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Thursday, October 25, 2012
Navigate the Road with Distracted Drivers
What can you
do to navigate safely on a road with increasingly distracted drivers?
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
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
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.
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 (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811166.PDF).
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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: http://benefits.va.gov/vow/education.htm
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 orOne-Stop Career Centers.
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:
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
The results of their findings revealed:
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.
(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.
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.