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November 2012 

 

Tipton County Sheriff's Dept. Gets Best In Nation When It Comes To Highway Safety

 

Submitted by Justin Hanson, West Tennessee Reporter

 

Tipton County Sheriff's Office has been recognized as one of the premier law enforcement agencies in Tennessee and in the nation for its traffic safety program. The sheriff's office was named third in the nation in the Sheriff's Category for its size and first in Tennessee in its category. Tipton County was named first in the nation in 2008-2009 and second in 2009-2010. It received first place honors in the state in 2008-2009, and second in 2010-2011.

 

The awards are presented annually as part of the Law Enforcement Challenge that includes sheriff's offices, police departments, and highway patrol districts. It is a state and national traffic safety awards program that recognizes excellent law enforcement traffic safety programs.

 

The Challenge is sponsored in Tennessee by the Governor's Highway Safety Office, and nationally by the National Sheriff's Office and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Numerous private sponsors provide support for the program. Director Kendell Poole and West Tennessee Law Enforcement Liaison Brenda Jones of the Governor's Highway Safety Office has both contributed heavily through local law enforcement agencies to the safety on our roadways.

 

"I am always honored and humbled to accept these awards for the Tipton County Sheriff's Office," said Sheriff J.T. "Pancho" Chumley. "They speak well for the men and women of this office who care so much for the safety and security of our citizens, and who put so much of themselves into their work. We are pleased to receive the awards since they are the result of careful consideration among the many law enforcement agencies who tirelessly promote traffic safety in their jurisdictions," Sheriff Chumley said. "But one measure of our success in Tipton County must be shared with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the five city police departments. We ended 2011 with only three traffic fatalities when our average is 10 per year."

 

 "My goal is not to earn awards, but to save lives and suffering due to traffic crashes. Unfortunately the fatality count for Tipton County is up to five this year. The Sheriff's Office with other law enforcement agencies in the county, and with the financial support and training provided through the Governor's Highway Safety Office, we are able to conduct extra traffic enforcement activities throughout the year," Sheriff Chumley concluded.

 

After Six Years of Decline, Traffic Deaths Begin to Inch Upward

 

By TANYA MOHN

 

Though federal data showed last year that roadway deaths had fallen to their lowest recorded levels since 1949, traffic deaths have been on the rise in 2012, reversing a downward trend over the last six years.

The uptick was noted in a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half (January-June) of 2012 (PDF). The report provides a statistical projection indicating that an estimated 16,290 people died in motor vehicle crashes during the first half of 2012, an increase of about 9 percent when compared with the estimated 14,950 fatalities that occurred in the first half of 2011. N.H.T.S.A. called this "the largest such increase during the first half of the year" since the agency began collecting the crash data in 1975.

 

"It is disappointing but not unexpected," Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and education organization, said in a telephone interview.

The federal estimates showed that fatalities increased for the first three months of this year by 13.4 percent compared with the same period in 2011, suggesting to some road safety experts that weather may have played a role. In a mild winter like the one experienced in many areas of the country this year, people tend to drive more.

 

The improvement in the economy, relative to the first half of 2011, is also considered a major factor in the spike.

 

"In an economic downturn, people are less likely to take a Sunday drive in the country," Mr. Kissinger said. "So it's good news, bad news."

 

He added that it was important to note that the federal agency's data were preliminary, based on estimates, and may change.

 

"Six months of preliminary data does not a firm trend make," Mr. Kissinger said.

 

John Ulczycki, vice president for strategic initiatives at the National Safety Council, a nonprofit group, said his organization's data, which were calculated somewhat differently, echoed the federal agency's report, showing a 9 percent increase in fatalities for the first six months of 2012. But with July and August accounted for, that 9 percent figure drops to 7 percent, according to the council's most recent data.

 

In isolation that may seem a positive development, but Mr. Ulczycki said he was skeptical that the data indicated a reversal.

 

Mr. Kissinger and others involved in traffic safety attributed the historical six-year decline in the fatality rate to improvements like safer vehicles and roads; more effective laws, like graduated driver licensing laws that govern teenage driving; better technology, like electronic stability control; and awareness efforts that, among other things, have led to increased use of seat belts.

 

"There is no question in my mind that these improvements are making a difference," he said. "At the end of the day, we are making baby steps in the right direction. I am hopeful that we will return to a day when we will see a downward trend."

 

Deaths Rise for Drivers, Bikers and Walkers on City Streets

 

By MATT FLEGENHEIMER

 

For years, the New York City Transportation Department has held a trump card in the roiling debate over its many roadway interventions: When officials said the measures, like pedestrian plazas and bike lanes, had made streets safer, the numbers appeared to back them up.

 

But the release last week of the Mayor's Management Report, a twice-yearly collection of city measures, revealed a disquieting figure. Traffic fatalities from July 2011 through June 2012 were up 23 percent from the previous year - to 291, from 236. It was the first increase since 2007, when there were 310 traffic fatalities.

 

Though overall crashes fell slightly for the second straight year, 176 cyclists or pedestrians were killed in crashes, up from 158 the previous year. The other 115 deaths were motorists or their passengers, a sharp rise from the 78 drivers and passengers killed the year before.

 

The Transportation Department typically compiles figures for the calendar year, Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said, so the agency wanted "to reconcile what's going on." She allowed, however, that "it does look like there's a rise."

 

According to the Mayor's Management Report, speeding, driving while intoxicated, and running red lights or stop signs accounted for a combined 54 percent of motorist or passenger fatalities. The report said a preliminary analysis suggested that the crashes were concentrated on highways, far removed from many of the areas that have been the focus of the city's initiatives.

 

But the numbers appear to have caught officials and transportation advocates by surprise. Councilman James Vacca, the chairman of the City Council's transportation committee, said the results had compelled him to "question the accuracy of the previous years' figures."

 

"Certainly if we get this result next year, I think we have to look at many of the reconfigurations to see if they've been positive," Mr. Vacca said. "We've been led to believe that things in the last several years were getting much better."

 

The Bloomberg administration has not hesitated in past years to attribute declines in traffic fatalities to its own initiatives. "The reduction in traffic deaths as a result of our safety engineering means nearly 300 New Yorkers are alive today who would not have been if we had simply sustained the fatality rate of five years ago," Ms. Sadik-Khan said in December, as the city announced a record low in annual traffic fatalities for the 2011 calendar year.

 

The department maintained this week that recent measures had made streets safer. Ms. Sadik-Khan said the rise might have been caused, at least in part, by an increase in distracted driving and distracted walking.

"I don't think that the iPhone has invented an app yet that will ping you when you hit a crosswalk," Ms. Sadik-Khan said, adding, "That breakup text can wait."

 

There is no data to suggest that distracted driving and walking have become more pervasive in the city over the past year than in previous years, though Ms. Sadik-Khan said national trends suggested that the practices had grown more common. (Overall traffic fatalities did increase nationally for the first quarter of 2012 by 13.5 percent, compared with the same period in 2011, after five consecutive years of declines, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)

 

Ms. Sadik-Khan said she had even "saved three or four people" from walking into oncoming traffic herself, grabbing them as their heads remained bent down toward their phones.

 

"Two of them were thankful, and two of them were, frankly, annoyed," she said.

 

The department said that figures detailing pedestrian or cyclist deaths alone over the past year, as opposed to the aggregate figure for pedestrian and cyclist deaths, were not available.

 

The traffic data appears more encouraging when set against figures from past years, before the city experienced its recent sharp decline in annual deaths. There were 243 traffic fatalities in the calendar year 2011, about a 38 percent reduction from 2001.

 

Last week, the city announced plans to stencil the four-letter exhortation "LOOK!" along curbsides at more than 100 of the most-dangerous intersections.

 

On Tuesday, the city said that the campaign would be extended to taxicabs, and that drivers would be encouraged to place decals in their back-seat windows with a similar warning. It is an effort to curb so-called dooring accidents, when a car door is opened into the path of a cyclist.

 

The announcement on Tuesday came five hours after a 38-year-old cyclist was struck and killed by a vehicle on Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens, and about 14 hours after Francisco Camacho, 59, was fatally hit as he crossed the Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park.

 

Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, a cycling and pedestrian advocacy group, called the new statistics "alarming" and attributed much of the uptick to what he deemed lax police enforcement of traffic laws.

 

"Anyone who walks or bikes across a New York City street knows that motorists are getting away with reckless driving, day in, day out," he said.

 

The Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Michigan Expands DWI Court Options for Participants 

 

With the passage of MAP-21 by Congress last June, states are now able to set what license limitations for repeat DWI offenders they believe appropriate as long as an ignition interlock is installed in the car.  Already, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan has signed Senate Bill 809 expanding DWI Court judges ability to provide DWI Court participants with restricted driver's licenses if their vehicle has an ignition interlock installed.  The law is designed to incentivize individuals to choose to enter DWI Court by offering them the chance to receive a restricted driver's license sooner than individuals not in a DWI Court. Michigan's new law will allow participants to not only go to work, school and treatment, but also to court ordered hearings, probation meetings, drug and alcohol testing, attend AA or NA or other self-help groups and any court ordered community service.

 

"Michigan has been at the forefront of the national effort to keep the public safe by holding hardcore DWI offenders accountable and providing rigorous treatment to change their behavior. With this law, not only will DWI Court participation be incentivized, but Judges will have discretion over which participants are ready for a restricted driver's license. This is a tremendous step forward for DWI Courts in Michigan and hopefully a something we begin to see spread to other states," said David Wallace, Senior Director of the National Center for DWI Courts.

 

The use of ignition interlock with DWI Court participants is proving to be highly effective. Michigan is currently conducting research on the effectiveness of allowing DWI Courts to use ignition interlocks with their participants and the first year of a three year study found 100% compliance by the DWI Court participants. Even more important, no new DWI arrests occurred during this time.

 

Officials Call For Focus On Distracted Driving During "Teen Driver Safety Week"

 

New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa

 

TRENTON - Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among teenagers in the United States. It's with that startling statistic in mind that the Division of Highway Traffic Safety is helping raise awareness, during National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 14 to 20), of the tremendous risks teens confront on the roads everyday.

 

"Driving is a privilege that all teenagers look forward to and want to enjoy. But it is important that we equip them with the right knowledge and provide them with rules that will ensure they stay safe on the road," said Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa. "New Jersey has some of the most progressive and effective teen driver laws and educational programs in the country, but it is still vital that we take every opportunity to emphasize safe driving habits to our young drivers."

 

Last year, 18 teen drivers were killed in motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey. That represents a 10-year decline of 56 percent from 2001, when 41 teen drivers were killed. This 10-year drop-off in teen driver fatalities in New Jersey exceeds the national average for a similar period by 9 percent.

 

But despite this progress, distracted driving has emerged as a major concern for teen drivers. One-in-10 teen motor vehicle fatalities nationwide are a result of distracted driving, and young drivers are two-to-three times more likely than older drivers to send a text or email while driving.

 

"All drivers can be distracted by cell phones, adjusting the radio, using a navigation system, CD player, or MP3 device. However, it is our most inexperienced drivers-teens-who are the most likely to put themselves and others in harms way by driving distracted," said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky.

 

Last month, Chiesa joined with Poedubicky and other officials to talk to 800 teens at Clearview Regional High School in Gloucester County about the dangers of distracted driving. Chiesa cited research that concluded sending just one text impaired a teen driver the same as driving drunk.

 

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has determined that driving can be a dangerous endeavor for teens, especially without parental control of the car keys.

 

Data from CHOP suggests that an authoritative parent can have a major impact on a teen's safety behind the wheel. The Division of Highway Traffic Safety and Kean University have developed a program with this concept in mind: "Share The Keys." Share The Keys is an evidence-based, data-driven safe driving orientation for parents and teens. The orientation brings parents and teens together as a joint audience, empowering them with information, resources and tools to cultivate safe driving attitudes and behavior.

 

"Share the Keys" is approximately 90 minutes in length and designed for parents and their teens in the pre-permit or permit state of licensure (parents and their teens already holding a probationary license will also benefit). The orientation is presented by trained facilitators in community-based settings (i.e. schools, libraries) and can be linked to classroom driver education programs and back-to-school nights.

The orientation has five key objectives:

  • Understanding the Graduated Driver License (GDL) -The GDL is the most effective tool in reducing teen driver crashes, injuries and deaths. It's imperative that both parents and teens fully understand the law in order to benefit from its lifesaving restrictions.
  • Being a Good Role Model - Researchers have found that teens mimic their parent's driving behaviors. Parents can effectively reduce their teen's crash risk by adopting safe driving practices such as obeying the speed limit and avoiding distractions.
  • Effectively Enforcing the GDL at Home - Forty percent of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur after 9 p.m. and teens with just one passenger have nearly twice the risk of being involved in a fatal crash than those who drive alone. By enforcing these two restrictions of the GDL parents minimize their teen's exposure to crash risk.
  • Increasing Practice Driving Hours - During the first 12-24 months of driving, teens are at the greatest risk for being involved in a crash. Since crash risk decreases with driving experience, it's crucial that parents fit in at least one hour per week of practice driving with their teen driver.
  • Controlling the Keys - Research by CHOP revealed that teens who requested permission to use the car were half as likely to be involved in crashes when compared to teens that had primary access. Parents can establish a verbal contract with their teens by asking them where they are going, who they are going with and when they will be back.

The Division also aided in the development of a national teen driver safety awareness program called IKnowEverything, which was developed by the Century Council. IKnowEverything uses an animated video segment featuring a teen girl who states that she "knows everything" about driving and reiterates what she knows; such as, not to drive drunk, not to text or talk on the phone while driving, not to speed, not to have too many passengers in the car, and other rules of the road.

 

IKnowEverything presents a unique and important opportunity to underscore safe driving facts and to help parents maintain control of their teens' newfound freedom. Not only does the program help new drivers, it reminds parents that they play a very important role in protecting their teen drivers by exercising their authority, modeling good driving behavior and always stressing that driving is a privilege - not a right.

 

For more information on how to enroll in a "Share The Keys" orientation or how to become a program facilitator, contact the Division of Highway Traffic Safety at 1-609-633-9300. Further information on teen driver safety can be found at www.njteendriving.com, www.ugotbrains.com, or www.iknoweverything.com.

 

Mythbusters: Speeding, Speed Management, and Safety Relationships

 

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 4:30pm- 6:00pm, Marriott, Thurgood Marshall North

 

Randolph G. Atkins, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, presiding

Sponsored by Committee on Traffic Speed and Safety - Cross-cutting Issues (ANB20(5)); Committee on Transportation Safety Management (ANB10); Committee on Traffic Law Enforcement (ANB40)

 

Are widely used policies to manage speed and safety working as planned? The presenters will share research that challenges some common beliefs and practices about driver speeding behaviors and response to current practices, and stimulate discussion of research needed toward developing more effective speed management practices and countermeasures.

 

85th Percentile Revisited (P13-6253)

     Jake Kononov, DiExSys LLC

Are Current Law Enforcement Strategies Associated with a Lower Risk of Repeat Speeding Citations and Crash Involvement? A Longitudinal Study of Speeding Maryland Drivers (P13-6255)

     Elisa R. Braver, University of Maryland

     Jingyi Li, University of Maryland

Investigating Predictors of Speeding Behavior Using Naturalistic Driving Data (P13-6782)

     Christian M. Richard, Battelle

     John L. Campbell, Battelle Memorial Institute