Decade of Action for Road Safety

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A monthly publication of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety

January 20, 2015         Summaries of timely road safety news, events, and alerts


The downside of cheaper gas: More accident fatalities

Source: NPR, January 6, 2015

It turns out that cheaper gas does come with a downside. And the downside is more traffic crashes and more traffic fatalities. An analysis of the relationship between gasoline prices and road fatalities in 144 countries finds that higher gas prices are associated with fewer fatalities. Lower gas prices are associated with a larger number of traffic deaths. A sociologist at South Dakota State University explains when gas prices are high, people combine trips, potentially reducing exposure. They also drive differently to save gas which typically translates to safer driving. To see the full NPR interview, go to:

Laying the groundwork for safety improvements for back-seat occupants

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Status Report, December 23, 2014

When it comes to advances in occupant protection, the front seat has gotten much of the attention while vehicle restraint system improvements for people who ride in back haven't kept pace. A new study by the Institute and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia examines the characteristics of back-seat occupants injured in crashes in late-model vehicles to help zero in on ways to make rear seats safer. Researchers analyzed real-world data on crashes during 2007-12 involving restrained occupants in the front and rear rows of 2000 and newer model passenger vehicles. Although more than half of rear-row occupants were younger than 13, they accounted for only 19% of serious injuries in crashes and 24% of crash deaths. Adults were overrepresented among rear-row occupants with serious or fatal injuries, and they had lower rates of restraint use. After controlling for occupant age and gender, the relative risk of death for restrained rear occupants was significantly higher than that of front occupants in model 2007 and newer vehicles and significantly higher in rear and right-side impact crashes. The study's findings suggest that rear-seat occupants could benefit from some of the same technologies used to protect drivers and front passengers. Front airbags, side airbags and knee airbags, plus features that ready safety belts when a crash is imminent and limit the amount of energy that is transferred to an occupant are among these innovations. To see the full article, go to:

US recalls may climb this year, says car safety chief

Source: International Business Times, January 6, 2015

The recent wave of auto recalls may lead to even more flaws being discovered this year as drivers become alert to design faults, the top U.S. car safety official said. Recalls of air bags and ignition switches last year contributed to an increase in the number of consumers with car safety concerns, said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While the auto safety agency may get about 45,000 consumer complaints a year, Rosekind estimated there were about 75,000 in 2014. NHTSA has been accused of acting too slowly to prevent dangers involving Takata Corp air bags and General Motors ignition switches, and Rosekind said he must turn the agency around - fast. To see the full article, go to:

No agreement on how to reform nation's recall system

Source: Detroit News, December 29, 2014

In the midst of a record year of recalls that has Washington, D.C. watching the automotive industry more than any other time since the 2009 bailout, some believe it is the right time to reform the nation's recall system under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But there's no agreement on exactly how to do it. "A recall's a recall, and that's a problem," said GM executive Mark Reuss, at the Los Angeles Auto Show. "There needs to be a sophistication of how serious is the recall? And that has to be really clear to a customer. I think the industry is beginning to do that." The industry has scratched the surface by categorizing recalls as "safety" or "noncompliance," but they're both under the recall umbrella that warrant a mailing to consumers. Some car owners, though, mistake safety recall notices for junk mail and toss them without opening them. Or owners may not think a recall is serious and opt not to get their cars fixed right away — or at all. To see the full article, go to:

The Department of Transportation wants truckers to sleep more. Congress said no.

Source: The Washington Post, December 16, 2014.

