

Texas and Louisiana actually tied for first place this year. And, Texas was the only state where drivers placed among the top 15 in each of the five categories examined by CarInsuranceComparison.com.

Transportation officials from Texas noted recently that at least one person had died on Texas highways every day for the past 16 years. To stop this streak now totaling 55,578 deaths, state officials urge Texas motorists to buckle-up, pay attention to the road, and never drink and drive.

Louisiana drivers ranked as the worst at obeying traffic signals and were the 5th worse in the country for fatalities per miles driven and careless driving.

According to Mark Rosekind, the NHTSA administrator, data reveals that people die when they drive drunk, distracted, drowsy, or if they are speeding or unbuckled. Mr. Rosekind also noted that despite decades of safety improvements, traffic-related fatalities are rising again after decades of decline with 7.2 percent more people killed in traffic accidents in 2015 than in 2014. Traffic deaths haven’t seen this sort of increase since 1966 when fatalities rose 8.1 percent over the prior year.

Incidentally, Pennsylvania was ranked as the 19th state for the worst drivers. By comparison, our neighbors New Jersey and Ohio were among the states with the safest drivers, ranking as the 7th and 5th states for safest drivers. The state with the safest drivers was Vermont.

Source: Articles appearing at usatoday.com on November 23, 2016 entitled Hitting the road for the holidays? These states have the worst drivers by Bart Jansen and an article appearing at CarInsuranceComparison.com entitled Worst Drivers by State.