The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported earlier this week that it had seen dramatic declines in the amount of distracted drivers in Syracuse, NY and Hartford, Conn. The reduction is a result of two pilot projects that focus on increased law enforcement and high-profile public education campaigns such as distraction.gov that was started to combat distracted driving. Each was supported by $200,000 in federal funds and $100,000 from the state. The costs were attributed to the increased police presence and paid advertising and news media coverage; both very expensive, but effective ways of preventing distracted driving.
The pilot campaign slogan was “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” and was structured similarly to the highly-successful national seat belt campaign, “Click It or Ticket.” Over 4 periods of increased law enforcement the police forces in the two cities gave out almost 20,000 citations combined for driver violations involving talking or texting on cell phones while operating a vehicle. Cell phone use and texting behind the wheel have declined by one-third in Syracuse and by more than half in Hartford. “The success of these pilot programs clearly show that combining strong laws with strong enforcement can bring about a sea change in public attitudes and behavior,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. He continued, “We applaud the work of the men and women of the Syracuse and Hartford police forces, and call on state legislatures, law enforcement and safety advocates across the nation to follow their lead.”
The next step is for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to implement a three-part formula: tough laws, strong enforcement, and ongoing public awareness; statewide. For tips on preventing distracted driving visit the FMCSA website and help keep our roads safe.
Truck-involved accidents happen for a variety of reasons, but some of these causes are more likely to bring about an accident than others. Everyone knows the major causes such as speeding, drunk driving, fatigued driving, and distracted driving, but what if there was a way to predict the likeliness of accidents based on truckers’ previous convictions for driving offenses?
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) used data from the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) and the Commercial Drivers License Information System (CDLIS) to calculate how likely a driver was to crash after he or she had had a violation of some sort. Driver data was gathered from a two-year time frame (2008-2009) and analyzed across those years to determine the future crash predictability of violations, convictions and crashes which occurred the previous year.
The ATRI’s study was based on data from 587,772 U.S. truck drivers. “The analysis shows that a ‘failure to use/improper signal’ conviction was the leading conviction associated with an increased likelihood of a future crash.” When drivers are convicted of this offense they become 96% more likely to be involved in a crash. The rest of the top 5 violations rounded out like this: a past crash (88%), improper passing violation (88%), improper turn conviction (84%), and improper or erratic lane change conviction (80%).
The study listed 5 other significant factors that ranged between 60% and 70% increased likelihood. The top 5 all have one thing in common: a driver’s blind spots. Because trucks are so much larger than other vehicles they have bigger blind spots and therefore cannot see other, smaller vehicles. Sometimes a crash is not always the trucker’s fault because drivers have to be aware of these blind spots and know to avoid them.
Even though 2010 reported the lowest number of fatalities since 1949, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) still believes they can outdo themselves in terms of crashes by continually improving highway safety. ATRI’s research should prove very beneficial in improving highway safety, especially when it comes to trucking accidents. Their numbers can provide bases on which to create regulations that will reprimand repeat offenders to deter them from committing the same, accident-increasing violations. If there is a bigger penalty for repeat offenders then drivers will be less likely to make the same careless mistake twice.