Road Safety: In what way do “Black Lives Matter” the most?

A lost life — any lost life — is a tragedy, and road accidents* are a massive killer, so my title for this post is by no means meant to be annoying or offensive to anybody.

This topic comes from my former home city of Buffalo, NY, so in more ways than one it is a subject dear to my heart.

The original article is “Groups opposed to traffic safety checkpoints to sue Buffalo police,” from the Buffalo News.

Photo of a motorcycle traffic police officer in Buffalo, NY.
A motorcycle traffic cop in Buffalo, NY. (Copyright image.)

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Tennessee Talks About the Horrors of ‘The Knock at the Door’

We are posting this saddening topic here on the ADoNA website in the hope that it helps in the THSO’s aim of persuading people not to become the cause of a tragedy which requires this terrible outcome.

Photo of a Scene from the 'Knock at the Door' video
Scene from the ‘Knock at the Door’ video

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) recently distributed a public service announcement called “The Knock at the Door,” to show what easily qualifies as the worst job in the world, namely the personal delivery by police and other law enforcement officers of fatality messages to unsuspecting loved ones.  A very large proportion of such messages relate to road and highway crashes.
Continue reading “Tennessee Talks About the Horrors of ‘The Knock at the Door’”

Video of an Excellent “Flying Escort” by Dutch Police Motorcycle Officers

Apart from saving lives by means of enforcement and obliging many errant drivers to drive more safely, highly-trained police motorcycle officers often help save lives in other ways, too.

This team of three are from the Netherlands, and this spectacular video brought back good memories from my own years on this job, in Britain.  It gives a very good insight into this relatively rare task of facilitating the fastest possible, safe conveyance of a critically ill or injured person to the most appropriate hospital.

New York is Top State in USA Enforcement Efforts to Make Highways Safer

NYS DMV Press Release – Monday, July 24, 2017

New York is the top state in the nation in taking steps to reduce injuries and fatalities on its roadways, a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says. No state has taken as many steps to curtail the number of crashes as the Empire State. As a result, New York had one of the lowest rates of traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents in the nation, according to 2013 data cited in the report.

NYS DMV logo

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USA: 10 Things Truck Drivers Do that Get them Pulled Over

Even without seeing the sub-headings, one can quickly deduce that the informative article linked below has been written by a retired highway patrol police officer.

Although you may not agree, all American drivers have a much easier time of it than do European drivers, the latter of whom can typically be stopped just because the police officer wishes to do so.  No other reason is required, although it is only right and proper that such ‘random stops’ can not be for racial or other wrongful discriminatory purposes.

Photo of a semi-tractor-trailer at night.
Semi-tractor-trailer at night.

Continue reading “USA: 10 Things Truck Drivers Do that Get them Pulled Over”

Arizona tells armed drivers how to avoid deadly confrontations in police stops

Following news, this week, that Michelin and the FIA have successfully created an agreement that, at long last, all state drivers’ manuals in the USA will soon carry identical and accurate advice about tire care, here is some dramatic news on a different safety topic, about the manual that is published for Arizona.

Arizona Highway patrol SUV (via KTAR)

Continue reading “Arizona tells armed drivers how to avoid deadly confrontations in police stops”

The German Police Versus a Dangerous Driver in a Stolen Car, at High Speed on the Autobahn — USE YOUR MIRRORS

The police in Germany chase and catch a driver in a stolen Audi A5 on the Autobahn. He drove at over 240 km/h (150mph) but lost control, left the road then hurtled back on, hitting another vehicle in the process.
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The German courts sentenced him to 3 years and 9 months in prison.
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*****This type of event, even though rare, is just one excellent reason for repeatedly checking your mirrors every time you drive and on any type of road, to help you minimize risk from behind.  Every 4-8 seconds is the usual guideline.*****
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Florida Increases Penalties for Passing Stopped School Buses but is it Enough?

Florida’s School Bus Safety bill, which was passed by the House and Senate earlier this year, has been signed by Gov. Rick Scott. It imposes enhanced penalties on drivers who do not stop for a school bus and cause serious bodily harm or death to a person. It creates the Cameron Mayhew Act, named after a 16-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a car while crossing the road to board his bus on June 1, 2016. The driver of the car received a six-month license suspension and a $1,000 fine.

Children getting off a school bus, with the additional danger of construction work immediately adjacent.  Image Copyright 2014, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.

Starting July 1, drivers who pass a stopped school bus with its warning signals on and cause “serious bodily harm or death” to another person will be fined $1,500 and have their license suspended for one year. If a driver passes a stopped school bus but does not harm or kill someone, they will have four points added to their license; if they severely injure or kill someone, that will be raised to six points…

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, over 2,400 people were ticketed in 2016 for ignoring a school bus’ red lights or stop arm….

Read the full article, from School Transportation News.

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Given that there can be few things in driving that are more recklessly dangerous than passing a school bus that has stopped specifically to pick up or drop off school-aged children, why is there no mandatory, minimum prison sentence included in this law in respect of drivers who kill or seriously injure a child through such a deadly act of stupidity?

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America

 

A Safe Etiquette for Traffic Stops in the USA

Because so many people in America carry guns, legally or otherwise, police officers undoubtedly and understandably find it stressful to stop vehicles in order to speak to the driver.  And in turn, after news of previous bad incidents in which vehicle occupants have been shot by police officers, drivers find it very stressful to be stopped by the police.

A traffic stop by the New York State Police. Photo copyright, 2015, Eddie Wren / Advanced Drivers of [North] America, Inc.
The State of Illinois has now mandated that future student drivers  must be taught what to do if stopped by the police, and this is it:

  • Stay in your car unless you are told to get out.
  • Have your license and registration ready.
  • Roll down your windows so officers can see inside.
  • Have your hands visible, and make all passengers do the same.
  • Be polite and obey the officer’s commands.
  • If asked to step out be sure your hands are empty.

This undoubtedly is good advice for being stopped by the police anywhere in the USA.

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America

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