Winter Tires or All-Season Tyres? See this for Some Big Surprises! (Video)

Which is better on winter roads: a two-wheel drive car with winter tires or a similarly-sized four-wheel drive vehicle (such as an SUV or pick-up truck) with all-season tyres?

How much do you genuinely know about tire grip and traction — and therefore about safety — on winter roads?

Photo showing a pick-up truck that has spun-off the highway, on snow.
Look at the vehicles that you see spun-off from snow or ice. You will be shocked how many of them are four-wheel-drive SUVs or pick-up trucks, which shows that the drivers don’t know the difference between traction and grip, for their tires. Winter or snow tires are far better than all-season even when it’s just cold, let alone when there actually is snow or ice. (Copyright image.)

Continue reading “Winter Tires or All-Season Tyres? See this for Some Big Surprises! (Video)”

Using Headlights in Bad Weather — Listen to the Truck Drivers!

Despite many years of advice and even laws to change the situation, many people apparently still don’t get it that headlights are not just to help them see where they are going!

Photo showing the serious lack of view in a truck's mirrors during rain.
The lack of view in a truck’s mirrors during rain. Photo courtesy of Ryan Douglas Dorius

Continue reading “Using Headlights in Bad Weather — Listen to the Truck Drivers!”

Nine Danger Signs Concerning Parked Vehicles — Do You Know Them ALL?

Every time you drive past one or more parked vehicles there are nine common safety indicators that should be monitored so that you never end up being involved in a distressing collision that could easily have been avoided.  The worst of these involve children being run over.

Photograph of a person putting something in the trunk / boot of a car, at the roadside.
To be safe drivers, people certainly need to know all of the nine dangers signs to look for when passing parked vehicles — just one of the many comprehensive safety skills taught by Advanced Drivers of North America, Inc. — Copyright image.

Continue reading “Nine Danger Signs Concerning Parked Vehicles — Do You Know Them ALL?”

Just a Few Miles Over the Speed Limit — Is it Dangerous or Acceptable?

Once a person has been driving for a few years, and maybe had no crashes, it’s okay to go a few miles an hour over the posted speed limit, right?  And the police don’t give out tickets if you’re doing just 35 mph in a 30 limit or 45 in a 40 limit, so it’s got to be safe, yeh?

Many people try to justify a bit of extra speed like this with their opinion that it’s safe and of no consequence, or they are frankly just oblivious to it because “everybody else does the same all the time,” but sadly — in fact tragically — these myths are the opposite of the truth.

A major part of the problem lies in the laws of physics — the only laws, so the old joke goes, that nobody can break — so if you don’t like what follows, blame Einstein and Newton and all of their pals.

A key fact is that the faster an object is moving, the harder it is to stop it.  But this is where those rules of physics come in.  A normal, non-scientific person would assume that if something is going twice as fast now as it was say a minute ago, it will be twice as hard to stop it, right?  But it doesn’t work like that.  At twice the speed, an object is much more than twice as hard to stop and as a rough rule-of-thumb a vehicle takes about four times as far to stop under braking if its speed has been doubled.

The other problem involves a driver’s best reaction time.  Straight away, though, here’s another sad fact:  Most drivers don’t concentrate properly on their driving so very few can use their “best” reactions in an emergency.  So whether a person has good, medium or bad reactions, they will take the same time  as they usually do to react in any risky situation that they were not expecting to occur, and if a vehicle is travelling at twice its previous speed it will obviously cover twice the distance while the driver is in the process of reacting, so a lot of extra ground has been lost and there is now that much less time and distance in which to stop before hitting the thing up ahead that has caused the driver to brake.

Most people can do well on an actual test of reaction time.  Someone says something like “press the button each time the light comes on,” and you do.  But the problem is that you know that the light is going to come on and so you are ready, with your finger on the button and muscles tensed.  But real life, and in particular driving, are not like that.  Drivers are typically far too complacent (e.g. “I’ve been driving for thirty years and never had a crash.” Or “I’ve driven this road a thousand times; I know every bump and twist.”)

And virtually all drivers are distracted, too.  Yes, far too many are crazy enough to talk on cell phones — even hands-free phone conversations significantly increase the risk of a serious crash but it’s not possible to enforce this so no law enforcement agencies have tried to do so — and others even text while driving, which is a form of homicidal or suicidal lunacy.  But these aren’t the only issues:  Anybody driving while thinking about anything other than their driving at any moment is a distracted driver; there’s no getting away from that fact, and we ALL do it.  A key difference between unsafe drivers and safer drivers is that the safer ones think only about their driving for a much larger proportion of the time, and that takes effort.  But nobody is a robot.  Nobody can concentrate at the 100 percent level for 100 percent of the time, especially on longer journeys.

