Articles Posted in In The News

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As electric cars become more popular on our roads, there are frequently more reports of car accidents involving these vehicles with pedestrians.

The demand for electric vehicles has nowhere near peaked, and as the number of such vehicles increases on our roads, we are understanding more about the specific dangers involving such cars.  While electric cars have their  advantages, they can be extremely silent, and this can pose a threat to  vulnerable users on our roads, like pedestrians. According to the results of a new study, pedestrians are as much as three times more likely to be involved in fatal car accidents involving electric cars compared to gas powered cars.

Both electric and hybrid cars were found to be more dangerous compared to gas powered cars.  The rate of accidents was 5 wrongful deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the case of electric cars, and just 2.5 wrongful deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the case of gas powered vehicles.

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Close to 40% of all car accidents involving delivery vans could be prevented if all vans came equipped with four important safety features.

According  to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, auto tech could play a key role in helping reduce the number of auto accidents caused by delivery vans in the United States.   Delivery  vans have become a ubiquitous presence on American roads,  and their number has only grown since the pandemic when online purchases became the norm. With the e-commerce boom not expected to slow down anytime soon, it is important for regulators and auto makers to act to make these vehicles safer for all motorists on the road.

Light vans were already a very popular vehicle in the United States, but their popularity has boomed since the pandemic.  As  many as 500,000 such vehicles are sold every year in the United States.  The number of such vehicles simply boomed during the pandemic, spurred by a 43% increase in e-commerce rates.

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Traffic  signs that can monitor motorist behavior and display messages that are tailored to target such behaviors may be the next step forward as federal and state officials consider innovative ways of reducing the number of car accidents in their jurisdictions.

Across the country, some jurisdictions are experimenting with pilot programs using smart sign boards that display targeted messages to motorists.  These   smart signs are designed to  capture dangerous driving behaviors like failure to wear seat belts or use of cell phones while driving.  If  the technology spots a motorist driving without wearing a seat belt or using a cell phone while driving, it immediately flashes a warning message to the motorist.  For example, a distracted driver may see a “Phone Down” message on a sign board as he is approaching. Similar messages will be posted when the system finds motorists driving  at  excessive speeds. Motorists who are driving responsibly may be rewarded with a smiley face flashing from the traffic sign.

The  signs are operated by infrared and microwave technology, and are not designed to punish or cite violators.  However,  they can warn motorists if they are engaged in behavior that increases their risks  of being involved in a car accident.  The  technology is very interesting, and traffic safety experts will be eagerly awaiting the results of the pilot program that is currently running in at least two major American cities.

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An analysis of traffic data from the last total solar eclipse in 2017 predicts an increase in auto accident rates during the next eclipse expected on April 8.

Astronomers have predicted a total solar eclipse on April 8.  This  eclipse is likely to be similar to the Great American Eclipse of 2017.  According  to a new study,  the 2017 total solar eclipse was accompanied by an increase in the number of car accidents during the eclipse.  The  researchers  warn   that a similar surge in car accident numbers is to be expected during this eclipse as well.

Eclipses   are typically more likely to be associated with eye injuries than with car accidents.  However,  the researchers stress that it is not the reduced visibility during the eclipse that causes an increase in car accidents.  Rather, it is in the hours soon after the eclipse when people are traveling back home from the site of observation when accidents are more likely to occur.

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The  United States recently crossed a  painful  milestone as it recorded 4 million car accident wrongful deaths since the first fatality was recorded in 1899.

The milestone is especially poignant because it comes as transportation authorities are grappling with the problem of increasing car accident deaths across the country, especially since the pandemic.  While there has been a slight progress in helping reverse that trend, car accident deaths, especially those related to distracted driving and speeding have simply skyrocketed over the past 2 years,  undoing much of the progress that has been made in this field over the past decade.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association is calling for better implementation of the National Roadways Safety Strategy , safer infrastructure, better protection for pedestrians  and bicyclists,  and stronger laws against distracted driving and drunk driving, as well as efficient after – accident care as the key to helping reduce the number of people being killed in these very preventable car accidents every year.

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Several studies have confirmed that speeding rates  increased during the pandemic, but disturbing new data from a mobile analytics company finds that  American motorists have also been engaging in  other types of dangerous behaviors at higher rates since the pandemic.

New  data by Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a company that offers apps that can be downloaded to lower motorist insurance rates finds that the rates of distracted driving actually increased during the pandemic. What is worse  is that those distracted driving rates have actually continued even after the pandemic. The Cambridge apps that can be downloaded by drivers measure a number of parameters, including the actions involved in holding a phone and interacting with an unlocked screen while driving.

The analysis found that there was an increase in the rates of both interaction with an unlocked screen, as well as phone motion by as much as 20% between  2020 and 2022. For instance,  the company states that in 2022,  drivers used their phones for  these  activities on close to 60% of all their trips.  These are alarming  figures, and should be worrying to any traffic safety expert.  Far  from cutting down on distracted driving behaviors like using cell phones while driving, American motorists are actually engaging with their phones even more than ever before, placing them at risk of  being involved in  car accidents. Most distracted driving behaviors occur when the car is at 50 miles per hour.

