Recent analysis indicates cell phone distracted driving crashes vastly under-reported
Source: National Safety Council
Today, the National Safety Council released findings from a recent analysis of national statistics on fatal motor vehicle crashes, in a report entitled, “Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data,” funded in part by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The report reviewed 180 fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011, where evidence indicated driver cell phone use. Of these fatal crashes, in 2011 only 52% were coded in the national data as involving cell phone use.
Even when drivers admitted cell phone use during a fatal crash, the Council’s analysis found that in about one-half of these cases, the crash was not coded in Federal data (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System). In addition, there are an unknown number of cases in which cell phone use involvement in crashes is impossible to determine. One example would be a driver reading an email or text message on a phone who dies in a crash without any witnesses.
The report also brings up large differences in cell phone distraction fatal crashes reported by states. For instance, in 2011, Tennessee reported 93 fatal crashes that involved cell phone use, but New York, a state with a much larger population, reported only one. Texas reported 40, but its neighboring state Louisiana reported none.
Safety Report on Eliminating Impaired Driving
Source: National Transportation Safety Board
On May 14, 2013, the 25th anniversary of our nation’s deadliest drunk-driving crash, which killed 24 children and three adults in Carrollton, Ky., the NTSB’s five-member board voted unanimously to issue bold recommendations to help the United States reach zero and eliminate alcohol-impaired driving.
Bold steps are needed: On average, every hour, one person dies in a crash involving a drunk driver and 20 more people are injured, including three with debilitating injuries. That adds up quickly to yearly totals of nearly 10,000 deaths, 27,000 lives forever altered and another 146,000 injured.
The safety report and recommendations culminate a year-long effort by the NTSB to thoroughly examine this problem and develop a set of targeted interventions. The recommendations include:
- Reduce state BAC limits from 0.08 to 0.05 or lower
- Increase use of high-visibility enforcement
- Develop and deploy in-vehicle detection technology
- Require ignition interlocks for all offenders
- Improve use of administrative license actions
- Target and address repeat offenders
- Reinforce use and effectiveness of DWI courts
INRIX Traffic Scorecard Reports U.S. Congestion on the Rise in 2013 Following Two Years of Double-Digit Declines
INRIX, a leading international provider of traffic information and driver services, today released its sixth Traffic Scorecard Annual Report, which revealed that traffic congestion is back on the rise in 2013 after two consecutive years of declines. In the first three months of this year, traffic congestion is up 4 percent compared to 2012. This suggests that after a tumultuous economic year in 2012, the economy is back on the mend bringing increased traffic congestion.
The uptick in traffic congestion in 2013 follows a 22 percent decrease in 2012. The “stop n go” nature of the results indicate an overall economic climate that has not yet returned to pre-recession levels in many areas, including total jobs and unemployment rates.
Source: University of Toronto
We investigate the determinants of driving speed in large us cities. We ﬁrst estimate city level supply functions for travel in an econometric framework where both the supply and demand for travel are explicit. These estimations allow us to calculate a city level index of driving speed and to rank cities by driving speed. Our investigation of the determinants of speed provide the foundations for a welfare analysis. This analysis suggests that large gains in speed may be possible if slow cities can emulate fast cities and that the deadweight losses from congestion are sizeable.
See: A Need for Speed: Why Building More Roads Won’t Conquer Gridlock (Knowledge@Wharton)
Voice-To-Text Apps Offer No Driving Safety Benefit; As With Manual Texting, Reaction Times Double
Source: Texas Transportation Institute
Texting drivers may believe they’re being more careful when they use the voice-to-text method, but new research findings suggest that those applications offer no real safety advantage over manual texting.
The study was sponsored by the Southwest Region University Transportation Center and conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). SWUTC is a part of the University Transportation Centers Program, which is a federally-funded program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
The study is the first of its kind, as it is based on the performance of 43 research participants driving an actual vehicle on a closed course. Other research efforts have evaluated manual versus voice-activated tasks using devices installed in a vehicle, but the TTI analysis is the first to compare voice-to-text and manual texting on a handheld device in an actual driving environment.
Drivers first navigated the course without any use of cell phones. Each driver then traveled the course three more times performing a series of texting exercises – once using each of two voice-to-text applications (Siri® for the iPhone and Vlingo® for Android), and once texting manually. Researchers then measured the time it took each driver to complete the tasks, and also noted how long it took for the drivers to respond to a light which came on at random intervals during the exercises.
