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Who’re Better Drivers: Men or Women?

Guess again, says a new study.

by on Oct.11, 2011

Are you going to be the one to tell Danica Patrick to move over and let you drive?

Women drivers have long been a mainstay for comics and comic strips, and most men are likely to say they’re better drivers.  But a new study suggests you guess again.

The data all point to women as the better drivers, with women getting fewer tickets for reckless driving, winding up with fewer address for driving under the influence and – perhaps most notably – winding up dying in accidents about 50% less often.

If there’s anything that men seem to have a lead in it’s understanding how all the high tech gear in the latest cars are operated, according to the MetLife Auto & Home American Safety Pulse Poll.

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“Safety knows no gender,” contends Bill Moore, president of MetLife Auto & Home.  “Whether a man or a woman is behind the wheel, an attentive driver remains the most effective deterrent to auto accidents.”

Then, perhaps the statistics show that women are more attentive.  Men are involved in reckless driving incidents 3.4 times more often than women and cited for DUI 3.1 times more frequently.

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LaHood Opens Second Distracted Driving Summit

New distracted driving regs and employer policies coming. Technology both vilified as a cause and praised as a solution.

by on Sep.21, 2010

It's clear that technology causes the DD problem; there is little data showing that it can solve it. The vehicle is not a mobile device say critics.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood kicked off the 2010 Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, DC today by announcing new anti-distracted driving regulations for drivers transporting hazardous materials, commercial truck and bus drivers, and rail operators.

LaHood said that he is initiating a new rulemaking to prohibit commercial truck drivers from texting while transporting hazardous materials. In addition, LaHood said that two rules proposed at last year’s summit have now become law – rules banning commercial bus and truck drivers from texting on the job, and restricting train operators from using cell phones and other electronic devices while in the driver’s seat.  More than 4,000 people died in heavy truck crashes in 2008, but only 15% of them were in the trucks.

“We are taking action on a number of fronts to address the epidemic of distracted driving in America,” said Secretary LaHood.  “With the help of the experts, policymakers, and safety advocates we’ve assembled here, we are going to do everything we can to put an end to distracted driving and save lives.”

More than 100 million people each day are now engaging in dangerous distracted driving behavior or DD. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research, distraction-related fatalities represented 16% of overall traffic fatalities in 2009.

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New OnStar Services Launch Monday despite DD

GM's expansion includes social media and voice texting as Distracted Driving remains a major public health problem.

by on Sep.15, 2010

Auto companies remain committed to expanding vehicle electronics and web connectivity.

OnStar is debuting next week new services and technologies for its 6 million subscribers as part of a “realignment” of the company’s long-term strategy.

The GM subsidiary plans to offer what it calls innovations that “significantly increase drivers’ in-car connection,” on the eve of the second annual Distracted Driving summit that is being convened next week in Washington, DC by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

OnStar executives did not respond to queries about its participation in the meetings. There are no specific public data that show to what extent, if any, OnStar users are part of deadly DD.

LaHood has repeatedly criticized the growing use of electronics in automobiles, but is powerless to regulate it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (part of DOT) is prohibited by the U.S. Congress from promulgating national regulations concerning distracted driving; so LaHood has been using his “bully pulpit” to oppose the well-financed auto, electronics and cell phone lobbies whose companies’ devices are enabling almost 6,000 deaths each year and more than 500,000 injuries.

Simultaneous events held in New York, Austin, San Francisco and Miami yesterday gave OnStar subscribers a first look at new technologies possible through the ninth generation hardware, including in-car social media interactions that are being tested.

“With the extremely high awareness and respect for the OnStar brand, we’ve created a long-term vision that includes new in-vehicle hardware, an all-new IT infrastructure and a host of new partnerships and services that provide the basis for growth,” said OnStar President Chris Preuss.

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Order on Distracted Driving Effective Today

Government-wide Presidential directive restricts more than four million federal employees from texting while driving.

by on Dec.30, 2009

Like the TSA, symbolic but largely ineffective actions dealing with a deadly problem?

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today marked the effective date of President Obama’s Executive Order on distracted driving, which prohibits more than four million federal employees from texting behind the wheel while working or while using government vehicles and communications devices.

While this remains a small, largely symbolic step in addressing a deadly and growing problem, federal safety regulators under LaHood’s management continue to delay meaningful action on regulations that would ban the use of any electronic devices while driving or operating any type of vehicle or airplane. Powerful economic interests, including electronic device and cell phone makers and service providers, as well as automakers and software companies such as Microsoft oppose such regulation.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than half a million were injured. On any given day in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.

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Attentive!