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If a group of Atlanta Council members has its way, motorists will no longer be able to make a right turn when they are at a red light.  The move is linked to concerns about the risk of car accidents involving pedestrians.

The so- called Right on Red laws were enacted across the country back in the 1970s in the midst of a fuel crisis.  The law allows motorists the right to make a right turn at a red light, provided they stop first and it is safe to turn.  However, authorities found out very quickly after the laws were passed, that while the laws did not really do much to increase fuel efficiency, they did increase the risk of car accidents involving pedestrians when drivers made  right turns at red lights.  Even back in the 1970s, officials found that there was a higher risk of auto accidents involving pedestrians in these areas.

Recently, however, there have been efforts across the country to get these laws repealed or banned.  According  to transportation safety experts, these laws do contribute to large numbers of  car accidents every year involving pedestrians,   and many of these auto accidents result in catastrophic personal injuries to the pedestrians.  Now, a group of three Atlanta Council members also has proposed a ban on such right turns at red lights in certain areas in the city.  The three Council members are proposing a ban on these actions in Midtown, Downtown and Castleberry Hill.  These are busy areas that are chock full of entertainment venues and cultural attractions, and see large   volumes of pedestrian traffic.  According  to the Council members,  it is important to keep these areas thriving,  and that  can happen only when the laws make it safe for pedestrians to walk in these neighborhoods.

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If you are driving in a car with a driver who is texting at the wheel, then your chances of being involved in an auto accident increase significantly.  However, there is much that you can do as a passenger to avoid car accidents caused by distracted driving.

Most motorists are aware of the dangers of texting while driving, but unfortunately, that does not necessarily prevent many of them from using their texting devices while driving. Georgia has laws that ban sending or receiving text messages while driving, but there are far too many drivers who abuse cell phone privileges behind the wheel. However, passengers may have a big role to play in helping reduce the incidence of such behaviors.

Insurance provider Erie recently consulted with a psychologist, and provided tips for passengers who see the driver of the car texting while driving.  It is imperative that you speak up when you are traveling in a car and you see the driver texting while driving.  Erie’s advice is that you negotiate with the driver.  Tell him that if he or she really needs to be on his cell phone, you can take over his driving duties while he continues with his text messaging or cell phone conversation.  This makes the driver aware that you are uncomfortable with the fact that he is texting while driving, and also gives him an alternate option that allows him to continue texting  while ensuring  everyone’s safety.

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The federal government is not amused by the witty highway safety messages that are posted on several highways across the country, including in Georgia, to prevent auto accidents.   The federal government has banned these humorous electronic safety messages across the country.

The Federal Highway Administration, which is in charge of regulating the nation’s massive network of highways, recently released a 1000 – page manual which also includes rules for the design of safety signs. The manual  makes it clear that it considers these messages to be distracting. Rather than preventing auto accidents, the FHA believes the messages make car accidents more likely.

Over the past few years, several states including Georgia, have attempted  to attract motorist  attention to highway safety issues by posting humorous safety messages that use wordplay,  a pun-friendly  style or references to pop culture to grab eyeballs.  Georgia transportation safety experts experimented with these witty signs, and in 2020, held a contest to find the most humorous sign ideas.  Winning entries included gems like You Look Great, But the Selfie Can Wait, Better Late Than Never, and our favorite If You Missed the Exit, It’s OK, We Made More Up Ahead, and began flashing on several highways after these were picked out of hundreds of entries.  Over the next few months, however, many of these messages may simply be phased out as a result of the new federal rules.

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Sleep experts have always known that night shift workers are at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident.  A new study finds even more conclusive proof that night shift workers are at risk of a number of sleep disorders that can increase their risks of being involved in a car crash.

The study was conducted in the Netherlands where Dutch researchers found that out of all the patients involved in the study, more than 51% suffered from at least one sleep disorder. The researchers focused on more than 37,000 workers who were questioned about their work patterns and sleeping habits.  The researchers screened participants for 6 common sleep disorders including insomnia, hypersomnia or excessive sleeping, sleep apnea and other sleep – related breathing disorders, sleep walking, sleep – related movement disorders and sleep – wake disturbances. They found that 51% or at least one third of the participants suffered from at least one sleep disorder and 13% of all participants suffered from at least two of the sleep disorders for which they were screened.

Among  those who did night shifts, whether regular night shifts or rotational night shifts, 26% reported at least two or more sleep disorders. Consistent and regular night shifts seemed to be the most dangerous for workers with many of these workers reporting lower than optimum hours of sleep.  About 50 percent  of the workers who were on night shifts reported that they often slept for less than 6 hours a day.  The  ideal sleep duration for an adult is 8 hours everyday.

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