Decade of Action for Road Safety

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A monthly publication of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety

March 16, 2016         Summaries of timely road safety news, events, and alerts

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New report shows traffic crashes cost employers $47.4 billion

Source: NETS via Business Wire, March 3, 2016

Protecting employees from motor vehicles crashes could be a profitable investment for U.S. businesses, according to a new report released by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). In 2013, U.S. traffic crashes cost employers $47.4 billion in direct crash-related expenses, which includes medical care, liability, lost productivity and property damage. The study showed that employers could control costs by promoting safe driving habits, including seat belt usage and the elimination of speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving, whether or not employees are on the clock. The report shows that more than 1.6 million work days were lost due to traffic crashes, with nearly 90 percent of those days attributed to crashes that occurred off the job, involving employees and/or their dependents. The report also details the costs to employers of traffic crashes occurring on and off the job associated with driver behavior. The report may be accessed here: An Infographic of the findings may be accessed here: To see the full press release, go to:

87% of drivers engage in unsafe behaviors while behind the wheel

Source: AAA News Release, February 25, 2016

About 87% of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior while behind the wheel within the past month, according to latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These unsafe behaviors include driving while distracted, impaired, drowsy, speeding, running red lights or not wearing a seat belt. These disturbing results come as nearly 33,000 Americans died in car crashes in 2014, and preliminary estimates project a nine percent increase in deaths for 2015. The report finds that 1 in 3 drivers have had a friend or relative seriously injured or killed in a crash, and 1 in 5 have been involved in a crash that was serious enough for someone to go to the hospital. The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation's annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to driver safety. To see the latest report, go to: To see the full news release including the unsafe behaviors in which drivers engaged and how often, go to:

Pedestrian fatalities projected to spike 10% in 2015

Source: GHSA Press Release, March 8, 2016

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimates a 10% increase in the number of persons on foot killed in traffic crashes in 2015, compared with the prior year. The annual GHSA Spotlight on Highway Safety Report provides the first look at 2015 pedestrian fatality trends, based on preliminary data reported by all 50 state highway safety agencies and the District of Columbia. Since the Fatality Analysis Reporting System was established in 1975, the year-to-year change in the number of pedestrian fatalities has varied from a 10.5% decrease to an 8.1% increase. "Pedestrian safety is clearly a growing problem across the country. It is important to understand the data underlying these crashes so states and localities can apply the right mix of engineering, education and enforcement to counteract this troubling trend." To view the full report, go to: To see the full press release, go to:

Pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $3 billion annually

Source: AAA Press Release, February 17, 2016

A new study from AAA reveals that pothole damage has cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually. With two-thirds of Americans concerned about potholes on local roadways, AAA cautions drivers to remain alert to avoid pothole damage, and urges state and local governments to fully fund and prioritize road maintenance to reduce vehicle damage, repair costs and driver frustration. "The problems range from tire punctures and bent wheels, to more expensive suspension damage," said John Nielsen, AAA's managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. "On average, American drivers report paying $300 to repair pothole-related vehicle damage", Nielsen added. To minimize vehicle damage, AAA urges drivers to ensure tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread depth, as they are the only cushion between a pothole and the vehicle. If a pothole strike is inevitable, it is also critical that drivers slow down, release the brakes and straighten steering before making contact with the pothole. To avoid potholes in the roadway, drivers should remain alert, scan the road and increase following distances behind the vehicle ahead. To see the full press release, go to:

Sad or mad? Stay out of the car!

Source: EHS Today, February 23, 2016

A new study from researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute finds that drivers increase their crash risk nearly tenfold when they get behind the wheel while observably angry, sad, crying or emotionally agitated. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers, writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also reported that drivers more than double their crash risk when they choose to engage in distracting activities that require them to take their eyes off the road, such as using a handheld cell phone, reading or writing, or using touchscreen menus on a vehicle instrument panel. And, according to the institute's research, drivers engage in some type of distracting activity more than 50% of the time they are driving. For the current research, transportation institute researchers considered 905 higher severity crashes (from the naturalistic crash database) involving injury or property damage in the data set and found that, overall, driver-related factors that include fatigue, error, impairment and distraction were present in nearly 90% of the crashes. To see the full article, go to:

Sleeping less than 8 hours? You're twice as likely to crash your car

WCPO – Cincinnati, March 14, 2016

With daylight saving time kicking in last Sunday, AAA is reminding drivers (who lost an hour's sleep) to not only adjust their clocks - but also their driving habits to avoid drowsy driving. Many drivers may have lost the spring in their step and not be fully alert as they travel to work and school in the dark. The extra hour of daylight in the afternoon also means children, runners, cyclists and others will be out on the streets later. Slow down, pay attention and eliminate all distractions, and watch out for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots or out of driveways. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping eight hours or more, while people sleeping less than five hours increase their risk four to five times. To see the full article, go to:

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Warren Buffett: Auto insurance rates are going up

Source:, February 27, 2016

Billionaire Warren Buffett, whose company owns GEICO, warned that auto insurance rates are going up. Auto insurance giant GEICO is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the company owned by Buffett. Buffett said that the frequency and severity of auto collisions has gone up and the cost of collisions has also increased which is cutting into profits. Buffett says GEICO's underwriting profit fell from more than $1.1 billion in 2014 to $460 million last year. Buffett blames distracted driving, which according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, caused crashes that killed 3,179 people in 2014. This accounted for 10% of all traffic crash fatalities that year. The National Safety Council recently estimated the number of traffic deaths in the United States rose eight-percent from 2014 to 2015, the largest year-to-year percentage increase in a half-century. Murray, the Chief Marketing and Underwriting Officer with Lawley Insurance in Buffalo, says all of the insurance companies are raising rates across the board. To see the full article, go to:

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Molding a Defensive Driver

Source: Automotive Fleet, February 2016

A defensive driver is a safe driver, and that is especially important for fleets and the companies they serve. From sedan to truck fleets, drivers need to know how to properly handle a vehicle, and they need to have sound judgment when presented with road obstacles or reckless drivers. Experts say that defensive driving is driving to save lives, time, and money, despite the conditions around you and the actions of others. To emphasize the importance of defensive driving, federal government experts say that fleet drivers should "Drive for Five." When a fleet driver practices Drive for Five, he or she monitors his or her own vehicle, the vehicles in front and behind them, and the vehicles to their left and right. But, most importantly, the fleet driver should picture a family member or a friend as a driver in one of the vehicles around them. To see the full article, go to:

Video safety tip: Tire blowout response

Source: Automotive Fleet, March 7, 2016

Since 2008, all new vehicles must have an automatic tire pressure monitoring system — a requirement that has decreased the occurrence of tire blowouts. Blowouts still do occur, however, resulting in nearly 11,000 collisions and 200 fatalities annually, according to government statistics. To help prevent blowouts, drivers need to make sure their vehicle's tires are properly inflated, the treads aren't excessively worn, and the vehicle is never overloaded. Tire pressure should be checked on a regular basis. But it's also important that drivers quickly recognize the initial signs of a tire blowout and respond properly — without delay or panic. A tire blowout typically results in three key sounds: a loud boom or bang, the sound of air escaping from the tire, and then the flapping or flopping of the deflated tire hitting the pavement. In the event of a tire blowout, Stay calm, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel, and maintain a straight course. (When a front tire blows out, the vehicle pulls strongly to one side. When a rear tire blows out, you usually feel it more in the seat or body of the vehicle.) To see the full article, including a link to the video, go to:

Video safety tip: Adjusting to the time change

Source: Automotive Fleet, March 14, 2016

Feeling a little tired this week? If so, you could be one of the millions of Americans still struggling to adjust to the time change. The loss of an hour of sleep, coupled with the change in daylight hours, means motorists may potentially experience drowsy driving and added distractions on the road, according to AAA. This annual rite of clock shock signals the beginning of the end of the long, cold winter, but because the shifting of that one hour changes our sleep patterns, fatigued driving is a real possibility. According to the National Sleep Foundation, signs that you're too tired to drive and need to pull over include: difficulty focusing; frequent blinking or heavy eyelids; daydreaming; trouble remembering the last few miles driven and missing exits or traffic signs. To see the full article, including a link to the video, go to:

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Can big data reduce traffic deaths? Microsoft and DataKind expand analysis to Seattle and other cities

Source: GeekWire, March 11, 2016

Vision Zero, the project to reduce traffic-related deaths and severe injuries to zero, is a laudable goal, but achieving it can be daunting. While education campaigns and traffic enforcement may seem like good options, cities have surprisingly little data on the cause and effect of such measures. Microsoft teamed up last year with DataKind, a nonprofit that leverages big data to help social-change organizations solve problems, to use deep data analyzation to solve the problem in New York City. Now they're bringing that project to Seattle, San Jose and New Orleans. The expansion will help cities study how various factors affect accidents, from new traffic-calming measures to existing infrastructure layouts. DataKind will collect the data and provide analysis for cities, while Microsoft will offer support with both expertise and a new fellowship focused on the Vision Zero project. To see the full article, go to:

In-vehicle Wi-Fi, new tech options come to rental cars

Source: USA Today, February 28, 2016

Coming soon to a rental car near you: apps that let you make voice-activated reservations, programs that track the health of your vehicle, and wireless hotspots. The upgrades are incremental, leading toward a future when self-driving rentals pick you up from home, the train station or the airport. That day is just around the corner. All these new developments do raise the question: Are drivers ready for these new cars? Car rental companies are upping the ante with their apps. Avis, in late 2015, became the first car rental company to launch an app for the Apple Watch. It lets you email yourself a car rental receipt and retrieve car rental reservations right from your wrist. Audi has introduced an app that allows "on demand" direct bookings that bypass the car rental agency entirely. To see the full article, go to:

