New NHTSA Study

drowsy drivingWhen dealing with a ‘ton of data’ about crashes, causes, contributing factors, costs and such, it can take several years to fully value and understand what it all means.  Why?

  1. First, there’s a lot to analyze.  
  2. Second, not all final crash costs are known until the bulk of medical treatments have been completed and reported.  
  3. Third, data about the source data becomes available during the analysis process (we gain insights as the analysis proceeds — sometimes causing us to reverse and re-examine details).

With these points in mind, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a new study of “The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes” that occurred during 2010.

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We wanted to share some select quotes from the study to highlight several key findings.

In 2010, there were 32,999 people killed, 3.9 million were injured, and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $277 billion. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. The $277 billion cost of motor vehicle crashes represents the equivalent of nearly $897 for each of the 308.7 million people living in the United States, and 1.9 percent of the $14.96 trillion real U.S. Gross Domestic Product for 2010. These figures include both police-reported and unreported crashes. When quality of life valuations are considered, the total value of societal harm from motor vehicle crashes in 2010 was $871 billion. Lost market and household productivity accounted for $93 billion of the total $277 billion economic costs, while property damage accounted for $76 billion. Medical expenses totaled $35 billion. Congestion caused by crashes, including travel delay, excess fuel consumption, greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants accounted for $28 billion. Each fatality resulted in an average discounted lifetime cost of $1.4 million. Public revenues paid for roughly 9 percent of all motor vehicle crash costs, costing tax payers $24 billion in 2010, the equivalent of over $200 in added taxes for every household in the United States.

Clearly, traffic crashes cost a lot of money!

Key contributing factors to the crash data in 2010 included:

  • Impaired (drunk) driving
  • Speed
  • Distraction
  • Seat belts saved many, but some (3,350 people) perished for failing to use their restraints properly/consistently

It is staggering to realize that during 2010, there were more than 3.9 million people injured in 13.6 million motor vehicle crashes (including about 33,000 fatalities).  Alcohol-involved crashes accounted for about 21 percent of all crash costs and a third of all road deaths.

Speed-related crashes (where at least one driver was exceeding the posted limit OR driving too fast for conditions) were connected to 10,536 fatalities (another third of the total for the year).

So, in hindsight, if all drivers had:

  1. worn their seatbelts properly,
  2. avoided driving while impaired and
  3. followed the speed limit (or driven with regard to local conditions)

then, about two-thirds of all road deaths could have been avoided (22,000 lives saved).

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The opening paragraph of the study that deals with speeding says a lot in a few words:

Excess speed can contribute to both the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes. At higher speeds, additional time is required to stop a vehicle and more distance is traveled before corrective maneuvers can be implemented. Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to react to emergencies created by driver inattention; by unsafe maneuvers of other vehicles; by roadway hazards; by vehicle system failures (such as tire blowouts); or by hazardous weather conditions. The fact that a vehicle was exceeding the speed limit does not necessarily mean that this was the cause of the crash, but the probability of avoiding the crash would likely be greater had the driver or drivers been traveling at slower speeds. A speed-related crash is defined as any crash in which the police indicate that one or more drivers involved was exceeding the posted speed limit, driving too fast for conditions, driving at a speed greater than reasonable or prudent, exceeding a special speed limit or zone, or racing.

In short, speeding robs you of needed reaction time – you need to make judgments faster and have less room to maneuver in an emergency.  Each of us can choose to drive slower and buy time to react and respond, but we’re often in a ‘hurry’ to get to our destination, and choose to increase or risk.

Police

The study reminded us of the urgent need for ALL drivers of cars, trucks, buses to properly use restraints such as seatbelts whenever driving.  Consider these statistics:

When properly fastened, seat belts provide significant protection to vehicle occupants involved in a crash. The simple act of buckling a seat belt can improve an occupant’s chance of surviving a potentially fatal crash by from 44 to 73 percent, depending on the type of vehicle and seating position involved. They are also highly effective against serious nonfatal injuries. Belts reduce the chance of receiving an MAIS 2-5 injury (moderate to critical) by 49 to 78 percent.

