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Drivers who have a history of rash or negligent driving practices are very likely to continue indulging in these practices in the future, increasing their risks of an accident.

According to researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, past driver behavior is a very good indicator of future accident risk. In other words, drivers who have a history of poor driving, including speeding, drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs and distracted driving are very likely to continue to engage in these practices. According to the researchers, this is the reason why we saw increased traffic accident fatalities in 2020 in spite of a reduction in traffic volumes. Even with lower volumes of traffic, Atlanta roads saw a higher number of traffic accident fatalities last year, with distracted driving, speeding and drunk driving pushing those numbers upward.

Past behavior is a reliable indicator of future driving. For example, a motorist who has a history of driving at high speeds will continue to be at risk of speeding. If anything, the behavior of such drivers is only exacerbated when the roads are less congested. In 2020, the streets saw lower traffic crash traffic volumes, but the empty streets only encouraged drivers who were already very prone to speeding to drive at very high speeds.

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There is good news for Atlanta motorists – Georgia is ranked as one of the states with the lowest rates of accidents caused by distracted drivers.

According to a recent report released by Zutobi, rates of distracted driving across the country have increased significantly in recent years. Some states have a bigger problem with distracted drivers, compared to others.

Fortunately, Georgia ranks at the bottom of the list, with a low rate of accidents caused by distracted drivers. The crash rate for Georgia was 3.1%, with just over 3 distracted driving- related accidents for every 100 fatal accidents recorded in Georgia. According to the report, Georgia had a total of 1,377 fatal car accidents in 2019, and out of these, 43 crashes were related to distracted motorists.

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The federal administration is signifying its intention to monitor even more closely the evolution of the car automation sector.  One sign is that it will require companies manufacturing so-called “driverless cars” to submit information about crashes involving these vehicles in the future.  Although driverless cars have not become a regular site on Georgia roads or in the metro Atlanta area, it is only a matter of time before they become more common.

There have been recent reports of car accidents involving such driverless vehicles.  Some of these accidents have even resulted in injuries. There are at least 100 companies currently involved in designing and manufacturing technology to assist drivers or take over for them. Some of the more popular of these companies include Tesla and General Motors’ Cruise. Tesla, for instance, has been involved in more than one accident involving its driverless cars. The federal administration now wants to get more involved in monitoring accidents involving these cars, just like it does with accidents involving other automobile models.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued an order to this effect to 108 technology companies that are currently involved in manufacturing autonomous cars. The order requires these companies to submit detailed information about vehicles that have been involved in an accident. The federal administration wants information about any accident in which the vehicle’s automated driving system or level two Driver Advanced Driver Assistance System were in effect at the time of the crash. A level two Driver Advanced Driver Assistance System includes adaptive cruise control, lane centering systems and many of the other technologies that are currently available on many vehicles today. Vehicles like Tesla’s models include multiple such safety features.

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Summer is peak travel season in Atlanta, and also, unfortunately, one of the more accident – prone times of the year. Did you know that your accident risk spikes significantly over the next few weeks because of the following five factors?

Speeding is a major cause of accidents during summer. People travel more during summer, and unfortunately many of them underestimate travel times and leave their homes far too late to reach their destinations on time, which explains why so many drivers speeds on Atlanta streets during summer. Leave your home with plenty of time to reach your destination to avoid the need to rush and drive at high speeds.

Congested roads are a common scene during summer. You are sharing the roads with a greater number of motorists than during other times of the year, and this is something that you must factor in when you make your travel plans. Expect traffic jams and delays, and leave home with plenty of time to spare. With more vehicles on the road, the chances of an accident are exponentially greater.

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Across the metro Atlanta region, many employees have been heading back to work after a year of working from home.  Even more are expected to return to work after Labor Day weekend.  Many employees, however, are also still continuing to work from home, and this has led to interesting fluctuations in traffic patterns which could impact car accident patterns as well.

In large metro areas, like the metro Atlanta region, that typically have had predictable rush-hour traffic patterns, rush hour in the “new normal” is significantly different from Feb 2020.  And with large numbers of employees still working from home, rush hour may not immediately return to pre-2020 levels. Other cities that see heavy rush-hour traffic are seeing similar changes in patterns.

In fact, in many of these cities, there is significantly lower traffic being recorded between 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM. Such declines in early morning traffic are being seen across the country. There has also been a drop in commuter traffic after 8:00 AM, but the drop is not as significant as the drop in the early morning hours.  This indicates that even commuters who are going to work now are choosing to delay their commute. This is in sharp contrast to pre-2020 levels when traffic during the 8 AM to 10 AM commuter shift was markedly lower than the earlier shift.

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The trucking industry and other related parties are promoting a bill that would reduce the minimum age for commercial truck drivers to operate in the United States. There are risks that a proposal like this, if rushed into, could possibly increase the risk of accidents involving tractor- trailers and semi rigs.

