It might seem like it would be obvious that larger vehicles tend to fare better when a crash takes place, but a new study from the University of Buffalo backs up that idea for those still unsure.
By combing through the circumstances surrounding a whopping 85,000 collisions, researchers were able to deduce that those persons in a Sport Utility Vehicle at the time of a crash have a much greater chance of surviving the accident. For drivers of smaller vehicles that don’t have the same girth behind them as do SUVs, the threat of a fatality becomes far greater.
What’s perhaps most interesting about this study is what it says about safety ratings of motor vehicles. Many people look to the safety ratings when evaluating what kind of vehicle they’re going to purchase. A consumer might opt for a sedan-type automobile with a high safety rating versus an SUV with a relatively low one.
But the researchers suggest that a collision between the two types of vehicle will still favor the SUV. Because of the SUV’s size in comparison to the other vehicle, the driver of the larger vehicle is said to have a better chance of surviving. So although you certainly would want to purchase an automobile with the highest safety ratings possible, a high-speed crash with an SUV could still favor the latter vehicle.
Many are beginning to recognize the threat posed around the country by distracted driving, but might the danger be greater than we even realize? That’s what seems to be suggested by the results of a new study released by Nationwide Insurance and the National Safety Council.
The study, “Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data,” analyzed 180 crashes between 2009 and 2011. Each of the crashes that were looked at were fatal and appeared to stem from some type of cellphone usage. These findings were then compared to a crash database to figure out if the information was accurately reported as being distracted driving-related.
What researchers found was that crashes caused by distraction often don’t get reported as such. For instance, barely more than half of the 2011 crashes that could have been attributed to distraction were actually classified that way. This has led the National Safety Council to conclude that there are far more cellphone-related crashes that occur than are reported.
What’s particularly shocking is that even instances where a driver admitted to using their cellphone at the time of the crash were not classified as distraction-based. Reporting procedures also differ by state. Researchers bring up the case of New York, where only one distraction-based crash was reported, versus Tennessee, which posted 93 crashes. The National Safety Council figures than about one in four crashes can be attributed to a cellphone.
This past Saturday, the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies took place in New York, and some of the research that was presented looked at the prevalence of texting and driving among teenagers.
Members of the Cohen Children’s Medical Center presented the findings, which analyzed data made available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Study. Conducted in 2011, researchers queried 7,833 teens as to a litany of behaviors. This was the first year the study sought information about texting and driving habits.
43% of teens admitted that they had texted while at the wheel at at least some point in the past month. What makes this particularly disheartening is the fact that automobile crashes continue to top the list of the main factors behind teen fatalities.
When teens did admit to texting, there was a good chance they admitted to one of the other risky behaviors outlined by the survey. Texting teens were more likely to drink and drive, use an indoor tanning bed, and engage in unprotected intercourse. Males were slightly more likely to text at the wheel than their female counterparts, while the behavior was also more common as teens aged.
Researchers hope to use this information to develop programs that seek to emphasize the deadly nature of texting and other risky habits.
In California, police take cellphone driving violations seriously. Just last month, agencies across the state partnered to crack down on distracting behavior at the wheel, with numerous tickets handed out to drivers caught texting or talking on their phones. In California, enforcement is easier because current law bans all handheld cellphone usage, not just texting.
In the rest of the country, this just isn’t the case, as evidenced further by a survey from USA Today. Researchers queried various state police entities around the United States, and they found that enforcement of laws against texting and driving leaves much to be desired. In fact, the problem is so dramatic that many states as a whole issue an average of less than one texting ticket every day.
In Louisiana, an average of 18 citations have been handed out every month since the bill’s passage in 2008, while North Dakota’s average since 2011 (when a ban was enacted) is only six. Tennessee has posted about 24 per month. Clouding the issue is the fact that some states don’t track this specific statistic.
There could be a host of reasons for this trend. Officers explain the difficulties of pulling someone over who is taking pains to hide their phone, but one other factor for a small number of tickets might be somewhat hidden by the data. A Louisiana State Police Captain explains that many tickets get issued for the offense the texting leads to, but not the texting itself. For instance, someone who swerves out of their lane would be cited for that but the record wouldn’t reflect the individual’s texting behavior.
When was the last time you drove someplace and didn’t pass at least one driver who was distracted by something inside their vehicle? Distractions are more prevalent than they’ve ever been, and to get a sense of just how common it is, Consumer Reports recently conducted a survey on the matter.
The organization’s National Research Center carried out the study, which polled slightly more than 1,000 people as to how often they witnessed distracting activities while driving. They also asked drivers to admit how often they themselves engaged in distracting habits.
More than nine out of ten people said they had seen someone at the wheel talking on their phones in the past month. A full 62% said they witnessed somebody inputting or reading a text. And as if that weren’t distracting enough, 22% of respondents explained that they had seen somebody taking their hands off the wheel in order to use an app on their phone.
