It’s “Mirror-Signal,” NOT “Signal-Mirror,” Despite Bad Advice for 100 Years!

Have you ever seen a vehicle ahead of you veer sideways because another vehicle started a lane-change or a turn after giving a signal far too late or no signal at all?

Yes, of course.  Many of us throughout the U.S. see such incidents every day.

Because of this situation, all motorcyclists and many car drivers are very leery, for good reason, when a signal suddenly starts flashing on a nearby vehicle.  They know all too well that the driver may start his lane-change (or a turn) immediately, and bikers in particular may veer away immediately to protect themselves from this danger, but doing so can then endanger the biker!  Part of the reason this situation happens so often is that Americans have been taught a crucial driving technique incorrectly…… To put it bluntly, American drivers have been taught yet another example of dangerous garbage!  (No, we are not trying to be offensive by using comments like that; we are trying to protect American citizens better!)

Research paper: State Drivers’ Manuals Can Kill Your Kids!

All American drivers have invariably been taught to signal then check the mirror, but as the above paragraphs show, this method can, and frequently does, cause at least anger and in many cases danger — whether from collisions or road rage.

If you used “signal — mirror” technique in most other countries you would never even be able to pass the relevant driving test because it is such an inconsiderate and risky practice!

A dramatically safer and more thoughtful method is this:

.                  Yes, okay…. Maneuver! {:-)
  1. MIRROR first!  Check that it is safe to actually give a signal (i.e. without scaring the bejeezus out of a driver or motorcyclist who is coming up alongside your vehicle, or even a bicyclist on your right if traffic is moving slowly!).  This means that the mirror check needs to be done in plenty of time — and more than once, if necessary.
  2. SIGNAL at a suitable distance before the turn or lane-change you wish to make.  This distance varies in relation to your speed so if anyone ever tries to tell you to use a physical distance, such as 100 feet, just ignore them (and anyway, do you think that you could accurately point out 100 feet every time?  Not many people can, at all).  You must not signal for a turn so early that it could cause confusion about you turning into another intersection (etc.) earlier than the one you want.  Wherever possible, your signal should flash at least 4-6 times before a turn and definitely at least that many times before you start to make a lane-change!  If you are worried about others not letting you in, don’t be — someone eventually will, and all you need do to stop this being a problem is to make lane changes in plenty of time so that a few inconsiderate drivers can’t be a serious problem to you; just let them go by.

The full sequence of actions to stay safe when handling any change of direction (at an intersection or obstruction) or a lane-change is based on “Mirror, Signal, Maneuver” (meaning the turn, lane-change, etc.).  There is a second part to this sequence, which breaks down that word “maneuver” into its component actions, but that will follow later in a separate blog post.

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This post is subject to ADoNA’s  Disclaimer and Copyright

Teaching Drivers How to Get Out of a Skid or do an Evasive Swerve Can Result in More Crashes Afterwards, Not Fewer!

Research paper:

Training drivers to have the insight to avoid emergency situations, not the skills to overcome emergency situations

Executive Summary

Emergency situations are situations that require immediate action to regain control over the vehicle and/or that require immediate action to avoid a crash. Driver training that aims to enhance the skills to regain  control  in emergency situations such as skid training, evasive swerving and emergency lane changes has proven not to be effective. Moreover, there is a plenitude of evidence that crisis evasion courses can actually increase crash rates. However, driver training that aims to enhance risk-­‐ awareness, self-­‐awareness and the acceptance of low levels of risk can reduce the crash rates of young novice drivers. As driving is predominantly a self­‐paced  task, technically skilful drivers are not necessarily also safe drivers.  A not too technically  skilful driver (i.e. a driver who has moderate vehicle handling skills) who does not overestimate his or her capabilities and/or does not underestimate the risks, drives safer than a skilful driver who overestimates his or her capabilities and/or underestimates the risks.

