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Peer Pressure Leading Teens to Text Less While Driving with Others Onboard

But 95% read texts and e-mails when driving alone, according to new survey.

by on Apr.18, 2013

Almost all teen motorists admit texting while driving alone, but far fewer will with friends aboard.

Peer pressure appears to be working to get teen drivers to reduce risky behavior when behind the wheel, according to a new national survey. Less than a third say they text and e-mail when behind the wheel with friends in the car – though 95% admit to doing so when driving alone.

There’s a similar drop in the number of young drivers who watch videos or post to social media sites, according to the 2013 teen driver study conducted for tire manufacturer Bridgestone Americas. And the figures drop even more sharply when there’s a parent in the car.

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Researchers say the findings suggest that while texting and e-mailing are an essential part of life for young drivers, it is becoming socially unacceptable to take risks while behind the wheel.

“The fact these actions are becoming socially unacceptable shows progress in the effort to raise awareness of the risks and consequences of distracted driving, but with this many teens admitting to engaging in the behavior privately, there is still much work to be done,” said Angela Patterson, Manager, Teens Drive Smart Program, Bridgestone Americas.

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Fatal Distractions: US Drivers Continue Cellphone Use and Texting Despite Risks

American motorists more likely to take chance than Europeans.

by on Mar.14, 2013

U.S. motorists are far more likely to make calls or text than counterparts in Europe, says the CDC.

They can be “fatal distractions,” but despite the increasingly well-understood risks, American motorists blithely continue to use cellphones or text while behind the wheel – far more than their counterparts in Europe.

Efforts to get drivers to put down their mobile devices and focus on the road have so far failed to yield significant results, according to a new study released by the Center for Disease Control. Other recent studies suggest that this is contributing to what the nation’s top transportation official has dubbed an “epidemic” of distracted driving.

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“The cell phone can be a fatal distraction for those who use it while they drive,” warns CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “Driving and dialing or texting don’t mix. If you are driving, pull over to a safe place and stop before you use your cell phone.”

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DOT Chief LaHood Exiting Obama Administration

Stepped up auto enforcement after years of lax regulation.

by on Jan.29, 2013

U.S. Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has tendered his resignation, indicating he will not stay on through the second term of the Obama Administration.

A one-time Republican Congressman from Illinois, the 67-year-old cabinet member has led efforts to ramp up enforcement of automotive safety issues after the relatively lax, pro-industry years under th previous Bush Administration. LaHood has been especially aggressive in targeting the issue of driver distraction, something he has termed an epidemic and blamed for thousands of U.S. highway deaths annually.

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“As I look back on the past four years, I am proud of what we have accomplished together in so many important areas,” LaHood wrote in an e-mail to DoT employees outlining his decision to leave as soon as a successor can be named.

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Electronic Stability Control Systems Saving Thousands of Lives

“We know the technology will save even more lives,” says US safety chief.

by on Nov.30, 2012

The 2013 Honda Civic update adds rollover airbags to the car's electronic stability control technology.

Breakthrough technology designed to prevent vehicle rollovers and other serious accidents has saved an estimated 2,200 lives over the last three years, according to the nation’s top vehicle safety regulator.

A federal rule mandating the use of electronic stability control was enacted in April 2007 and following a four-year phase-in, every vehicle sold since September 1, 2011 has had to use the technology which is often known as ESC, ESP or electronic stability program.

The technology is intended to help vehicles avoid skids and other accidents and has proven particularly effective at preventing rollovers, the government indicates.

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“NHTSA research has consistently shown ESC systems are especially effective in helping a driver maintain vehicle control and avoid some of the most dangerous types of crashes on the highway, including deadly vehicle rollover situations or in keeping drivers from completely running off the roadway,” said Administrator David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

As many as 10,000 Americans die in rollover crashes annually, even though rollovers occur in just 3% of highway accidents.

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Pedestrian Deaths Up – Experts Want Answers, Solutions

New regulations may follow.

by on Aug.07, 2012

Volvo's auto braking system can detect pedestrians in the road and bring the car to a quick stop.

After years of steady decline there are some disturbing signs that the downward trend in traffic fatalities may be over.  With reports already suggesting vehicle deaths were up for the first part of the year, a new study shows a sharp, 4% increase in pedestrian fatalities, as well.

The upturn in pedestrian deaths came in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, but it marks the first increase since 2005 – a point at which all motor vehicle-related fatalities began to tumble sharply.

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A total of 4,280 pedestrians were killed in vehicle-related incidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, another 70,000 injured. In 2010, pedestrian deaths accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities.  That compared with 11% between 2002 and 2007.  That reflects both the increase in pedestrian crashes as well as the decline in overall motor vehicle fatalities.

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NHTSA Previews New “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving”

Meanwhile, new poll suggests drivers don’t want Twitter, Facebook, other distracting apps anyway.

by on Jun.07, 2012

The US Dept. of Transportation has released a new "Blueprint" aimed at ending distracted driving.

