Traffic Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property”? a traffic and not a criminal offense like road rage. Examples include speeding or driving too fast for conditions, improper lane changing, tailgating and improper passing. Approximately 6,800,000 crashes occur in the United States each year; a substantial number are estimated to be caused by aggressive driving.

1997 statistics compiled by NHTSA and the American Automobile Association show that almost 13,000 people have been injured or killed since 1990 in crashes caused by aggressive driving. According to a NHTSA survey, more than 60 percent of drivers consider unsafe driving by others, including speeding, a major personal threat to themselves and their families. About 30 percent of respondents said they felt their safety was threatened in the last month, while 67 percent felt this threat during the last year.

Weaving, tailgating, distracted drivers, and unsafe lane changes were some of the unsafe behaviors identified. Aggressive drivers are more likely to drink and drive or drive unbelted. Aggressive driving can easily escalate into an incident of road rage. Motorists in all 50 states have killed or injured other motorists for seemingly trivial reasons. Motorists should keep their cool in traffic, be patient and courteous to other drivers, and correct unsafe driving habits that are likely to endanger, antagonize or provoke other motorists.

More than half of those surveyed by NHTSA admitted to driving aggressively on occasion. Only 14 percent felt it was “extremely dangerous” to drive 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. 62 percent of those who frequently drive in an unsafe and illegal manner said police for traffic reasons had not stopped them in the past year. The majority of those in the NHTSA survey (52 percent) said it was “very important” to do something about speeding.

Ninety-eight percent of respondents thought it “important” that something be done to reduce speeding and unsafe driving. Those surveyed ranked the following countermeasures, in order, as most likely to reduce aggressive and unsafe driving behaviors: (1) more police assigned to traffic control, (2) more frequent ticketing of traffic violations, (3) higher fines, and (4) increased insurance costs. Increased police enforcement was rated “Number 1,” both for effectiveness and as a measure acceptable to the public to reduce unsafe and illegal driving.

NHTSA research shows that compliance with, and support for, traffic laws can be increased through aggressive, targeted enforcement combined with a vigorous public information and education program. When Maryland launched its “Aggressive Driver Campaign” in 1995, with an emphasis on public information, education and enforcement, the media and the public praised the state police for their efforts. The public’s perception was that the police were “out there to catch the other guy.

” Related fatalities have declined dramatically. According to State Farm Insurance, the number of drivers on the road is increasing. In 1990, an estimated 91 percent of people drove to work, and commuters in one-third of the largest cities spent well over 40 hours a year in traffic jams. The Traffic Law Enforcement Division anticipates and responds to the needs, and develops innovative products that law enforcement will seek and use to reduce traffic crashes, deaths, and injuries.

Collaborating with law enforcement, prioritizing program delivery, marketing, expanding partnerships, and establishing new partnerships, technology, and research accomplish this. They now have a Pursuit Seminar for Law Enforcement Driver Trainers program. The focus of the seminar is to address legal and operational vehicular pursuit training issues that include identifying factors to consider when initiating, conducting and terminating a vehicular pursuit.

The result of the seminar will be law enforcement driver trainers with the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and implement a pursuit driver trainer program at their agencies, training academies, community colleges and universities. The resulting pursuit driver training programs will lead to an exchange of information, an increase in knowledge and the development of skills necessary for law enforcement officers to successfully conduct vehicular pursuits.

They are making many different programs for people, including the guide: Strengthening the Citizen and Police Partnership at the Traffic Stop: Professionalism is a Two-Way Street This guide is for law enforcement agencies to assist them in conduct traffic stops in a professional manner, to enhance public relations and image of the law enforcement agency, maintain the credibility of the law enforcement agency and to minimize the number of complaints. 1999 Crime-Clock this graphic was developed to compares the incidences of traffic crashes that injure and kill motorists to the assaults and deaths associated with crime in a “snapshot” format.

You Drink & Drive, You Lose. America’s New Impaired Driving Campaign A new and comprehensive impaired driving prevention program for states and communities to use in reach the national goal of reducing alcohol-related deaths to no more than 11,000 by the year 2005. The campaign targets high-risk populations such as 21- to 34-year-olds, high blood alcohol and repeat offenders, and underage drinkers by increasing public education, expanding public-private partnerships, enacting strong legislation and promoting highly visible enforcement.

Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. As tragic as these numbers are, they only tell a portion of the story. It is widely recognized that drowsy driving is underreported as a cause of crashes. And this doesn’t include incidents caused by driver inattention. In 1996, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) embarked on an effort to reduce the effects that fatigue and driver inattention have on highway safety. While everyone is susceptible to drowsy-driving crashes, shift workers run a particularly high risk.

Working nights or long and irregular hours disrupt their natural sleep patterns. In collaboration with National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR), NHTSA developed an education program to increase shift workers’ awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving, help them to improve the quality of their sleep and reduce sleepiness, and ultimately, reduce the incidence of drowsy driving. This comprehensive program is specifically designed for businesses and organizations like yours that employ workers beyond the typical “9 to 5” workday.

Program materials include a Better Sleep Video, Workplace Posters, Shift Worker Brochure, Tip Card, Employer Administrator’s Guide with PowerPoint Training Sessions, and a Brochure for Shift Work Families. The program will not only help you reduce on-the-job risks, but improve the productivity and quality of life of your employees as well. Descriptions of the program materials follow. Take a look and decide which materials will work best for your organization. There are two ways to search the Recall Database.

If you wish to use the “drill down” method, choose a year from the drop-down list in the box to the left below and click on the “Submit Year” button. You will then be provided with a list of Makes for the chosen year, and so on for Models. (Please note that for tires, equipment, and child safety seats use a model year of 1900. Also, when searching for trucks or vans, be sure to include truck with the make, i. e. Ford Truck. ) This is a good way to search the Recalls Database if you are unsure of the exact spelling of certain information.

However, if you are sure of the exact Make, Model and Year information, enter it in the appropriate areas in the box to the right and then click on the “Submit Query” button. Using the text boxes also gives you the flexibility to tailor your queries for specific information. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the U. S. Department of Transportation conducts crash tests of new vehicles to determine the extent to which drivers and passengers might be protected from injury during frontal and side crashes.

The results of these tests, along with safety features information for year 2000 vehicles are contained in the charts in the back of this pamphlet. The following are things you can do to help keep you safe. Keep a three-second-safety cushion between you and the car in front of you. Plan your trip before you start out so you can concentrate on driving, not navigating. Avoid driving in heavily traveled or high-speed areas during rush hour and bad weather. If possible, change your route to avoid making difficult left turns.

If you are planning to take an unfamiliar route at night, try making a trial run during daylight always be alert for the unexpected. When driving you should keep focused to be prepared for whatever happens. Drive with a large “anticipation zone. ” Look down the road far enough to get a big picture of what’s ahead. Turn off your radio or keep it at a very low volume, don’t drive when you are under stress. Ask passengers to help you navigate. Don’t talk with them too much don’t daydream. When driving, make sure you can see clearly. Get annual eye checkups.

Clean the inside and outside of your windshield and windows. Clean the mirrors and headlights, too. Dirt can reduce headlight output by as much as 70 percent. Turn on your lights when driving in the rain or other poor weather conditions, no matter what time of day it is. Always turn lights on when driving during the half hour before sunset and the half hour after sunrise. Have the aim of your car’s headlights checked twice a year. Avoid buying cars with heavily tinted windshields and windows. Don’t wear tinted glasses or sunglasses when driving in low light.

Take the extra steps to be a careful driver. Always tell other drivers what you intend to do. Use your directional signals. Position your car in the proper lane. When necessary, use your horn to show your intentions. Check your mirrors frequently. Use a wide, rearview mirror, and the mirrors on each side of your car, to help you see what’s around your car. If you don’t have a wide, rearview mirror, have one installed. Glance over your shoulder, and in your mirrors, before changing lanes. Don’t assume that using your turn signal makes the move safe.

Always look behind you before you put your car in reverse. Many people protect their car because it costs money and all, but let the car protect you too. Choose an anti-lock braking system. Make sure your seats have firm cushions that give you better support. To protect against whiplash, place your head restraint so its center is even with your ears. Never position your restraint at the base or curve of your neck. Use your safety belt each time you use your car. Insist that passengers do the same. Airbags provide additional protection for the driver and/or front seat passenger in a frontal crash.

Keep 10 inches between the center of the air bag cover and your breastbone. However, an airbag is no substitute for a safety belt. Keep wiper blades clean. Replace them when they start to wear, streak, or smear your windshield. Use the day/night settings on the rear-view mirror to cut down on headlight glare. Learn the location of all displays and controls on your dashboard. Then, you can keep your eyes on the road instead of searching for the function switch you need. Evaluate your driving periodically. Take a driver refresher course. Ask family and friends if they have any concerns about your driving.