The Driver Behaviour, Education, and Training Subcommittee has declared that training programs aimed at enhancing the skills to regain control  in emergency situations should not be included in basic driver education or in advanced driver training programs; because, the learned  skills  in such training programs erode quickly, and such training programs result  in more  risk taking due to overconfidence. Basic driver education  and advanced driver training should be aimed at improving the calibration skills of learner drivers and novice drivers. Well­‐calibrated drivers can detect latent hazards in traffic situations, do not underestimate the likelihood that these hazards will cause their adverse effects (i.e. they are aware of the risks), and do not overestimate their own skills (i.e. they are aware of their own limitations).

The full paper is available here as a pdf:

2014 – IRF-DBET-SC-Endorsement-Driver-Training-11-07-2013 (1)

Citation:

Vlakveld, W. & Wren, E. (2014)  Training drivers to have the insight to avoid emergency situations, not the skills to overcome emergency situations.   International Road Federation (IRF), Washington, DC.

Corresponding author: Dr Willem Vlakveld, at SWOV.

 

The Crash-Risk Argument for a Limit of 0.05% Blood-Alcohol Concentration rather than 0.08%

This research indicates that a driver with a BrAC of 0.05% is twice as likely to crash as a driver with no alcohol in their system, and the risk for a driver with a BrAC of 0.08% — the current legal limit in all states of the USA — is almost exactly four-times higher than with no alcohol.

An old but excellent French safety advert        “Drink OR Drive!”

What follows is an excerpt from the ‘Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk: A Case-Control Study’ (Executive Summary), from NHTSA (2017):

Alcohol Crash Risk Estimate 

The unadjusted crash risk estimates for alcohol indicated that drivers with BrACs of .05 grams per 210 liters g/210L are 2.05 times more likely to crash than drivers with no alcohol. For drivers with BrACs of .08 g/210L, the unadjusted crash risk is 3.98 times that of drivers with no alcohol. When adjusted for age and gender, drivers with BrACs of .05 g/210L are 2.07 times more likely to crash than drivers with no alcohol. The adjusted crash risk for drivers at .08 g/210L is 3.93 times that of drivers with no alcohol.  [#End]

Importantly, readers should also view the World Medical Association Statement on Alcohol and Road Safety (1992, 2006 & 2016), which states “…it would be desirable to lower the maximum permissible level of blood alcohol to a minimum, but not above 0.5 grams per litre, which is low enough to allow the average driver to retain the ability to assess risk.”

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Footnotes:

  1. “BrACs” are Breath-Alcohol Concentrations, as opposed to the more commonly seen Blood-Alcohol Concentrations [BACs].
  2. “0.5 grams per litre” is the equivalent of 0.05% BAC.

 

Utah faces an uninformed backlash over tighter drunk driving law

Twenty-five years ago, in 1992, the World Medical Association — the world’s top doctors — made a recommendation that no country on earth should allow a blood-alcohol limit higher than 0.05 percent.  Things started to move early in this new 21st Century and suddenly virtually all of the nations in Europe and many countries elsewhere had dropped their limits from 0.08% (or equivalent) to 0.05%.

Utah has now taken the laudable step of becoming the first state in America to follow suit and introduce this life-saving legislation, but the uninformed are now appearing out of the woodwork, hollering and howling in protest.

I wish you fortitude, Utah.  Stick to your excellent principles and save even more lives!

There’s a full article from earlier today, at MSN.com

 

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief Instructor – Advanced Drivers of North America

 

Late Lane-Changes to Exit from Highways are Dangerous!

Sadly, it is very common here in the  N.E. USA, to see selfish, ignorant drivers deliberately stay out in the middle- or left-lanes of a highway until they are alongside the exit they require then veer or even swerve sharply  across the right-hand lane(s) to exit, right across the front of vehicles being driven correctly and safely.

