Decade of Action for Road Safety

NETS logo


A monthly publication of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety

February 16, 2015         Summaries of timely road safety news, events, and alerts


In car crashes, backseat can be more dangerous than the front

Source: CBS News, February 13, 2015

It remains the conventional wisdom that sitting in the back of a vehicle is safer than sitting in the front. But that thinking is out of date. Major advances in car safety -- from basic air bags and "crumple zones" to seat belts that absorb the force of impacts during a crash -- have greatly reduced the likelihood of getting injured or killed while riding in the front seat. But far less progress has been made protecting backseat passengers. Understandably, the car industry's focus has been on better protecting riders in the front because that's where most passengers, or roughly 88%, sit. For children, the back remains the safest place to ride. Children 12 and younger account for 56% of passengers who sit in the back of vehicles, but only 24% of crash fatalities, according to a recent study by the IIHS and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that reviewed U.S. accidents between 2007 and 2012. To see the full article, including details on the crash that just killed "60 Minutes" correspondent Bob Simon, go to:

Bob Simon was not violating seat belt law in fatal crash

Source: USA Today, February 13, 2015

The legendary CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, who was not wearing a seat belt when he was killed last week when his limousine-for-hire crashed, was not in violation of any seat belt law. Passengers in New York taxicabs and vehicles-for-hire are not required to wear seat belts, according to the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission. The Simon crash "is a tragic reminder to all Americans that the laws of physics still apply to cabs and other cars-for-hire," says Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. "Motorists are not magically safer in these vehicles. Too many of us don't think about wearing a seat belt when we are in these vehicles because we aren't in them for long periods of time, and we are out of our normal travel routine." The New York Daily News reported in 2012 that occupants of taxicabs who weren't buckling up were turning up regularly in the city's emergency rooms with injuries from slamming into the hard plastic barriers that separate taxi drivers and rear seat passengers. To see the full article, go to:

NHTSA: Marijuana use may not significantly increase traffic accidents

Source: UPI, February 7, 2015

A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates marijuana use doesn't increase traffic accident risk as much as previously thought. The study looked at 9,000 drivers over the course of 20 months. It found drivers who regularly use marijuana are 25% more likely to be involved in a traffic accident. However, when the researchers factored in age, gender and level of alcohol consumption among marijuana users, they found those factors were more significant than the use of marijuana. Marijuana use did not noticeably impact crash risk once the other factors were added. The study indicates that drunk driving is still a major problem, more so than using marijuana, but it also found drunk driving has decreased in recent years. To see the full article, go to:

Study: Chances of driver dying in car crash plummets

Source: The Associated Press via, January 29, 2015

The chances of a driver dying in a crash in a late-model car or light truck fell by more than a third over three years, and nine car models had zero deaths per million registered vehicles, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Among the improvements credited for declining death rates is the widespread adoption of electronic stability control, which has dramatically lessened the risk of rollover crashes. SUVs had some of the highest rates a decade ago due to their propensity to roll over. Side air bags and structural changes to vehicles are also helping. Automakers are engineering vehicles with stronger occupant compartments that hold up better in front, side and rollover crashes, allowing the seatbelts and air bags to do their jobs well, said Russ Rader, an institute spokesman. But the gap between safest and riskiest models remains wide. Three 2011 models had rates exceeding 100 deaths per million registered vehicle years. To see the full article, go to:

AAA invests $12 million in study of older drivers' needs

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is directing $12 million to Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health so researchers there can study driving behavior and health factors affecting older drivers for the next five years. As part of an unprecedented project to better understand the safety and transportation needs of aging Americans, 3,000 senior drivers will be tracked. The project is expected to clarify the effects of risk factors, like prescription drug use and deteriorating vision, on driving. The study will also explore decisions to stop driving, and mobility options for seniors who no longer drive. To see the full article, go to:

Truckers and bus drivers aren't the only workers at risk for driving while fatigued

Source: Safety + Health—NSC, January 25, 2015

Although estimates vary, driver fatigue may contribute to more than 100,000 crashes a year. Conservative estimates peg drowsy driving as a contributing factor in about 1,000 fatalities a year, while a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that more than 6,000 drowsy-driving crashes a year result in at least one fatality. Stephanie Pratt, coordinator of the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety says drowsy driving affects many non-professional drivers in oil and gas, home health care, sales, shift work and other areas. "I think the most important message you can send is that this is not just about heavy trucks and buses," Pratt said during an interview with Safety+Health. "This is a risk that anybody can suffer. It is not necessarily a matter of your being sleep-deprived for years on end. If you just haven't had enough sleep in the last 24 hours, you're still going to be drowsy no matter how well you slept the past two weeks." To see the full article, go to:

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety releases 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index

Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, February, 2015

Too many Americans report they regularly speed, run red lights, use distracting devices or drive drowsy, despite the fact that one in three has a loved one who has been seriously injured or killed in a crash, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, released last week. The results further indicate that unsafe behaviors persist even though one in five drivers have themselves been involved in a serious crash, and one in ten has been seriously injured in a crash. To see the summary of findings, go to: To view the full report, go to:

2014 one of worst years ever for vehicle safety: NHTSA

Source: Insurance Journal, February 13, 2015

Carmakers recalled about 64 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, more than double the previous record set in 2004, according to official government data. The tally released last week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closes the book on one of the worst years ever for automotive safety as defective General Motors Co. ignition switches and exploding Takata Corp. air bags sent millions of drivers to dealerships in search of repairs. The final tally for last year shows there were 803 automotive recalls, covering 63.9 million vehicles. About 3.5 million cars and trucks have been recalled so far this year, according to NHTSA data. New NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said last month that 2015 may see an even greater number of recalls as regulators ratchet up the pressure on automakers to more quickly disclose and fix defects. To see the full article, go to:

Noise makers for electric cars: won't be law in the U.S. until 2018

Source: Transport Evolved, February 2, 2015

The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2011 mandates that the Department of Transportation create safety standards for car manufacturers to create a sound that alerts pedestrians to the presence of a vehicle moving at speeds less than about 18 mph. Despite originally planning to bring guidelines into force far sooner, NHTSA has now set a deadline of September 2018 for all automakers to comply. Yet while lobbyists for pedestrians — both sighted and visually impaired — argue that noisemakers would dramatically improve pedestrian safety, a large number of studies and automotive insiders remain to be convinced. At speeds above 15 mph or so, the noise of the tires against the road is considered loud enough by many to warn pedestrians of an electric car's presence, while others argue that modern gasoline-engined vehicles — especially premium-market models — are equally as quiet at slow speeds as an electric vehicle. To see the full article, go

U.S. adds automatic braking to recommended car safety features

Source: Insurance Journal, January 23, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to add what it considers two "cutting-edge" automatic emergency braking systems to the recommended safety features included under its rating system for consumers. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said it is recommending two automatic emergency braking systems -– crash imminent braking (CIB) and dynamic brake support (DBS) be included in the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). Crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support systems intervene by automatically applying the vehicle's brakes or supplementing the driver's braking effort to avoid or mitigate the severity of a crash. According to NHTSA data, one-third of all police-reported crashes in 2013 involved a rear-end collision with another vehicle at the start of the crash. To see the full article, go to:

Motorcycle control loss largest crash cause, study finds

Source: Bloomberg, January 30, 2015

Motorcyclists may be their own worst enemy on the road. Insurer Progressive Corp. found that single-vehicle mishaps accounted for more motorcycle-related claims last year than any other event, the company said in a new report. Progressive said it processed 3.5 times more of such claims than for rear-end crashes, the next-most common motorcycle incident. "Excess speed is the most common rider-related factor in fatal motorcycle accidents," Steve Carapia, a California Highway Patrol public information officer, said. Motorcyclists who drive too fast can't identify and react to obstacles in the road, he said. "They don't give themselves enough time to maneuver around the object. Due to their speed, it's hard to negotiate that hazard." To see the full article, go to:

Driver hits pedestrian in Jersey City after her boot heel causes gas pedal to stick: police

Source:, January 24, 2015

A woman driving in her car in Jersey City hit a pedestrian after the "heel of her boot" jammed the gas pedal causing her to lose control of her car, authorities said. The woman told police that she was attempting to slow down at a traffic light when the "heel of her boot got lodged between the floor board and the gas pedal," according to police reports. When the car accelerated, the woman said she lost control of the car, according to police reports. To see the full article, go to:

back to top Back to top


Oregon sets up website for July launch of nation's first major mileage charge program