Consult your doctor about vision, hearing and other physical changes that may affect your driving. In the United States alone, more than 200 motorists are killed and thousands more injured in animal-vehicle collisions. The insurance industry estimates that the annual cost to society for these accidents is $200 million. On average, hitting a deer costs about $2,000 in vehicle repairs. Fatalities, personal injuries, and repairs are only part of the story, however. Millions of smaller vertebrates, some of them on the endangered species list, are killed every year.

In the U. S. , for example, road kill has helped to reduce the population of an endangered cat? the ocelot? to about 80 animals. Grizzly bears, the lynx, and some rare frogs and toads are similarly threatened. Aware of the seriousness of this problem, some of the more enlightened jurisdictions in several countries are taking action to help cut down on the annual slaughter by providing systems of fences and tunnels along major highways. When considering the hazards of driving, most drivers think in terms of collisions with other traffic or with pedestrians.

Few people, particularly in urban areas, consider the possibility of coming into contact with animals, particularly the larger species such as deer, moose, bears, and wolves. Yet in the United States alone, more than 200 motorists are killed and thousands more injured in animal-vehicle collisions. The insurance industry estimates that the annual cost to society for these accidents is $200 million. On average, hitting a deer costs about $2,000 in vehicle repairs. Fatalities, personal injuries, and repairs are only part of the story, however. Millions of smaller vertebrates, some of them on the endangered species list, are killed every year.

In the U. S. , for example, road kill has helped to reduce the population of an endangered cat? the ocelot? to about 80 animals. Grizzly bears, the lynx, and some rare frogs and toads are similarly threatened. Highway construction not only eats up large tracts of land formerly occupied by wild animals, the roads themselves fragment the landscape, dividing wildlife populations into increasingly smaller and more isolated units. This fragmentation may cut off animals from their nesting or mating sites and even lead to inbreeding and genetic defects.

“Forest fragmentation threatens all wildlife species that have to cross roads to meet their biological needs,” says biologist Bill Ruediger, of the U. S. Forestry Service. “They’re at risk because of their small populations, low reproduction rates, and large? even huge? home ranges. ” Aware of the seriousness of this problem, some of the more enlightened jurisdictions in several countries are taking action to help cut down on the annual slaughter by providing systems of fences and tunnels along major highways. Information on these projects is provided on the U. S.

Federal Highway Administration’s well-illustrated web site. In the Netherlands, for example, the national Ministry of Transport has been working for several years to build and improve a system of fences and tunnels to protect the local badger population, 20 per cent of which was being killed on the roads every year. Since they were installed, infrared sensors and other tracking devices demonstrate that badgers are using the tunnels every night, as are foxes, rabbits, and hedgehogs. Tunnels also provide a safe haven for slower-moving species, such as turtles, that are particularly vulnerable to road kill.

In Amherst, Massachusetts, USA, volunteers with buckets used to turn out every spring to carry migrating salamanders across busy Henry Street. Now, as the result of a truly international effort, the salamanders are funneled through two 200-foot tunnels. The British Fauna and Flora Preservation Society and ACO Polymer in Germany provided funding for the project. Amherst’s Department of public works, the University of Massachusetts, the state Audubon Society, a local conservation group, and residents of Amherst then joined forces to make the project happen.

Short fences were built to guide the salamanders into the tunnels, and the tunnels themselves are slotted to let in light and provide the damp conditions the creatures need. Also in the USA, Florida has installed highway underpasses for black bears and panthers, and research has shown that bobcats, gray foxes, and whitetail deer are also using a recent crossing for bears on State Route 46. And a highly successful system of underpasses and overpasses along the well-traveled Trans-Canada Highway in Alberta’s Banff National Park has cut the road kill rate of hoofed animals such as deer, elk, and moose by 96 per cent.

After hearing evidence on a fiery 87-vehicle crash that killed eight people on a fog-bound stretch of Highway 401 in Ontario, Canada, a coroner’s jury has made 25 recommendations aimed at cracking down on dangerous and aggressive drivers. The proposals include increasing the number of police officers dedicated to traffic enforcement and the re-establishment of photo radar, which was introduced on a trial basis several years ago and then abandoned.

