Decade of Action for Road Safety

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A monthly publication of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety

June 15, 2015         Summaries of timely road safety news, events, and alerts


U.S. road deaths flat in '14 to 32,675

Source: Detroit News, June 5, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a June 5 report that U.S. road deaths fell 0.1% last year to 32,675. But the U.S. auto safety agency said the preliminary figures show the fatality rate fell from 1.09 to 1.08 deaths per 100 million miles traveled in 2014, the lowest rate in U.S. history, in part because U.S. drivers logged 27 billion more miles last year. NHTSA said there were dramatic disparities in fatalities across the country. In the midwest — including Michigan, Ohio and Illinois — deaths fell 5%, but in the central western states of Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, deaths were up 9% last year. NHTSA will release more detailed statistics on deaths and injuries later this year. Last year, NHTSA said the direct economic costs of U.S. traffic crashes rose 20% to $277 billion in 2010. To see the full article, go to: To view a PDF of the accompanying NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Sheet, go to:

Nobel Prize-winner John Nash's death raises awareness about buckling up in taxis

Source: ABC News, May 29, 2015

The death of Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash, who was killed when the taxi in which he was riding crashed in New Jersey, has renewed awareness about the need for people to buckle up when they're riding in taxis or similar car services. Nash, 86, and his 82-year-old wife, Alicia, were not believed to have been wearing their seat belts when they were ejected from the vehicle when the driver lost control last month on the New Jersey Turnpike. Nash, whose life was depicted in the film "A Beautiful Mind," isn't the only prominent death in taxi cabs. CBS correspondent Bob Simon died in February after the town car in which he was traveling hit another car. The longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash. In New York City, 62% of taxi passengers don't wear seat belts, according to the 2014 Taxicab Factbook of the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission. In taxis with partitions, facial injuries to unbuckled passengers are so common that emergency room doctors have a name for them: partition face. To see the full article, including video of taxi crashes where passengers were not buckled, go to:

Why people buckle up in cars, but not in cabs

Source: Association for Psychological Science, June 4, 2014

Whether you're in the front or back of a car, wearing a seat belt is often the most effective way to prevent serious injury in case of an accident. Yet, in some situations — such as riding in the back of a cab — people are far less likely to buckle up. A 2008 study from psychological scientists Özlem Şimşekoğlua of Izmir University of Economics and Timo Lajunen of Middle East Technical University in Turkey closely analyzed some of the many factors that people use when deciding when and where they're willing to buckle up. In line with previous research, they found that people's beliefs about the effectiveness of seat belts had no relationship with how often they reported actually wearing one. In a rational sense, people understand that seat belts could save their lives, but that knowledge in and of itself isn't enough to entice them to buckle up. In reality, individuals decide whether to wear a seat belt in a given situation by weighing the potential risks and burdens of wearing a seat belt (it's uncomfortable, uncool, it's a hassle for just a short trip) against the perceived likelihood of getting into an accident. When it comes to cabs, people may be less willing to buckle up because they're just not in the habit or because a short trip on busy urban streets doesn't seem too risky. "Since seat belt use is always an effective way for reducing one's injury risk, this decision making process should be replaced by a habit of using a seat belt in every condition," Şimşekoğlua and Lajunen conclude in the journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour. "Hence, seat belt campaigns and interventions should aim at enforcing habitual seat belt use." To see the full article, go to:

Alcohol mixed with cannabis significantly increases THC blood levels

Source: Claims Journal, May 29, 2015

Cannabis plus alcohol is one of the most frequently detected drug combinations in car accidents, yet the interaction of these two compounds is still poorly understood. A study appearing online in Clinical Chemistry, the journal of AACC, shows for the first time that the simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis produces significantly higher blood concentrations of cannabis's main psychoactive constituent, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as THC's primary active metabolite, 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC), than cannabis use alone. As cannabis becomes more widely accessible, the verdict remains out on whether cannabis intoxication increases the risk of car accidents. Experts agree, however, that the combination of cannabis and alcohol raises the chance of crashing more than either substance by itself. In a study of 1,882 motor vehicle deaths, the U.S. Department of Transportation found an increased accident risk of 0.7 for cannabis use, 7.4 for alcohol use, and 8.4 for cannabis and alcohol use combined. To see the full article, go to:

Federal auto safety regulators switch into overdrive

Source: USA Today, June 7, 2015

More than a year after federal regulators said they would review their procedures amid a widening General Motors ignition switch recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has admitted to past mistakes and pledged new action. NHTSA will increase investigations, make more contact with plaintiffs' lawyers and question assumptions made by its own personnel and automakers. The changes come after internal reports that acknowledge that NHTSA's regulators did not demand more information from GM even after it asked about air bag non-deployments and got incomplete answers or legal justifications as to why GM would not or did not have to respond. One of the reports also noted that neither GM nor NHTSA regulators fully understood how the ignition switch and the air bags worked in tandem, believing incorrectly that the air bags would still deploy even if the key was inadvertently jostled out of the "run" position during a crash. To see the full article, go to:

AAA Foundation releases data teen driver crashes from 1994-2013

Source: AAA Foundation

Research from the AAA Foundation shows that per licensed driver and per mile driven, teen drivers are more likely than drivers of any other age group to be involved in crashes that result in injuries to or deaths of other people outside of their vehicle such as occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists. This study investigates the changes and trends in the number of teenage drivers aged 15–19 involved in police-reported crashes each year for the 20-year period from 1994 through 2013, and also quantifies the number of those drivers, their passengers, occupants of other vehicles, and non-occupants such as pedestrians and bicyclists who were injured and killed in crashes involving teenage drivers over the study period. To see the full report, go to:

Cell phones linked to 27% of crashes

Source: Automotive Fleet, May 20, 2015

Cell phone-related crashes increased for the third consecutive year and represented 27% of all crashes in 2013, according to National Safety Council researchers. The National Safety Council estimates that texting-related crashes jumped from 5% to 6% during the year, while crashes involving drivers talking on cell phones remained at 21%. The NSC said it calculates its estimate based on a model that relies on federal fatality data, observational data and research into the crash risks associated with various forms of cell phone use. Texting increases a driver's crash risk at least eight times, NSC said, and drivers talking on either handheld or hands-free cell phones are four times as likely to crash. To see the full article, go to:

Road Warrior: The fragile coexistence of the driver and the deer

Source: North Jersey, June 7, 2015

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's estimates suggest that deer are involved in the great majority of car crashes with animals that kill roughly 175 people in the United States each year. While the number of fatalities is relatively small, the number of deer-vehicle accidents is not. The odds are one chance in 169 anywhere in the United States and 1 in 225 in New Jersey. Deer crashes are most likely in West Virginia, where the odds are 1 in 39. The odds get much worse during the October-December mating season. So why are we seeing so many dead deer on the road in spring when Trooper Raspa was killed on Route 195 and 40-year-old Timothy Myhre was killed on Highway 52 in Rochester, Minn., and motorcyclist Kevin Dornack, 57, was killed the same way on Route 51 in Beaver, Pa.? "The herds keep growing," explained Carol Tyler of Tyco Animal Control in Midland Park. "The time of year doesn't matter so much anymore." To see the full article, go to:

Airbag recall widens to 34 million cars as Takata admits defects

Source: New York Times, May 19, 2015

For more than a decade, the Japanese company Takata, one of the largest suppliers of airbags, denied that its products were defective even as motorists were killed by exploding airbags and automakers around the world recalled millions of cars equipped with its products. But in an about-face, Takata admitted that its airbags were defective and agreed to double the number of vehicles recalled in the United States, to nearly 34 million — or about one in seven of the more than 250 million vehicles on American roads — making it the largest automotive recall in American history. The airbags can explode violently when they deploy, sending shrapnel flying into a car's passenger compartment. Six deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the flaw. To see the full article, go to:

Motorcyclist fatalities projected to drop for 2nd straight year

Source: GHSA Press Release, May 20, 2015

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is projecting that motorcyclist fatalities decreased for the second straight year in 2014, based on preliminary state data. However, this latest Spotlight on Highway Safety report also notes that there is much more work to do: motorcyclist fatalities are 26% higher than a decade ago, while other motor vehicle fatalities are 28% lower. Adjusting the numbers to account for underreporting, GHSA projects the final motorcyclist fatality total for 2014 will be 4,584 – approximately 1.8% less than the 4,668 recorded in 2013. This will be the second straight year in which this number has decreased, and only the third decrease since 1997. To see the full press release with a link to the report, go to:

NTSB calls for immediate action on collision avoidance systems for vehicles; cites slow progress as major safety issue

Source: NTSB Press Release, June 8, 2015

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has outlined the life-saving benefits of currently available collision avoidance systems, and recommended that the technology become standard on all new passenger and commercial vehicles. "You don't pay extra for your seatbelt," said Chairman Christopher A. Hart. "And you shouldn't have to pay extra for technology that can help prevent a collision altogether." NTSB's Special Investigation Report, The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes, stresses that collision avoidance systems can prevent or lessen the severity of rear-end crashes, thus saving lives and reducing injuries. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end crashes kill about 1,700 people every year and injure half a million more. More than 80% of these deaths and injuries might have been mitigated had the vehicles been equipped with a collision avoidance system. To see the full press release, including links to the full report and safety alert, go to:

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'Move Over' laws aim to save lives on the highways

Source: The Pew Charitable Trust, June 2, 2015

In Oklahoma, a 30-year-old state trooper was killed and another officer seriously injured after a car struck them on a highway as they investigated an accident. In Kentucky, a 25-year-old volunteer firefighter died and his mother, also a firefighter, was injured when a tractor trailer sideswiped a fire truck and hit them as they tried to put out a car fire on a highway. And in North Carolina, a 44-year-old tow truck operator helping a family whose van had broken down was struck and killed by a car on the interstate. In all three incidents, which occurred in the past 10 months, the drivers responsible failed to move over or slow down when they passed. Even though every state has a "move over" law that requires drivers to slow down or switch lanes when emergency vehicles are on the scene, many drivers remain ignorant of them and states need to do a better job of educating motorists about what's at stake. To see the full article, go to: For 'Move Over' awareness materials from NHTSA's Traffic Safety Marketing that can be shared with employees, including graphics and fact sheets, go to:

Carpooling cuts crashes

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, June 4, 2015

In a new study, Atlanta ranks 8th in the nation among cities with the greatest potential for improving traffic safety by carpooling. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Fewer people on the road equals fewer car crashes. Specifically, the study said as many as 567 accidents per year could be avoided if the city of Atlanta did more to encourage commuters to ride together to work. Currently 260,974 commuters carpool, but the study says as many as 395,154 more drivers could be sharing seats. A boost in ridesharing could also save Atlanta commuters up to $391 million in savings on car operating costs, 17 million hours in travel delays, 7 million gallons of fuel and $1.17 billion in road construction costs. To see the full article, go to:

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Fleet safety video tip: Pedal Error Prevention

Source: Automotive Fleet, June 1, 2015

Each year, approximately 16,000 preventable crashes occur as a result of pedal error, when drivers mistakenly step on the accelerator while intending to apply the brakes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Sometimes a driver's foot slips off the edge of the brake onto the accelerator. Sometimes the driver accidentally steps on both the brake and the accelerator. The result can lead to sudden vehicle acceleration, often at full-throttle, with no brake force slowing the vehicle down. These types of accidents usually occur when a vehicle is traveling at very low speeds, such as when the driver is attempting to park in a parking lot or garage. Research indicates that drivers under the age of 20 or over the age of 65 experience pedal error crashes about four times more frequently than other age groups. A new video from NHTSA provides tips on avoiding these types of crashes. To see the full article, including a link to the video, go to:

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Shell's roadmap to a corporate safety culture

