Perverse Priorities in Punishments for Vehicular Infractions in the USA

In this post, I am not particularly picking on California as such, because the weird situation I’m about to describe apparently happens in many, or maybe even all states (see the Massachusetts example in the photo below).

On July 20, 2017, the California Department of Motor Vehicles published this on its Facebook timeline:  ‘Don’t litter! The fine is $1,000, & you may be forced to pick up what you threw. Convictions go on your driving record.’ (Our italics, for emphasis.)

An attached photograph on the DMV post shows a picture of somebody dropping trash from the driver’s door window of a white car.

Photo of a road sign in Massachusetts showing fines for littering as $10,000.
Here’s a sign (in Massachusetts) that “up’s the ante” when it comes to disparity between fines for littering and fines for truly dangerous driving infractions. Copyright image.

In response to the California DMV post, a gentleman called Mike Ridgway wrote: ‘So how much is the fine for “driving while texting”?’

Around mid-day on July 21, the California DMV replied: ‘Mike Ridgway – The base fine for the first offense is $20, and $50 for subsequent convictions. With penalty assessments, the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail’

You will have to make your own mind up about the rationale for having a fine for dropping litter at $1,000 or even $10,000, as opposed to the fine for potentially lethal texting-while-driving being as low as just $20.  But what does this situation tell us about crash-prevention priorities and the value of human life, here in America?

The Unmatched ‘Driver Safety’ Resume of ADoNA CEO & Chief Instructor Eddie Wren has been Updated

Photograph of a large semi-tractor-trailer coming the other way on a gravel road.
If your team has to work in rural areas — as many of our clients’ personnel do — then amongst other things we teach safe driving on gravel roads, even if you meet a big truck like this coming the other way! (Copyright image.)

Advanced Drivers of North America’s CEO & Chief Instructor, Eddie Wren, has an entirely unmatched resume within North American road safety and driver training circles, and it has just been updated.

See how ADoNA, either through consultancy or driver training, can best help your organization.  Contact us.

USA: Police Chief Attacks Proposed Increase in Size of Big Rigs

Excerpt: [A chief of police in Wisconsin] has serious concerns with proposals in Congress that would allow heavier and longer rigs on  highways because these proposals would dramatically increase the danger faced by everyday drivers.

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

The proposal calls for increasing trucks weights nationwide from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds, and another calls for increasing the length of double-trailer trucks by 10 feet, to 91 feet in length.

…Bigger trucks may mean increased profit margins for the handful of companies that would benefit, they also pose substantial safety risks to motorists…

Read the full opinion-piece from the Gazette Extra on this important topic.

ADoNA Comments

Already more than 4,000 people are killed each year in the USA in crashes involving large trucks.  One factor in this bad scenario is the long hours that drivers are allowed to work, behind the wheel, each week — far more than in other countries that have much lower road-death rates than does America.  Making trucks larger and therefor even harder to stop should be seen as an extra factor that is likely to increase the number of deaths even further.

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America

The Power of the Behavioral ‘Nudge’ – Is it Usable on US Drivers?

The attached article and video show a story about Kenyan bus drivers and their matatus, which between them have a truly dreadful crash record.  The story does, however, illustrate the power of speaking up against bad driving so, without triggering any ‘rage’ incidents, can you think of any ways that this approach could be used to discourage people from driving badly here in the USA?

One that springs to mind is to tell a friend or loved one that if either they drink alcohol or drive too fast you won’t ride with them because it is too frightening.  (It may be best not to say “too dangerous” because that can be seen as confrontational — accusing a person of being a dangerous driver.)

Comparing the Evil 9/11 Attack to U.S. Road Safety is Awful

Some people think it is wrong to make the following comparison so I will apologize now to anyone who is offended, but the ongoing situation is so pointless and so crucial to the well-being of Americans that I hope you will forgive me for doing so:

Photo of the Freedom Tower, a symbol of defiance and a great nation. (Photo by Phil Dolby / Wikicommons license)
A symbol of defiance and a great nation. (Photo by Phil Dolby / Wikicommons license)

Quote:

“September 11, 2017, will be the 16th anniversary of the evil attacks on four planes, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, but did you know that for every single person killed on that truly awful day, over 200 people have since been killed on America’s roads?  Yes, a total of almost two-thirds of a million people slaughtered in U.S. highway crashes, plus around 40 million injured, in just 16 years.  And almost all Americans, including supposedly responsible politicians, completely ignore this hideous and  unnecessary travesty because what?”  Eddie Wren, Advanced Drivers of North America, Inc. — July 13, 2017.