However, a leading traffic researcher who has acted as an expert witness in collision litigation and at coroner’s inquests, says he’s puzzled by the jury’s recommendations, none of which appear to have much bearing on the apparent cause of the pile-up? driving in thick fog. Larry Lonero, a principal of Northport Associates, says he’s also surprised by the spin given to the story by local media, which seemed to have focused on the issue of photo radar. “Not all the recommendations were published in the media,” Lonero says, “but the ones I have seen don’t seem to have too much relevance.

“It looks like this thing was turned into an investigation on how can we make Highway 401 safer. I’ve seen inquests do this before where they jump on a case that has only limited relevance because they feel they have to do something. “That in itself is fine,” Lonero adds, “but it’s also a little scary. Does no one have any good idea about what to do about accidents in fog? “Drivers need to think about how far they can see and how long it will take them to stop. If people are going 100 or 120 kph and they can only see 50 feet … then if there’s something there they are going to hit it.

The only sensible thing to do is find an exit and get off the road. ” Lonero has worked as a consultant on driver performance for government and private clients, including Canadian and U. S. government projects, as well as the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety project to reinvent driver education. A former Ontario road safety official, he also has specific training in freeway design. In the wake of the inquest, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, David Turnbull, has rejected the reintroduction of photo radar saying that it doesn’t address the root cause of aggressive driving.

“It doesn’t deter rapid lane changes, or tailgating, or drunk driving, which are things you want to get out with police enforcement. ” Lonero says that while photo radar “has some kind of wacky relevance to speed in general” it has no relevance to the fog question. “How do you catch people going fast in fog unless they hit something? There’s no way you can detect them. ” In addition, he points out that any kind of stepped up police enforcement will be equally useless in preventing crashes in poor visibility.

The jury also called for the installation of signs for fog-prone areas of the province’s major highways, but, as Lonero points out, driver’s really need some form of advance warning that there is fog so they can stay off the road. In fact, several parties providing testimony? including the Ontario Trucking Association and the Canadian Automobile Association? urged that the Ontario transportation ministry install electronic message boards to communicate weather and other warnings to drivers.

Lonero does agree with the jury’s final recommendation calling for “heightened awareness” as regards safety on the road. “Drivers can slow down,” he says. “With a modern car equipped with seat belts and air bags, you can probably walk away from a 50 kilometer an hour crash. The big problem is getting everyone to drive at 50 kph. You don’t want a semi-trailer barreling up behind you at 120. “Without a doubt, though, the best idea in conditions of thick fog is to get off the highway as soon as possible.

” Asked about the use of infrared technology, such as that now available as an option on some Cadillacs, Lonero said that perhaps all trucks should have infrared equipment that can detect objects on the road ahead at night or in other conditions of reduced visibility. He also thought consideration should be given to closing down major highways shrouded in thick fog, just as they’re currently closed under heavy snow conditions. The adjective, safe, as defined by the Gage Canadian Dictionary is, “free from harm or danger” or “out of danger, secure.

” We spend huge amounts of energy, time, and money to be free from harm or danger. I suggest we’re obsessed with safety: “the quality or state of being safe. ” Recently I monitored a two-minute radio news broadcast where the two words were used 14 times in reference to water, a highway, a tire, an airliner, and an amusement park ride at the Canadian National Exhibition. We live in an incredibly complex society. We deal with incredibly complex situations. We control incredibly complex equipment. Regardless of our efforts to be safe, something invariably goes wrong.

Despite our relentless pursuit of safety, things happen. We surround ourselves with huge numbers of laws, bylaws, rules, regulations, standards, guidelines, and procedures to ensure safety. Still, stuff happens! Yet we have the expectation that whatever we do, buy, consume, or participate in will be free from harm or danger. Let’s look at water. In Ontario, Canada, we are all still in shock over the e-coli bacteria contamination first exposed in Walkerton and subsequently being discovered in other communities. I’m not sure water can be referred to as “safe.

” I know it can either be potable or non-potable? either fit for drinking or not. Can we expect a resource as necessary to life to be uncontaminated? I don’t believe it’s possible unless we change our attitude towards the environment and start to collectively make decisions to protect water from the excesses of our lifestyles. Maybe each of us has to take responsibility for the portability of water in our own communities. It’s going to be interesting to watch and listen to the inquiry into the tragedy in Walkerton as it unfolds.