Exit 28A on I-95, Massachusetts, showing at least three separate skid marks, almost certainly caused by a driver staying to the left, all the way to the exit, then swerving right to leave, or by drivers who were so distracted they nearly missed the exit, even from the right-hand lane. Terrible driving!

It is extremely obvious that this is not usually due to a driver reaching his/her required exit without realizing it — which, in itself, is very bad driving — but rather it’s a case of them deliberately staying in what they perceive to be the faster lanes until the last possible moment, in order to save a few seconds from their journey time.

Exit 32 on I-95, Massachusetts, showing at least seven separate skid marks, almost certainly caused by drivers who stayed to the left, all the way to the exit, then swerved right to leave, or by drivers who were so distracted they nearly missed the exit, even from the right-hand lane. Dreadful driving!

Photographs on this page clearly depict the aftermath of such blindingly stupid and selfish driving, and of course not all of the skid marks can possibly result in a miss!  Some of these skids will sadly also trigger rear-end collisions (that don’t even involve the drivers who initiated the dangerous situations in question).

It’s by no means just Massachusetts (though this nonsense is very common there). This is the ‘split’ to I-90 east (left lanes) and I-90 west (right lane) from I-87 southbound, at Albany, NY. Again, drivers have left their ‘exit’ to towards I-90W/I-87S too late and have caused dangerous incidents as these 4-5 sets of skid marks show.  This is a location where this type of bad driving is a daily event.

Some ‘politically correct’ road safety advocates will rail against me for referring to late-lane-change drivers as being ‘stupid’, selfish’, ‘ignorant’ or ‘dangerous’ but I’m sorry, having literally picked up many dead or crippled victims of bad driving and investigating the causes during my years as a traffic patrol police officer, I am simply not prepared to play the game of not telling the accurate truth about such idiots for being exactly  what they are: deadly lunatics!

Getting such people to stop their self-important, dangerous driving can only be a matter for law enforcement.  People with this degree of selfishness and stupidity will never listen to reason.

Here, all the skid marks are adjacent to the very end of an on-ramp, showing that failure to yield by drivers entering the highway, combined with a thoughtless failure to move to the left by drivers already on the highway, can also result in skids, which naturally can also end, quite literally, in blood and tears.

The best advice we can give is that if you are ever driven by someone who does this, make absolutely certain that they never get to drive you again.

And if you have a dashcam and you ever get video footage of someone doing this, we hope you will seriously consider giving the video to the police and thereby quite possibly help to save other people’s lives.  Thank you.

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America

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All photographs and the text on this post are subject to Copyright law.

Road Rage in the USA – Latest Death Figures

May 31, 2017

Excerpt:

“…Road rage causes a relatively small, but increasing percentage of fatalities on U.S. roadways, linked to 467 fatal crashes in 2015 or 1.3 percent, up from 80 or 0.2 percent in 2006, an increase of almost 500 percent in 10 years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“The number of road rage incidents that involve firearms also appears to be rising. Last month, The Trace, a nonprofit news organization focused on gun violence, found that cases of road rage involving a firearm more than doubled to 620 in 2016 from 247 in 2014, with 136 people killed in those three years. The count included cases of motorists brandishing or firing a weapon at another driver or passenger…”  [End]

Source: Chicago Tribune

 

Traffic Deaths in Arizona have Increased by an Astonishing 24% in Two Years

Across the USA, traffic deaths went up by a hugely unacceptable 15 percent in the two years from 2013 through 2015. The national figures for 2016 are not yet available, but is this horrendous situation in Arizona an indicator of where the national figures are heading next?

An article from the North Phoenix News on May 29, 2017, is the source for the above figures, and it also makes some very saddening claims for the main causative factors in 2016’s 950 road deaths in the state (up from 768 in 2014).

