Traffic Safety Header
June 2012 

The 2012 National Triad Conference date has been confirmed


Older driver safety issues? Yep. We cover that!

Please mark your calendars for October 8th through the 10th to join us at the 2012 NATI Conference to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana in conjunction with the Indiana Attorney General's Office. Registration details can be found on our website www.nationaltriad.org!

 

 Sheriff's Department to join AARP to offer driver safety course

 

By Anonymous

The Morning Sun

PITTSBURGH

 

Crawford County Sheriff's Department will join with the American Association of Retired Persons to offer an AARP Driver Safety Course from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27 at the Sheriff's Department, 225 N. Enterprise Drive, Girard.

AARP developed the eight-hour classroom refresher course to help drivers 50 and older to improve their skills and prevent traffic accidents.

Designed to meet the specific needs of older drivers, the course covers age-related physical changes, declining perceptual skills, rules of the road, local driving problems and license renewal requirements.

Volunteer instructors recruited and trained by AARP conduct the course, which is presented through a combination of slide presentations and group discussion. Refreshments will be served.

Automobile insurance companies provide a premium discount to graduates of the AARP Driver Safety Course, which is a state-approved course.

Fee will be $10 for AARP members and $12 for non-members. Checks should be made payable to AARP to cover the cost of materials. Anyone needing additional information or wishing to register for the course should contact Sandy Casey at the Crawford County Sheriff's Department, 620-724-8274 or 231-5377.

 

Often "Air and Inches" Separate Officer from Traffic Speeding By 

 

By: CRAIG DAVISON | The News & Advance 

 

It's something you see every day - a police officer standing beside a car issuing a summons or blocking a hazard with the patrol car to help a motorist.

 

It's also one of the most dangerous parts of a law enforcement officer's job.

 

"Troopers put their lives on the line every time they stop out on a highway and especially when they step out of their vehicles to investigate a crash, assist a motorist, or cite a violator," said Virginia State Police Spokeswoman Corinne Geller in an e-mail.

 

"Most often it's only air and a matter of inches between a trooper and the multi-ton vehicle passing by at speeds of up to 70 (miles per hour)."

 

On Wednesday, a trooper was seriously injured and a Gladstone man killed after a driver on the U.S. 29 bypass lost control of the car and hit the two men as they worked to clear debris from the road.

 

Since January 2010, seven Virginia State Police trooper have been injured by being hit by a passing motorist while outside their patrol vehicle, Geller said. The reasons drivers got to close include drunken driving, fatigue or inattention.

 

Bedford Police Officer Tim Stanley finds traffic stops to be the most dangerous part of his job. He, too, was hit by a passing motorist.

 

Stanley was writing a ticket in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2006, when the side mirror of a passing truck struck him in the arm and back. It felt like getting hit in the funny bone with a sledgehammer, he said.

He spent just a few hours at Bedford Memorial Hospital and was back at work in three days. He admitted he was lucky - if the truck had drifted a little closer, he would have been hit by more than just a mirror.

 

"It would have killed me on the spot," he said. "We wear vests to prevent bullets, but they don't protect us from vehicles."

 

Traffic stops like Stanley's and Wednesday's wreck that killed Alfred C. Perutelli, II, 53, of Gladstone, and left Trooper Daniel Wilson hospitalized, show how dangerous stepping out of a car and on a well-traveled roadway can be for emergency personnel.

 

Wilson was moved out of the intensive care unit Thursday but remained hospitalized Friday, Geller said.

State troopers try to educate motorists about Virginia's Move Over law, which requires drivers to move to another lane or slow down when passing an emergency vehicle. The law went into effect in 2002 for emergency vehicles and was expanded in 2010 to include towing, motorist assistance, repair and highway maintenance vehicles with flashing amber-colored lights.

State Police have had safety discussions, public service announcements, media events and other efforts to promote the law.

 

Stanley has even given a driver a warning and left the traffic stop in order to pursue a car that failed to move over or slow down. He doesn't always write a ticket, he said, but he does want to educate the driver about moving over for emergency vehicles.

 

"That's one that we're really trying to enforce heavily," he said.

 

Lt. Danny Marks, of the traffic safety unit of Lynchburg Police Department, said he thinks the law has helped, but some drivers still pass by an officer with just a few feet to spare without slowing down or moving to another lane. Officers will try to ticket those drivers, he said.

 

What makes traffic stops dangerous isn't just the exposure to passing vehicles, but how often they occur, he said.

 

To make stops safer, Marks said officer often will wait to activate emergency lights until there is a safe place to pull out of the roadway. Officers then park the patrol car offset from the vehicle they stopped, so it acts as a barrier in the hope that if any passing vehicles drift too close, it will hit the cruiser before it hits the officer or the car the officer stopped. Parking lots and driveways also are a good spot for traffic stops.

 

"It's not very comfortable when you're standing out there and people are going by you at 55 miles per hour," Marks said.

 

Another safety key is for motorists to keep their attention on driving, he said. Many drivers try to see what happen when they pass flashing emergency lights and that inattention can result in more crashes and injuries.

 

"Distraction is what causes a lot of accidents," he said.

 

Stanley's brush with the truck in 2006 was captured on camera in his patrol car. Now, it serves as a visual aid.

 

"We use that video in our academy to teach recruits the dangers of traffic stops," Stanley said. "It taught me some valuable lessons too. Always watch what's coming. It wakes you up to all the dangers out there."

 

U.S. Traffic Deaths at Record Low; Economy May be a Factor

 

By Richard Simon

 

WASHINGTON -- U.S. traffic deaths dropped last year to their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1949, according to an estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 

The region encompassing California, Arizona and Hawaii was the only one with an increase in highway fatalities, up about 3.3% from the previous year.

 

Last year's national decline in traffic fatalities -- to 32,310 -- came as motorists drove about 36 billion, or about 1.2%, fewer miles, perhaps because of high gas prices and a still-difficult economy that might have discouraged pleasure road trips.

 

The 2011 fatality rate is projected to decline to the lowest on record, to 1.09 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 

Traffic deaths have fallen by about 26% since the 43,510 fatalities reported in 2005; highway fatalities peaked in 1972, at 54,589. In 1949, there were 30,246 fatalities, but the rate was 7.13 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

 

Traffic safety experts attributed the decline to a number of factors --  "probably people driving less, safer vehicles, safer roads and an improvement in the safety culture across the United States,'' Jacob Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy for the AAA national office, said in an interview.   

 

Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Assn. cited increased seat belt use, safer cars, better roads and an improved emergency medical service response effort. "Also, the economy continues to keep traffic deaths lower than normal," he added.

 

California officials could not immediately explain the increase in the region that encompasses the Golden State, saying they would need to conduct further analysis once state breakdowns are available later in the year.

 

"California has seen remarkable declines in traffic fatalities since 2005, a drop of 37.3% through 2010,''  Chris Cochran of the California Office of Traffic Safety, told The Times. "The 2,715 fatalities in 2010 was a drop of nearly 12% in one year alone. That was the lowest number of fatalities in the state since 1944, when one-tenth the number of vehicles traveled one-sixteenth the number of miles."

"With such a deep and rapid decline, and with the turn-around in the economy beginning to affect California more, it would not be unexpected to see some slowing of declines or even increases,'' Cochran added. "While any increase is disappointing, and every fatality or injury a tragedy, California's traffic safety organizations will continue to work toward our common goal of zero deaths.''

 

Jeff Spring of the Automobile Club of Southern California added in an email: "In the face of a continued tight economy and higher gas prices relative to the rest of the country, we don't see a simple explanation for the increase.  We need to take a deeper look at this data and compare it over time to see if there is a correlation to another trend."

 

The biggest decline, by region, is projected to be in New England, a 7.2% reduction in traffic deaths. 

 

Teen Drivers Who Travel with Friends at Higher Risk for Fatal Crash

 

By Richard Simon

 

WASHINGTON -- The chance of teenage drivers dying in a crash increases with every additional teenage passenger in the car, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

But a survey by Consumer Reports also found that drivers ages 16 to 21 are less likely to talk on a hand-held phone or text while driving if they bring friends along for the ride. 

 

While the studies would seem to offer conflicting advice about young drivers, they come at a critical time.

 

House-Senate negotiators are scheduled Tuesday to begin writing a final transportation bill that could include financial incentives to states that crack down on distracted driving and establish graduated licensing programs that restrict teenagers' driving privileges.

 

The reports come a day after federal officials said they expect traffic deaths last year to decline to their lowest level since record keeping began in 1949.

 

"Although the overall number of teen driver fatalities has decreased substantially over the past several years, carrying young passengers is still a significant risk factor for young drivers,'' the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said. 

 

Still, the report notes, drivers under age 20 have higher rates of involvement in fatal crashes than drivers of any other age group except drivers age 80 and older.

 

A 16- or 17-year-old's fatality risk, per miles driven, increases 44% with another passenger under age 21 when there is no older passenger also in the car. It increases 102% when two passengers under 21 are in the car and 339% when carrying three or more passengers under 21 in the vehicle, according to the study.

 

"It is clear that discouraging teen drivers from carrying passengers and/or discouraging teenagers from riding with young inexperienced drivers would benefit the safety of teenagers both as drivers and as passengers,'' the study found.

 

Conversely, carrying at least one passenger age 35 or older cuts a teen driver's risk of death by 62%, according to the study. The study examined teen crashes that occurred from 2007 through 2010.

 

"These findings should send a clear message to families that parents can make their teens safer immediately by refusing to allow them to get in the car with other young people, whether they're behind the wheel or in the passenger seat,'' AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety President and CEO Peter Kissinger said in a press release.

 

On the other hand, the Consumer Reports survey found that almost half the drivers ages 16 to 21 who have driven with friends said they were less likely to talk on a hand-held cellphone or text when friends were passengers. Almost 50% said they had asked a driver to stop using a phone in the car because they feared for their safety, according to the survey results, which appear in the magazine's June edition.

 

"Our survey showed that while far too many young people are driving while distracted, they are less likely to do so when their parents, friends, or siblings set a good example," Rik Paul, Consumer Reports auto editor, said in a release.

 

An earlier AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that electronic device use was most common when drivers carried no passengers and least common when a parent or other adult was in the vehicle.


National Youth Traffic Safety Month

 

Today marks the first day of National Youth Traffic Safety Month and we are launching our newest traffic safety program, I Know Everything. This program is a teen driving safety program and a partnership with the Virginia Supreme Court that we are launching and piloting in Virginia (the only State that has a mandatory new driver's licensing ceremony conducted by a judge for teens and their parents). http://www.centurycouncil.org/news/press-release/2012/century-council-and-virginia-supreme-court-partner-safe-driving-teens

 

We conducted research among Virginia judges, teens and their parents and found that judges need and want innovative and updated materials to share with teens and their parents during the licensing ceremony. Every juvenile judge in Virginia now has  the I Know Everything program materials and the Chief Justice will be highlighting the program in her State of the Judiciary address on May 15 and in a regional press release that will go out this month. We hope to expand this program to other states via driver's education teachers and State DMVs.

 

Please check out the new website www.iknoweverything.com and watch the video on You Tube. We also set up a Facebook page for the program and will be sharing it on Twitter and Pinterest. We believe the social media interaction will appeal to teens and especially parents who are the number one influence on their teen's safe driving behavior.

 

The Century Council

www.centurycouncil.org

 

No Progress in Reducing U.S. Motorcycle Deaths: Report

 

Recommendations include more helmet use, encouraging all drivers to share the road

 

TUESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- The United States made no overall progress in reducing motorcyclist deaths in 2011, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

 

An analysis of preliminary data from 50 states and the District of Columbia indicates that there were about 4,500 motorcyclist deaths last year, the same number as in 2010.

 

But some individual states did see decreases in these fatalities in 2011, while rates rose in other states, according to the report released Tuesday.

 

Compared to the first nine months of 2010, motorcyclist deaths decreased in 23 states during the first nine months of 2011. For example, motorcyclist deaths decreased 37 percent in Connecticut and fell 21 percent in North Carolina and 16 percent in New York State.

 

The decrease in fatal motorcycle crashes in New York is due to a mix of countermeasures focusing on enforcement, education and engineering, according to Barbara Fiala, commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.

 

"In New York, we are educating motorists to watch for motorcycles, riders to wear bright protective gear to make themselves more visible, and law enforcement officers on conducting efficient and effective motorcycle checks," Fiala said in a news release from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). "It is encouraging to see that these efforts, which have been conducted with our state and local partners, are making a difference."

 

However, motorcyclist deaths rose in 26 states and the District of Columbia, including increases of 26 percent in South Carolina, 16 percent in Texas and 10 percent in California, the investigators found.

Earlier this month, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that, in 2011, overall motor vehicle fatalities dropped 1.7 percent, hitting their lowest level since 1949, according to the news release. But, the experts pointed out, motorcycle deaths remain one of the few areas in highway safety where progress has stalled.

 

Troy Costales, GHSA chairman, also commented on the report. "It is disappointing that we are not making progress in motorcycle safety, particularly as fatalities involving other motorists continue to decline. As the study notes, the strengthening economy, high gas prices and the lack of all-rider helmet laws leave me concerned about the final numbers for 2011 and 2012. Every motorcyclist deserves to arrive at their destination safely. These fatality figures represent real people -- they are family, friends and neighbors," Costales said in the news release.

 

"The good news is that we know how to prevent crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities involving motorcycle riders and their passengers. There are effective strategies that, if implemented, can make a difference," Costales added.

 

Specifically, the report recommends states address five motorcycle safety issues: increase helmet use; reduce alcohol impairment; reduce speeding; provide motorcycle training for all who need or seek it; encourage all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists.

 

More information

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has more about motorcycle safety.

Copyright 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.