Wednesday, July 28, 2010

DOT Announces Second Distraction Summit

The DOT officially announced they will be hosting the second summit on distracted driving on September 21st in Washington, DC. As a participant in last year’s summit, we experienced firsthand the instant attention the distraction issue garnered both during and after the event. Great strides have been made bringing this issue to the front of the agenda with many states enacting texting or handheld bans over the past year. These legislative pushes have kept the issue of distraction in the public eye for much of the year and I hope this year’s summit will continue to shedding more light on this important traffic safety issue. However, I’ve always said passing legislation is not enough; we must go beyond that by trying to convince the driving public to change their behavior when it comes to distraction. I truly hope this year’s summit will help push the traffic safety community toward achieving this ultimate goal.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Road Features Do Save Lives...

There’s no doubt that nearly all crashes on our roadways are preventable. Talking on cell phones, using an ipod or GPS, driving aggressively or simply not adjusting to weather conditions are all causes of crashes, but are also things that are under the drivers’ control. Given this, I continue to encourage all drivers to examine their own driving behaviors and eliminate the habits that put yourself and others at risk. However, I also understand that all drivers are human and mistakes can be made. This is why building roads with safety features like guardrails, rumble strips and additional pavement markings are important to roadway safety. When driver error occurs and mistakes are made on the road, these features can save lives. One of the greatest reasons road safety features are needed is to prevent Run-Off-the-Road crashes, an issue the AAA Foundation and collaborating organizations helped address earlier this year through a campaign which resulted in a national PSA and educational DVD. Building roads with key safety features is an important step for highway safety, but we must remember the fastest, easiest and most effective way to improve safety is for everyone to start being smart-focused drivers on the road.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Safety For Teens

It’s no secret that teen drivers have one of the highest crash rates of any age group. Their lack of knowledge and experience in handling specific driving scenarios not surprisingly makes them more likely to be in a crash. Unfortunately, statistics have shown that these risks are even greater during the summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day – the deadliest for drivers age 15-20. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise because summer means free time, less supervision and more opportunities for teens to drive. However, it’s important that every driver makes an effort to avoid the distractions that summer offers. Warmer weather is a factor as more drivers put their windows or rooftops down - making it easier to be distracted by what’s going on alongside the road instead of looking straight ahead. More travelers going on vacation or to the beach means more passengers and the potential for increased distraction for drivers. Our 2009 Index survey found that 35% of drivers felt less safe now than they did five years ago – the number one reason cited was distracted driving. We’re now halfway through summer and I want encourage ALL drivers to keep their focus where it belongs – on the road.

Friday, July 2, 2010

More State Texting-Bans Go Into Effect this Month

There is no doubt that distracted driving is a serious issue with the U.S. Department of Transportation reporting that nearly 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries were the result of distraction related accidents in 2008. Six states will put texting-while-driving bans into effect this month with the aim of curbing this dangerous distraction while many states already have some type of ban in place. Legislation is a step in the right direction but it’s unclear just how effective it’s been so far in deterring behavior, especially given the penalty for being caught texting is as low as $20 in some states. However, the incentive to stop texting-while-driving shouldn’t be to avoid a fine or even obey the law. The true incentive is protecting the lives everyone on the road – passengers, pedestrians, other drivers and of course yourself. Our 2009 TSC Index found that 35% of people felt less safe on the road than they did five years ago. The main reason cited was distracted driving. We can all help make our roads safer by taking responsibility for our behavior behind the wheel and putting down the phone because it’s the smart thing to do.