The major, cited factors are:

  • Speeding (involved in – quote – “most collisions in Arizona”)
  • Alcohol  (involved in ~33% of deaths)
  • Failure to wear a seatbelt, child safety device or crash helmet (involved in 35% of deaths)

Misleading Highway Safety Info’ from the NTSB – Part 2

Continued from: Misleading Highway Safety Info’ from the NTSB – Part 1

In a post on April 25, 2016, titled “Your Car is a Public Health Tool” on the NTSB Safety Compass blog, NTSB Vice Chairman Dr. T. Bella Dinh-Zarr wrote about the number of road deaths suffered by the USA.

Excerpts (in their original sequence)

  1. “…[The] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S.’s public health agency, declared Motor Vehicle Safety one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th Century…”
  2. “In the last few decades of the 20th Century, motor vehicle deaths decreased from 50,000 per year to 30,000 deaths per year.”
  3. “With the vision of a future with no motor vehicle crashes, deaths and injuries, it’s important that we continue to improve crash prevention technologies, while also striving for advances in technologies to improve vehicle crashworthiness, especially as it relates to occupant protection.”

I must address point #2 first because frankly it makes a mockery of point #1, quote: “In the last few decades of the 20th Century, motor vehicle deaths decreased from 50,000 per year to 30,000 deaths per year.”  But no they didn’t — not even remotely!

U.S. road deaths were still at 41,945 in the year 2000 and remained above 40,000 per year until 2008 (n=37,261, which equates to a staggering, 40 percent error).  That is by no means a part of the “last few decades of the 20th Century!”   Then, inline with the recession, the number of deaths per year did start to fall dramatically, as road travel also fell due to the financial situation.  Interestingly, many official bodies in the US road safety arena at this point started claiming that their respective programs had been tremendously successful and were indubitably responsible for the significantly reduced numbers of deaths.  Perhaps nobody had taught these people that recessions cause such reductions in deaths and that when the recession ended the number of deaths could be expected to rise again.  And boy, has it ever!

But there is one other point to be made:  At no point in this period did the annual road deaths fall as low as the “30,000” claimed in point #2, above.  According to ITS/IRTAD, the lowest figure was 32,479 (2011), so this in turn represents an eight percent error. This may seem insignificant but it was a very undesirable exaggeration, it never materialized, and was certainly unscientific!

So now lets go back to the first point above, the CDC claim that “Motor-Vehicle Safety [was] A 20th Century Public Health Achievement,” and the fact that the NTSB has seen fit to promote this claim on its blog. Really, NTSB (and CDC, too)?  Both of your organizations must surely be aware that since at least the 1970s the USA has fallen further and further back, behind the much greater road safety improvements made by virtually every other developed nation in the world — greater rates of improvement and in some cases death rates that are now less than one-quarter of the rate in the USA.

To illustrate America’s poor rate of progress, one can turn to the ITS/OECD/IRTAD database 2009 — Long-term Trends, “Road User fatalities” for 1980, 1990, 2000… and [2007].”  This shows that in 1980, the USA suffered 51,091 road deaths and in 2007 the number was down to 41,059 a reduction of 19.6 percent.  This sounds quite good until one looks at the percentage reductions for the following countries over the same period:

  1. Switzerland . . . . . . . . -68.2%
  2. Germany . . . . . . . . . .. -67.1%
  3. France . . . . . . . . . . . .. -65.8%
  4. Austria . . . . . . . . . . . . -65.5%
  5.  Netherlands . . . . . . .. -64.5%
  6.  Portugal . . . . . . . . . .. -62.2%
  7.  Luxembourg . . . . . . .. -56.1%
  8.  Belgium . . . . . . . . . . . -55.5%
  9.  Australia . . . . . . . . . .. -50.6%
  10.  Great Britain . . . . . . . -50.5%
  11.  Slovenia . . . . . . . . . . . -47.5%
  12.  Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . -47.0%
  13.  Sweden . . . . . . . . . . .. -44.5%
  14.  Italy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -44.3%
  15.  Japan . . . . . . . . . . . . . -41.7%
  16.  Spain . . . . . . . . . . . . . -41.4%
  17.  Denmark . . . . . . . . . . -41.2%
  18.  Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . -41.1%
  19.  Iceland . . . . . . . . . . .. -40.0%
  20.  Norway . . . . . . . . . . . -35.6%
  21.  Finland . . . . . . . . . . . -31.0%
  22.  New Zealand . . . . . .. -29.3%
  23.  Hungary . . . . . . . . . . -24.4%
  24.  United States . . . . . . -19.6%
  25.  Poland . . . . . . . . . . . . – 7.0%
  26.  Korea . . . . . . . . . . . . . – 4.4%
  27.  Czech Republic . . . . . – 3.1%
  28.  Greece . . . . . . . . . . . . +14.6%

