Aiming for EfficiencyMuch of the new technology in trucks is designed to make the transport of goods more efficient, according to a recent report in Forbes. No longer does dispatch have to use the radio or telephone to track down a shipment or find out why a trucker is delayed. Onboard systems using satellite and cellular technology can pinpoint the location of a truck, how fast it’s traveling and where it’s been.Sandy Hodes, senior vice president for Ryder System Inc., a leading truck rental and leasing company,told Forbes that the tracking systems are the future of trucking. They can deliver minute-by-minute information back to headquarters and can pinpoint why a shipment is late or what was happening in the moments leading up to an accident.RydeSmart, from Ryder, tracks trucks using an iPad or iPhone, assessing fuel-tax information and hours of service in an effort to comply with new standards from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.Another on-board system,SmartDrive Systems, uses video-based technology to detect when truckers are following other vehicles too closely, speeding or braking hard. GreenRoad, a Web-based safety product,provides truckers with feedback on their safety, displaying green, yellow, or red lights. The maker of this product says it can reduce the costs associated with truck accidents by 60% for a company.Hodes says companies are battling to improve productivity while staying within the stricter drive-time guidelines. No longer can they force drivers to take risks like long hours behind the wheel in order to delivera shipment on time. Now, speed and safety must be balanced.
Size Makes Trucks DeadlyIn 2012, 317,000 commercial trucks were involved in some kind of car crash, indicating a serious problem.The sheer size of commercial trucks makes them deadly when they involved in a high speed collision. It’s no wonder that when a truck is in a collision with asmaller car, the occupants of thesmaller vehicle are much more likely to be seriously injured. Among those killed in truck accidents in 2012, 73 percent were occupants in other vehicles.Truckers may not like the technological scrutiny. But traffic fatalities are unacceptable, particularly when they can be prevented with onboard technology.
Research Says Any Drinking is Dangerous for DriversThe research, published in the journal Injury Prevention, indicates that even those who get behind the wheel after a portion of a drink are at an increased risk of being blamed in a drunk driving accident.There is no safe level of alcohol to have in your system when you get behind the wheel, the researchers suggest. Drivers with blood alcohol levels of .01 percent, the lowest measurable, were at a 46% greater chance of being blamed in a crash than sober drivers. This .01 percent BAC equates to only half of a 12-ounce beer in an average adult man.Though other studies have had similar findings, none have been this large-scale. The researchers say that the likelihood of being blamed for an accident went up with higher blood alcohol content among both men and women.
“Legal Limit” Provides a False Sense of SecurityWith the legal limit for driving at 0.08 percent, one would think that levels below this were somehow safe. But the law has gradually become stricter as more attention has been focused on car accidents and fatalities caused by drunk driving. Legal limits used to be set at .15 and didn’t change from there until the 1950s. Even then, the legal limit was decreased to .10. In 2000, Congress adopted the .08 BAC as the national legal limit and states began conforming state drunk driving law to match. Outside of the U.S., some countries have their legal limits set at 0.05.We’ve all seen people who can have one or two drinks and seem as if they have had four or five. Similarly, there are people who are said to “handle” their alcohol well, drinking multiple beverages but acting sober. None of these folks are safe drunk drivers—they all stand to face serious consequences if they get behind the wheel.Experts say that there is no distinction in driving ability for drivers measuring 0.07 BAC compared to 0.08 BAC. As the research shows, any alcohol increases your risk of being blamed for an accident.Truly, the lower the limit the more likely we will be able to cut drunk driving accidents.If adults are impaired after only one drink, any amount of alcohol is too much. In other words, there is no safe amount. Motorists who drink and get behind the wheel put others on the road at risk of injury or even death.Though the legal limit for driving in S.C. is 0.08 percent, drivers with lower blood alcohol levels can be held responsible for the accidents they may cause, if not by the criminal courts than by a civil action.
New TestingIf car seat manufacturers have to create seats that will withstand side-impact collisions, the industry will obviously step up their quality of construction.The NHTSA says the new testing will simulate what happens when a car seat in a car traveling 15 mph is hit at a 90-degree angle by a car going 30 mph. Friedman says these speeds will represent more than 90% of all side-impact crashes in the “real world”.In addition to the new side-impact test, the NHTSA will add a new crash-test dummy. It currently uses one that simulates a 12-month-old child but plans to add a 3-year-old child dummy to the testing protocol.
South Carolina Safety Seat LawsIn South Carolina, children under 6 are required to be in age-appropriate safety seats unless they weigh more than 80 pounds.Children under 20 pounds and up to 1 year old must be secured in a rear-facing car seat.Children ages 1-5 weighing 20 to 40 pounds must be in a forward-facing car seat.Children ages 1-5 weighing 40 to 80 pounds must be in a booster seat secured with a safety belt.Even with these laws in place, children risk serious injury when the seats aren’t installed correctly. As the CDC reports, one study found that three-fourths of child safety seats are installed incorrectly.As a parent, it’s your job to keep your child safe. But you also have to depend on the manufacturers of child safety seats to help.