 

Also see: Ranking Countries for Road Safety – the ‘Per Capita’ Rate, 2015  (2015 being the latest figures available as at July 2017.  Figures for 2016 should become available within weeks.)

Risk Awareness and Perception Training are So Important but are Still Just Part of the Bigger Picture

Hazard awareness has always been of massive importance in safe driving and has been a critical component of true advanced driving since the inception of the System of Car Control by the police in Britain, an astonishing 82 years ago, in 1935.  This is the sole driving system taught by Advanced Drivers of North America [ADA/ADoNA],  since the  corporation’s own inception (without the word ‘North’), back in 2006.

Some excellent research has been published by NHTSA earlier this year (2017), in relation to an updated Risk Awareness and Perception Training [RAPT] program for young drivers.  This represents exactly the same discipline as practiced in the “hazard awareness” mentioned above. Indeed, for fleet or corporate drivers, we at ADoNA are the sole suppliers in the USA of this globally-unmatched system, which we have spent years carefully refining for it to be a perfect fit for North American driving safety culture — not just the “driving on the other side of the road” bit 🙂

View an outline of our Defensive and Advanced Driving Courses at ADoNA.

Photo of a woman on a traffic island with cars all around, and with a baby trailer attached to her bicycle.
Just one of many scenarios where drivers must be extremely perceptive of multiple, simultaneous hazards. Boulder, Colorado.  (Copyright image: Eddie Wren, 2007.)

This NHTSA research represents a major breakthrough of great importance to improved safety for America’s young drivers, and we strongly hope to see a system put in place for all young drivers to get the benefit of relevant training.  Here is an excerpt from the paper:

Abstract
Previous research suggests newly licensed teen drivers often fail to anticipate where unexpected hazards might materialize. One training program designed to address these apparent deficiencies in knowledge and skills that has shown promise in previous tests is the Risk Awareness and Perception Training (RAPT) program. This project updated RAPT using high definition video and computer simulations to create a more interactive and realistic program. Researchers evaluated the modified program’s impact on the behaviors of novice and experienced drivers through the use of a computer-based test and during on-road drives in live traffic on a pre-defined route. Both the novice and experienced driver RAPT-trained groups showed substantial improvement in performance from pre- to post-test with the RAPT trainees hitting almost all of the targets during the computer post-test. The performance differences extended to the eye-tracker data arising from the on-road drives. The RAPT-trained groups hit significantly higher numbers of total primary targets and percentages of targets compared to the control groups. The study also employed a “Think Aloud,” or commentary driving, data collection effort. This data collection approach did not reveal any performance differences among the training groups. This study also included a persistence measure using the computer assessment one month after training. Results showed the RAPT-trained groups’ target hit rates decreased from the initial post-test to the persistence measure but remained above their baseline hit rates and above the control groups’ persistence measure hit rates.

On this ADoNA website you are currently viewing, you will also find a wealth of free, additional research-based and best-practice based information with which to support your team of business drivers and help maximize their safety.

Top-10 Safest *Used* Cars, on a Budget — UK & USA

Buying a safe second-hand car at a reasonable price is always a challenge; the very fact that they aren’t the latest models immediately mitigates against them, and of course the older a car is, the more this typically counts against it.

Volvo V40 XC  (Photo Volvo Cars)

In Britain, safety experts Thatcham Research have collated the results for cars which cost under £15,000 to buy second hand, have a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and CO2 emissions below 120g/km.

One thing of great interest is how much safety can be added by means of extra ‘packages’ at the time the car is first purchased.  See Nos. 1 and 10, below.

In all countries, it is immensely wise to consult the relevant NCAP safety ratings, which in Britain is Euro-NCAP.  Here in the USA, check these links, and make sure to check the correct year of manufacture for any used-car purchase you might be interested in:

Top 10 safest used cars in the UK now

  1. Volvo V40 with IntelliSafe safety pack (2012-)
  2. Mazda 3 (2016-)
  3. Toyota Auris (2015-)
  4. Volkswagen Golf SV (2014-)
  5. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (2014-)
  6. Volkswagen Touran (2015-)
  7. Volkswagen Golf (2013-)
  8. Nissan Qashqai (2014-)
  9. Peugeot 308 (2014-)
  10. Volvo V40 (2012-)

Full UK source article, from Auto Express

A Classic Example of why Lies about America’s “Good” Highway Safety must Stop!