But when it came to drivers’ admittance of their own loss of focus, the numbers are much lower. 43% admitted to talking on a handheld phone, while just 14% said that they were guilty of texting. One third copped to using an app while they were driving, and 18% of people said they had used their phones for social media and email while in transit.
The San Diego-based SmartDrive Systems has released the results of a study that looked at the prevalence of distraction among the drivers of commercial vehicles. The results are somewhat disheartening, as they show that distraction is fairly common even among the drivers of vehicles whose large size makes them particularly dangerous if an errant maneuver is executed because of lost focus.
Researchers looked at 15.1 million video events from 2012 to get a sense of how often a dangerous driving maneuver occurred in conjunction with some type of distraction. When drivers were speeding, a full one out of four were shown to be on their cellphones at the time. Eating and drinking accounted for 34% of instances in which a driver was speeding, while the driver simply having something in their hand contributed to 27% of speeding incidents.
What’s more, it would appear that those drivers who are most willing to engage in distraction also tend to let those distractions account for their dangerous driving habits. 79% of all risky maneuvers among the top 5% of distracted drivers could be correlated with some type of distraction. Mobile phone usage was the most typical danger, with the most susceptible persons engaging in an activity on their cellular phones 27% of the time. These same drivers used their phones at rates that were 29 times as great than those who tended not to engage in distracted driving.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been six months since Hurricane Sandy swept across the East Coast. The National Research Center of Consumer Reports has conducted an 8,400-person survey to understand the damage that’s been wrought and get a sense of how persons affected by Sandy responded to the disaster.
A whopping 75% of people who chimed in said that they lost power for a one-day minimum, but an entire week was the median among respondents. Over 50% sustained some type of property damage, which then prompted a litany of insurance claims. But what might be disappointing to hear is the fact that few people could say that their claims were handled satisfactorily.
This damage ranged from the relatively minor (downed fences, snapped power lines) to major (broken windows and doors, caved-in roofs). The damage was sufficient in some cases to drive people out of their homes. Some people had to wait months before they could return to their residence.
Consumer Reports takes pains to note that a natural disaster could impact anyone. No matter the circumstances, you should invest in certain things that can keep you safe in the event of a power loss or severe structural damage. You might purchase a generator, for one thing, and in this day and age when everyone seems to be opting for cellular-only service, you might keep your landline around, if nothing else but for emergency purposes.
Finally, purchase adequate insurance, and make sure you’re not being taken advantage of by an insurance company looking to pay out the absolute minimum.
Yet another study highlights the risks posed when one submits to various distractions at the wheel. What’s interesting about this particular research is that it downplays the threat posed by simply talking on a cellphone while driving, something that other studies have come to very different conclusions about.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute carried out the research at the behest of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Researchers used phone records to track the habits of 204 people who readily admitted to talking on their cellphones while driving on a daily basis.
What they found was that more than one out of every ten minutes was spent talking on a mobile device at the wheel. This accounts for 28% of total cellphone talking throughout the day. Only 10% of text messages could be similarly attributed to driving.
23.3 seconds was the average time a person’s eyes were averted from the road while composing a single text. This doubles the threat of a crash, while simply reaching for or dialing a phone tripled the risk, even if actual talking was shown to pose no greater hazard. And because placing or answering a call requires some input from a driver, even if the device is handheld, the risk goes up at such times.
A new article in the Los Angeles Times provides some additional perspective on the recently released study which claimed that manual texting and voice-activated texting at the wheel tend to have the same negative impact on driving ability. The author compares the results of that study with a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study which found that only 26% of people copped to sending a text while driving. This somewhat conflicts with survey results held in unison with the aforementioned texting study. That survey found that 52% of people claimed they had texted at the wheel, while 72% said they did so at red lights. It would appear that a person’s definition of texting shifts depending on the way the question is phrased.
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A new study seems to back up the idea that drivers ought to refrain from using even voice-activated texting technology. The news comes as California lawmakers get ready to debate a ban on such communications among all drivers.
The Texas Transportation Institute conducted the study, which tracked the abilities of 43 drivers going 30 miles per hour for ten minutes at a time. Four different activities were carried out during each of the allotted timeframes: normal driving, manual texting while driving, and texting at the wheel using the voice function of the iPhone and the Android.
When texting occurred, whether it was manual or otherwise, the drivers reportedly had their response times doubled. Performance tended to suffer in equal degrees, perhaps due to the fact that the driver spent far less time paying attention to the road laid out in front of them. What’s more, although one would think that simply speaking into a device would speed up texting, this method actually took longer than basic manual texting.
So why is it that voice activation is just as dangerous as manual texting? The National Safety Council’s vice president explains that a driver’s mental focus is placed on the message even if their eyes are ostensibly facing forward. Plus, the limitations of current voice-to-text technology mean that a driver must look down to confirm their message is accurate.
Drivers should get the hint: texting is never acceptable at the wheel, even on a hands-free device.