Ford has released a survey which seeks to identify dangerous driving behaviors among various demographics, and the information is worth understanding so that we can all remove distraction and other reckless habits from our driving lives.
Penn Schoen Berland administered the study, which surveyed 1,000 people, half of whom were teens and half of whom were adults, although the lion’s share of the research appears to be focused on teen driving habits and parents’ opinions on such.
Around the same amount (62% vs. 61%) of teens copped to letting other passengers or eating and drinking distract them from driving. Just over half admitted to MP3 usage, while 42% said the music they listen to is loud enough to prevent them from hearing other automobiles.
Parents, for their part, largely explained that they had certain concerns about the activities their teens partake in while at the wheel. But despite this, slightly more than a quarter have invested in some sort of safe driving system to improve their teens’ driving.
There was also a distinct difference reported between males and females, with women typically driving safer despite a tendency to use their phones at greater rates than men. That could be because the dangers of a cellphone were eclipsed by the larger percentages of men who admitted to drunk driving, aggressive driving, and speeding.
More evidence continues to arrive which details the danger not just of manual texting while driving, but any kind of distraction that takes one’s focus from the road. It’s becoming increasingly clear that such a distraction can be just as dangerous as removing one’s eyes completely from traffic.
The new evidence, which hails from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and researchers with the University of Utah, is considered the first study that looks this extensively at the impact that distractions have on mental acuity. When such dangers pile up, drivers have been shown to misidentify visual hazards in their environment and react to danger much more slowly.
150 drivers were put through the rigors of a driving simulator and a real-world traffic exercise in Salt Lake City while hooked up to a device that kept track of eye movement, brain waves, and more. During the test, drivers were instructed to speak on the phone, answer emails via voice applications, and listen to books on tape. The more such activities piled up, the less likely a driver was to react in time to obstacles or take visual cues into account.
AAA hopes that these findings can be used to get automakers to cut down on in-car distractions. They’re also urging the NHTSA to issue new guidelines about mental distraction.
The idea of a designated driver has caught on in a big way around the country. But new research shows that the definition of a designated driver is rather loose.
A designated driver should be someone who has refrained from alcohol completely. Not a drop should have passed through their system. Unfortunately, the aforementioned study shows that this isn’t the case. Hailing from researchers at Florida University, the study queried more than 1,000 people two years ago as to their state of inebriation. A Blood Alcohol Content test was then administered to see where they fell on the intoxication spectrum.
The results, which are featured in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, are disappointing. Of the 165 people who said they were designated drivers for the evening, 35% were shown to have consumed alcohol. And in many cases, this wasn’t just one or two drinks. 17% of so-called designated drivers, when given the BAC test, showed levels between .2 and .49. The legal limit is .08.
One of the people behind the survey has a few ideas as to why this happens, and it all has to do with the process of choosing a designated driver. He believes that rather than picking someone beforehand, a group of people might go to a bar and simply choose a driver who appears to be less drunk than others.
Don’t fall into that trap; designate a driver every time you and your acquaintances are going to drink alcohol.
We’ve written a lot about the impact that distracted driving can have on your ability to properly operate a motor vehicle. When your mind and eyes are placed someplace other than the road, it simply becomes impossible to react in time to sudden changes in the environment.
A new study backs up this idea. Put together by FocusDriven and the National Coalition for Safer Roads, the study attempted to deduce how many instances of an individual running a red light could be attributed to the driver being distracted. Researchers compiled their results by analyzing data from 118 red light cameras over the course of three months.
Among the red light violations recorded, 12% could arguably have occurred because the driver was distracted. When you extrapolate those findings outward, that would contribute to more than 7.3 million instances of distraction-related red light running across the country in 2012.
One other interesting facet of the research is the difference between areas with laws in place to combat distracted driving and those without. If a strict law agains the habit was in place, the rate of distraction-based red light violations dropped below 10% of overall violations, but when no such laws were on the books, the rate jumped above 16%. This demonstrates the impact that cellphone driving laws can have on the safety of a community.
Research from the University of Alberta, the same institution that just recently came out with the results of a study focused on the dangers of hands-free cellphone usage while driving, points to the demographics most likely to be tempted to text and drive.
