Is this the Beginning of the End for Risky Right-Turns-on-Red?

Allowing drivers in the USA to turn-right-on-red increased cases of pedestrians and bicycles being struck by 43-123 percent, and many of these collisions have resulted in injuries.

A post today on Facebook, from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety [IIHS], pleasingly caught our attention when they confirmed the inescapable conclusion that research has shown that allowing drivers to turn right on red can put pedestrians at risk. There is a very blunt American expression involving ‘Sherlock’ that sums up the situation perfectly!

Whenever drivers who are turning right-on-red take their attention away from either of the two crosswalks they are typically about to cross — usually while looking for vehicles coming from the left — pedestrians are put in danger….. End of story! (Copyright image, 2018.)

Continue reading “Is this the Beginning of the End for Risky Right-Turns-on-Red?”

School Zone Warning Signs – Are Some Better Than Others?

Because many states choose to at least partially disregard national guidelines* designed to encourage the uniform use of traffic signs throughout the USA, different standards in some areas can increase or decrease safety. Perhaps the most concerning of these variations is found in signs which warn drivers that they are entering a school zone.

Continue reading “School Zone Warning Signs – Are Some Better Than Others?”

Williamsville, NY, is Taking a Lead in Pedestrian Safety in the USA

The new press-button, gantry-style traffic signals on a new, mid-block crosswalk in Williamsville, NY. (Copyright image, 2018.)

With just over 6,000 pedestrian deaths a year [re 2017, NHTSA], the USA sadly has a very poor record in protecting people on foot.

Continue reading “Williamsville, NY, is Taking a Lead in Pedestrian Safety in the USA”

In Massachusetts You are Meant to Wave to Drivers at Crosswalks!

We presume the instruction for pedestrians to ‘wave’ before going over crosswalks in Great Barrington, MA, means they should make eye-contact with the drivers of approaching vehicles.  But will it work?

On each end of the crosswalks in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is the instruction for pedestrians to 'Stop, Look, and Wave!!
‘Stop, Look & Wave’ is the instruction on crosswalks in Gt Barrington, MA. (Copyright image, 2018.)

Continue reading “In Massachusetts You are Meant to Wave to Drivers at Crosswalks!”

USA Commercial Trucking & SUV Fatalities Up Significantly

Despite the fact that data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Oct. 3 indicates highway fatalities declined overall in 2017 after two consecutive years of large increases, the agency added that highway fatalities in 2017 jumped significantly in the sport utility vehicle or SUV category and commercial trucking sector. Fatalities among SUV occupants climbed 3 percent, and deaths in crashes involving tractor-trailers jumped 5.8 percent.

Photo looking down on a fast-moving semi-tractor-trailer.
Semi-tractor-trailer.  Copyright image.

Clearly, the reduction in overall deaths is very much to be welcomed, however it still needs to be viewed relative to the USA, in the long-term, still being the poorest-performing of 30 developed nations.

.

See the AASHTO article about the NHTSA figures.

Will the USA Get Safer Road Signs? — The FHWA is updating the MUTCD!

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has announced this month (October 2018) that it is pursuing an update to the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways” — the MUTCD — in preparation for the future of automated vehicles and to afford states and local communities with more opportunities to utilize innovation.

Photograph of a "Bump" sign but the p is covered by snow.
Who knew that snow has a sense of humor? (Copyright image, 2013)

Continue reading “Will the USA Get Safer Road Signs? — The FHWA is updating the MUTCD!”

Autonomous Vehicles: Current Driver Assistance Features Assessed

While many people are eagerly anticipating the inevitable additional safety of autonomous vehicles, and others are wildly exaggerating how quickly this will all be available, it is apparent that none of it is truly imminent.

Rear three-quarter view of a Tesla Model S 85 sedan.
Good looking from any angle, a Tesla Model S 85;  a very enjoyable car to drive. (Copyright image.)

Indeed, as the first steps in just semi-autonomy, adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping are only now getting detailed appraisal, yet these features are only the tip of the autonomy iceberg.

Continue reading “Autonomous Vehicles: Current Driver Assistance Features Assessed”

U.S. Roundabouts can Create Risks and Confusion

On September 18, 2018, Maine DOT published the following wording and roundabout design on their Facebook page, but unfortunately the layout is unsatisfactory:

“It’s National Roundabout Week! Roundabouts have proven to be far safer than traditional intersections, but some people are still unsure of how to navigate them…” 

The problem is that, like most other states, Maine is apparently following the Federal Highways Administration [FHWA] ethos on roundabout construction but such guidelines deliberately ignore global best practices that have been developed over the fifty years in which the USA failed to build what are properly called “modern roundabouts.”  Sadly, the result is roundabouts that can have multiple potential safety flaws, just like the one in this illustration, as posted by Maine DOT.

The full layout of a new roundabout, as published by Maine DOT on September 18, 2018.

Continue reading “U.S. Roundabouts can Create Risks and Confusion”

Disconnected Buttons at New York City Crosswalks Still Frustrate Pedestrians

Instruction sign for an American, button-operated crosswalk.
Clear instructions, but if pedestrians are kept waiting too long some of them will take chances and the whole purpose of safe crosswalks is defeated. (And it’s not just drivers who have places to get to.) Copyright image, 2018.

Back in 2004, it was reported in U.S. national media that the “push-to-cross” buttons at most of New York City’s crosswalks were disconnected to prevent pedestrians from interrupting traffic flow, and it has just been revealed that now, in 2018, an even greater proportion of the City’s crosswalks have non-functional buttons.

The stated purpose of delaying pedestrians in this manner is to keep vehicles moving and reduce traffic jams.  This may be all well and good when traffic is busy but this approach, when used around the clock, inevitably will annoy pedestrians.

Continue reading “Disconnected Buttons at New York City Crosswalks Still Frustrate Pedestrians”

Five Displays of Bad Safety in One Chrysler Video Commercial

Do automakers have any responsibility for promoting safe driving?  We think that the majority of people would agree that they do, yet for countless years there have been television commercials from automakers showing bad driving — particularly those which glorify speed, or dodging and weaving through traffic — which at the very least, quite deliberately contradict safety values and driver courtesy in the hope of generating more car sales.  Some of it, however, seems to be sheer thoughtlessness or even ignorance and the images below would appear to be an example of this.

A Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid commercial, shown on August 24, 2018, showing a dangerously unadjusted seat-back and head-restraint, far too far away to protect the driver if hit from behind, and also the drivers fingers looped through the steering wheel rather than holding it the safer way with thumbs on the rim.
A Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid commercial, shown on August 24, 2018, showing a dangerously unadjusted seat-back and head-restraint, far too far away to protect the driver if hit from behind, and also the drivers fingers looped through the steering wheel rather than holding it the safer way with thumbs on the rim.

Continue reading “Five Displays of Bad Safety in One Chrysler Video Commercial”