Trucking activity across the metro Atlanta region has spiked since last year, when there was a surge in the volume of online deliveries and shipping needs.  While the trucking industry serves a vital function, having more numbers of trucks on our highways will only increase the risks of commercial truck accidents.

The trucking industry says that a shortage of licensed drivers is a major challenge currently facing the sector. To deal with this shortage, the industry is calling for the minimum truck driver age, which currently stands at 20, to be lowered to 18, to drive a truck as part of interstate commerce. The DRIVE Safe Act, is currently pending in Congress and is aimed at allowing interstate driving for commercial truck drivers between 18 and 21.

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Yet another study confirms the significant role that ride sharing apps like Uber can play in helping reduce injuries from drunk driving accidents in areas like the metro Atlanta region. The study finds that these apps help lower injury risks, and that the drop is even more significant in the case of younger drivers.

The results of the study were published recently in the JAMA Surgery journal, and explored the role of rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft in reducing injuries caused by accidents, specifically accidents involving impaired drivers.  The advent of services like Uber has been a boon for intoxicated persons looking for a ride home that is safe, responsible cheap and convenient. Before Uber, drivers would actually have to designate sober motorists to take them home, or even worse drive themselves in an intoxicated condition. However, these apps make it easier for intoxicated motorists or their friends to ride home safely.  The hope is that more people will use ride sharing apps during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend to prevent a spike in drunk driving related accidents.

The study focused on drunk driving accident rates after 2014 when Uber was introduced in the country, and compared those with accident-related injuries from before that time. They found that after ride sharing apps like Uber became available, accident injuries over the weekends in the area studied dropped by as much as 24%.  The drop was the steepest – as much as 40% – in the under-thirty category. This is the group that is most likely to use ride sharing apps.

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New state-specific data about pedestrian accident fatalities in 2020 has been released, and it shows that there was a significant increase in accident deaths recorded last year in Georgia.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association recently released a new report titled Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, which tabulates the projected number of fatalities in 2020 in each state.  Overall, there was a significant increase in pedestrian accident deaths in 2020, compared to 2019. In 2020, there were a total of 6,721 projected pedestrian accident deaths, compared to a total of 6,412 the previous year. This constitutes an increase of 4.8% nationwide from the previous year. Overall, 309 more pedestrians died in 2020, compared to 2019.

The picture is equally dismal in Georgia, which recorded a 14% increase in the number of pedestrians killed in accidents across the state in 2020. There were a total of 239 pedestrian accident deaths in Georgia, while that number increased to 273 in 2020. That makes it an increase of 34 pedestrian deaths or a 14% increase in the number of deaths involving pedestrians.

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Concerned at the increase in the number of auto accidents caused by speeding motorists, a coalition of safety groups has launched two new pilot projects in two separate states aimed at designing strategies to prevent these devastating crashes.

The coalition consisting of the Governors Highway Safety Association, the National Safety Foundation and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety are funding two  separate pilot projects to study ways to reduce the impact of high speeds on motorist safety.  The two states are being granted $100,000 each to design and develop speed management strategies to prevent these crashes. The programs are meant to focus on a combination of engineering design and enhancements and  infrastructure improvements, as well as other proven methods of reducing speeding- related accidents, including education and awareness as well as public outreach. One state is expected to implement the program in a rural setting, while the other will implement the program in an urban area. The goal of the initiative is to design appropriate speed management strategies that can help reduce the impact of speed on highway safety.

Speed has always been a harmful factor in car accidents in the metro Atlanta region.  Unfortunately, over the past year, the role of speeding related car accidents that resulted in fatalities has actually increased. Approximately, nine thousand people die annually in accidents caused directly by speeding motorists. Those numbers increased in 2020 when lower traffic volumes led to an increase in the number of motorists driving at excessive speeds, leading to a spike in the number of related accident deaths recorded last year.  Speeding related accidents and their resulting injuries disproportionately affect teenage drivers more due to their relative lack of skill and maturity behind the wheel.

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Thousands of injuries every year occur in accidents caused when motorists crash into disabled vehicles that have been parked onto the side of the road and are not visible to motorists.

According to a new report published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these accidents result in hundreds of fatalities every year.  The data analyzed revealed that there were 566 car accident fatalities between 2016 and 2018, all involving accidents featuring a disabled or stopped vehicle. In all of these accidents, visibility was rated as a likely factor in the accident. These accidents resulted in more than 14,371 injuries, and cost more than $8.8 billion in lost income and other accident-related losses.

Visibility is often a major factor in these accidents. The researchers found that 95% of accidents involving stopped vehicles featured a vehicle crashing into the stationary or stopped vehicle. More than 50% of the fatalities involved a car hitting a person who was walking back to the stopped vehicle or working on the disabled vehicle. As many as one in 5 severe injuries were the result of such pedestrian motorists walking around the disabled car.  When the stopped vehicle situation occurs at night, it makes the chances of a collision ever more imminent.

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