MirrorPoster_72dpiThe report did not have kind words for the use of motorcycles (however, I could speculate that the authors were concerned for the welfare of riders in delivering their findings in a stark way):

Motorcycles are the most hazardous form of motor vehicle transportation. The lack of external protection provided by vehicle structure, the lack of internal protection provided by seat belts and air bags, their speed capability, the propensity for riders to become airborne through ejection, and the relative instability inherent with riding a two-wheeled vehicle all contribute to making the motorcycle the most risky passenger vehicle. In 2010, 4,518 motorcyclists were killed and 96,000 were injured in police-reported crashes on our Nation’s roadways. This represents 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and 3 percent of all police-reported injuries. Motorcycles accounted for only 0.6 percent of all vehicle miles traveled in 2010. Per vehicle mile traveled in 2010, a motorcyclist was about 30 times more likely than a passenger car occupant to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 5 times more likely to be injured. The difference in these proportions reflects the more severe injury profile that results from motorcycle crashes. Over the past several decades motorcycle fatalities and injuries have generally increased relative to those in other vehicle types.

Other observations included a good reminder that intersections continue to be a prime location for crashes since there are so many ways that vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists can interact with each other during turns or even while transiting the intersection (straight across).

SUMMARY

While the data summarizes activity from 2010, we can learn a lot about behavior, choices and safety results.  There’s never an inappropriate time to share safety messages with drivers about obeying traffic laws, using seatbelts and avoiding risk taking (i.e. driving while impaired, distracted driving, etc.)

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Rear-End Collisions

NAFA FS 4 2014In the April, 2014 issue of “Fleet Solutions” (a publication from the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA)) the topic of rear-end collisions was closely examined.

In most cases, the driver who contributed to the crash wished he/she had “just one more second” to react and avoid the collision.

“You want to teach something in terms of prevention that is much more addressed to the holistic fact that there are many, many things you can do that can help prevent crashes,” explained Paul Farrell, CEO of SafetyFirst Systems, LLC

Indeed, there are many options to get drivers focused on their duty – – from showing them the potential consequences of distracted driving to explaining why the company policy is written as it is (to protect the employee and the company) to using technology that actually alerts the driver of impending collisions.

Simply stacking driver education course upon education course is likely to lead to numbed and bored drivers who fail to incorporate the lessons into their daily habits — we need a smarter approach that respects the driver, asks for a real commitment and plainly shows them the consequences of making the wrong choice or taking one too many risks.

Again, more training isn’t the answer, but the “right” training may be the answer.  One online training provider boasts 400 titles on fleet safety alone — at their average course length that’s 280+ HOURS (or almost 38 business DAYS) of content.  Yet, their clients do not have the time to take advantage of those courses, nor do they typically see a material decline in collisions — because it’s not just about VOLUME or DURATION — it’s about a tailored, thoughtful approach to changing habits:

  1. Driver qualification (MVR review and scoring)
  2. Driver performance monitoring (GPS/Telematics/How’s My Driving)
  3. Driver Coaching on spot issues as they occur
  4. Escalated Coaching on recurring issues with short refresher courses (online)
  5. Building a culture of “safety awareness” within your organization through monthly reminders, payroll stuffers, posters, micro-messaging (starting meetings with a safety reflection)
  6. Investigation of post-collision data to learn lessons, share insights, benchmark with peers and monitor trends in rates

Take time to check out the original article at NAFA’s web site or by Clicking HERE

TeleMatics

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Carjackings On The Rise

Yesterday, a local news report was published indicating that there had been 450 carjackings in Essex County, NJ – setting an all-time record for this part of New Jersey. The article offered these additional insights:

So far in 2013, there have been 450 carjackings in Essex County, up from 422 in 2012, and 410 in 2011. In 2009, there were just 200. Law enforcement experts said that those numbers should scare you.

“They said they make more money stealing one car than they do slinging drugs on the street corner and their risk of getting killed by the competition is much lower,” former Morris County detective Dan Coleman explained.

A demand for nice cars has made the luxury SUVs popular with thieves, and new technology like push-button starters make hot wiring the new models virtually impossible, so criminals need the car and the key.

Ten percent of the stolen cars wind up in containers at nearby ports, Sloan reported. “There are very sophisticated rings stealing luxury cars and shipping them overseas. In a post-9/11 world we’re watching what’s coming into the port. What’s going out isn’t watched as closely,” Coleman said. Many of those cars are then sent to Africa where there is a high demand for luxury vehicles, Sloan reported. 