Source: Automotive Fleet, May 27, 2015

In the opening keynote address for this year's Fleet Safety Conference, Mike Watson, Shell's global road safety manager (and member of the NETS Board of Directors) will provide a roadmap on how to create and sustain a successful corporate safety culture. In the peer-to-peer presentation, Watson will outline how Shell has used its Lifesaving Rules to create a pervasive corporate-wide safety culture, including what a company needs to do to drive and sustain a corporate safety culture that extends beyond fleet drivers to contractors and occasional employee drivers and the fundamental initiatives that must be implemented to achieve the lowest collision per mile. The Fleet Safety Conference will be held July 13-15 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel in Schaumburg, Ill. To see the full article, including conference registration information, go to:

2015 Fleet Driver of the Year highlights benefits of smarter, safer driving

Source: Fleetworld (UK), May 19, 2015

Stuart Parry, Sales Executive for NWN Media Ltd, has been awarded the coveted Fleet Driver of the Year (FDOTY) 2015 title following an extensive three-month evaluation process. This is the third year that the challenge to find the Fleet Driver of the Year has been held by ALD Automotive, in association with Fleet World magazine, and event partners AA DriveTech and Toyota & Lexus Fleet Services. The four-stage competition included comprehensive testing of entrants' knowledge of highway regulations as well as an independent online psychometric assessment backed by 25 years of academic research. Entrants also had their driving technique monitored for four weeks through in-vehicle telematics. To see the full article, go to:

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Innovation and Technology

Eye tracking technology makes for safer drivers

Source: Phys.Org, May 25, 2015

Advanced eye tracking technology applied to driver training by a Perth company is improving drivers' hazard perception skills. The eye tracking technology works through a large, high definition television screen (giving 120 degree vision), with a series of eye tracking cameras at the bottom. Visual tracking reveals that at an intersection, expert drivers will flick a glance at the car ahead then keep an eye on it in their peripheral vision but are fixating on other potential areas of risk. They will look as far down the road as they can to anticipate vehicles, whereas novices only attend to their immediate area and vehicles just arrived at the intersection. Ten staff who had undergone the visual tracking driver training were compared to ten who had no training. "The untrained group visually fixated mainly upon the traffic in front of them in the middle of the road while the trained group practiced significantly more visual scanning for hazards ahead and to the left and right of the road," said Owen Carter, Associate Professor at Edith Cowan University and developer of the technology. To see the full article, go to:

Windshield devices bring distracted driving debate to eye level

Source: NY Times, May 29, 2015

In a widely watched YouTube video, a man is driving around Los Angeles when his phone rings. On a small screen mounted on the dashboard, an image of the caller, the man's mother, appears. But there's an optical twist: The image actually looks to the driver as if it's floating just at the front edge of the car, right above the roadway. That video was a promotion commissioned by Navdy, one of a handful of start-up companies bringing a futuristic spin to the debate over distracted driving, and how to curb it. The devices project driving information and data streamed from a smartphone into a driver's field of view. "It's a horrible idea," said Paul Atchley, a psychologist at the University of Kansas who studies driver distraction. Attending to the road is much more complex than having your head turned toward it, he said. "The technology is driven by a false assumption that seeing requires nothing more than having the eyes fixed on the right spot." To see the full article, including a link to the YouTube demonstration video, go to:

Jaguar Land Rover studies pothole detection tech

Source: Automotive News, June 10, 2015

Jaguar Land Rover is researching road terrain detection technology for its vehicles that would warn other vehicles about potholes and other such road hazards via the cloud. The automaker said it is studying how to share the data, and it is working with government officials in Coventry, England, to determine the best way to alert road repair authorities. "We think there is a huge opportunity to turn the information from these vehicle sensors into 'big data' and share it for the benefit of other road users," said Mike Bell, Jaguar Land Rover's Connected Car director. Jaguar Land Rover also may look into developing autonomous technology that would guide vehicles around potholes and other such road hazards without the vehicle leaving its lane, Bell said. "Sensing the road ahead and assessing hazards is a key building block on our journey to the autonomous car," he said. To see the full article, go to:

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Road deaths continue to fall – but great disparities between countries