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How Americans die abroad: State Department records reveal what actually makes a place dangerous to visit

Source: Time, March 8, 2016

The U.S. State Department's registry of American deaths abroad features almost 13 years of data and comprises over 10,000 deaths from non-natural causes. The registry is updated every six months, and includes only those deaths reported to the State Department. While there is always the danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the most common causes of death to Americans in Egypt—based on the 69 Americans in the registry who died there over the past 13 years—are auto accidents and bus accidents. If you want to stay alive on vacation, the most important thing you can probably do is to buckle-up. As in Egypt, vehicle accidents kill the most Americans abroad overall. Out of 10,545 deaths abroad between October 2012 and June 2015, cars were responsible for 2,181 deaths, and vehicles, more generally (cars, motorcycles, buses, bicycles, etc.), were responsible for a total of 3,104 deaths or 29% of all deaths. To see the full article, go to:

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New Report: NHTSA 2015: Advancing Safety on America's Roads

In 2015, NHTSA built on decades of road safety progress by improving in three specific areas: bolstering innovation across the agency and specifically in vehicle safety technology; reforming the identification and recall of vehicles and equipment with safety-related defects; and strengthening core safety programs that help Americans make safer choices on the road. In this brief report, NHTSA presents some of the significant improvements the agency made in 2015 in these areas and in how it communicates with the public. View the full report here:

NHTSA Summit: Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety

Motor vehicle crash fatalities are rising. Simply stated, this Summit was a call to action for highway safety practitioners and all those who are interested in saving lives and stopping injuries and crashes on our Nation's roads. NHTSA is leading the charge with a new strategy on human choices: "Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety." Five regional summits were held across the U.S. and a 6th and final summit took place in Washington D.C. on March 10-11 with invited attendees. The agenda and the webcast of the summit are available here:

NHTSA Forum: Asleep at the Wheel: A Nation of Drowsy Drivers

NHTSA hosted a forum during National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (November 1–8, 2015) to launch a new drowsy-driving initiative. Experts from a wide range of fields, including the sleep sciences, traffic safety, and public health, as well as from diverse organizations including advocacy groups, industry, State government, and other Federal agencies convened to discuss research and program objectives, consider priority public policy needs, stimulate connections between diverse stakeholders, and identify core public education needs to address the risks, consequences and countermeasures related to drowsy driving. The agenda and a webcast of the forum are available here:

New: Seat Belt Use in 2015—Overall Results

Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, February 2016

Seat belt use in 2015 reached 88.5%, up from 86.7% in 2014. There were significant increases in belt use in both passenger cars and pickups. This result is from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which is the only survey that provides nationwide probability-based observed data on seat belt use in the United States. To see the full research note, click here:

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Upcoming Transportation/Safety Events

March 17, 2016
Saint Patrick's Day Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign-
Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

Sponsored by NHTSA. Campaign materials available here:

April: National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Materials for NHTSA's third national highly visible enforcement campaign for distracted driving (April 8-13) are available here:

For additional materials to share with employees, see the NETS Drive Safely Work Week campaign archives.

DSWW 2014: Driving Your Safety Culture Home

DSWW 2011: Focus 360°: Getting There Safely is Everyone's Business

DSWW 2010: Focus- Safe Driving is Serious Business

April 3-5, 2016
Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities
Long Beach, CA

For more information or to register, go to:

May 5, 2016
Cinco de Mayo Drunk Driving Prevention

Cinco de Mayo has become a big night out for many, particularly among young adults. But it is also a very dangerous night out because of alcohol-impaired drivers. Those celebrating should be sure to designate their sober driver in advance - before the festivities begin.

For campaign materials from NHTSA's Traffic Safety Marketing that can be shared with employees, go to:

May 6, 2016
NSC Employer Cell Phone Policy Seminar
Hilton Arlington, Dallas/Fort Worth 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM

NETS Board of Directors member Joe McKillips of Abbott will be a featured speaker.
For more information or to register, go to: (fee required to register)

May 10, 2016
NTSB Pedestrian Safety Forum

The forum will address various aspects of pedestrian safety including exposure and risk data, urban planning and policy, infrastructure design, other safety interventions, and vehicle-based solutions. For more information and to receive future emails about the forum, please email John Brown at

You may attend in person or via webcast.

9 am – 5 pm ET
NTSB Board Room and Conference Center
429 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20594

June 26-29
ASSE SAFETY 2016 Professional Development Conference and Exposition
Atlanta, GA

NETS Board of Directors' member Dr. Stephanie Pratt of NIOSH, Jack Hanley, NETS Executive Director and Tony Vinciguerra of the Center for Transportation and Safety (an Elements Financial Company) will present together on fleet safety benchmarking. For more information or to register, go to:

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