“Every time we climb into the driver’s seat, we all have a responsibility for keeping our roads safe by putting away cell phones and other distractions,” said Secretary LaHood. “I am proud that the federal government is leading by example, and encourage others to think about how they can set a safety example in their communities whether it’s through employee policies, safety awareness campaigns, or just making sure your teen driver knows the risks.”

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Ford Owned Volvo Tows Line on Cell Phone Use

The Swedish company renowned for auto safety ignores a key aspect in the cell phone use while driving debate.

by on Sep.29, 2009

There's good reason the National Safety Councile wants a total ban on driving and cell phone use.

The National Safety Council wants a total ban on driving and any kind of cell phone use.

Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, (VCNA) is placing full-page ads tomorrow in issues of USA Today and The Washington Post that call for distracted driving legislation.

Publicly taking a position on the need for legislation is apparently a first for Volvo, and the company chose to do so as the Department of Transportation’s “Distracted Driving Summit” in Washington, D.C., which opens tomorrow.

It is indicative of the high stakes and high profits that potentially are on the line if the government bans the use of electronic devices in cars, including phones, moving maps, Blackberries and video players, among others.

The advertisements apparently attempt to change the subject from the dangers of any kind of cell phone use while driving to a position that hand-free cell phone use while driving is safe.

Peer reviewed scientific studies say that it is the cognitive engagement while using either a hands-free or a hand-held cell phone that is the dangerous distraction.

The issue is not the type of phone a driver uses, rather it is the mental distraction caused by the conversation itself. That’s the reason earlier this year the National Safety Council urged a total ban on using cell phones while driving after conducting further studies that confirmed previous research on just how dangerous cell phones are.

NSC said cell phone use while driving contributes to 6% of crashes, or 636,000 wrecks, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC estimates the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion.

Simply put cell phone use is as dangerous as drunken driving.

Volvo and Ford Motor Company, along with virtually all other automakers are attempting to preserve hands-free cell phone use, which they enable with optional or standard equipment telematic devices that allow an increasing array of electronics to be used during driving.

We Concentrate on Driving!

We Concentrate on Driving!

Such scientific studies are likely to be contested tomorrow at the Distracted Driving Summit as powerful and wealthy vested interests attempt to protect the increasing sale of electronic devices that are leading to an “epidemic of distracted during,” in the words of Republican Ray LaHood, who heads the Department of Transportation. As DOT head, LaHood also has charge of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is supposed to protect people from unsafe vehicles, driving conditions and practices.

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Cell Phone Use Showdown Coming at Distracted Driving Summit Next Week in Washington

Automakers are enabling deadly driving behaviors with an increasing array of profitable electronic options.

by on Sep.23, 2009

The National Safety Councile wants a total ban on driving and cell phone use.

The National Safety Council wants a total ban on driving and any type of cell phone use.

Next week when the Distracted Driving Summit called for by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood opens, the debate will intensify around what to do about a growing public safety problem – the role of electronic devices in an increasing number of auto accidents.

Almost 42,000 lives are lost annually on U.S. Highways. And traffic crashes are the primary cause of incapacitating injuries, as well as the number one killer of Americans under the age of 34. In addition to staggering psychological costs, the annual economic loss to society because of these crashes, defined by lost worker productivity, medical costs, and insurance costs, among others, is estimated at more than $150 billion. No one seriously debates that there is a need for an improvement in motor vehicle safety.

Getting unsafe vehicles off the road is now broadly recognized as common sense more than forty years after the Senate  conducted hearings that led to auto safety legislation in 1967, which automakers fought all the way. Now a new deadly threat is emerging from the practices of automakers and sellers of electronic devices. No surprise given the history, automakers are once again fighting rules that could potentially eliminate a substantial number of accidents.

Driver inattention is a leading cause of traffic crashes, responsible for about 80% of all collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Moreover, leading the way in this lack of visual and cognitive attention is cell phone use – either hand-held or hands-free. With more than 100 million people each day practicing dangerous distracted driving behavior, the fatalities and accidents such behavior causes is growing. There is also the growing use of in-vehicle telematics and “infotainment systems” that clearly distract drivers.

Particularly dangerous is the widespread use of cell phones. The issue is not the type of phone a driver uses, rather it is the mental distraction caused by the conversation itself. That’s the reason earlier this year the National Safety Council urged a total ban on using cell phones while driving after conducting further studies that confirmed previous research on just how dangerous cell phones are.

NSC said cell phone use while driving contributes to 6% of crashes, or 636,000 wrecks, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC estimates the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion. Simply put cell phone use is as dangerous as drunken driving.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen, contends that hands-free phones are safe – but can supply no studies to support that assertion.

Telephone conversation impairs sustained visual attention

We Pay Attention!

We Pay Attention!