Major findings from the study included:
- Driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used. In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting. With slower reaction times, drivers are less able to take action in response to sudden roadway hazards, such as a swerving vehicle or a pedestrian in the street.
- The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
- For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.
- Drivers felt less safe when they were texting, but felt safer when using a voice-to-text application than when texting manually, even though driving performance suffered equally with both methods.
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association
In early 2013, GHSA asked its member state highway safety offices to provide their preliminary motorcyclist fatality counts for 2012, as they had done the prior three years. All 50 states and the District of Columbia supplied data. Some states suggested why their numbers had increased or decreased.
Based upon the preliminary data provided, GHSA projects that the number of motorcyclist traffic fatalities in the United States increased about 9 percent from 2011 to 2012.
The report points out that the economy is expected to contribute to more motorcyclist fatalities. With people having more disposable income, more motorcycles will be purchased. At the same time, with the relative high price of gasoline, more people will choose motorcycles to save fuel costs.
It also recommends several proven countermeasures that can help cut the number of motorcycle fatalities on our nation’s roadways.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Student loans have soared in popularity over the past decade, with the aggregate student loan balance, as measured in the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, reaching $966 billion at the end of 2012. Student debt now exceeds aggregate auto loan, credit card, and home-equity debt balances—making student loans the second largest debt of U.S. households, following mortgages. Student loans provide critical access to schooling, given the challenge presented by increasing costs of higher education and rising returns to a degree. Nevertheless, some have questioned how taking on extensive debt early in life has affected young workers’ post-schooling economic activity.
To address this issue, we examine trends in homeownership, auto debt, and total borrowing at standard ages of entry into the housing and vehicle markets for U.S. workers.
As seen in the chart below, the share of twenty-five-year-olds with student debt has increased from just 25 percent in 2003 to 43 percent in 2012. Further, the average student loan balance among those twenty-five-year-olds with student debt grew by 91 percent over the period, from $10,649 in 2003 to $20,326 in 2012. Student loan delinquencies have also been growing…
Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
A new report on teen driver safety released today by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm® shows encouraging trends among teen passengers. In 2011 more than half of teen passengers (54 percent) reported “always” buckling up. From 2008 to 2011, risky behaviors of teen passengers (ages 15 to 19 years) declined: the number of teen passengers killed in crashes not wearing seat belts decreased 23 percent; the number of teen passengers driven by a peer who had been drinking declined 14 percent; and 30 percent fewer teen passengers were killed in crashes involving a teen driver. Overall, the report measured a 47 percent decline in teen driver-related fatalities over the past six years. Still, as recent high-profile multi-fatality crashes with teen drivers illustrate, crashes remain the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
Identity theft is once more the top complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission, which has released its 2012 annual report of complaints. 2012 marks the first year in which the FTC received more than 2 million complaints overall, and 369,132, or 18 percent, were related to identity theft. Of those, more than 43 percent related to tax- or wage-related fraud.
The report gives national data, as well as a state-by-state accounting of top complaint categories and a listing of the metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints. This includes the top 50 metropolitan areas for both fraud complaints and identity theft complaints.
The remainder of complaint categories making up the top 10 are:
Debt collection 199,721 10 percent
Banks and Lenders 132,340 6 percent
Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales 115,184 6 percent
Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries 98,479 5 percent
Impostor Scams 82,896 4 percent
Internet Services 81,438 4 percent
Auto-Related Complaints 78,062 4 percent
Telephone and Mobile Services 76,783 4 percent
Credit Cards 51,550 3 percent
Source: National Research Council
For a century, almost all light-duty vehicles (LDVs) have been powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs) operating on petroleum fuels. Energy security concerns over petroleum imports and the effect of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions on global climate are driving interest in alternatives. This report assesses the potential for reducing petroleum consumption and GHG emissions by 80% across the U.S. LDV fleet by 2050, relative to 2005. It examines the current capability and estimated future performance and costs for each vehicle type and non-petroleum-based fuel technology as options that could significantly contribute to these goals. By analyzing scenarios that combine various fuel and vehicle pathways, the report also identifies barriers to implementation of these technologies and suggests policies to achieve the desired reductions. Several scenarios are promising, but strong, effective, and sustained but adaptive policies such as research and development (R&D), subsidies, energy taxes, or regulations will be necessary to overcome barriers such as cost and consumer choice.
