Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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There is a silent killer on our streets, and unfortunately, it receives very little attention. Speeding–related accident deaths in the United States are on the increase and fast rising. This is in sharp contrast to other countries in the European Union, for instance, where speeding-related traffic fatality rates have actually been falling.

There has been plenty of discussion about the increase in traffic accident fatalities in this country in 2020, in spite of the fact that there were fewer vehicle miles travelled that year. There is a long history in this nation of attempts to curb speeding, but it took the pandemic to bring speeding to the forefront of the national traffic safety discourse. Most developed countries, including those in the European Union, have actually seen their traffic accident fatality rates drop significantly in recent years, and they have their regulations against speeding to thank for it.  In the United States, the exact opposite has happened, and we can look to the changes in how regulators in the United States view speeding to understand the reasons for this.

The European Union and the United Kingdom have mandated that by the year 2022, all new automobiles sold in these countries must come with speed limiters. The mandate also requires that cars come with intelligent speed assistance technology which restricts the speed of a car based on existing GPS data and external speed limit signs, by 2024. Drivers can override the technology if they choose to. However, the mandate requires that the data be stored in black box data recorders that can then be investigated in the event of an accident. Regulators in these countries believe that these rules will lead to a reduction in traffic accident fatalities by as much as 20%.

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It’s been heartening to see a stronger emphasis on minimizing traffic accident fatalities, not just by auto safety organizations, but also by lawmakers. In recent weeks, a number of non-profit advocacy organizations have come together to support advocacy efforts as well as initiatives by lawmakers to minimize the number of Americans killed in traffic accidents.

Advocacy organizations like the Governor’s Highway Safety Association and Advocates for Highway and Highway Safety have spent months calling attention to the higher numbers of accident fatalities that occurred last year in spite of a 10% drop in the number of vehicle miles travelled. Those statistics indicate that we have a very serious problem with traffic safety in the United States. For one thing, too many U.S. cities are designed to make it easier to drive rather than walk or bike. Our transportation system, unfortunately, makes it easier to get from point A to point B using a car, as opposed to using mass transit or walking. Those are unacceptable realities, and simply add to the problem of our congested streets.

For our streets to be less congested and safer, we need to add bicycling and walking safely to the list of viable transport options. Safety advocates are calling for the installation of more dedicated and exclusive bicycle lanes in metropolitan areas, including the metro Atlanta region. Exclusive bike lanes are lanes that are meant solely for the use of bicyclists, and are separated from car lanes by a physical barrier that prevents them from coming into direct contact with cars. Experts at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute say that for bicycle lanes to be considered safe, they must be separated from car lanes by more than a slap of paint. Our roads need to be designed with the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists in mind. An overwhelming majority of metropolitan areas in the country are not designed to make it safer to bike or walk compared to drive.

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The head of the National Transportation Safety Board says that focusing only on individual driver behavior or actions may not be sufficient to helping reduce the number of people killed in traffic accidents in Georgia and across the United States every year.   She instead is calling for an approach that takes into account all of the different factors that contribute to the various driver behaviors resulting in accidents.

The National Transportation Safety Board is primarily an investigative authority which conducts investigations into air, road, land, and water accidents that involve mass fatalities or casualties. The Board advises or provides recommendations based on those investigations, and is not a regulatory authority. It cannot pass regulations based on its own recommendations. However, the Board’s recommendations are taken very seriously by state administrations, especially those that are looking at making their roads safer.

Jennifer Homendy, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, was speaking in remarks to a conference of the Governors Highway Safety Association, and says that an overall approach to increasing traffic safety must take into consideration the fact that so many states have enforced higher speed limits than recommended. Speeding, for instance, continues to be a major killer on American roads, and we must evaluate whether the systems in place to date actually encourages drivers to speed. She points to states that have prohibited local authorities from setting their own lower speed limits for motorists. She also points to the responsibility of manufacturers who frequently design automobiles that are made to travel at more than 100 mph, or sell cars that have no installed speed limiters to prevent excessive speeds. Road design that encourages speeding could be just as much to blame as individuals who take advantage of these roads that are built for excessive speeds.

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Driving at night is typically the least favorite time to drive for most people.  Reduced visibility and glare are just some of the dangers of driving at night that can cause accidents.  Better headlights that have a high safety rating, however, are much more likely to help reduce the risk of night time accidents. According to a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, headlight systems that have a good rating by the Institute can significantly help reduce the risk of accidents that occur in the night time.

In 2016, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety developed a safety rating system for headlights. Until then, there was no real way of measuring how headlights fared when compared with each other and when they were actually used in the real world. The federal standard for headlights was outdated, and under these standards, most headlights were more or less considered equal. However in 2016, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety established a headlight ratings program that measured headlight fitness as “good”, “acceptable”, “marginal” or “poor.”

Five years later, a new study finds that since the ratings went into effect, there has been a 19% reduction in the accident rate involving cars with headlights that have a “good” rating, compared to those that have a “poor” headlights rating. When headlights were rated “acceptable” or “marginal,” there was a 15% reduction in the number of accidents that involved these cars. Additionally the study also found that good headlights specifically helped reduce certain types of accidents. For instance, when headlights had a “good” rating there was a 29 percent drop in the number of accidents involving injuries to the driver.  These headlights also contributed to a 25% drop in the number of accidents involving pedestrians.

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Auto accidents caused by road rage are on the rise.   Traffic in the metro Atlanta area is notorious and surely the source of many road rage incidents.  According to some estimates, as many as 1,700 people suffer severe or fatal injuries in accidents caused directly by road rage every year.

