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Senior drivers tend to purchase the same type of car throughout the years placing an emphasis on familiarity over safety features.  This behavior could possibly increase their accident risks.

Earlier studies have indicated that seniors tend to drive cars that are less loaded with the kind of state-of-the-art safety features that many automobiles now come with. More new studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety now prove this point. Senior drivers already have a higher risk for accident-related injury and fatality than other age groups. They are more likely to suffer severe injuries, and one reason for this is that these drivers tend to drive cars that have older and possibly outdated features.

Prior studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have found that drivers above the age of 75 have a risk of being fatally injured in car accidents that is as much as four times higher in the case of a side-impact accident. In the case of a frontal accident, the risk of dying is approximately three times higher for a senior above the age of 75, compared to drivers of other age groups.

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Tesla is probably the best known for the various high-tech systems in its automobiles many of which can help a driver avoid being in an accident.  However, one newly-introduced feature most likely has the opposite effect.  A recent but little-known feature in Tesla vehicles allows occupants, including passengers, to play in-car video games in full view of the driver.

Motorists as well as passengers can play one of several popular video games while the car is in operation. The kind of distraction that this poses to the driver cannot be overstated.  Tesla has been under scrutiny for the safety of its tech systems, including the auto drive systems that allow the car to be operated without the motorist placing his hands on the steering wheel, for several months now. Tesla is also under a federal investigation regarding accidents involving its cars that have resulted in several deaths. Since 2016, more than ten people have died in accidents that were caused when the Tesla cars crashed while in auto pilot mode.  Unfortunately, Tesla has not been able to come up with a fool-proof system that will prompt the driver to keep his eyes on the road while the car is being operated automatically.

The risk of accidents involving these cars has been the subject of federal probes for serval months now, and the introduction of this new feature that allows occupants to play video games while driving the car has federal agencies even more concerned. Regulators at the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is currently leading the safety probe into Tesla models, have asked the automaker for more information about the video game features in its cars.

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The federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is poised to soon have its first confirmed chief in several years.  The good news is that the new head promises to take an extra special look at the increasing rates of traffic accident fatalities in the country.

The Biden administration has zeroed in on Steven Cliff to be the next head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Cliff has been serving as the deputy administrator for the NHTSA since February 2021.

Cliff is no stranger to auto safety, and is currently overseeing the federal administration’s investigation into auto accidents in Tesla automobiles. He is making it clear that the recently-approved infrastructure bill would boost the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s spending budget by 50%. According to Cliff, the funds will help the administration implement strategies to understand the causes of car accidents, and will enhance the quality of data as well expand the use of electronic reporting systems, moving them from paper-based to digital systems.

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New cars have an increasing array of gadgets and accessories.  Although some may be designed to help keep a driver safe, in-car technology and objects inside the car may actually be much more likely to distract motorists than objects outside the car.

These new findings are part of recent research into distractions affecting motorists and their impact on safe driving. The study was published in Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal and focused on the types of distractions that motorists are most prone to, as well as the impact of distractions on different types of motorists, including teen as well as senior drivers.

The study found that in-car objects and technology as well as cell phones were a major distraction for motorists. External scenes were also a distraction to a certain extent.  Teens and adult drivers were much more likely to be distracted by technology, other passengers as well as other types of distractions, compared to senior drivers. However, senior drivers seemed to suffer a greater impact from distractions. Older drivers may begin to suffer from slower reflexes and delayed response times as they age, and the impact of these can be exacerbated when the senior driver is also distracted by his cell phone or other technology.  Both females as well as males were prone to distractions.

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It is well known that alcohol impairs a person’s judgment and reflexive abilities which is why someone who has been drinking should not be behind a wheel.  However, most motorists underestimate exactly how drunk they are and almost always mistakenly believe that they are fit to drive. Not surprisingly, a new study finds that self-monitoring and self-evaluation of drunkenness may not help prevent accidents involving drunk motorists.

The study was conducted in Germany which has a legal blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.05. The researchers found in their study that more than 50% of the participants believed that they were fit to drive even though they had a blood alcohol concentration limit that was higher than the maximum legal limit. There were ninety participants in the study, and the average age of the participants was 24. As part of the study, the participants were made to drink alcoholic beverages until their blood alcohol concentration level reached 0.11% or more than twice the legal limit in that country. The study was conducted over a period of two days.

The researchers found that as many as 39% of the participants believed that they had just reached the intoxication limit when they had crossed the limit. On the second day, 53% of the participants believed that they had just reached the legal limit when they had actually surpassed it. This shows that individual ability to determine drunkenness cannot be taken as a confirmation of a person’s ability to drive safely. Self evaluation of driving ability can be extremely prejudiced, and drivers can be prone to making errors in determining their own ability to drive safely.

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A leading non-profit traffic safety advocacy group says that Georgia could do a much better job of protecting motorists and other people on our roads and preventing accidents by implementing key changes to the existing laws.