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
Road traffic crashes are a global public health problem, contributing to an estimated 1.3 million deaths annually (1). Known risk factors for road traffic crashes and related injuries and deaths include speed, alcohol, nonuse of restraints, and nonuse of helmets. More recently, driver distraction has become an emerging concern (2). To assess the prevalence of mobile device use while driving in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States, CDC analyzed data from the 2011 EuroPNStyles and HealthStyles surveys. Prevalence estimates for self-reported talking on a cell phone while driving and reading or sending text or e-mail messages while driving were calculated. This report describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that, among drivers ages 18–64 years, the prevalence of talking on a cell phone while driving at least once in the past 30 days ranged from 21% in the UK to 69% in the United States, and the prevalence of drivers who had read or sent text or e-mail messages while driving at least once in the past 30 days ranged from 15% in Spain to 31% in Portugal and the United States. Lessons learned from successful road safety efforts aimed at reducing other risky driving behaviors, such as seat belt nonuse and alcohol-impaired driving, could be helpful to the United States and other countries in addressing this issue (2,3). Strategies such as legislation combined with high-visibility enforcement and public education campaigns deserve further research to determine their effectiveness in reducing mobile device use while driving. Additionally, the role of emerging vehicle and mobile communication technologies in reducing distracted driving–related crashes should be explored.
New crash tests: Underride guards on most big rigs leave passenger vehicle occupants at risk in certain crashes
Source: Insurance Information Institute
Modern semitrailers for the most part do a good job of keeping passenger vehicles from sliding underneath them, greatly increasing the chances of surviving a crash into the back of a large truck, recent tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show. But in crashes involving only a small portion of the truck’s rear, most trailers fail to prevent potentially deadly underride.
Most semitrailers are required to have underride guards. These are steel bars that hang from the backs of trailers to prevent the front of a passenger vehicle from moving underneath during a crash. Earlier research showed that the minimum strength and dimensions required for underride guards are inadequate, prompting the Institute to petition the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2011 for tougher standards. The Institute also asked the agency to consider applying the standards to other types of large trucks such as dump trucks that aren’t required to have any underride guards.
Although NHTSA hasn’t responded yet, trailer manufacturers already are installing guards that are much stronger than the agency requires. These guards generally work well to prevent underride, except in crashes occurring at the outer edges of trailers, the crash tests show.
One likely reason manufacturers are installing guards that are stronger than required is a tougher standard that trailers in Canada have had to meet since 2007. More recently, IIHS crash tests have drawn attention to the issue, and at least one manufacturer has started selling a trailer with an improved underride guard since the tests began.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
A Better Defined and Implemented National Strategy Is Needed to Address Persistent Challenges
GAO-13-462T, Mar 7, 2013
DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
Technology Transition Programs Support Military Users, but Opportunities Exist to Improve Measurement of Outcomes
GAO-13-286, Mar 7, 2012
Department of Defense’s Waiver of Competitive Prototyping Requirement for Combat Rescue Helicopter Program
GAO-13-313R, Mar 7, 2013
Briefing on U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Assistance Procurement Process
GAO-13-395R, Mar 7, 2013
Overview of GAO’s Past Work on FHA’s Single-Family Mortgage Insurance Programs
GAO-13-400R, Mar 7, 2013
Use of Remanufactured Parts in the Federal Vehicle Fleet Is Based On a Variety of Factors
GAO-13-316R, Mar 7, 2013
Has the time come for an older driver vehicle?
Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
The population of the world is growing older. As people grow older they are more likely to experience declines that can make operating a personal automobile more difficult. Once driving abilities begin to decline, older adults are often faced with decreased mobility. Due to the preference for and pervasiveness of the personal automobile for satisfying mobility needs, there is a global necessity to keep older adults driving for as long as they can safely do so. In this report we explore the question: Has the time come for an older driver vehicle? Great gains in safe mobility could be made by designing automobiles that take into account, and help overcome, some of the deficits in abilities common in older people. The report begins by providing a background and rationale for an older driver vehicle, including discussions of relevant trends, age-related declines in functional abilities, and the adverse consequences of decreased mobility. The next section discusses research and issues related to vehicle design and advanced technology with respect to older drivers. The next section explores crashworthiness issues and the unique requirements for older adults. The following section discusses the many issues related to marketing a vehicle that has been designed for older drivers. The report concludes that there is a clear global opportunity to improve the safety, mobility, and quality of life of older adults by designing vehicles and vehicle technologies that help overcome common age-related deficits. The marketing of these vehicles to older consumers, however, will be challenging and will likely require further market research. The development of vehicle design features, new automotive technologies, and crashworthiness systems in the future should be guided by both knowledge of the effects of frailty/fragility of the elderly on crash outcomes, as well as knowledge of common drivingrelated declines in psychomotor, visual, and cognitive abilities. Design strategies that allow for some degree of customization may be particularly beneficial. It is clear that training and education efforts for using new vehicle features will need to be improved.