The problem with such an obviously self-serving position is that recent peer-reviewed research shows that holding telephone conversations disrupts one’s driving ability in a way similar to drunken driving. (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2008, 15 (6), 1135-1140 doi:10.3758/PBR.15.6.1135)

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Department of Hypocrisy: Senate Bill on Texting While Driving Ignores the Original Core Issue.

Safety policy needs to address widespread cell phone use as well as other electronic devices automakers are promoting.

by on Aug.03, 2009

Senator Charles Schumer Taxpayer Financed Portrait

This anti-texting movement fails to address the core issue -- cell phone use.

As the debate about the national safety problem cause by distracted drivers using electronic devices heats up, the government agency responsible for traffic safety has come under attack for suppressing studies showing just how bad the problem is, and, worse, for bowing to Congressional pressure not to pursue regulations that would save lives. 

In a joint press release, Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety said that since 2003, the government has known that drivers talking on their cell phones experience the same potentially deadly distraction whether they are using a handheld device or hands-free technology. The pressure groups made the accusations after a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act obtained internal documents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“By keeping this information secret from the public for the past six years, the government has endangered even more lives, the groups said. Cities and states across the country have passed laws and ordinances requiring drivers to use hands-free phones, mistakenly believing those devices to be safe and encouraging drivers to use them.”

The suppressed evidence and opinions by safety experts advising NHTSA have since been confirmed by numerous independent studies.

With more than 100 million people each day practicing dangerous distracted driving behavior, the fatalities and accidents causes are growing to proportions far greater than the few swine flu deaths that caused a public uproar. Particularly dangerous is the widespread use of cell phones. The issue is not the type of phone a driver uses, rather it is the distraction caused by the conversation itself. That’s the reason the National Safety Council urged a total ban on using cell phones while driving earlier this year after conducting further studies that confirmed previous research on just how dangerous they are.

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Deadly Distracted Driving Expands as Automakers Market More and More Unsafe Devices

Drivers underestimate the dangers of cell phones and portable electronic devices as usage and accidents grow.

by on Jul.28, 2009

“Death by Cell Phone” is the title of a new billboard advertisement the National Safety Council.

“Death by Cell Phone” is a new outdoor advertising campaign from the National Safety Council.

It’s not surprising that drivers overestimate their skills and underestimate the harmful and fatal effects of distractions caused by a growing number of other activities while they drive. What is surprising is the lack of  regulation from governments and  their safety agencies as study after study shows that the problem  is growing as automakers expand their marketing of electronic devices or systems, such as Bluetooth, that ease their use.

More than 100 million people are now engaging in dangerous distracted driving behavior each day while driving. Particularly dangerous is the widespread use of cell phones. The issue is not the type of phone a driver uses, rather it is the distraction caused by the conversation. That’s the reason the National Safety Council urged a total ban on using them while driving earlier this year after conducting research that confirmed previous studies on just how dangerous they are.

NSC said cell phone use while driving contributes to 6% of crashes, or 636,000 wrecks, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC estimates the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion.

The latest research released today by the AAA Foundation confirms the growing problem of the disconnect between behaviors that drivers know are dangerous and their continued practicing of them. Overall, the majority of American motorists reported to AAA that they feel no safer now than they did five years ago while driving.

A previous AAA Foundation survey found two out of three drivers mistakenly believe using a hands-free cell phone is safer than talking on a hand-held device. In this survey, the use of a hands-free cell phone was the only behavior that more than half of all drivers rated as acceptable, yet numerous other scientific studies have shown it is equally as dangerous as talking on a hand-held phone, both quadruple your risk of being in a crash.

But Not While Driving

But Not While Driving

Motorists know this intuitively, and rated distracted driving as a top threat, with 80% seeing it as a very serious threat to their safety. Even those who admitted to distracted driving acknowledged they were putting themselves in danger. And more than half of those who admitted to reading or sending text messages or e-mails while driving indicated they were much more likely to have an accident.

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Students Selling Students on Safety

Safety scholars concept gets message across

by on Feb.11, 2009

Speaking safety in a language teens understand

Speaking safety in a language teens understand

Sarah Wilson doesn’t need to be told about the problems of distracted driving. She’s got several seriously injured friends to remind her what happens when you split your time behind the wheel texting, cellphoning and simply ignoring the road.

So, it’s not surprising that distracted driving became the 21-year-old University of Southern Florida Junior’s theme when she entered the third annual Bridgestone Safety Scholars Video Contest. Open to filmmakers, ages 16-21, the tire maker’s goal is to get young motorists talking to one another about the risks of driving.

Wilson’s short production, titled “Drive to Arrive,” won her a $5,000 scholarship and a new set of tires. It could also help save some lives, the telecommunications major is hoping.

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