I would very much like to stop writing about the repetitive lies told about the USA’s alleged success in cutting road deaths when, in fact, the country does very poorly in this crucial situation compared to the other developed  countries of the world.  But the lies continue and therefore so will my rebuttals, in order to give the American people a more accurate picture.

.                                            Link to YouTube ’17 Deadliest US Highway Crashes’

Let me make the vital point once more:  If you, the government departments and major road safety organizations of the USA, keep peddling false propaganda telling the people of this great nation that ‘we’ are doing well in the fight against highway fatalities, when the US has in reality, long been effectively the worst-performing wealthy country in the world, with a rate of deaths over four-times worse than the leading nations, the public will believe you and say nothing when, in fact, they should be yelling at the Government to stop the unnecessary slaughter!

Some government-level people have made the excuse to me that it is simply mistakes, or ’rounding,’ or ‘simplification’ of the data, but apart from being an egregious understatement this is unacceptable.  The facts are regularly being twisted far beyond the context of those words.

Here is just one illustration of how far and wide these very misleading ‘inaccuracies’ are being spread:

On June 18, 2016, David Frum, a “lifelong Conservative [who] campaigned for Ronald Reagan and wrote speeches for George W. Bush,” appeared on the BBC HardTalk television show, around the world, and repeated some of the wildly erroneous propaganda about American road safety.

As part of his argument about banning assault rifles in the USA following the Orlando shooting massacre, he said this:

“One of the great public policy successes across the developed world and in the United States has been the reduction in automobile fatalities.  It’s just dramatic what’s happened over the past generation. That isn’t because we did one magic thing that one nefarious industry had been blocking.  Seat belts helped, yes. true.  So did better cars.  So did making it more difficult for 17-year-olds to get drivers’ licences… So did the crackdown on drunk driving.”

But this one short comment is full of gaping holes.  Of the ~thirty member-nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] — in other words, the world’s developed countries — the USA has the second-worst death rate and has made by far, by FAR, the least progress of any of the long-term members in reducing road deaths, over at least the last three decades and possibly much longer.  Indeed currently, based on year-2015 figures and year-2016 estimated figures, the annual number of road deaths is truly rocketing back up again after the expectable slump caused by the global recession which started around 2008 — and America, rather predictably, is suffering a bigger rate of increase than in any other developed country!

If the USA could match the per capita road-death rate of the world’s two long-term, most reliably-performing road safety countries — Sweden and Britain — almost 30,000 American lives could be saved every year and a much higher number of people would be spared from serious injury.

Some U.S. professionals are pinning their hopes almost entirely on self-driving cars, but while such autonomous vehicles might eventually take away the embarrassment of the current reprehensible state of road safety standards in the USA, they are not even close to full fruition yet.  (But then may come the quietly-ignored problem and dangers of criminals or terrorists hacking those vehicles!)

So when are U.S. politicians and people responsible for road safety going to stop perpetrating or silently accepting the lies and the propaganda about something that has killed more than a million Americans in just the last 25 years?

There have recently been discussions here in the U.S. how to emulate the greater successes and much greater road safety achieved by other countries — most notably the two most consistent, long-term leaders in this field, Sweden and Britain — but I have yet to see anything significant put into action as a result.

There are many good people working in different branches of U.S. highway safety and I hope that you will stand up against the tidal wave of misleading garbage that is poured over the American public.  It’s time to tell the accurate truth and let the people of this wonderful nation know so that they can vote for those who will help protect their children and their grandchildren from this massive killer.

Inter alia, I hope that people in the USDOT, NHTSA, FHWA, NTSB, GHSA, State Governments, DMVs & RMVs, NSC, DSAA, ADTSEA and others will take this message to heart and will stand in the way of the liars, propagandists, and exaggerators who are hiding the full extent of this very dangerous, long-term situation from the public, and are thereby letting the American people down.

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America

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Also see:

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.