The countries finishing from 1st to 6th achieved more than three-times the improvement than did the USA, those from 7th to 10th more than 2.5-times more, and those from 11th to 19th did at least twice as well.  Does anybody want to elaborate now about how on earth the comparatively poor performance by the USA is in any way the stated “20th Century public health achievement?”  Such a claim, for such comparatively poor success, could easily be dismissed as mere propaganda.

Finally, there is no fault with the point #3, above, but it is effectively indisputable that the USA has fallen so far behind the rest of the developed world in this crucial field of road safety because the country has been far, far too introspective and has ignored all of the advances made elsewhere and how they have been achieved.  Relying solely on technological advances that may still be a long way off in coming to full fruition is a weak-kneed approach.  Many American lives undoubtedly can be saved  by the USA immediately opening its eyes to other countries’ far greater success and emulating the methods used, without trying to re-invent the wheel and making a mess of it, as it has done — for example — in relation to America’s recent adoption and best-practice use of modern roundabouts (a failing of the FHWA)!

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America

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Go back to: Misleading Highway Safety Info’ from the NTSB – Part 1

See: Officials Mislead America About Highway Safety (article from 2003)

USA Performance in Multi-National Road-Death Rates

Clearly, it makes no sense to compare the actual number of people killed in road crashes in a large, heavily-populated nation to the equivalent  number for a small, lightly-populated country. Instead, such deaths must be measured against valid benchmarks:

  • Deaths per 100,000 members of the population – the per capita rate.
  • Deaths per one billion vehicle kilometres (the per distance travelled rate)
  • Deaths per 10,000 registered motor vehicles in the country

In general, it only makes sense to compare nations that have significant factors in common, and one such group is the wealthier, developed countries that are member-nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Figures for each country’s road casualty statistics take 2-3 years to be finalized, so the latest available figures at any point in time are inevitably from 2-3 years previously.

The most recent figures relative to the USA, as at May 2017, are listed on page 24 of the OECD/ITF Road Safety Annual Report, 2016 (2017 not yet published) and are summarized as follows:

Road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants

  • Countries providing data: 32
  • America’s ranking in list: 30th
  • Best rates:     1.2 (Iceland)* — 2.8 Sweden — 2.9 UK & Norway
  • USA rate:      10.2
  • Worst rates: 10.2 (USA) — 11.9 (Chile) — 12.4 (Argentina)
  • NOTE: Iceland, with its rate of just 1.2, has such a small population that its rate can vary by up to 300% in a one year period.

Road deaths per billion vehicle-kilometres (USA uses 100 million miles)

  • Countries providing data: 21
  • America’s ranking in list: 18th
  • Best rates:    3.4 (Sweden & Norway) — 3.6 (UK & Denmark)
  • USA Rate:      6.7
  • Worst rates:  7.1 (Belgium & New Zealand) — 15.5 (Korea)

Road deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles

  • Countries providing data:  32
  • America’s ranking in list:  27th
  • Best Rates:   0.4 (several) — 0.5 (several)
  • USA Rate:     1.2
  • Worst rates: 1.8 (Lithuania) — 2.2 (Argentina) — 4.7 (Chile)

The worst of this bad situation for America is that, over the years, many high-ranking officials in relevant government departments such as NHTSA and the NTSB have implied or even blatantly stated that the country is doing well in highway safety and getting better!

