The Latest Cars can NOT Drive Themselves!

If you are feeling drowsy, please don’t trust your car’s gadgets. They are nowhere close to that extent of trust yet…

Overestimating what your latest car can do is a terrifyingly good way to kill yourself or somebody else.

Even driving with one hand off the wheel increases reaction time and reduces a driver’s ability to respond to a sudden crisis such as a front tire blowout, but this driver was way down the ladder from that! (Copyright image, 2019.)
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Parents Can Dramatically Affect Their Children’s Future Safety by the Example they Set

People with children know how much their little ones like to emulate the things that parents do, whether it is an older sister trying to mother her younger siblings or a son playing ball with his daddy.

I took this photograph with my cellphone a few days ago, while parked and waiting for somebody. The mother has left her distracted little girl behind on what is a busy, parking lot road, with both of them seemingly oblivious to the danger. (Copyright image, 2019.)

For better or for worse, children also faithfully copy what they see their parents do on the roads, whether this is in a vehicle or as pedestrians (and this is research, incidentally, not just our opinion).

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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.

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More and Better Crosswalks in the USA Would Save Many Lives

Just a few days ago, on June 11, 2018, NYSDOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas announced a $62 million investment in the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, here in our own home state of New York .   This multi-agency initiative will include the Department of Health, DMV, Capital District Transportation Authority and local enforcement agencies.  This is, of course, to be warmly welcomed, but let’s get straight to the point, the USA has a stunningly bad track record for pedestrian injuries and deaths, with almost exactly six thousand being killed nationwide, and a vastly greater number being injured, during the last statistical year alone.

Photograph of a crosswalk location sign in the USA
Crosswalk location sign, USA. (Copyright image, 2012.)

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Motorcyclists Drive Distracted, Too!

Don’t assume that drivers and some pedestrians are the only ones who dangerously use cell phones on the roads.  As you can see, this young rider has his left hand off the handlebars and although this bit can’t be see from the angle of the photograph, it did very much look like he had a cell phone in his hand as he went past.  And that’s not as unusual as you might think.

Photo of a motorcyclist with one hand off the handlebars, apparently holding a cell phone in a viewable position, in that hand.
A young motorcyclist, possibly tired of life, who appeared to have a cell phone in his left hand as he rode past us at speed, on our right hand side. Photo taken from the passenger seat. (Copyright image.)

Remember that even if it’s “the other guy’s fault,” it is infinitely better to be able to use anticipation to keep out of a bad driver or rider’s path.  (This does NOT mean using evasive tactics, which often create as much or more danger as they are claimed to prevent.)

Keeping your people unharmed and untraumatized and keeping your company unafflicted by the cost of not-to-blame crashes is a wonderful and achievable target.  Save crash-related costs by getting your employees properly trained on how best to protect themselves from other people driving badly (and from their own, potentially unrecognized errors, too).  Get details of our corporate defensive and advanced safe driving courses, then contact us from that page with any questions you might have.

Keep Clear of Semi Tractor-Trailers at Intersections and Tight Curves

Over 4,500 people are killed each year in the USA in road collisions that involve semi tractor-trailers and other large trucks, and the majority of those killed are in smaller vehicles which, for whatever reason, are simply too close to the truck concerned.

Photo of "Wide Turn" warning signs on the spray flaps of a semi tractor-trailer.
A good proportion of large trucks, especially semi tractor-trailers, display warning signs — here on the spray flaps — about the need for them to be driven “wide” on the approach to sharp turns at intersections, yet sadly a huge number of car drivers remain oblivious to the extreme danger that can result from ignoring these warnings. (Copyright image.)

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Watching a Video can be Deadly – If you do it While Driving!

Sadly, when politically-correct people in the field of traffic safety state that one should never refer to drivers as “stupid,” or by any other derogatory adjective, there have to be occasions which deserve an exception, and if watching television or videos while driving is not a supreme example of dangerous idiocy, I’m not sure what is.

Photo of a driver with a GPS unit badly positioned and blocking some view directly ahead, but also very dangerously watching a video or television while driving.
Driving at speed with a GPS unit badly positioned and blocking some of the view directly ahead, but also very dangerously watching television or a video while driving. Now look at the rearview mirror and even though it’s feint/dim, you will see the reflected face of a child passenger sitting in the second row of seats. This is the original image, with no edited additions. (Copyright image.)

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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.

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Also see: Belief that Speed Doesn’t Cause Crashes is Untrue & Deadly

and:  ADoNA: The Clear Leader in U.S. Driver Safety and Training – a Research Victory

Terrible New Record Number of Pedestrian Deaths in California

Vulnerable Road Users [VRU] include pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.  Among these, pedestrians are certainly in very serious danger in California.

Just 10 years ago, 17 percent of California’s roadside [sic] fatalities involved pedestrians. That number has since grown to 25 percent…. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, preliminary results show a record-high 900 people died [in 2016] across the Golden State – an increase [of more than five percent] from 852 in 2015.

Many experts consider that the use of smartphones, etc., both by drivers and other road users is a major factor in such elevated numbers of road deaths.

There is an interesting, detailed article on this, from the Desert Sun.

When Road Signs Can Increase the Danger – 001

Some road signs are incorrect for their task and others can create problems by not being located exactly where they should be (sometimes because the installer was sticking strictly to a rule book and didn’t use common sense).  But in this case the cause of potential danger is different:

Photo of a "Turn Off Cell Phones and Two-Way Radios" sign, too close to the construction zone (thus a danger created by distracting the drivers).
What to do? Switching off phones and radios is often linked to danger from explosives but if a driver starts messing about trying to switch off a phone this close to the construction zone, his distraction might cause him to hit someone…. like the worker who is walking across the road in this photo!   New York State.  (Copyright image.)

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