Source: AASHTO Journal, February 6, 2015

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has already activated a website to help prepare for the July launch of its first-in-the-nation major program to assess road user charges based on vehicle miles traveled. Called OReGO, the program aims to sign up to 5,000 volunteers by July 1 who will pay 1.5 cents a mile for their road system usage and receive a monthly bill that also rebates them for fuel taxes they pay at the gas pump. Oregon was the first state to enact a fuel tax in 1919. The ODOT ran a pilot program of 88 volunteers in 2012-13 to test how to track their miles for a road usage charge. The legislature in 2013 established a mileage-based revenue program for light trucks and passenger cars that is about ready to begin. To visit the program's website, go to: To see the full article, go to:

back to top Back to top


How naps do your brain (and body) good

Source: Huffington Post, February 13, 2015

For people running seriously low on sleep, a nap can not only make you feel better, but can reverse the effects of poor sleep by restoring hormones and proteins involved in stress and immune health. The fact that poor sleep can increase stress levels and suppress immune system activity is well-established. But according to a new small study, napping can be an effective antidote by creating measurable hormone changes. The findings suggest that napping can reverse some of the negative health effects of poor sleep and can also promote overall well-being. If that wasn't enough reason to get a little midday shut-eye, napping has also been shown to boost mood, productivity and creativity, and to facilitate learning and memory. A 2011 study also found that those who napped for at least 45 minutes had lower blood pressure in response to psychological stress than those who did not nap. To see the full article, go

How to avoid parking lot crashes

Source: Automotive Fleet, February 2015

Parking can be a nerve-wracking experience for fleet drivers, and for good reason: About 14% of all vehicle collisions that result in damage occur in parking lots, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It's true that the increased prevalence of rear-view cameras in vehicles has made it easier for drivers to safely back out of parking spaces and they will be required on all new vehicles in 2018, however, rear-view cameras alone are not 100% reliable when it comes to avoiding parking lot collisions. For a list of strategies and tips from Diving Dynamics, see the full article at:

back to top Back to top


Fleet safety video tip: Sharing the road with school buses

Source: Automotive Fleet, January 26, 2015

Approximately 119 school-age pedestrians have died in school transportation-related collisions since 2003. About 30% of those fatalities involved another vehicle in addition to the school bus. Such crashes are most likely to occur during two windows of time –- from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.—when students are getting on and off the buses. Drivers need to be especially cautious and attentive when driving near a school bus, so they're prepared to stop suddenly as the bus loads and unloads its passengers. Trouble arises when impatient drivers attempt to pull around a stopped bus, unaware of the kids entering or exiting. School buses are typically very large, so their height and width obstruct the vision of drivers in vehicles behind the bus. See the full article for a list of tips and a new video that provides additional information on staying safe around buses:

Fleet safety video tip: Post-snowstorm vehicle prep

Source; Automotive Fleet, February 3, 2015

Following a snowstorm, sometimes drivers grow impatient while digging their vehicle out from the snow and try to take shortcuts. But driving with snow or ice remaining on the vehicle can have disastrous consequences if it later dislodges and obstructs the driver's (or that of the driver behind them) view of the road. Also, snow or ice inside the tailpipe can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. One common mistake is to try to accelerate the digging-out process by pouring hot water on the vehicle –- a good way to shatter the windshield. Yet another blunder is to use a shovel to remove snow from the vehicle which could likely cause damage to the body or paint job. A video from AAA provides tips on how to prepare a vehicle for the road after a snowstorm. To see the full article including the video, go to:

How to avoid theft and break-ins

Source: Automotive Fleet, January 2015

Because fleet vehicles are well marked and often filled with valuable tools and/or products, they are particularly attractive to thieves. While fleet vehicles may be more susceptible to theft and break-ins, there are a number of techniques that drivers can practice to make commercial vehicles more secure and less of a target. Vehicle thefts and break-ins, whether committed by professional thieves or those looking for some quick cash, are typically crimes of opportunity, according to Carol Kaplan, director of Public Affairs at the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The NICB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have compiled a list of tips to help avoid break-ins and thefts. To see the full article, go to:

back to top Back to top


New Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) CEO appointed

Source: GRSP, January 27, 2015

The Global Road Safety Partnership has announced Professor Barry Watson has accepted the appointment as new Chief Executive Officer of GRSP. Barry is the current Director of Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (CARRS-Q) in Brisbane, Australia. He has over 30 years' experience in road safety research and policy development, arising from positions in government, industry and academia. Barry has conducted research into a wide range of road user safety issues including drinking and driving, speeding, driver licensing, driver education and traffic law enforcement, and has been involved in the development and delivery of courses in road safety and traffic psychology for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Together with his wealth of experience, Barry brings to the GRSP a proven acumen in business management, a strong background in fostering multi-sector partnerships and a passion for the important work of GRSP. Barry will join the GRSP team at the secretariat in Geneva on March 1. To see the full article, go to:

Bloomberg Philanthropies selects ten cities & five countries to participate in a new phase of the Global Road Safety Initiative.