Doing well?  No!!!  By comparison with virtually all other developed nations it is immensely regrettable that the USA is doing very badly.

As for “getting better,” this is only by comparison with America’s own past performance, and even then the death rates are rocketing back up again, after the recession that brought them down so dramatically.  If it weren’t so tragic, it would be funny how many officials claimed credit for the falling rates after the recession started but nobody is claiming or accepting any responsibility now that the situation has so tragically reversed!  Figures show that virtually all other countries have made much greater progress over the past two decades than the USA, compared to their own past performances.

The logical conclusion can only be that all of the positive publicity has been a deliberate attempt to keep the American people in the dark or — worse — completely mislead them into thinking that everything is good and acceptable.  But it is not.

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America

 

Also see:

 

America’s Poor Performance in the ‘Enforcement’ Aspect of Highway Safety

May 2017

In the Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2015 — currently the most recent edition — the World Health Organisation, on page 18, has a section headed ‘Many countries need to strengthen road safety legislation’.

Given the respect the USA rightfully has in the world in other disciplines, it would be reasonable to expect the country to fare really well in this examination of standards, but unfortunately America is one of the worst-performing developed nations in the world in the context of highway safety and this ‘enforcement’ aspect of it proves to be no different.

Here’s part of what WHO writes on the overall subject:

“Road safety laws improve road user behaviour – a critical factor in road safety – to reduce road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths. A number of countries have achieved sustained reductions in traffic-related injuries and fatalities through effective road safety programmes that have included legislative change. The most positive changes to road user behaviour happen when road safety legislation is supported by strong and sustained enforcement, and where the public is made aware of the reasons behind the new law and the consequences of noncompliance.

“This section reports on an assessment of countries’ current legislation to meet five key behavioural risk factors for road traffic injuries: speed, drink–driving, failure to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts and child restraints. There is a strong evidence base showing the positive impacts that legislation on each of these risk factors can have on reducing crashes, injuries and deaths.

“…[R]oad safety legislation is a dynamic field and that best practice evolves over time. This means that even high-performing countries constantly need to review their legislation, revising and updating it to meet the latest evidence base (this report explores two strong examples of this – drug–driving and mobile phone use while driving – where strong evidence bases have yet to be developed). Additionally, while the evidence base may act as a “blueprint” for laws relating to many risk factors for road traffic injuries,2 countries must take account of their local legislative context, the traffic situation, and a number of other country-specific factors that may all impact road safety legislation and the manner and speed at which legislative reform should be pursued.

Enforcement is vital to the success of road safety laws

“While there is clear evidence that enforcement is critical to the success of laws, the levels of enforcement required for maximum impact are often less readily available and depend on factors such as political will, available resources and competing priorities at a national level. In countries where legislation has not previously been accompanied by enforcement, particularly visible and high levels of enforcement may be needed to persuade the public that breaking the law in future may well result in a penalty…” [End of excerpt]

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Five world maps follow, in the WHO report, but for the purpose of simplicity in this blog post, I have changed the colours into letter-grades: ‘A’ for green/good, ‘B’ for orange/moderate, and ‘C’ for red/poor.

So, for these five, clearly critical areas of enforcement highway safety, the USA receives the following results:

  • Urban speed laws (p23): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C
  • Motorcycle helmet laws and helmet standards (p27): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C
  • Drink–driving laws (p32): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .B
  • Seat-belt laws (p34): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B
  • Countries meeting best practice criteria on child restraint laws (p37):  B

Personal footnote:  From everything I have seen in the near-20 years I have been in the USA, by far the biggest responsibility for the poor results from US highway safety legislation lies entirely in political ignorance of the facts and the vested interests of politicians turning their heads away from the best interests and maximum safety of the American people.

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America