According to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a non-profit organization, 1,491 persons were killed in traffic accidents on Georgia roads in 2019. Around 13,525 people were killed in traffic accidents in the state over a decade-long period. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in its Roadmap for State Highway Safety Laws report says that the total cost of traffic accidents in Georgia has been more than 10 billion dollars. The 2021 roadmaps report identifies the areas in which Georgia has succeeded in keeping motorists safe, and suggests areas of improvement that could further help reduce accident and fatality rates in the state.

The report is very appreciative of Georgia’s seat belt laws that allow for primary enforcement. Primary enforcement means that a police officer can pull a motorist over and cite him for failure to wear a seatbelt even if he does not notice any other violations. However, the primary enforcement law applies to motorists and front seat passengers only, and not to rear seat passengers.  The report recommends that Georgia implement primary enforcement seat belt laws even for back seat passengers.  Georgia’s motorcycle helmet laws that apply to all riders as well as the state’s booster seat were commended, however the report recommended mandating children remain in rear facing booster seats until the age of two.

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Transportation safety advocates have been hailing the infrastructure bill that allocates billions in spending on upgrading infrastructure.  Georgia could be an especially lucky beneficiary of that funding.

The infrastructure bill recently signed by President Joe Biden will earmark a staggering $1 trillion for infrastructure funding across the country. Billions of dollars of those funds are on their way to Georgia where many bridges, roads, and highways will benefit from upgrades and repairs. The state has several bridges and highways that have been deemed dangerous or in “poor” condition by experts. At least 374 bridges in the state are “structurally deficient.” Additionally, more than 2, 000 miles of roads across Georgia are categorized as “poor.”  These roads and bridges will benefit from the funding and receive necessary repairs from pot holes, to crumbling pavement and unstable foundations.

Close to 9 billion dollars in funding will be directed to defective highways and roads in the state. An additional $225 million will be allocated for conducting repairs to bridges. Roads in the metro Atlanta region are likely to benefit from repairs as a result of the funding. Mass transit in Georgia will also benefit as a result of the funds. The bill includes more than 1.4 billion dollars to be spent over the next five years on public transport systems in Georgia.  Efforts to expand public transportation have long been attempted in the Atlanta area.  The additional funding may help get overdue improvements finally implemented.   Expansion of mass transit and public transport services will ease congestion in the metro Atlanta region and other areas, and make the roads safer for all commuters to use. Mass transit is safer and more convenient than driving for many Atlanta residents, and expansion will definitely be welcome

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Seniors who have had limited access to physical exercise and mobility over the past year are reporting frail health and an increased risk of fall accidents that result in injuries.

A new study by the University of Michigan shows that the health crisis of last year meant lost access to their usual opportunities for exercise for many seniors. Even simple walks outside the home became difficult for many seniors in Georgia, and as a result, their collective health has suffered. The study finds that long periods of staying home with only sedentary activity has resulted in frail musculoskeletal health for seniors, and that this has increased their risk for suffering fall accidents significantly.

The researchers surveyed a group of seniors between the ages of 50 and 80 about their access to physical inactivity during 2020, and found that many reported lower levels of exercise. As many as a third of the survey respondents reported that their health declined in 2020, especially during the first few months of the crisis. As many as a quarter reported that they have worse physical health than before the crisis, and that they now have a serious fear of falling.

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Daylight savings time has ended in Georgia which has many people bemoaning about the shorter days.  However, researchers have found that the darker morning hours during the daylight savings period may actually do more harm than good, especially for people on the road.  Debates are rising about the effectiveness of this measure in keeping people rested and safe.

In Georgia, daylight savings time kicked off on March 14, 2021 and ended on November 7, 2021.  Most states that have the measure in place are no longer on daylight savings time as of the last week of November. Debates are now rising about the need for daylight savings time in the first place.

The Department of Transportation says that daylight savings time helps reduce the risk of traffic accidents, and has a number of other benefits including the prevention of crime. Not all experts agree, however. There is concern that daylight savings time which results in the elimination of an extra hour of sleep for many Georgians simply increases their risk of drowsiness and fatigue. Both of these are factors that are very often cited in car crashes.

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Cars have become more and more technologically advanced each new year.  While some drivers may find these new technologies difficult to navigate, learning how to use them may help prevent a serious accident and even a fatality.  Certain types of auto technologies may be especially beneficial in helping protect senior motorists and passengers from serious injuries in an accident.

Auto safety technology like lane departure warning systems and forward collision warning systems that are available on many of the latest automobiles have been proven to be very effective in helping reduce accident and injury rates. From side airbags and back view cameras to newer seat belt systems in your car, technology works to protect both motorists and passengers against the risk of serious injuries in an accident.

Auto safety technologies may be even more beneficial in protecting senior passengers and motorists. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, studies have shown that side airbags that offer not just frontal but also head and torso protection may be even more beneficial in older drivers and passengers than younger drivers. The risk of an accident-related fatality for front seat passengers above the age of 70 dropped by 45 percent, compared to a rate of 30 percent for younger drivers, indicating that older passengers and motorists may especially benefit from these systems.

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