In the spending bill passed by the Senate last month, some of the hours-of-service provisions that truckers consider most onerous got temporarily rolled back. Hours-of-service rules have been in place for decades, in an effort to keep the roads safe from tired truckers. But they've been getting more strict over the past 10 years: In 2003, the Department of Transportation ruled that drivers couldn't work more than 14 hours at a stretch, and in 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration dropped the number of total driving hours allowed in a week from 82 to 70. Plus, every seven days, drivers have to take a 34-hour rest that covers two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Last month, however, something unusual happened: The federal government actually made the rules less strict, suspending the requirement that the 34-hour rest include two early morning stints, and effectively bumping the 70-hour restriction back up to 82 (even though few drivers actually reach that maximum). To see the full article, go to:

Distracted driving and the risks of ride-hailing services like Uber

Source: New York Times, December 21, 2015

It Can Wait. The buzz phrase, popularized by AT&T in a public service campaign, urges drivers to show restraint with their phones. But a growing number of drivers who make their living behind the wheel can't wait. These are the drivers for Uber and its competitors, including taxi services, who, to make money, must respond nearly instantly to their smartphones, without regard to road conditions or safety. When a service call comes in from Uber — by way of a loud beeping on the phone — a driver typically has 15 seconds to tap the phone to accept the fare. That can mean looking at the phone, seeing how far away the customer is and then making a decision. Failure to respond in 15 seconds means the fare goes to a different driver. In some cities, including New York, failure to respond to several calls in a row can lead to Uber temporarily suspending a driver. To see the full article, go to:

More experienced drivers are actually worse at texting and driving, study shows

Source: The Washington Post, December 18, 2014

Texting and driving can be a lethal combination, and many campaigns have paid special attention to newer drivers who may be tempted to send messages while behind the wheel. But a new study from Wayne State University researchers shows that texting and driving can be even more dangerous for older and experienced drivers. For the study, a group of 50 people between 18 and 59 years old took driving simulators out for a spin. Researchers then sent them text messages, asking them simple questions like what was their favorite color. The group was divided by their texting prowess. Half of the highly-skilled texters — people who said they texted a lot, could text one-handed and owned smartphones — began veering into other lanes when reading or sending texts. But the older, prolific texters did especially badly: all of the 45- to 59-year-olds and 80% of 35- to 44-year-olds veered into other lanes. Meanwhile, about 40% of 25- to 34-year-olds and about 25% of 18- to 24- year-olds began crossing lanes while texting. To see the full article, go

U.S. bicyclist deaths on the rise, study finds

Source: HealthDay, January 2, 2015

The number of bicyclist fatalities in the United States is increasing, particularly among adults in major cities, a recent study shows. After decreasing from 1975 to 2010, the number of bicyclists killed annually increased by 16% from 2010 to 2012. More than 700 bicyclists died on U.S. roads in 2012, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The study also reported that the percentage of these deaths that occur in densely populated urban areas has risen from 50% in 1975 to 69% in 2012. The report also pointed out that many of the deaths were potentially preventable. Two-thirds of the deaths occurred in people who weren't wearing a helmet, the researchers found. To see the full article, go to:

Study: Half of teen crash deaths were in old cars

Source: USA Today, December 30, 2015

A new study finds nearly half of drivers ages 15 to 17 who died in car crashes from 2008 to 2012 had cars that were at least 11 years old, and nearly a third drove small cars. The study chronicled the government's Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from 2008 to 2012. At least in part, the statistics simply reflect the cars that teens drive. Compared to middle-aged drivers killed during the same span, the study notes that teens overwhelmingly drive smaller, older vehicles. What's more, the researchers cite a survey of parents in May, 2014, that found some 60% of teenagers drive cars at least 8 years old. In the FARS analysis, 82% of teens killed in wrecks drove cars that were at least 6 years old. But this much is certain: Older, smaller cars are generally less safe. Pointing to the density of deaths in a given group of vehicles, researchers noted that larger cars result in fewer deaths than smaller vehicles, and cars with better crash-test ratings are also associated with lower death rates. To see the full article, go to:

Study: Cellular Phone Texting Impairs Gait In Able-Bodied Young Adults

Source: Journal of Applied Biomechanics, December 2014

A study published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics evaluated how texting as they walked affected the gait of 30 young adults who reported they texted on a regular basis. Comparing the subjects' normal gait with their walking performance while texting on cell phones, the authors found the texting caused them to slow down, and their step width and double stance time increased, while toe clearance, step length, and cadence decreased. The combination of the slower gait velocity and decrease in attention to the surrounding environment suggests that an individual who is texting while walking could be at a greater risk of injury. Tripping injuries while texting could be more likely due to the decreased toe clearance. To view the study abstract with access to the full article, go to:

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NYC hit a 100-year low on pedestrian deaths

Source: Time, January 2, 2015

About 130 pedestrians died in New York City traffic accidents last year, the lowest number since the city began keeping such records 100 years ago. Overall, traffic fatalities in the city fell to about 250, down from 300 in 2013. The news comes less than a year after Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared traffic deaths unacceptable and announced that he would put the "full weight of city government" behind an effort to stem the deaths. Since then, the mayor has pushed through a slew of new laws designed to make the streets safer, including a reduction in the default speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour. The New York Police Department (NYPD) has also stepped up enforcement of existing traffic laws. The number of speeding summonses increased by 42% and the number for failure to yield to a pedestrian increased by 126%. To see the full article, go to:

FDOT unveils new technology to help wrong-way drivers

Source: 10 News - Tampa Bay, January 14, 2015

Wrong-way crashes killed at least 12 people in Tampa Bay last year. In a recent Safety Summit experts discussed how to combat the wrong-way driving epidemic, which they said is worse than they imagined. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, the answer lies in technology. The department is looking at innovative ways to prevent wrong-way driving with new technology on the market being considered. The newest high-tech system is being tested on the Florida Turnpike right now: it's a sign that detects a driver before they turn onto the ramp. Based on the wrong-way movement, there will be detection before the driver reaches the point of the device itself, in which case, the LED will flash all over the sign. But once the vehicle goes past the sign, there will be another detection on the back side to send a message to the traffic center. To see the full article, go to: /

Traffic accidents an unwanted consequence of the Bakken oil boom

Source: Al Jazeera America, January 12, 2015

Reckless driving, treacherous road conditions and a dizzying onslaught of vehicles traversing the heart of western North Dakota has left the state with an unprecedented number of vehicle accidents and fatalities. According to the state's Department of Transportation, in 2013, one person died in a crash every two and a half days, one crash occurred in a roadway under construction every day and more than one speed-related crash took place about every four hours. Federal statistics point to North Dakota as having one of the highest frequencies of highway fatalities involving commercial trucks in the U.S. Some drivers believe the alarming data is in part due to drivers who are violating safety regulations, by, among other things, spending too many hours on the road. To see the full article, go to:

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New Year's resolutions: Bad driving habits to drop for 2015

Source: ABC 7 Detroit, December 23, 2014

In time for 2015's arrival, automotive expert Suzanne Kane from iSeeCars came up with 10 safe driving easy but important resolutions for the new year. These are resolutions you'll want to keep because your life could depend on it. They include putting down the electronic devices, using your turn signals, avoiding tailgating, not eating while driving, maintaining your tires and buckling up. To see the full article, go to:

Shoulder to the wheel: Parental intervention improves teen driving

Source: Medical Press, January 14, 2015

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teenage death in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven 16- to 19-year-olds die every day as a result of injuries incurred from road crashes. But attempts to address the problem through legislation and technological innovation have yielded limited results. Now a new study by Tel Aviv University researchers proposes a two-pronged strategy of vigilant parental intervention and monitoring technology to improve the safety of young drivers on the road. For the study, 242 families of adolescent drivers installed In-Vehicle Data Recorders (IVDRs) that monitor driving in real time and offer feedback on risk patterns in the cars. After following the teen drivers and the four groups for three months at a time, the researchers found that the drivers whose parents had received "Vigilant Care" training and who had also received family-wide IVDR feedback significantly improved their behavior behind the wheel. To see the full article, go to:

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Fleet safety video tip: Recognizing wheel misalignment