So now, back to the few miles an hour over the posted speed limit:  That’s only a few MPH, right; not double the speed?  But lets see the effect.

Here’s a relatively old video showing exactly what can happen when a driver is doing 35mph in a 30mph limit.  The age of the video is irrelevant because the physics of the matter will never change. Even as better braking technology has trimmed some feet off stopping distances over the years, that still has not prevented the same effect happening; it just takes place at slightly different distances.

The next video shows a very different way of looking at the same problem, but as the speeds used are given in kilometres, here’s a conversion list for American and British readers:

  • 65 km/h = 40.6 mph
  • 60 km/h = 37.5 mph
  • 32 km/h = 20 mph
  • . 5 km/h = . 3 mph

 

So just a tiny three miles per hour difference in the initial speeds made a life-threatening 17mph difference in impact speeds.  If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will!

Finally, if you are thinking about swerving as an alternative to braking to try to avoid a crash, please don’t forget that while swerving is sometimes successful on racetracks, where everyone is ultra-alert and all travelling in one direction (although it can still fail spectacularly, too), and it might be great fun to practice skid recovery or evasive swerving on abandoned runways and empty parking lots,  the fact is that on real roads there are often vehicles coming the other way.  Do you want to hit one and die?  Trees and ditches can easily kill you, too.  And then there can be pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists nearby.  Do you want to kill them (and then pretend to the officer that it was somehow an unavoidable “accident” rather than a dangerous choice of your own speed)?

Take a look at the Golden Rule of Safe Driving.

If this article sounds as though I’m preaching at readers or lecturing you, I apologize, but as a retired traffic patrol police officer who has attended too many fatal and serious-injury crashes, and also had to tell too many devastated loved ones that their husband, wife, daddy, mommy, brother, sister, son or daughter is never coming home again, then — believe me — I really hope that you will take the above facts to heart and make sure that neither your own family nor anyone else’s will ever have to hear that news all because you were doing a few miles an hour over the speed limit.

It happens every day without fail!  About 30 out of the average 100-plus highway deaths every single day in the USA involve someone driving over the posted speed limit or at a speed that was inappropriately too fast for the circumstances, even if that was within the limit.

 

 

Latest Multi-National VMT Road Death Rates – USA Makes Least Progress 1990-2015

The USA is unique in measuring deaths-by-distance-travelled per 100 million miles, which is referred to as the “Vehicle Miles Traveled” [VMT] rate.  The rest of the international community, on the other hand, use one billion vehicle kilometres [“billion VKT”] for the metric, and that is the case in the following list. (View an easy method to convert the US VMT rate to the international figures.)

Photograph of rush-hour highway traffic, Washington D.C.
Rush-hour traffic, Washington D.C. (Copyright image.)

Continue reading “Latest Multi-National VMT Road Death Rates – USA Makes Least Progress 1990-2015”

Converting the USA’s preferred ‘VMT’ rate of road deaths to the ‘Billion VKT’ rate used by the rest of the world shows a shockingly poor result for America

In monitoring its road safety standards, the USA prefers to use “deaths per 100 million Vehicle Miles Travelled” [VMT] rate, rather than the measure used by every other country, which is the “deaths per billion vehicle kilometres” [billion VKT] rate.

Does this matter?  Does it make any difference?  The answer is yes, it certainly does, even if only psychologically.  For anyone who does not know much about road safety it means that America’s rate cannot readily be compared with the rates in other countries.  This is a pity because frankly America’s rate of deaths measured against distance travelled has long been, or at least should have long been, a national embarrassment which the powers-that-be apparently do not want the American people to understand, and the tiny numbers that are used to indicate each year’s VMT rate make it look like there’s no problem at all.  But this apparently deliberate keeping people in the dark needs to stop.

Photograph of distracted rider and pedestrain, plus none-use of a crash helmet..
Some dangerous problems are found in many countries: distracted drivers, riders and pedestrians, none-use of seatbelts or crash helmets, etc. (Copyright image.)

So, first of all, let’s get the math out of the way that allows the VMT rate to be converted to the standard, global rate, in order that everyone can understand the situation.