Drivers Admit Speeding is a ProblemA recent survey from the NHTSA indicates half of drivers acknowledge speeding is a problem. The National Survey of Speeding Attitudes and Behavior found that despite the fact that half of drivers acknowledge that speeding is a dangerous problem, one in five admits to trying to get to their destinations as fast as possible.Four out of five respondents say that driving at or near the speed limit reduces the risk of an auto accident and makes it easier to avoid dangerous situations. More than 90 percent agree that everyone should obey the speed limits.Yet, more than one-quarter of drivers who responded say they speed without thinking and they enjoy going fast. Some said speeding isn’t necessarily dangerous for “skilled drivers.”
Reasons (Excuses) for SpeedingWhy we speed depends on personal motivations. Many people speed simply because that’s how they’ve always driven. They may not be in a hurry, but will pass vehicles and engage in dangerous driving simply because that’s how they drive.The National Safety Council suggests the following reasons people speed:
- They don’t believe they will get a ticket.
- They are late or in a hurry.
- They don’t think their driving is dangerous and likely see themselves as a “skilled” driver.
- They aren’t paying attention to their speed.
- They don’t believe the laws apply to them or don’t take speed limits seriously.
Speeding FactsSome people are more likely to speed and some locations are more inviting to people inclined to speed. Here are some basic facts on speeding:
- Men are more likely to speed than women.
- Inexperienced drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are most likely to admit to speeding.
- Young drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are also most likely to be involved in a speed-related accident.
- Speed-related accidents claim over 13,000 lives each year.
- Work zones and school zones are known trouble-spots for speeders, where compliance with lower speed limits is poor.
- 47% of speed-related accidents happen on roads with posted speed limits of 50 mph or less, not on major highways, contrary to what most people think.
Revealing Numbers about Distracted DrivingPeter Kissinger, president and CEO of the foundation, says it’s noteworthy that teens aren’t texting as often as we would think. Because of their lack of experience, teen drivers are susceptible to distracted driving crashes. Perhaps teens are taking to heart the warnings against using the phone while driving. But it’s troubling that adults would throw caution to the wind and put others at risk.The American Automobile Association gathered the data as part of the 2013 Traffic Culture Index, sampling 2,325 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving within the past month. About two-thirds reported using their phone while driving in the past 30 days. Only 20 percent of teens reported using their phone while driving “often” or “regularly.”
Knowledge of PhysicsYou may have seen officers on the scene of a crash, measuring, taking notes, and interviewing those involved. But accident reconstruction isn’t always as simple as taking witness statements and looking at vehicle damage. It’s a science and uses physics to determine precisely how an accident occurred.Good accident reconstruction involves using skid marks, the final resting spot of vehicles, and Newton’s laws of motion to determine what happened. These laws of physics govern how everything moves—how forces like gravity work on an object and affect its motion.Slope, drag, and other measurements play a role in figuring out what happened in the seconds leading up to a crash. The problem is that many accident reconstruction specialists and those employed by police don’t have a physics background.
How Errors HappenA missed measurement, bad math, a transposed number, or a lack of education and training can all hinder an auto accident investigation. A study published by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers, called “Classic errors in accident reconstruction: Real experts vs. fakes, fools, and frauds,” looked at how unqualified individuals can jeopardize the outcome of a case.The researchers explained that many people with nothing more than a high school diploma and a single class or a few hours of training are completing accident investigations and reconstructions they simply aren’t qualified to do. In some cases, the courts even recognize these people as “experts.”While these people may or may not know the basics of physics, they usually don’t understand the idiosyncrasies of auto accidents. And that’s where mistakes happen.In the recent WMBF News story, City of Florence Police Sergeant Jerri James explains how police investigate an accident—using the common tools of spray paint and measuring tape. James explains that they use these tools along with black boxes from vehicles to determine where a vehicle started and where it ended up, including how fast it was going.James also says everyone in the department who does accident reconstruction attends statewide training.When it comes to auto accident reconstruction, there is a lot on the line. This is why police, insurance companies, and attorneys will usually conduct their own investigations. An error can upend any hope a victim has for financial recovery and can delay or even stop the pursuit of justice.
Most Hurt in FallsThe research comes from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Analysts looked at data regarding emergency room visits for children ages 3 and younger between 2003 and 2010. They found an average of 9,400 children were treated for high chair and booster seat injuries in emergency rooms every year.Nearly all of the injuries, 93 percent, involved falls. This indicates that either the child wasn’t properly secured or the restraint systems did not work as intended.Just before the falls, two-thirds of the accident victims were climbing or standing in their chairs, again indicating a problem with the restraints.Of those injured, 37 percent suffered a closed head injury such as a concussion or internal head injury. Another 33 percent suffered bumps and bruises, while 19 percent suffered cuts.Interestingly, closed head injuries increased significantly over the study period—from 2,558 in 2003 to 4,789 in 2010, a gain of nearly 90 percent.The experts involved with the study say the Number One thing that parents can do to reduce the risk of such accidents is to use the built-in restraint systems.