Road rage goes beyond being angry or aggressive. Driving a car, especially while alone, can be a stressful situation, and a person driving under stress can make for a dangerous driver. Some people are more like to suffer from road rage. According to experts, persons with a Type A personality who are more competitive and aggressive in their daily lives are also more likely to show aggressive tendencies while driving. These tendencies could actually place them at risk of an accident.

If you are curious about whether you have the makings of an angry driver, ask yourself these questions. Do you often leave home late, and then find yourself irritable that other motorists aren’t giving way for you like they should so you can reach your destination on time? Do you often found yourself cursing at other motorists or making rude gestures? Do you feel like all other motorists around you are bad drivers, and therefore need to be taught a lesson so that they don’t repeat such poor driving behaviors? If you’ve answered “yes” to all of these questions, you may be at risk of road rage and not even know it.

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The federal administration is marking the month of October as Pedestrian Safety Month, drawing attention to the need for motorists to make more efforts to look out for pedestrians while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has marked the month of October as Pedestrian Safety Month with a singular goal in mind which is to raise awareness of the need to ensure that people can walk safely without the fear of accidents and to keep the safety of pedestrians in mind when they are out at all times. The National Highway Traffic Safety administration is dedicating each week in October to different safety themes.

Week 1 is dedicated to educating the public about the fact that at some point in the day, every person is a pedestrian. Whether you are walking into your office building from the parking lot, or walking home from work, you are still a pedestrian for a certain amount of time. Accidents can occur even in parking areas when motorists fail to look out for pedestrians who may be in the area.

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Teen drivers have some of the highest accident risks. When a teenager is driving a car that is equipped with the latest safety tech, however, those accident risks reduce significantly.  

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study on the effectiveness of crash avoidance technologies and other safety systems on the accident risks of teen motorists. The study found that these technologies, if mandated on all automobiles, could prevent as many as 75% of all accidents involving teen motorists. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study results show that while it is not possible to reduce teen accident rates by 100%, it is possible to significantly reduce the risks of teen motorists being involved in accidents by getting them cars that are equipped with lane departure warning systems, forward collision avoidance systems and other car safety technologies. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that teen motorists have a risk of being involved in accidents that is as much as four times higher than for adult drivers. There are several reasons for those higher accident risks.  Teen motorists have fewer years of experience successfully navigating traffic and crash risks. Additionally, teen motorists are more likely to be impulsive and may lack the critical judgment and reasoning skills that are necessary to avoid accidents. Teens are also more likely to be susceptible to crashes involving drunk driving and speeding. Passengers in the car also constitute a huge distraction for a teen motorist. All these factors combined significantly increase teen motorist crash risks. 

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Many accidents that occur in parking lots involve distracted motorists. The National Safety Council says that a focus on avoiding distractions in these areas as well as technology that can prevent such crashes could help reduce those accident numbers.

Parking lot accidents can involve two cars or a car and pedestrian. The latter are very common, and get a lot of attention because the pedestrians in these cases may suffer serious injuries as a result of these accidents. According to a National Safety Nonoil poll, 66 percent of motorists admit that they use their phone calls for various activities while driving in a parking lot. About 63 percent would fiddle with their GPS systems while at the wheel of a moving car, 56 percent would text at the wheel and more than half would scroll through social media on the phone or send and receive emails while driving in a parking lot. Close to half would take photos or watch videos while driving in these areas.

Motorists tend to have a false sense of complacency when they are driving through a parking lot. Speeds are lower, and there is minimal traffic in a parking lot.  The idea that nothing could possibly happen when you are driving at low speeds or backing out of your spot while distracted is very strong in many motorists’ minds. Those crash risks increase during busy shopping times, like the holiday season when traffic is even higher.  The risks are compounded by the fact that holiday shoppers are usually in a hurry to back out or get home.

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Novice or inexperienced drivers have some of the highest accident risks of all categories of motorists. Ford Motors and the Governors Highway Safety Association are teaming up to offer young drivers in Atlanta the opportunity to fine- tune their driving skills.

Ford Motor Company conducts the Ford Driving Skills for Life driving clinics across the country, and the company is bringing these programs to Atlanta soon. The clinic is focused on helping newly-licensed drivers improve their driving skills, so that they will be able to drive safely and responsibly

The clinics are designed to help young drivers who have just received their learner’s license learn skills that can significantly help reduce their risks of being involved in an accident. According to Ford, the program focuses on enhancing skills that are related to four critical areas that are responsible for causing a majority of all car accidents-speed management, space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.  Problems involving these four areas are responsible for approximately 60% of all car accidents that occur every year. Fine-tuning driving skills that focus on these areas can help novice drivers who do not have a lot of experience behind the wheel handle these challenges safely, understand how to stick to safe speeds, understand how to manage the space around their vehicles and recognize accident risks and manage these before it is too late.

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According to new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seatbelt use rates declined in 2020. Federal authorities are concerned that these low rates could continue through 2021 as well.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that there were 38,680 deaths in traffic accidents recorded across the country in 2020. Almost fifty percent of them involved motorists or passengers who were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.  Seatbelt use was found generally lower in rural as compared to urban areas.  The lack of seatbelt use in rural areas also meant a higher percentage of serious accidents or deaths from car accidents.

2020 was an extremely unusual year in terms of traffic safety. Traffic volumes dropped significantly, especially between March and July, typically some of the busiest as well as some of the riskier months of the year. However, even as traffic volumes dropped and transportation safety authorities believed that accident rates would also correspondingly drop, the very opposite happened. The emptier streets only led to an increase in dangerous driving behaviors, including speeding and drunk driving.

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