Firstly, one billion kilometres is 621,371,192 miles, so divide that by 100 million and the answer is 6.214,  so whenever you see the VMT rate published, you just multiply it by 6.214 and you will have the internationally-recognized billion kilometre [billion VKT] rate.  Then, and only then, can you truly compare America’s road safety performance with the other ~29 developed nations of the world that along with the USA are members of the OECD*.

If you now look at Latest Multi-National VMT Road Death Rates – USA Makes Least Progress 1990-2015, you will see that not only does the USA lie in an extremely disappointing 18th place out of the 23 applicable countries for the year 2015 (the current latest figures) and has a billion-VKT death rate that is more than double the rate of the leading nations, but also — when the results are measured from the 25 years from 1990-2015, the USA has made dramatically less progress in cutting deaths than any other applicable country on the list.

From the figures, it can be seen that, if the USA could match the current, top billion-VKT results (i.e. Norway), approximately 22,000 lives would have been saved in road crashes in America in 2015 and even more in 2016 and 2017, because the number of deaths is increasing, year-on-year.  [Note:  This is a different result to the lives that could be saved if the U.S. were able to match the leading nations’ per capita rates, but given the way that countries’ rates do vary quite widely when using the various different metrics, this situation is not unusual.]

 

Footnote

*OECD — Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

 

Over 37,000 People were Killed on America’s Roads and Highways in 2016

Figures released by the USDOT on October 6, 2017, show that 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015.  This followed an inaccurate estimation earlier this year by the National Safety Council [NSC] that the figure would be approximately 40,200.

In the context of the NSC’s miscalculation, the lower, more recent, and obviously more accurate figure from the USDOT and NHTSA is a relief but the situation is still very bad news.  Apart from the 5.6% increase in fatalities from 2015-2016, the fact is that since 2014 the number of deaths on America’s roads and highways has soared swiftly upwards from 32,744 to 37,461, a two-year increase of 14.4 percent, representing almost 5,000 “extra” deaths in 2016 alone.

Photograph of two roadside memorials, on opposite sides of a rural road, and from two separate crashes.
Not one but two memorials, for two separate crashes on either side of this road at this one location in Illinois. Photo: Copyright 2012.

Continue reading “Over 37,000 People were Killed on America’s Roads and Highways in 2016”

Multi-National ‘Per Capita’ Road Death Rates for 2015 (as published in Oct. 2017)

Rate(a) . Country

  1. 2.3. . . ..Norway
  2. 2.7. . . . Sweden
  3. 2.8 . . . .United Kingdom
  4. 3.1. . . . .Denmark
  5. 3.1. . . . .Switzerland
  6. 3.5. . . . Ireland
  7. 3.6. . . . Spain
  8. 3.7. . . . Netherlands
  9. 3.8. . . . Israel
  10. 3.8. . . . Japan
  11. 4.3. . . . Germany
  12. 4.9. . . . Finland
  13. 4.9. . . . Iceland (b)
  14. 5.1. . . . .Australia
  15. 5.2. . . . Canada
  16. 5.4. . . . France
  17. 5.6. . . . Austria
  18. 5.6. . . . Italy
  19. 5.7. . . . Portugal
  20. 5.8. . . . Slovenia
  21. 6.4. . . . Luxembourg (b)
  22. 6.5. . . . Belgium
  23. 6.5. . . . Hungary
  24. 6.9. . . . New Zealand
  25. 7.0. . . . Czech Republic
  26. 7.3. . . . Greece
  27. 7.7. . . . Poland
  28. 8.3. . . . Lithuania
  29. 8.4. . . . Serbia
  30. 9.1. . . . Korea
  31. 10.9. . . United States (c)
  32. 11.1.. . . .Morocco
  33. 11.9. . . .Chile
  34. 12.4 . . .Argentina (d)
  35. 13.3. . . Mexico
  36. 14.5. . . Cambodia
  37. 14.6. . . Uruguay
  38. 21.5. . . Malaysia
  39. 23.6. . .South Africa

Source: ITF / OECD  (colored groupings added by ADoNA)

Footnotes:

(a)  Rate of road deaths per 100,000 members of the national population

(b)  Iceland and Luxembourg experience the most inconsistent annual rates due to their very small population sizes

(c)  Statistics published by the USDOT on October 6, 2017, show that during 2016 US road deaths increased by a further 5.6 percent and the per capita rate of deaths rose to 11.59 — See: Over 37,000 People were Killed on America’s Roads and Highways in 2016

(d)  2014 data (OECD)

Also see: Latest Multi-National VMT Road Death Rates – USA Makes Least Progress 1990-2015

Numbering in the left-hand column is only for easy reference. Countries with identical rates should not be separated or ranked by this.