Source: International Transport Forum Press Release, May 27, 2015

Road deaths have continued to fall, but strong disparities exist between countries, according to latest data compiled by IRTAD, the permanent working group on road safety at the International Transport Forum. The 2014 provisional data show that 15 of the 28 International Road Traffic Accident Database (IRTAD) member countries for which figures are available managed to reduce the number of road deaths, while 8 countries saw an increase. For the other countries there was no significant change. The range was between 21% fewer road deaths and a 16% increase. Although substantial overall fatality reductions have been achieved since the year 2000, the pace of improvement for vulnerable road users is lower than for car occupants. While fatalities among car occupants were reduced by 54% between 2000 and 2013, decreases were only 36% for pedestrians, 35% for cyclists and 22% for motorcyclists. As a consequence in many countries, road safety priorities have recently shifted from motorized rural traffic to vulnerable road users in urban areas. To see the full press release, including tables, to go:

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DOT takes action to address unsafe motorcycle helmets

Source: NHTSA Press Release, May 20, 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would help protect motorcyclists from unsafe helmets and aid state efforts to enforce existing motorcycle helmet laws. The NPRM seeks to address the ongoing use of "novelty motorcycle helmets." These poorly constructed helmets do not meet DOT safety standards for crash protection, but are frequently marketed and sold for on-road use. Motorcycle helmets that meet DOT safety standards help save more than a thousand lives every year, according to NHTSA estimates. Novelty helmets do not meet those standards. A study of motorcyclists injured in crashes and transported to shock trauma centers showed that 56% of those wearing a novelty helmet had serious head injuries, compared to 19% of riders who were wearing a DOT-certified helmet. To see the full press release, go to:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx announces groundbreaking final rule on heavy-duty vehicle electronic stability control

Source: US DOT Press Release, June 3, 2015

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced that the Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finalized its rule requiring electronic stability control (ESC) systems on heavy trucks and large buses (FMVSS No. 136). "ESC is a remarkable safety success story, a technology innovation that is already saving lives in passenger cars and light trucks," Foxx said. "Requiring ESC on heavy trucks and large buses will bring that safety innovation to the largest vehicles on our highways, increasing safety for drivers and passengers of these vehicles and for all road users." NHTSA estimates the rule will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries and 49 fatalities each year. ESC will prevent up to 56% of untripped, rollover crashes – that is, rollover crashes not caused by striking an obstacle or leaving the road. To see the full press release including information on when the rule will take effect, go to:

NHTSA unveils prototype car to bar drunk driving

Source: Detroit News, June 4, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled a first-ever prototype vehicle with an advanced alcohol detection technology that could ultimately prevent vehicles from being operated by a drunken driver. At an event in front of hundreds of members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving at the agency's headquarters, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind showed off the technology that has been under development since 2008. Under the partnership, NHTSA is working with automakers including Detroit's Big Three automakers to develop a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety — known as "DADSS" — a noninvasive system aimed at detecting when a driver is above the legal alcohol limit. The technology could be tested in a few years in a commercial or government fleet. To see the full article, go to:

New Traffic Safety Facts Sheet: Early Estimates of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2014

Source: NHTSA, June 2015

See the full resource here:

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Upcoming Transportation/Safety Events

4th of July 2015
Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign Materials Now Available

July 13-15, 2015
Fleet Safety Conference, Schaumburg, IL

Featured speakers include NETS Board of Directors member Mike Watson of Shell: How to Create a Successful Corporate Safety Culture - Shell's Journey to Goal Zero and NETS Chair Joe McKillips of Abbott: How EHS/Fleet Professionals Can Engage Senior Leadership to Provide Management and Financial Support for Corporate Safety Programs. For more information or to register, go to:

August 2015
Launch of the Drive Safely Work Week 2015 Tool Kit: #PlanAhead: Your key to driving safely

More information coming soon!
Sponsored by NETS

August 21-Sept. 7, 2015
Labor Day Weekend Drunk Driving Prevention

Please join thousands of law enforcement officers, State and local safety advocates, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in this year's nationwide drunk driving crackdown. Products for Enforcement Action Kit (PEAK) materials available here:

October 5-9, 2015
Drive Safely Work Week

sponsored by NETS

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