Source: Automotive Fleet, January 1, 2015

Fleet drivers need to recognize the early signs of wheel misalignment so necessary repairs can be scheduled and completed as soon as possible. Misalignment not only creates steering and handling problems; it can shorten a tire's life by thousands of miles, damage key steering and suspension parts, and make the vehicle much less fuel-efficient. Unfortunately, it doesn't take much to suddenly throw off wheel alignment. Simply driving over a poorly maintained road, a pothole or a curb might lead to misalignment problems. According to Firestone, signs that indicate wheel misalignment, include the vehicle pulling to the left or right, uneven or rapid tire wear, a steering wheel is crooked when driving straight and squealing tires. A new video explains the causes and impact of wheel misalignment in more detail. To see the full article including a link to the video, go to:

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Innovation and Technology

Texting and driving? Your next car may come with a punishment device

Source: Fortune, January 8, 2015

As cars and trucks get smarter, auto manufacturers are struggling to find a balance between passenger safety and the increasing consumer demand for entertainment and communication. Ford's Sync 3 incorporates more conversational voice commands – much like today's smartphones. Intel is demonstrating its SeeingMachines prototype to address the issue – a face-tracking camera that knows when a driver has taken his or her attentions off of the road. If the driver glances away to, say, read a text just as another vehicle pulls in front of him or her, the system will issue an alert – ranging from a message, audio signal or haptic feedback, such as shaking the brake pedal if you're too close to a car or vibrating your seat if the system feels you're getting drowsy. To see the full article, go to:

Traffic lights on your windshield could get you home faster

Source:, January 14, 2015

Being stuck in traffic is one of the most infuriating experiences for a driver, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University may have found a solution. They claim they can reduce the commute times of urban workers by 40% by replacing physical traffic lights with virtual traffic lights. With this technology, traffic lights will be created on demand when two cars are trying to cross an intersection, and they will be turned off as soon as it is no longer needed. Virtual traffic lights appear on the driver's dashboard and explain with green and red arrows which direction they can safely travel in, just like with normal traffic lights. But they disappear once the junction has been crossed. The developers say virtual traffic lights will cut carbon emissions, reduce accidents and cut those annoying commute times. This may seem futuristic but virtual traffic lights use connected vehicle technology which federal regulators will soon make mandatory for cars as part of the U.S. government's vehicle-to-vehicle communication program. To see the full article, go to:

Shifting eyes back to the road ahead

Source: Automotive News, December 29, 2014

The center stack needn't be the center of attention. Over the years, automakers have given their center-stack display screens vast acreage and loaded them with 3D maps and touch-sensitive controls. But in an effort to get drivers' eyes back on the road -- or in that general direction -- interior designers are working on how to concentrate more of a vehicle's critical information in the driver's line of sight -- that is, on the instrument cluster and head-up display. Audi took things to an extreme with the redesigned TT, which doesn't even have a center-console screen. All information such as route maps, music selections, phone numbers -- and, yes, the vehicle's speed -- is displayed on the TT's instrument cluster. For other vehicles, suppliers such as Panasonic and Visteon are developing head-up display/instrument cluster combos that de-emphasize the center-console displays. To see the full article, go to:

Google says snow more of self-driving car snag than NHTSA

Source: Bloomberg Business Week, January 14, 2015

Google sees Detroit's snow as a bigger barrier than Washington's regulators for its self-driving car. The technology giant doesn't intend to offer a self-driving car to areas where it snows in the near term. The company also doesn't think the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will stand in the company's way. The company says they are probably within five years of fielding a fully autonomous car on public roads. Google is seeking partners to help realize co-founder Sergey Brin's vision of safer and more efficient mobility. For now, the Mountain View, California-based company plans a pilot program in its home state with about 100 cars similar to the two-seat, egg-shaped prototypes it showed off in May, which topped out at 25 miles (40 kilometers) per hour and had no steering wheels. To see the full article, go to:

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Help save kids' lives by signing the Child Road Safety Declaration

Source: (part of the 3rd UN Global Road Safety Week)

The global campaign for the Third UN Global Road Safety Week, 4-10 May 2015, features the theme children and road safety: #SaveKidsLives. The campaign seeks to highlight the plight of children on the world's roads; generate action to better ensure their safety; and promote the inclusion of safe and sustainable transport in the post-2015 development agenda. The centrepiece of the #SaveKidsLives campaign is a child declaration, developed with input from children around the world. The campaign invites all road safety policy-makers and advocates to "sign it", "show it", and "deliver it" to those in charge of road safety in countries and communities during the Week. All are encouraged to join the campaign and help spread the word through your respective networks. For more information about how to join, visit the #SaveKidsLives web site at:

Scotland and Lithuania lower drink drive limits

Source: European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), December 2014

Scotland has begun enforcing a new drink driving limit of 0.5 g/l, while Lithuania will introduce a zero tolerance limit for some commercial and novice drivers at the start of 2015. Scotland's limit is now lower than the rest of the UK which still has the weakest in Europe at 0.8 g/l. The new limits, which came into force on 5 December, are supported by ETSC's UK member PACTS. The organisation says the limits should be extended to the rest of the UK as the current limit allows drivers to get behind the wheel when drunk. To see the full article, go to:

Nestlé receives Prince Michael International Road Safety Award 2014

Source: Virtual Risk Manager, December 12, 2014

In December 2014 His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent recognised 'The Nestlé Global Road Safety Program' at his Annual Awards Luncheon Ceremony held at The Savoy, London. The Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards are presented to individuals, companies or organisations in recognition of their contribution to improving road safety. To see the full article, go to:

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New "SaferRide" mobile app and new data highlight start of annual holiday drunk driving crackdown

Source: US Department of Transportation, December 16, 2013

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator David Friedman kicked off the annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" holiday crackdown on drunk driving by unveiling a new mobile app to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home. They also announced new data revealing a decline in drunk driving deaths in 2013. The new data shows that drunk driving deaths declined by 2.5% in 2013. Yet, even with this decrease from the previous year, 10,076 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver in 2013—one death every 52 minutes. December 2013 was the month with the lowest number of drunk driving fatalities, 733 lives lost. NHTSA's new SaferRide app will help keep drunk drivers off our roads by allowing users to call a taxi or a friend and by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available starting now for Android devices on Google Play. To see the full article, go to:

Safety ratings, ELDs, speed limiters among items on FMCSA 2015 calendar

Source: FleetOwner, January 14, 2015

The year 2015 looks to be a big and busy one for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, both in terms of the number of items on the regulatory agenda and in their significance to the trucking industry. Among the highlights are a revamping of the way carrier safety is evaluated and rated, an electronic logging mandate, a speed limiter requirement, a drug and alcohol testing database, possible changes to insurance minimums and driver coercion protection. According to executives at the American Trucking Associations, Fleets "can and should expect" the electronic logging device (ELD) rule to be published on schedule, and that will open a two-year window for adoption. ATA doesn't expect any last-minute problems, "with the possible exception of lawsuit" that might be filed post-publication. In addition, publication of the safety fitness determination (SFD) proposed rule this year will "take CSA to the next level." FMCSA has long planned to incorporate roadside inspection data directly into carrier safety ratings. To see the full article, go to:

New Materials: Protecting law enforcement personnel on our nation's highways

Source: NHTSA's Traffic Safety Marketing

All 50 States have "Move Over" laws to protect law enforcement officers and other first responders stopped on our Nation's roads. Yet only 71% of the public are aware of these laws, and traffic-related incidents continue to be the number one cause of death among on-duty law enforcement officers. Together with our law enforcement partners and State Highway Safety Offices, NHTSA is working to increase awareness of these life-saving "Move Over" laws and highlight the need to protect public safety professionals who place themselves at risk to protect motorists. NHTSA has developed awareness materials, some of which may be a good fit to share with employees. To access the "Move Over" graphics and materials, go to:

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Upcoming Transportation/Safety Events

February 1, 2015
Super Bowl XLIX
Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign

Campaign materials available from NHTSA's Traffic Safety Marketing:

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, 9:00–10:30 AM

For more information or to register, go to:

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

For more information, go to:

May 4-10, 2015
3rd UN Global Road Safety Week,
Children and Road Safety

The Week will draw attention to the urgent need to better protect children and generate action on the measures needed to do so. The time to start planning activities is now. For more information, visit:

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