Source: PR Newswire, February 12, 2015

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the winning cities and countries selected to participate in a new phase of the foundation's Global Road Safety Initiative, which aims to reduce fatalities and injuries from road traffic crashes. With a new commitment of $125 million over five years, the program will work at both the national level to strengthen road safety legislation and the city level implementing proven road safety interventions. The five countries selected will receive technical support to review and strengthen road safety legislation. The ten cities will receive:

  • Senior-level, full-time staff to work within city governments on their road safety initiatives for up to 5 years
  • Comprehensive technical assistance from the world's leading road safety organizations
  • Training for police officers and other relevant city staff
  • Support to create hard-hitting mass media campaigns

To see the full article including the list of cities and countries to receive support, go to:

back to top Back to top


New resources for bicycle and pedestrian safety launched

Source: NHTSA, February 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released new digital Bicycle and Pedestrian Motion Graphics. The graphics rely solely on non-verbal concepts, visual images, and animation to teach people who speak different languages and/or may be hearing impaired, basic bicycle and pedestrian safety concepts. The graphics can be downloaded from NHTSA's Traffic Safety website at and

back to top Back to top


NHTSA releases two new studies on impaired driving on U.S. roads

Source: NHTSA Press Release, February 6, 2015

The nation's decades-long campaign to combat drunk driving continues to make our roads safer, but use of marijuana and prescription drugs is increasingly prominent on the highways, creating new safety questions, according to a pair of ground-breaking studies released by the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One study, the latest version of NHTSA's Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, found that the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007, and by more than three-quarters since the first Roadside Survey in 1973. But that same survey found a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana or other illegal drugs. In the 2014 survey, nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety. A second survey, the largest of its kind ever conducted, assessed whether marijuana use by drivers is associated with greater risk of crashes. The survey found that marijuana users are more likely to be involved in accidents, but that the increased risk may be due in part because marijuana users are more likely to be in groups at higher risk of crashes. In particular, marijuana users are more likely to be young men –- a group already at high risk. To see the full press release, go to:
The agency has published a Research Note regarding each study: Results of the 2013–2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers may be accessed here: and Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk may be accessed here:

Crash weighting analysis: Report to congress with public input sought on next steps

Source: FMCSA News Release, January 21, 2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced through the Federal Register a study that examined (1) whether Police Accident Reports provide sufficient, consistent, and reliable information to support crash weighting determinations, (2) whether a crash weighting determination process would offer an even stronger predictor of carrier crash risk than the current assessment method, and (3) how the agency might reasonably manage and support a process for making crash weighting determinations, including the acceptance of public input. The announcement invites public comment along with a request for feedback on what steps the agency should take regarding the weighting of crash data in the agency's systems based on the carrier's role in a crash. To see the full news release, go to: To Link to the full report, peer review and Federal Register notice, go to:

Report: Lives Saved by Vehicle Safety Technologies and Associated Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, 1960 to 2012 - Passenger Cars and LTVs

Source: NHTSA, January 2015

Link to PDF:

Traffic Safety Facts: Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half (Jan–Jun) of 2014

Link to PDF:

New Report: Road safety with self-driving vehicles: General limitations and road sharing with conventional vehicles

Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), January 2015

Partial abstract: Self-driving vehicles are expected to improve road safety, improve the mobility of those who currently cannot use conventional vehicles, and reduce emissions. This white paper discusses issues related to road safety with self-driving vehicles. Safety is addressed from the following four perspectives: (1) Can self-driving vehicles compensate for contributions to crash causation by other traffic participants, as well as vehicular, roadway, and environmental factors? (2) Can all relevant inputs for computational decisions be supplied to a self-driving vehicle? (3) Can computational speed, constant vigilance, and lack of distractibility of self-driving vehicles make predictive knowledge of an experienced driver irrelevant? (4) How would road safety be influenced during the expected long transition period during which conventional and self-driving vehicles would need to interact on the road? To view the full report, go to:

back to top Back to top

Upcoming Transportation/Safety Events

March 15-17, 2015
LifeSavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities Chicago, IL

NETS will be participating in the workshop entitled "Free Marketing Resources to Support Your Campaign" in the Communications Track, Tuesday, March 17, 9:00–10:30AM
For more information or to register, go to:

March 17, 2015
Saint Patrick's Day Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

For materials and graphics from NHTSA's Traffic Safety Marketing, go to:

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Sponsored by the National Safety Council (NSC)

For more information, go to:

To access NHTSA materials in support of the month, go to:

May 4-10, 2015
Global Road Safety Week
Theme: Children and Road Safety #savekidslives

For more information, go to:

May 7-8, 2015
Child Road Safety in the Americas
Regional Conference for Global Road Safety Week 2015
San Jose, Costa Rica

For more information, go to:

back to top Back to top