How many times will the word safe be used in reference to a commodity that cannot inflict harm or danger. It is only what we do to it and how we abuse it that inflicts the harm or danger. Highway safety is another term rife with expectations. We’re mandated to build “safe” highways and vehicles. We blame the highways when conditions deteriorate and crashes occur. We blame the vehicle or components when we crash. So how does a “safe” highway cause problems? A highway cannot inherently be “safe. ” It cannot keep us free from harm or danger.

A highway just lies there and soaks up the sun. It won’t hurt anyone. However, add a bunch of vehicles of disparate sizes traveling at more than a mile-a-minute driven by individuals with little or no training, mix in variable weather conditions or mechanical problems, and before you know it the highway is labeled dangerous and unsafe when crashes and collisions occur. It is what we do in our vehicles on that highway that determines our safety? not what the highway does. Again, the responsibility for our well-being is ours. Then we get to the recent tire-recall story.

Here’s a situation that begs closer scrutiny. On the surface it would appear that Bridgestone/Firestone deliberately manufactured an unsafe tire and Ford deliberately installed them. I have difficulty believing that two huge corporations would deliberately place their customers in circumstances hazardous to their health and subsequently damaging to the two businesses. Again, here is a product that cannot be referred to as “safe” or “unsafe. ” A tire cannot inflict harm or danger when installed on a vehicle. How it’s used and maintained will determine its safety.

Most of us never question the type and quality of tires fitted to the shiny new vehicle in the showroom-we just want the green one, right now, please. We’re probably more concerned with the sound system and interior trim. So if we fail to keep an eye on the inflation level, overload the vehicle, and drive a bunch more than a mile-a-minute, the tire cannot perform under those conditions and delaminates. We immediately blame the tire failure for the subsequent crash. Furthermore, people do not have to crash because of a tire blowout.

With a little skill training in managing a crisis behind the wheel we could deal with emergencies such as a tire failure. Regardless of how many rules, regulations, and standards a product is subjected to they are designed, manufactured, installed, and used by human beings. We’re fallible, believe it or not! The Concorde story provides the next example of what we construe to be safe or not. This amazing aircraft has flown for over 20 years with few incidences of consequence. Think about it, here’s a machine that flies 11 miles above the earth’s surface at twice the speed of sound and we expect it to be completely free from harm and danger.

One finally crashes (the result of a piece of metal on the runway) and our response is to ground every one of them as being unsafe! Aircraft cannot be safe or unsafe. They can be unstable, hard to fly, contain design flaws, or be poorly maintained. But, again, how they are used determines their ability to take off, reach their destination, and land. Without much hesitation we strap ourselves into the seat of the aircraft (as if those seat belts are going to make a difference in a crash! ) and blissfully expect the machinery to perform perfectly? or is that safely?

Now we come to the CNE rides. The Exhibition has been running for over 120 years. There have been thrill rides there from day one. Millions of people have shrieked and roared as they temporarily defied the law of gravity. As with everything else in our lives the rides evolve. They’ve become more dramatic, scary, and exciting than ever before. We love it. Enter the “s” words. In all the years only a few individuals have been hurt as the result of faulty equipment. Yet, listen to the news and you would think that every day folks are being injured on the rides.

Earnest reporters interview operators and regulatory bodies to determine if an improperly applied emergency brake or some such is going to cause a rash of injuries. They ask questions like, “Are the rides safe? ” Who is responsible for ride safety? ” In the time it took to ask these questions more than two people were injured in car crashes and collisions somewhere in Canada. That adds up to about 220,000 injuries (almost 3000 fatalities) per year! Now who’s taking a risk? Now what’s “safe? ” We humans are by nature a risk-taking species. In ancient times we took risks just to eat.

Later we took huge risks by setting out in little wooden ships to explore the earth’s surface. We continued as we sought to fly, travel faster than the speed of sound and to head off into space. We rely on increasingly more complex equipment and constantly strive to design and manufacture faster and even more elaborate devices. It goes without saying that every effort is made to ensure our “safety”; to keep us from harm or danger. Every time you slide behind the wheel of your vehicle you are taking a risk. Driving is the riskiest activity in our lives.

It is an inherently “unsafe” environment. The most perfect vehicles on the best designed highways on beautiful sunny days driven by fallible human beings crash into each other. The only way to drive “safely” (as we are all admonished to do! ) is to learn more about the process. Learn more about your vehicle and how to maintain it; learn how to use your eyes to look far down the road; learn to spot problems before they happen; and also learn to deal with emergency situations. In most cases it’s the human element that fails. After all, safe is only as safe does.