Runaway Vehicle Fatalities Such as the Death of Actor Anton Yelchin are Frequently and Easily Avoidable

A law suit was settled last week in death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, who was crushed when his own SUV rolled on a slope and pinned him against the mailbox he was checking.

Sadly, however, deaths like this where a vehicle rolls away despite having ostensibly been left in ‘Park’ are all too common and actually have a  lot to do with the endemic incompetence of the majority of people who write state drivers manuals throughout the USA and yet have little-to-zero expertise in the subject of best-practise safe driving.

Photograph of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin
Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin at The Voice Awards, 2011. (Photograph: Wikimedia Commons)

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Uber Prototype Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian — Wild Claims about Who or What is at Fault!

A pedestrian being hit and killed by an autonomous vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday, March 18, 2018, was certainly destined to create a big response from the media and many have published their views regarding the sad incident.

The problem is, though, that many people have speculated inappropriately on the matter, including — it has to be said — the police chief in Tempe.  So let’s make one important point straight away:  The only relevant decision regarding blame for this or any other tragic incident clearly lies solely with the courts.  Publishing unsubstantiated or wildly inaccurate opinions before any trial can only serve to affect the opinions of subsequent jurors and even officials — a highly undesirable situation.  (In other countries this is the law — often referred to as Sub Judice — but sadly for the most accurate justice that is not the case in the USA.)

Before considering some of the comments, let’s take a look at the in-car video, apparently published by Tempe Police and then ABC7, since the incident:

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Here’s Why Self-Driving Vehicles Will Forever Change the Traffic Safety Paradigm

Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD.  March 21, 2018

Self-driving vehicles, also known as highly automated vehicles (HAVs), were once in the realm of science fiction. But HAVs are here and about to transform the automotive industry and the U.S. transportation system, with retail models possibly being available as early as this year. HAVs could become a common sight on the road by 2055.

It’s no longer a question of “if” but “when.”…

Photograph of a Uber self driving car prototype testing in San Francisco, October 2016.
Uber self driving car prototype testing in San Francisco, October 2016. Wikimedia Commons.

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Global NCAP tells Donald Trump to Make ‘America First’ in Pedestrian Protection

In response to President Donald Trump’s claim last week that a so called ‘bowling ball’ test is preventing US automobiles from entering the Japanese market, Global NCAP has written to the US President urging him to make ‘America First’ in pedestrian protection by adopting the same global standard applied by Japan…

Photo of a crash test dummy reading a mock book: Crash Testing for Dummies
Photo: Global NCAP

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Useful Websites in Relation to Speed, Speeding and Fast Driving

This Speed and Speeding page is the first of the resource pages we hope and plan to to develop for our readers’ interest, and each will simply be amended as new information comes available so please check back from time to time to see what’s been added.

The Dangers of Teen Speeding, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute

Photograph of a Volkswagen car in the left lane on an Interstate highway, that is about to cut in front of our own vehicle far too quickly. The mass of spray thrown up will hit our windscreen in moments.
The bad driver in the white Volkswagen is already far too close behind the motorcycle, especially given the very wet road, and is now in a rush to get into the right-hand lane, ahead of us, in order to speed past the motorcycle on the wrong side. Our driver knew enough to get the wipers on full speed before our windscreen was hit by all the spray coming up from the back wheels of the VW. Copyright image.

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Driving Dangers on Big Bridges

On sunny days, or at dawn & sunset, big road bridges can often look very attractive, but when the weather takes a turn for the worse, they can create significant dangers for the unwary driver.

News has just been published today that a truck driver has been killed after high winds apparently pushed his vehicle through the safety fence on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Tragically the driver lost his life.

This is particularly saddening for me as I went over that bridge, in mildly bad but contrarily beautiful weather, just a few weeks ago while instructing on an advanced driving course in Maryland and Delaware.

Thin fog as we drove eastwards across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
The relatively thin morning fog that we met when driving eastwards over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was misleading. It had been much thicker and potentially more dangerous only a few minutes earlier. (Copyright image.)

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America’s Most Dangerous Intersections — the Need for More, Better-Designed Roundabouts, plus Accurate Info for Drivers!

In an article published in January 2018, Business Insider listed the most dangerous intersection in every state in the USA, and in each case there was an accompanying photograph, although not always from a suitable angle or elevation.

From what can be seen in the photographs, many of the intersections would benefit tremendously from the installation of a roundabout.  Roundabouts don’t necessarily reduce the overall number of collisions — indeed when first installed a roundabout may see an increase in the number of minor collisions while people get used to the new type of intersection — but the number of serious collisions, involving injuries and deaths, will drop dramatically as long as the roundabout is well-designed, and just as importantly, as long as the drivers in that state are being taught the best way to drive into, around and out of roundabouts.  However, while the first of these points is increasingly being met (although not so in the first photograph shown below), the second — the education aspect — is deliberately and unforgivably being rejected by the FHWA, and as a result, all state-level DOTs that we know of.

A photograph from above of a roundabout intersection in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan.
This intersection in West Bloomfield Township is the most dangerous in Michigan and is logically therefore one of the most dangerous in the USA. Given that it is already a roundabout, this is particularly disappointing because roundabouts are the safest form of intersection. The conclusion must therefore be that one or more things are wrong with this particular roundabout (see the article text, below) and perhaps with other relevant factors in Michigan in general. (Photo: Google Maps)

Back in 2010, at a conference in Washington, DC, about the then-imminent commencement of the international ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2011-2020’, I had the good fortune to meet the very likable Joe Toole, who was then the head of the Federal Highway Administration [FHWA], one of the two executive divisions of the USDOT. Continue reading “America’s Most Dangerous Intersections — the Need for More, Better-Designed Roundabouts, plus Accurate Info for Drivers!”

Speed… Is it Really a Major Safety Issue or Do the ‘Experts’ Exaggerate?

One of the most inflammatory and divisive topics in road or highway safety is that of speed in relation to safety.

The first question that has to be addressed is what exactly do we mean in this context by the word “speed”?  It is very important not to fall into the trap of thinking it only relates to breaking the posted speed limits, even though that is still a serious issue (see below).

A panned photo of a car travelling at speed on a leafy rural road.
Breaking the posted speed limit often contributes to serious or fatal crashes.  However, if there are problems on the road, then it is easy to do a potentially dangerous speed even within the posted limit. This is called driving at an inappropriate speed for the circumstances, and it is particularly common — and deadly — on rural roads. (Copyright image.)

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Semi-autonomous Cars — An Advanced Driving Course for Chauffeurs in their Employer’s Tesla

Given that at Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA] we teach defensive and advanced driving, the use of assistance features which reduce the tasks and sadly also the concentration of drivers is not a key area for us.  (How new safety technology might actually be making our driving worse.)

That aspect, however, is not the theme of this write-up.  Instead, I will focus on the Tesla being driven normally, with the minimum of automated features and with maximum smoothness for the chauffeur context plus, of course, maximum regard for driving safely

A Tesla S that we used on an ADoNA advanced driving "safety and smoothness" course for chauffeurs, looking good in a color that's close to the famed "British Racing Green."
The Tesla Model S 85 used on an advanced driving “safety and smoothness” course for chauffeurs, looking good in a color that’s close to the famed “British Racing Green”. (Copyright image)

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