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After Long Decline, Traffic Deaths Again on the Rise

"These numbers are a wake-up call," warns Rosekind.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Government data suggest distracted driving is responsible for at least 10% of fatalities.

Traffic deaths spiked by 8% during the first half of the year, according to a new federal report, reversing a decade-long downward trend.

Officials point to a variety of factors that may be behind the unexpected increase, including both lower fuel prices and the improving economy. That has led to more Americans driving more frequently and for longer distances. A new AAA report, for example, indicates 42 million Americans will drive at least 42 miles over the coming Thanksgiving holiday.

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“These numbers are a wake-up call,” said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


NHTSA Says Traffic Fatalities on the Rise in 2015

More miles logged offsetting improved safety equipment.

by on Sep.01, 2015

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said he won't let up on automakers in a push for safety.

New vehicles in the U.S. are the safest vehicles ever built, but the country’s highways are seeing the highest fatality rates in nearly a decade and that has safety officials scrambling to figure out what to do about it.

Despite more cars and trucks than ever being equipped with collision prevention equipment and vehicles designed to crash in ways to better protect vehicle occupants, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced U.S. traffic deaths jumped 9.5% to an estimated 7,500 during the first quarter of 2015.

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Part of the increase is being blamed on the fact that due to an improved economy spurred by low gas prices, Americans are driving more. Miles logged are up 3.9% during the same period, but that doesn’t account for everything, according to safety experts. (more…)

US Highway Deaths Heading for 8-Year High

Cheap gas, improving economy likely factors.

by on Aug.17, 2015

Highway fatalities have been rising fast, and an improved economy and cheap gas may be factors.

After years of decline, there’s been a sudden surge in highway fatalities in the U.S. this year, and if the current trend continues, the U.S. could see the roadway death toll rise to its highest level since 2007, according to the National Safety Council.

The financial impact has also risen sharply this year, reports the NSC, climbing by 24% during the first half of this year when deaths, injuries and property damage are factored in.

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“Follow the numbers: the trend we are seeing on our roadways is like a flashing red light – danger lies ahead,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.


July 4 Holiday Likely to be a Deadly One

National Safety Council predicts highest highway fatality rate in 7 years.

by on Jun.29, 2015

Highway deaths are expected to surge over the upcoming Independence Day holiday.

With highway fatalities already on the rise after years of steady decline, the upcoming Independence Day holiday could be a particularly deadly one.

As many as 409 Americans will be killed on the road during the long weekend, with another 49,500 injured, forecasts the National Safety Council. That would be the highest number for an Independence Day holiday since 2008 if the numbers prove accurate.

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“Drivers always need to be vigilant, but this weekend, focus on the safety of your family,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “A few precautions can help ensure a memorable weekend. Spending the holiday with family is preferable to spending time in the ER.”


Men More Likely Than Women to Die in Car Crash

Blame alcohol as much as testosterone.

by on May.28, 2015

Men are more likely to die in a crash, and alcohol is just one of several reasons why.

After years of decline, U.S. highway fatalities have taken a jump in recent months, and that could be particularly bad news for men. Whether you blame testosterone or alcohol, male motorists are twice as likely to be killed behind the wheel as women, according to federal crash data.

Men tend to have more severe crashes than women, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. But in comparable crashes, women are more likely than men to be killed or injured. Separate studies have shown young men are particularly prone to being involved in fatal crashes, and the new NHTSA report indicates that the gap between men and women narrows with age.

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Federal researchers focused on crash data from 2012, a year in which 33,541 Americans were killed on the nation’s roadways. That broke down to 23,808 men and just 9,733 women.

The NHTSA study pointed to a variety of factors that could lie behind this gender gap: (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Adds Bike Sense

Prototype safety system could reduce collisions with bikes, motorcycles.

by on Jan.21, 2015

The JLR Bike Sense system would help motorists spot hidden bicycles and motorcycles.

Sometimes, it takes a tap on the shoulder to get your attention. That’s one way Jaguar Land Rover’s prototype Bike Sense system could help prevent collisions between cars and bicycles.

Bicycle deaths have been on the increase in recent years, in the U.S. rising nearly 20% between just 2010 and 2012, and most are the result of accidents involving a collision with a car. In the U.K., where Jaguar Land Rover is based, nearly 19,000 cyclists are killed or injured on the roads each year.

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The carmaker has decided to address that problem with what could be a high-tech solution that would not only be able to spot a bicycle or motorcycle in harm’s way, but which would also take steps to advise a driver of the potential danger. The system under development would use lights and other warnings, even tap a driver on the shoulder, if necessary.


Bicycle Deaths on the Rise

Problem shifts to adults on urban roads.

by on Oct.30, 2014

A CitiBike bicycle sharing station in New York City. Urban ridership is up - but so are fatalities.

Whether traveling on rural roads or inner-city streets, you’re likely to see a lot more bicyclists pedaling their way alongside four-wheeled traffic. Bikes have become hip again, it seems, especially with Generations X and Y. And a growing list of cities – including Chicago, San Francisco and New York – even make it possible to bike share, an encouraged alternative for commuters and tourists alike.

Unfortunately, new research reveals that with the increase in bicycle usage, there’s a concurrent increase in crashes, the annual cycle death rate rising from 621 to 722 between 2010 to 2012, reports the Governors Highway Safety Association, or GHSA. That’s an alarming 16% jump even as overall highway deaths – including automobiles, motorcycles, pedestrians and bicycles – has been declining.

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Notes a statement from the GHSA, “Bicycle fatalities are increasingly an urban phenomenon, accounting for 69 percent of all bicycle fatalities in 2012, compared with 50 percent in 1975. These changes correlate with an increase in bicycling commuters — a 62 percent jump since 2000, according to 2013 Census Bureau data.”


Death-Free Highways Have Become a Real Possibility

New study will show it is already starting to happen.

by on Aug.22, 2014

Volvo's near AstaZero safety proving grounds.

With the opening of its new proving grounds in western Sweden, the Volvo Car Group says it is moving “a step closer” to its goal of having no one killed or seriously injured in one of its cars by 2020.

Not long ago, such claims might have seemed the stuff of fantasy, or worse, cynical over-promise. While there’s no question that, in the U.S., highway fatalities have fallen nearly 40% from their peak, more than 30,000 Americans are still being killed each year. Nonetheless, we may very well be approaching an era when the highway death toll sinks to zero, industry experts believe.

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A sign of that possibility will come with the release of a new study next month by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety which will show a record number of vehicles experienced no deaths during the four-year study period from 2009 through the end of 2012.

“It’s a tall order,” says IIHS Senior Vice President Russ Rader, “But the goal is definitely feasible. We’re already seeing this happen.”


Feds Mull New Rules to Make Cars Talk to Each Other

Technology could be used to warn drivers of possible crashes.

by on Aug.19, 2014

Collision avoidance systems improve safety for individual vehicles, but potential new rules might use similar technology to make roads safer for all.

Black boxes in vehicles already track a variety of bits of information that is used by safety officials, automakers and others to determine what a car or truck does after it does it. However, the Obama administration is looking to use that information in real time to save more than 1,000 lives annually.

Using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology that allows vehicles to talk to one another and warn drivers of a potential collision could save an estimated 1,083 lives prevent 592,000 crashes annually, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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Using V2V technology could provide drivers an advanced warning of a possible accident Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA) scenarios. The systems use radio waves to send out signals that are received and interpreted by other vehicles. Depending upon the data sent, the systems could provide drivers with warnings. (more…)

Highway Crashes Cost Country $871 Annually

Financial toll about $900 annually for every American.

by on May.30, 2014

Crashes, such as this one blamed on distracted driving, take an enormous human and economic toll, a new NHTSA study underscores.

Roadway crashes are responsible for more than 30,000 annual deaths – they are, in fact, the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 34. But they also pose a serious economic burden for everyone living in the U.S.

A new federal study found that crashes cost the country $871 billion in in 2010. In terms of just the economic cost, a total of $277 billion, that works out to nearly $900 for every man, woman and child living in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimated that so-called societal harm, in terms of the damage done through loss of life, pain and injury, was more than twice as high, at an average $594 billion.

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“No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, or stem the suffering associated with motor vehicle crashes,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “While the economic and societal costs of crashes are staggering, today’s report clearly demonstrates that investments in safety are worth every penny used to reduce the frequency and severity of these tragic events.”