With cellphones, texting and other distractions blamed for several thousand traffic fatalities annually, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today introduced a new “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” that could effectively limit the fast-expanding world of so-called “connected car technologies.”

The announcement, ironically, came on the same day that leaders of the communications, automobile and digital technologies industries were gathering together in Detroit to discuss the latest in-car technologies and the way to expand infotainment and telematics revenues.

But one study disclosed at the conference raised the question of just how much more technology motorists really want to deal with when driving, suggesting there is surprisingly little support for apps-based systems that could put access to such social media services as Twitter and Facebook on the dashboard.

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LaHood’s ambitious “Blueprint” aims to curb traffic fatalities caused by the use of cellphones and other technologies while driving.  And though it does not specifically outline an outright ban it encourages more stringent state and local regulations – and provides $2.4 million in grants to assist police in catching distracted drivers.

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Teens Don’t Think They’re Personally at Risk of Distracted Driving

New survey finds girls far more likely to text, engage in other distractions while driving.

by on Apr.25, 2012

Texting by a young driver was blamed for this August 2010 crash that killed two.

It’s always the other guy.  The other driver who we expect to run the light or engage in some other risky behavior while behind the wheel.  And that’s especially true, apparently, when it comes to the nation’s youngest motorists.  While they’re aware of the dangers of distracted driving, a new survey says teens continue to engage in risky behaviors because they’re convinced they’re personally not at risk.

The study, sponsored by Bridgestone tires finds that teens are in complete denial when it comes to highway safety.  More than half of the 2,000 drivers, aged 15 to 21 said they were aware that distracted driving poses risk, yet a large number continue to engage in risky behaviors, such as texting while driving or using handheld phones.

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Notably girls are more likely than young male drivers to engage in behaviors that can cause distractions while behind the wheel.  But teens and young adults are quick to point fingers and accuse their parents of taking even more risks.

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NHTSA Calls for Brake-Throttle Override Systems

Technology could avert many unintended acceleration crashes.

by on Apr.13, 2012

NHTSA plans to require a brake-throttle override system.

Federal safety regulators want to enact new rules requiring manufacturers to install brake-throttle override systems designed to cut power to the engine if a motorist inadvertently hits both pedals at the same time.

The proposed update by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – which still require a 60-day period for comment – was triggered by an increasing body of research revealing that driver error, rather than automotive defects, are responsible for a large share of so-called unintended acceleration crashes.

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One of the most notorious incidents occurred in 2003 when an 86-year old driver misapplied the pedals and plowed through an open market in San Diego, killing 10 and injuring 63 others. More recently, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles in 2009 and 2010 due to unintended acceleration issues. Some were linked to a pair of potential defects.  But a pair of recent studies blamed driver error involving misuse of pedals for a large number of incidents involving the Japanese maker’s products.

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New Federal Guidelines Could Restrict In-Car Navigation Systems

NHTSA blames distractions for 17% of all crashes.

by on Mar.26, 2012

DoT Sec. Ray LaHood is pressing for a strict crackdown on distracted driving.

As federal regulators move forward on plans to put new distracted driving regulations in place it’s quite possible that future rules would bar the use of in-car navigation systems – at least as we know them today.

In fact, many of the basic features that buyers are coming to expect – and that manufacturers are pushing, much to the delight of their accounting departments – could be severely restricted or even barred entirely.

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Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contends that of nearly 900,000 crashes reported to police in 20, 17% involved some form of distracted driving.  Of that figure, 3%, or 26,000 crashes, involved “a device/control integral to the vehicle,” according to NHTSA.  That could cover anything from a poorly placed switch for an SUV’s rear windshield to the controls for a 14-way power seat.

But much of the focus is on infotainment technology, including such systems as onboard navigation and SMS text messaging.

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Automakers Argue Portable Cellphones, GPS Can Also Distract

Auto industry wants smartphone and portable GPS makers covered by new distracted driving rules.

by on Mar.12, 2012

Government data reveals that while highway fatalities are declining, distracted driving deaths have been rising.

New federal guidelines could soon put strict limits in place on the use of high-tech infotainment systems – but are the proposed rules missing some of the most blatant contributors to distracted driving?

That’s a point that several automakers plan to raise during hearings today that are expected to help define new rules aimed at limiting distracted driving.  The rules under study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would impact technology such as the Ford Sync system and Toyota’s EnForm, but manufacturers argue that the new guidelines should also include portable devices brought into a vehicle.

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“Our idea is that people should not be distracted by anything,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

U.S. highway fatalities fell to their lowest level ever last year when adjusted to reflect the ever increasing number of miles driven by American motorists.  But the good news was tempered by the fact that federal data showed one of every 11 highway fatalities came as the result of texting, cellphoning or some other form of distracted driving.

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