Green text: A rate under 3

Orange text: A rate less than double that of the leading country

Purple text: A rate 2-4 times greater than that of the leading country

Red text: A ‘per capita’ rate more than four times higher than that of the leading country

 

A Significant Rise in On-The-Job U.S. Highway Deaths Raises Safety Concerns

According to Bloomberg News: “Roadway accidents are the leading cause of on-the-job deaths in the USA, but the safety issue remains outside the jurisdiction of the nation’s primary workplace safety agency — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA].”

Photograph looking down on city traffic from high above.
City traffic, but this is by no means the most dangerous place for your employees to drive. We cover all major aspects of defensive driving on our ADoNA courses, not just 5 or 6, and we follow global safety research and best-practices throughout. (Copyright image.)

A particularly worrying aspect of this situation is that between 2011-2015 the number of work-related highway deaths in America increased by 15%, which was five times more than the upturn in the overall number of occupational fatalities (3%), according to Bureau of Labor [BLS] statistics.

During 2015 (i.e. the latest available statistics), according to federal figures, 1,264 workers died in highway crashes. That represents 26 percent of the year’s total work-related deaths of 4,836, and it is therefore the most common cause of worker fatalities.

One thing which is not made clear in the official figures is whether they include or exclude highway deaths which occur while the people concerned are actually commuting to or from work, which — although a very secondary concern to the tragic bereavements — still has financially very damaging overtones for the employers concerned.  However, judging the above figures against those from other developed nations, it is our opinion at Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA] that commuting deaths are definitely not included in the current U.S. data and that in this context the “real” number of deaths is very significantly higher than stated.

In our driver safety training for Fortune 500 client-companies, our training has produced multi-year reductions of 50 percent in fleet crashes and over 80 percent in injuries (based on National Safety Council collision type analysis).  If you would like us to work with your team, with the objective of creating very significant collision reductions, please get in touch via our Courses page.

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Read: Rise in on-the-Job Motor Vehicle Deaths Spurs Safety Concerns, from Bloomberg News.

 

 

So-called Safe Driving Experts Post Dangerous Advice about Child Safety in Cars

How can the American public be expected to know what’s safest for themselves and their children when supposedly trustworthy sources so often publish incorrect and unsafe “advice” about safe driving techniques, or — as in this case — post highly inappropriate photographs or illustrations showing dangerous scenarios as though they are correct and acceptable?

California DMV

The photograph below first came to our attention when it was posted — outrageously — by no less an organization than the California DMV, so our first questions to them are:  Who is responsible for this?  Do they know nothing about safe driving and child safety at all?

This photograph is meant to show good child safety for the three children in the back seat of this car but all three are wearing their seatbelts in a dangerous manner (see the text of the article)/
This photograph is meant to show good child safety for the three children in the back seat of this car but all three are wearing their seatbelts in a dangerous manner (see the text of the article) — We do not claim to have copyright permission to post this image but do claim the legal right to do so for discussion of an important aspect of public safety.

The dangers shown here are that (a) the girl in the center of the three unavoidably has her seatbelt to high and effectively across her neck.  In the event of a collision, this alone could kill her.  The girl on the left also has her belt too high but not as badly as the first one.  (b) The girl on the right has her belt across her upper arm, below the shoulder (see the Irish Examiner article, linked below, for a better view of this) and there is no way this would restrain her correctly in a collision where, at the very least it might be expected to cause serious arm or shoulder injuries.

The photograph is, however, at least two years old.  We now know that a version of it was published by the Irish Examiner (newspaper) on July 04, 2015, in the ironically titled “How to keep kids well when travelling by car,”  which was about car sickness but was apparently oblivious to child seatbelt safety

Then, just three days afterwards, yet another version was published by the Gerber Life Insurance Agency, in “Activities to Keep Kids Happily Occupied  During Road Travel.”  Come on, Gerber.  Surely you have someone who should definitely have picked up on this?

The fact that these three sources all used different versions of one image might suggest that they originated from a picture library, in which case we would suggest that while such libraries are in business purely to sell images, they DO have a responsibility not to trade in misleadingly dangerous pictures!