New Study: Teen Driver Deaths Increase in 2012
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association
A report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals that the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths in passenger vehicles increased dramatically for the first six months of 2012, based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Overall, 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased from 202 to 240 – a 19 percent jump.
The new report – the first state-by-state look at teen driver fatalities in 2012 – was completed by Dr. Allan Williams, a researcher who formerly served as chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Dr. Williams surveyed GHSA members, who reported fatality numbers for every state and D.C. The increase in teen driver deaths coincides with a projection from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in which all traffic deaths increased by 8 percent. It is particularly concerning that 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths appear to have increased at an even greater rate.
Deaths of 16-year-old drivers increased from 86 to 107 (a 24 percent change), while the number for 17-year-old drivers went from 116 to 133 (a 15 percent change), a cumulative increase of 19 percent. Twenty-five states reported increases, 17 had decreases, and eight states and the District of Columbia reported no change in the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths.
Cars, Trucks, and Climate: EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases from Mobile Sources (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
On October 15, 2012, the Obama Administration took a major step toward reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from motor vehicles when it promulgated GHG emission standards for model year 2017-2025 light duty vehicles. Under the standards, GHG emissions from new cars and light trucks will be reduced about 50% by 2025 compared to 2010, and average fuel economy standards will rise to nearly 50 miles per gallon. EPA had previously set GHG emission standards for MY2012-2016 vehicles as well as for 2014-2018 model year medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
These steps have been taken as the Congress (particularly the House) and the Administration have reached an impasse over climate issues. The Administration has made clear that its preference would be for Congress to address the climate issue through new legislation. Nevertheless, in the wake of a 2007 Supreme Court decision, it has moved forward on several fronts to define how the Clean Air Act will be used and to promulgate regulations.
The key to using the CAA’s authority to control greenhouse gases was for the EPA Administrator to find that GHG emissions are air pollutants that endanger public health or welfare. EPA Administrator Jackson promulgated such an endangerment finding in December 2009. With the endangerment finding finalized, the agency has proceeded to regulate emissions from motor vehicles.
In all, EPA has received 12 petitions asking that it make endangerment findings and proceed to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases. Ten of the 12 petitions addressed mobile sources: besides motor vehicles, the petitions cover aircraft, ships, nonroad vehicles and engines, locomotives, and fuels, all of which are covered by Title II of the CAA. This report discusses the full range of EPA’s authority under Title II and provides information regarding other mobile sources that might be regulated under this authority, in addition to describing the car and truck regulations.
Regulation of GHGs from mobile sources has led the agency to establish controls for stationary sources, such as electric power plants, as well. Stationary source options, the authority for which comes from different parts of the CAA, are addressed in CRS Report R41212, EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: Congressional Responses and Options.
Ending America’s Energy Insecurity: Why Electric Vehicles Should Drive the United States to Energy Independenc e
Source: Homeland Security Affairs
The homeland/national security threat posed by the United States’ dependence on foreign oil has been part of the American discourse for years; yet nothing has been done. No pragmatic, realistic step-by-step plan has been pursued to end this scourge on the American people. The solution can be found in the problem. Net imports of oil account for approximately 50 percent of the oil the United States consumes. Likewise, 50 percent of oil consumed in the United States is consumed as motor gasoline. If, overnight, the United States stopped using oil to power its unleaded gasoline driven vehicles, if overnight drivers switched to electric vehicles, then overnight the United States would become energy independent. Using historical data to establish the effect of gasoline price changes on consumer vehicle choice, a predictive model has been created showing the expected switch to electric vehicles if the price of gasoline increases and the cost of electric vehicles decreases. There is a cost to energy independence: two to five dollars per gallon of retail gasoline sold. If monies raised from the tax are used to lower the price of electric vehicles, build recharge infrastructure, and dampen the regressive nature of the tax, energy independence is a few short years away.