Articles Tagged with motor vehicle safety

Teen drivers are at higher risk of being involved in a crash during their novice years than at any other point in their driving careers. In addition to teaching teens about safe driving techniques and forbidding hazards such as drunk, distracted and drowsy driving, parents can help to reduce the likelihood of their teens being involved in car accidents by ensuring that the vehicles they drive are safe.

A good rule of thumb is that when you are deciding between two vehicle models, always opt for the one boasting the most effective and advanced safety features. Preventing car accidents is not always possible. However, reducing the risk that your teen will become injured or perish in a crash can be prevented in many cases if the vehicle he or she is driving is as safe as possible.

If you are purchasing a used vehicle, make sure that the air bags in the car have not been replaced with models recently recalled as defective. Auto sellers were not obligated to replace many of these defective air bag models, so it is imperative that you do your research with regards to this critical safety feature.

Commercial trucking is a vital part of this nation’s industry and a critical element of its functioning economy. Unfortunately, commercial trucking is also uniquely dangerous. Because any truck malfunction or human error can cause injury and death to innocent motorists and passengers who just happen to be near a truck when it becomes unsafe, the safety issues affecting this particular industry uniquely concern the public at large.

Though it is ordinarily no one else’s business whether a worker is obese or not, a new study suggests that the public interest may be affected when truckers are obese. Due to consequences of obesity, like truck driver fatigue resulting from severe weight-related sleep apnea, the results of the study which links trucker obesity with an increased crash risk make the healthy weight of commercial truckers very much the public’s business.

The study, which was recently published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, was led by an expert from the University of Minnesota at Morris. Researchers followed nearly 750 drivers for two years before analyzing their crash risk as compared to their normal or obese body composition.

Becoming a licensed driver is a rite of passage in the lives of American youth. Some parents take an active role in their children’s initial driving years, while others adopt more of a “sink or swim” approach. Regardless of their methods, most parents care deeply about their children’s safety behind the wheel. However, evidence strongly suggests that teens whose parents actively teach, monitor and enforce restrictions related to their driving habits are less likely to be involved in devastating car accidents.

As a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently urged parents to create and enforce driving safety limits and general rules for teens who are old enough to be behind the wheel. While it may often seem as if teens do not care how their parents act or what they say, evidence supports the premise that parental modeling and rule enforcement have a significant impact in the driving habits that teens develop.

This message is critical, given that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among older American teenagers. So what can parents do specifically to keep their teens safer? The NHTSA suggests the following:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that highway traffic deaths increased by 13.5 percent during the first quarter of 2012. This increase is the largest jump in traffic fatalities since 1979. Given that traffic deaths in 2011 were at their lowest since 1949, this recent increase in car accident fatalities is especially concerning.

However, the NHTSA warned that the first quarter results should not be used to draw conclusions about the traffic death rate for the rest of the year. It is not clear why the rate increased, but the weather and a slowly resurging economy are being considered as factors.

Regardless of the cause of the recent increase in traffic fatalities, there are steps you can take as a motorist to protect yourself on the road. The National Safety Council suggests the following:

For years, studies have confirmed the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. But, now, a new study reveals that there is a state of driving nearly as dangerous as drunk driving: sleepy driving.

The study, which, according to Reuters Health, was conducted by Dr. Nicholas Moore at the Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de Bordeaux in France and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, reveals that drivers who are impaired by alcohol or sleepy are at least twice as likely to cause a motor-vehicle accident when compared to drivers who are neither drunk nor tired.

The study reviewed the circumstances of 679 drivers who remained in the hospital for at least 24 hours following motor-vehicle accidents from 2007 to 2009. According to the results of the study, factors such as being a “young driver” (18 to 29 years old), driving under the influence of alcohol and being sleepy are indicators of an increased risk of being involved in a car accident.

A recent study by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) highlights startling conclusions for those of us who have been listening to warnings about distracted driving. It is true that distraction causes accidents, about 950,000 annually. The SAE found, however, that one simple driving behavior could be linked to more than twice that many motor vehicle accidents per year, around 2 million. That behavior is failure to use turn signals properly when turning or changing lanes.

When a driver doesn’t signal his or her intention to shift to another highway lane, other drivers nearby don’t have the opportunity to modify their own behavior to enhance safety. For example, a car may be speeding up when a vehicle suddenly cuts in front of it from another lane, and it may be too late for the initial driver to avoid rear-end collision. A simple signal of the lane change, though, could have warned the driver not to speed up just then, or to change lanes to avoid the other car.

Drivers are required to signal when turning or changing lanes. Signaling is a fundamental rule of the road, and it’s the law, just like stopping for a red light. The SAE has determined, however, that almost half of drivers either don’t signal when changing lanes, or don’t turn the signal off again after turning it on for a lane change. About a fourth of drivers make this mistake when turning. Engineers estimate that this error happens 2 billion times a day on America’s roads.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tasked with prevention of injuries and fatalities related to commercial motor vehicle crashes. Given the prevalence of truck accidents which occur annually on the nation’s roadways, the administration has not been granted an easy mission.

One of the tools that the FMCSA hopes will lead to effective safety initiatives in the future is the Commercial Driver Individual Differences Study. In addition to receiving feedback from commercial trucking fleet managers, the study will analyze surveys from over 15,000 truck drivers on a range of personal subjects.

The anonymous surveys are designed so that the administration can compare differences among drivers, in order to spot patterns regarding what type of behaviors may lead to a greater propensity for accidents. As stated by the FMCSA, the study’s purpose is “to identify, verify, quantify and prioritize commercial driver risk factors.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a study in August which determined that anti-rollover technology reduces the risk of a fatal crash by 18 percent. The NHTSA said the technology cut overall car crashes by six percent. For passenger cars, the risk of fatal crashes fell 23 percent and 20 percent for light trucks and vans. The government study was based on a review of crash data from 1997 through 2009.

Electronic Stability Control

The technology has been available for decades; Mercedes and BMW first used it in 1987. However, like airbags before it, the use of electronic stability control (ESC) was initially very limited, and only after NHTSA issued formal regulations did automakers make ESC widely available. ESC systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to prevent the wheels from skidding and to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle.