The National Safety Commission Alerts

Safety is No Accident. Visit the National Safety Commission - America's Safety Headquarters for driver safety information, auto recalls and teen safe driver tips.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Navigate the Road with Distracted Drivers

What can you do to navigate safely on a road with increasingly distracted drivers?  

First, be aware of common driver distractions and make sure you are not a distracted driver yourself. According to California Department of Motor Vehicles, there are three types of distractions while driving:
  • Visual - eyes are off the road
  • Cognitive - mind is off the road
  • Manual - hands are off the wheel
Some of these distractions you can see clearly, like a person on a cell phone or eating or even combing their hair.  Others are not as easy to notice, such as a person that doesn’t know where they are going, or if their mind is preoccupied with thinking about a recent work issue or even an argument with their spouse.  The idea is to be aware so you can take measures to keep you safe on the road.

The best defense against distracted drivers is defensive driving.  If you use the SIPDE process to handle distracted drivers, you can increase your chances of avoiding potential collisions.

SIPDE stands for Search, Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute.

Search – your eyes should be constantly moving to look ahead, behind, and on both sides.  Be aware of what is happening around you. 
Identify – Find the distracted drivers or potential distractions.  The distracted driver may be eating, drinking, talking or texting on the phone, reading a map, etc.  Also identify the distractions like the person in the banana suit or a car that is pulled over on the side of the road.  These are things can cause a driver to take their eyes off the road.
Predict – Try to predict the potential problems.  Will the distracted driver weave into another lane?  Will they see the traffic stopped ahead and be able to stop in time?   Consider what could happen and be prepared to take action. 
Decide - Decide what action you need to take to avoid the potential hazard.  Should you move into a different lane?  Should you decrease your speed?  Increase your following distance? Know what you will do to avoid a conflict. 
Execute – If what you predicted occurs, you are prepared to make the necessary move.  Now you take the action needed.  Steer away from the conflict, apply brakes, or accelerate to get out of the way.  These are just a few things you can do to avoid the conflict.

Remember, distractions are everywhere and so are distracted drivers.  Using the SIPDE process helps you be prepared to act quickly and keeps you from being a victim of distracted driving.  Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your mind in the game.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Do You Obey The Speed Limit

If you asked a group of people what the most disobeyed traffic sign is most of them would say the stop sign or the yield sign. In fact, the most disobeyed traffic sign on our roads, streets, and highways is the maximum "Speed Limit" sign.
Speed limits are most frequently set through statutes. Speed limits can usually be lowered, or sometimes raised, from the legislated speed limit through a process called speed zoning. Common factors included in speed zoning are: 85th percentile speed (the speed at which 85% of the traffic is traveling), design speed, road features, crash records, administrative judgment, engineering judgment, and political influence. 

State laws usually allow either state or local authorities to set highway speed limits above or below the statutory ones. Prior to taking such action on any portion of a highway, the law normally requires that governmental authorities conduct a study to determine the safe speed limit for that part of the highway. State laws may also allow such authorities to specify different speed limits on all or selected highways either for various times of the day or for various types of vehicles (e.g., trucks). For instance,  the Texas Transportation Commission recently voted in favor of increasing the speed limit to 85 MPH on a toll road, State Highway 130.  The concern with raising the speed limit is most drivers do not see the posted speed limit as the maximum speed limit they should be driving for safety.  To manage the safety of motorists will require strict enforcement of the posted limit by the Texas law enforcement.

Each states government and law enforcement is careful in setting the appropriate “speed limit” for our streets, roads, and highways. Drivers that are speeding, which could be driving just one mile over the maximum speed limit, continue to be a prevalent factor adding to vehicle crashes. In 2008, speeding was a factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes and more than 11,000 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes ( 

Next time you head out on the road ask yourself "Am I a safe driver"? Be aware of the posted speed limits and check how fast you’re actually driving. A 55 MPH speed limit on a highway means 55, not 65.  The speed limits apply to all lanes- right, center, and yes, even the left lane. A 30 MPH speed limit sign in a residential street means 30, not 40, even when there are no other cars are around.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Teens Tragically Ignore Passenger Limits

It has long been known that the more teenagers you put in a car, the greater the chances of a serious collision. Research shows when a teen driver has more than one passenger in the car, use of seat belts by the occupants is reduced and there are more distractions to divert the teen driver’s attention from the road. Male teen drivers especially, when accompanied by an audience, have a tendency to want to show off behind the wheel. Add night time driving and it becomes a recipe for disaster.

A case in point is a collision in which a North Carolina teen was killed while riding as a passenger with a teen driver. At the time of the crash, the 17 year old driver was carrying four passengers in his pickup truck. North Carolina’s GDL law limits drivers under the age of 18 to no more than one passenger unless the driver is accompanied by a supervising licensed driver over the age of 21.

Investigators say high speed was most likely the major contributing factor to this collision. The driver failed to negotiate a curve, swerved, hit a ditch and then overturned flipping several times before coming to rest upside down.

According to authorities, only one teen, a 16 year old back seat passenger was wearing a seat belt. The driver and three other passengers were ejected from the vehicle. The teen that died was pinned beneath the truck. The other three who were ejected had to be transported to the hospital with serious injuries. The 16 year old girl who was wearing her seat belt received only minor injuries and was treated and released at the scene.
GDL laws have been proven effective in dramatically reducing the teen death rate over the past several years but they only work when they are obeyed. Parents need to know the GDL laws and prevent their teen drivers from carrying more than the allowed number of passengers. Parents also need to know when their teen will be a passenger that their teen will be the only passenger or else prevent them from going.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

State Farm Plans “Celebrate My Drive” Events For Teens In September

Compared with other western nations, the US has one of the worst training programs for new teen drivers. As a result, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the US. While graduated driving laws in some states have reduced the teen death rate over the past several years, it is still too high; with an average of 13 deaths per day involving 15 to 20 year old drivers.

The primary reason that the US driver training program is so bad is that we depend on the teen’s parents to teach them how to drive and, in a lot of cases; the teen’s parent is the last person you would want to have teaching driving safety. Most parents aren't trained or fully prepared to teach their teen to drive and, if the parents model unsafe driving habits themselves, the wrong message is often passed on to the teen. Another part of the problem is that the parent isn't objective. Teen driving lessons often lead to a lot of yelling, crying, and frayed nerves; not the proper emotional atmosphere you need when training a nervous young driver. Finally, teens aren't fully trained in spotting and recognizing potential dangers on the road and are thus poorly prepared to avoid those dangers once they are out on the road by themselves.

In order to promote safer driving and better training for teen drivers, State Farm Insurance is planning a "Celebrate My Drive" event at shopping malls and participating State Farm offices nationwide on September 15, 2012. According to their website:

"By turning out and getting others to attend, teens can:
  • Have fun and win prizes
  • Learn about safe driving in a celebratory way
  • Help their school compete for a $100,000 grant
  • Join other teens online to share experiences, receive support and have fun on the Celebrate My Drive Facebook page "
Parents are also encouraged to attend to learn better training practices and resources for teaching their teens to drive. 
For some time now, State Farm has hosted a website for parents called Road Trips that provides guidance on training techniques, how to recognize road hazards, and plans for a step-by-step introduction into the driving environment.
For teens, State Farm has Road Aware, an animated virtual driving course that teaches teens how to recognize and prepare for potential dangers on the road.
To find out where the nearest Celebrate My Drive will be held, you can visit the State Farm website at: or visit their Facebook page at:

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Looking for a Career as a Commercial Driver?

With the economy in bad shape and long term unemployment the norm, it’s hard to imagine an industry with a shortage of workers but that seems to be what the trucking industry is facing now. A recent article in USA Today said that a shortage of truckers is driving up delivery costs and causing shipping delays.

According to the article, the shortage is due to several reasons:
  • Truckers don’t want to take on the long haul assignments that keep them separated from their families for long periods.
  • The 21 year old age limit to get a CDL license leads those who have just graduated high school to seek other trades instead.
  • The federal government’s publication of trucking company safety records have lead trucking companies to hire only those drivers with near spotless driving records.
  • The cost of attending a truck driving school is prohibitive for some.
However, for those over the age of 21 with a relatively clean driving record, the shipping companies are hiring as fast as they can and they are paying higher salaries to get qualified drivers.

For those interested in working in the trucking industry, funding to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) may be available from a variety of sources. 
The Post-9/11 GI Bill
Non-College Degree (NCD) programs offered at non-degree granting schools: Pays the actual net costs for in-state tuition and fees or $17,500, whichever is less. 

Also pays your Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA), based on the location of the school and up to $83 per month for books and supplies.

Check with your local Veteran’s Affairs office for details.

  • Veterans whose GI Bill benefits have expired may qualify for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) through the Department of Veterans Affairs. For details and qualifications, visit:
  • Non-Veterans can check to see if there may be some form of grants or re-training funds through their local state Department of Labor Workforce Development Office or One-Stop Career Centers.
  • Some trucking companies may offer reimbursements for CDL training. Your local truck driver training school will have information on programs for those who qualify

To be even more competitive, anyone going for a CDL license should also consider passing the DMV requirements for the different CDL endorsements:

  • Air Brakes
  • Combination Vehicles
  • Tankers
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Doubles/Triples
For more information on your state’s requirements for obtaining a CDL license, visit:

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Vehicle Technology Reduce Crash Claims - Sometimes

A new study released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that some of the new crash avoidance technology in upper end cars provide protection from collisions while one system, inexplicably, seems to have hurt rather than helped to avoid crashes.

The IIHS looked at data based on insurance claims involving vehicles equipped with: Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Headlights, and Lane Departure Warning systems. The data was compared to crash data for the same model vehicles without the optional technology.  

The results of their findings revealed: 

  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW) - warns drivers if they are approaching vehicles ahead so quickly that there might be a crash. In some, but not all, models, the FCW is autonomous, automatically applying the brakes if the driver doesn’t respond in time. The researchers found that claim frequencies for FCW with autonomous braking was lower by fourteen percent. In vehicles containing FCW without the autonomous feature, claims were also reduced but not by a large percentage.
  • Adaptive Headlights (AH) – AH swivel the headlights slightly in the direction of a turn giving the driver a view of the road around a curve or turn that is unavailable with standard headlights. Claims for vehicles equipped with AH were ten percent lower. Injury claims for vehicles equipped with AH fell significantly.

  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW) – LDW warns drivers, usually through an audible tone, that the vehicle is leaving the lane.  In a surprise to the researchers, the data showed that, compared to vehicles without LDW, the claim rate, while slightly lower, wasn’t reduced enough to be statistically significant. The IIHS had previously calculated that this system would mitigate up to 7500 crashes per year but this doesn’t appear to be the case. The researchers didn’t have an explanation for the low rate of improved crash avoidance with LDW; they speculate that the systems may be giving too many false alarms, causing the driver to disable them. More research will be needed to determine why this system isn’t living up to its promise.

For more information on the study, visit:

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