The research team looked at data from a survey carried out at some point in 2011, and the results show that men in the middle age bracket who have been through college are the demographic most likely to text at the wheel. In fact, persons of both sexes between the ages of 35 and 44 were those most privy to being distracted at the wheel. Cellphone usage was also 10% higher for males than females.
What makes these results most unfortunate is that the very same people who admit to texting or cellphone usage at the wheel also seem to recognize the threat that those habits pose to safety. Scant few thought such a habit was admissible, with the vast majority proclaiming that the risk of an accident goes up dramatically when texting.
Other interesting demographic information was also illuminated by the study. Persons who make upwards of six figures used their cellphones in greater numbers, as did people who don’t consider themselves to be religious. But on the other hand, religious persons were less likely to use a phone at the wheel, as were those in lower income brackets, according to researchers.
A study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlights the chances of sustaining a fatality in an automobile collision in men versus women. If a female is in her twenties, she has a nearly 26% higher chance of dying in a car crash when compared with a male of the same age. However, the risk goes up even further if she is a passenger, to almost a 30% greater chance of a fatality. What’s interesting, though, is that these numbers go in opposite directions over time. Once the two genders reach their 70s, the chance of a fatality is greater among males. It should also be noted, though, that strides in safety technology have cut the overall risk of dying in a crash between both genders in half.
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A new study takes a look at overall traffic fatality rates from around the world, and the news is both good and bad. Although fatalities are lower than they’ve ever been across the globe since such research has been conducted, pedestrian safety continues to lag behind the safety of vehicle occupants.
The study, known as the 2013 Annual Road Safety Report, hails from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s International Transport Forum. By looking at data from 37 countries, researchers were able to deduce that fatalities among drivers and their passengers have been dramatically reduced over the past decade. The belief is that the myriad advances in automobile safety technology have led to this trend.
However, the developers of that same technology have just recently begun to turn their attention to protecting pedestrians with such systems as exterior airbags. That could explain why deaths among other demographics are trending upward. Countries with large numbers of cyclists, like the Netherlands, have seen bicyclists dying at greater rates, and pedestrian fatalities overall are also increasing.
In the United States, these trends hold true as well. Vehicle occupant fatalities dropped by 4.1% in 2011. But motorcyclist deaths increased by 2.1% and pedestrian fatalities rose by 3%. The biggest increase, though, was among cyclists, the death rate of which rose by 8.7%. The US ranks 29th among nations in terms of the lowest number of deaths.
It’s still just barely Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and thus it’s the perfect time to take a look at a study which illustrates the importance of always wearing a motorcycle helmet. The research demonstrates that repealing helmet laws can have a severe impact on safety along the roads.
The Highway Loss Data Institute carried out the research, which sought to take a look at the typical insurance payment paid to an injured motorcyclist involved in a crash in Michigan both before and after the law was passed. The results are somewhat eye-opening. In the two year timespan prior to the law’s alteration, the average claim hovered slightly above $5,400, but afterwards, that number leapt to $7,257, a startling jump of 34%.
What’s interesting about this particular study is the fact that it looks at claim amounts rather than death and injury rates, which previous research has already shown go up when helmet laws fall by the wayside. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety President explains that an increase in the mandatory insurance level can’t even begin to encompass the lifelong damage that could be sustained by someone in a motorcycle crash.
Not everyone buys into the study, though. An official with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation explains that no one is stopping riders from utilizing helmets, while the president of motorcycle group ABATE says many crashes are attributable to persons without the proper training.
Yet another study casts aspersions on the practice of driving while using a hands-free device to carry on a conversation. It provides even more evidence that even when our eyes are focused on the road, our minds might still be on the conversation at hand, a situation that could lead to danger.
This particular study comes from researchers at the University of Alberta. 26 males ranging from the ages 18 to 50 were tasked with stepping in to a simulator to complete a driving course at local Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. Two tests were set up: a course free of distraction and a course in which the drivers were asked to carry on a casual conversation with someone on the other end of a hands-free device.
The results are eye-opening. Every single person who participated in the test made an error while in the midst of the simulation. And these errors weren’t minor either. Not only were drivers unable to control their speed, but red light running and unsignaled lane changes were common. Two crashes even took place.
These errors coincided with an uptick in brain activity and an increase in heart rate. It would seem that the mere act of speaking with someone on the phone is enough to imperil driving ability. Even if you have a hands-free device in your vehicle, you still might think twice about using it when in transit.
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.