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Imperfect Hands-Free Systems Causing Potentially-Unsafe Driver Distractions

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Imperfect Hands-Free Systems Causing Potentially-Unsafe Driver Distractions
Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

With three out of four drivers believing that hands-free technology is safe to use, Americans may be surprised to learn that these popular new vehicle features may actually increase mental distraction, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This research can serve as guidance to manufacturers who increasingly market hands-free systems as safety features. The good news for consumers is that it is possible to design hands-free technologies that are less cognitively distracting, according to the research.

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New Older Driver Data Trends in Upward Direction

June 27, 2014 Comments off

New Older Driver Data Trends in Upward Direction
Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

According to a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, older Americans are extending their time behind the wheel compared to previous generations. For example, 84 percent of Americans 65 and older held a driver’s license in 2010 compared to barely half in the early 1970s. Today, one in six drivers on U.S. roads are ages 65 and older and this new research shows an increased automobility of older drivers with travel patterns indicating about a 20 percent increase in trips and a 33 percent increase in miles travelled between 1990 and 2009.

While upward trends indicate greater mobility for the silver tsunami, the Understanding Older Drivers: An Examination of Medical Conditions, Medication Use and Travel Behaviors report reveals that 90 percent of older drivers also use prescription medications with two-thirds taking multiple medications. Previous Foundation research has shown that combinations of medications, both prescription and over- the-counter, can result in an impairment in safe driving ability.

The report also reveals gender differences when it comes to medication-use behind the wheel. Older women that use medications are more likely to regulate their driving compared to men and, even without a medical condition, female drivers drive less than their male counterparts with a medical condition.

AAA Thanksgiving 2013 Travel Forecast

November 25, 2013 Comments off

AAA Thanksgiving 2013 Travel Forecast (PDF)
Source: AAA
From press release:

AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year. This decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving’s four-year peak since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

Measuring Cognitive Distractions

June 13, 2013 Comments off

Measuring Cognitive Distractions
Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

In this landmark study of distracted driving, the AAA Foundation challenges the notion that drivers are safe and attentive as long as their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. Using cutting-edge methods for measuring brain activity and assessing indicators of driving performance, this research examines the mind of the driver, and highlights the mental distractions caused by a variety of tasks that may be performed behind the wheel.

By creating a first-of-its-kind rating scale of driver distractions, this study shows that certain activities – such as talking on a hands-free cell phone or interacting with a speech-to-text email system – place a high cognitive burden on drivers, thereby reducing the available mental resources that can be dedicated to driving. By demonstrating that mentally-distracted drivers miss visual cues, have slower reaction times, and even exhibit a sort of tunnel vision, this study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that “hands-free” doesn’t mean risk free.

Teen Driver Fatality Risk Quadruples with Multiple Young Passengers

May 13, 2012 Comments off

Teen Driver Fatality Risk Quadruples with Multiple Young Passengers (PDF)
Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety today released a study showing a strong association between the number and age of passengers present in-vehicle and the risk of a teen driver dying in a traffic crash.

The report, “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers,” found that the likelihood of a 16- or 17-year-old driver being killed in a crash, per mile driven, increases with each additional young passenger in the vehicle. Compared to driving with no passengers, a 16- or 17-year-old driver’s fatality risk:

  • Increases 44 percent when carrying one passenger younger than 21 (and no older passengers)
  • Doubles when carrying two passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers)
  • Quadruples when carrying three or more passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers)

    Conversely, carrying at least one passenger aged 35 or older cuts a teen driver’s risk of death by 62 percent, and risk of involvement in any police-reported crash by 46 percent, highlighting the protective influence that parents and other adults have in the car.

  • + Full Report (PDF)

    Nearly Half of Senior Drivers Worry About No Longer Driving, AAA Survey Reveals

    April 9, 2012 Comments off
    Source:  American Automobile Association (AAA)
    Nearly half of senior drivers worry about losing their freedom and mobility when it’s time to give up the car keys, according to a recent survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
    Concerned by a loss of mobility, nearly 90 percent of senior drivers indicate that the inability to drive would be a problem, with almost half claiming it a serious problem. “By 2020—just eight years from now—it’s estimated that nearly one in six people will be age 65 or older and most of them will still be licensed to drive,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet. “No matter how active and healthy seniors are today, it’s evident that anxiety about giving up the keys is still a top concern.”
    Helping to dispel the all-too-common myth that seniors are dangerous drivers, AAA’s survey also indicates that motorists age 65 and older often “self-police” their driving or avoid driving situations that put them at greater risk of a crash.  In fact, 80 percent of senior drivers voluntarily avoid one or more high-risk driving situations. More than half (61 percent) of these drivers avoid driving in bad weather; 50 percent avoid night driving; 42 percent avert trips in heavy traffic and 37 percent avoid unfamiliar roads.

    AAA Senior Driver Survey Report (PDF)

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