When the Product is At FaultEven when a child is buckled into a high chair, an accident can happen. In some cases, this is due to manufacturing flaws or design problems. In other words, the company that makes the high chair is to blame.Generally, when a safety issue comes to light in a child’s product like a high chair, stroller, or crib, a recall is issued in an effort to prevent serious injuries. You can search for these recalls on the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.For example, the BabyHomeUSA company recalled high chairs earlier this year when it found the opening between the tray and seat could pose an entrapment risk for children, creating a strangulation hazard. The CPSC website offers information on how to get the chair repaired or replaced and includes contact information for the manufacturer.In some cases, however, a product manufacturer is unaware of the danger or doesn’t act in time to prevent a tragedy. When this occurs, the manufacturer may be held accountable for any injuries.Similarly, when a child is in the care of a school or day care, that business is responsible for ensuring the child’s safety, including providing proper equipment and properly using the equipment. A fall from a high chair or another accident could be due to lack of supervision by the school or day care.Being a parent is a full-time job, and keeping your child safe is a big part of this job.
- In 92 total trips studied, distracted driving happened in 90 percent of cases.
- In an average 16-minute car trip, parents spent three minutes and 22 seconds with their eyes off the road.
- Parents engaged in conversations with their children 16 percent of the time.
- Seven percent of the time, parents reached into the back seat to pass food and drinks.
- In one percent of the trips, parents actually played with their children.
- Turning around to interact or looking in the rearview mirror took place in 76 percent of cases.
How to Reduce Back-Seat DistractionsWe talk about shutting off your phone or placing it in your glove box to reduce distractions. But you can’t use those techniques for eliminating distractions from your child passengers. However, you can give your children their own distractions.You can provide a toy or book for children to look at while riding. Make sure it’s attached to the car seat to prevent them from dropping it. The last thing you want to do is dig around for a lost toy while driving.Give your children their snack or drinks before you begin your trip. If you need to wait, pull over to hand it to them. Passing things back and forth between the back and front seats is a major distraction.Begin talking with your child about the importance of driver safety at a very young age. If your children know how important it is to remain quiet and occupied while riding in the car, they will be less likely to demand your attention when your eyes should be on the road.The study from Monash University also indicated children were in the wrong position in their car seats more than 70 percent of the time. This is significant because not only could this lead to distractions, but in the event of an accident a child might not be protected from serious injury. Positioning your child’s safety seat correctly and ensuring that the child is properly secured can help keep everyone safe.Distracted driving is blamed in thousands of accidents every year. Many distractions — like cellphone use and reaching into the back seat — are entirely avoidable.This latest study shows distractions can take many forms. Eating breakfast on your commute, changing the radio station, or tickling the feet of your little one could all lead to a serious accident.
Prepare Your CarBe sure your car is in good working condition before winter weather strikes. Having a mechanic look over your car will prevent problems. The last thing you want is to be stranded on the side of the road with engine trouble in cold conditions. CarTalk.com offers other winter readiness tips.Maintain your car with regular oil changes, tune-ups, and general maintenance. This includes inspecting wires and hoses for cracks or damage, making sure your battery is ready for the winter, and checking your cooling/antifreeze system.Ensure your tires are ready. If you are on the verge of needing new tires, get them before a winter storm comes, Driving on ice is hard enough but becomes nearly impossible when you don’t have much tread. Likewise, keep tires inflated properly and routinely check them for nails and damage.Check wiper blades and windshield washer fluid. If conditions are icy or snowy, you’ll depend on your wiper blades and washer fluid to maintain good visibility. Winter wiper blades are available to keep ice from accumulating.Clear snow and ice from your car before you hit the road. Not only is a cleared car easier to spot in a storm, making sure all of the ice is gone will help improve your visibility as well.Driving on IceIcy roads don’t typically last long in the Myrtle Beach area. But when streets are frozen, accidents are frequent. These tips from the Weather Channel will help to reduce your risk of being involved in an accident when the roads are slick:
- Stay home. Whenever possible, don’t go out when the roads are bad. A good rule of thumb is if school has been canceled, you should stay home too.
- Leave extra room. If you must drive, leave extra room between you and the cars around you. It takes longer to stop and to maneuver when the roads are icy.
- Keep your headlights on and your windshield clean. Seeing and being seen are crucial when the weather is bad. This is especially true if sleet or snow is still coming down.
- Brake gently. Know your car. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply them gently when coming to a stop. If you don’t, lightly pump the brakes when you need to slow down or stop on the ice.
- Use low gears to maintain traction. This is especially useful on hills.
- Be especially careful on bridges and overpasses. These areas are usually the first to ice over and the last to thaw, so they are often more slippery than surface streets.
- Don’t bank on your four-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive vehicles are great in the snow, but aren’t that much better on ice than those with two-wheel drive. In other words, drive slowly and cautiously no matter what.