Surveillance footage has even shown thieves stealing cars at gas stations, following drivers home, or initiating bogus accidents by bumping cars from behind.

Overview

Carjacking is the theft of an auto while it’s occupied by its lawful operator. Carjackings are often characterized with serious threats of violence or death by gunfire or stabbing. Carjacking is on the increase throughout the world as thieves can easily make their getaway in the seized vehicle. In rare cases, the lawful operator is kidnapped as a passenger under duress, or made to drive the vehicle on behalf of his/her abductor.

In 1992, Congress passed the Federal Anti-Car Theft Act (FACTA) making it a federal crime to use a firearm to steal “through force or intimidation” a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, the law was seldom enforced since most cases are held at local or state level courts.

Commercial fleet operators whose managers use high value, target vehicles (SUVs, etc.) would be wise to educate these operators about the nature of these crimes, and steps to consider if attacked.  Trucks carrying high value goods may also be hi-jacked for their commodities.

According to the Department of Justice there are some general characteristics of carjacking events:

  • Carjacking victimization rates were highest in urban areas, followed by suburban and rural areas. Ninety three percent of carjackings occurred in cities or suburbs.
  • A weapon was used in 74% of carjacking victimizations. Firearms were used in 45% of carjackings, knives in 11%, and other weapons in 18%.
  • The victim resisted the offender in two-thirds of carjackings. Twenty-four percent of victims used confrontational resistance (threatening or attacking the offender or chasing or trying to capture the offender). About a third of victims used nonconfrontational methods, such as running away, calling for help, or trying to get the attention of others.
  • About 32% of victims of completed carjackings and about 17% of victims of attempted carjackings were injured. Serious injuries, such as gunshot or knife wounds, broken bones, or internal injuries occurred in about 9%. More minor injuries, such as bruises and chipped teeth, occurred in about 15%.
  • 68% of carjacking incidents occurred at night (6 p.m. – 6 a.m.). 
  • 44% of carjacking incidents occurred in an open area, such as on the street (other than immediately adjacent to the victim’s own home or that of a friend or neighbor) or near public transportation (such as a bus, subway, or train station or an airport), and 24% occurred in parking lots or garages or near commercial places such as stores, gas stations, office buildings, restaurants/bars, or other commercial facilities.
  • About 63% of carjacking incidents occurred within 5 miles of the victim’s home, including the 17% that occurred at or near the home. Four percent occurred more than 50 miles from the victim’s home.
  • 77% of carjackings — 98% of the completed crimes and 58% of the attempts — were reported to the police.
  • Partial or complete recovery of property occurred in 78% of completed carjacking incidents. A quarter of carjackings involved total recovery of all property.

The US Department of State offers tips on avoiding carjacking incidents:

  • Stay alert at all times and be aware of your environment. The most likely places for a carjacking are:
    • High crime areas
    • Lesser traveled roads (rural areas)
    • Intersections where you must stop
    • Isolated areas in parking lots
    • Residential driveways and gates
    • Traffic jams or congested areas

In traffic, look around for possible avenues of escape. Keep some distance between you and the vehicle in front so you can maneuver easily if necessary–about one-half of your vehicle’s length. (You should always be able to see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you.)

When stopped, use your rear and side view mirrors to stay aware of your surroundings. Also keep your doors locked and windows up. This increases your safety and makes it more difficult for an attacker to surprise you.

Accidents are one ruse used by attackers to control a victim. Following are common attack plans:

    1. The BumpThe attacker bumps the victim’s vehicle from behind. The victim gets out to assess the damage and exchange information. The victim’s vehicle is taken.
    2. Good SamaritanThe attacker(s) stage what appears to be an accident. They may simulate an injury. The victim stops to assist, and the vehicle is taken.
    3. The RuseThe vehicle behind the victim flashes its lights or the driver waves to get the victim’s attention. The attacker tries to indicate that there is a problem with the victim’s car. The victim pulls over and the vehicle is taken.
    4. The TrapCarjackers use surveillance to follow the victim home. When the victim pulls into his or her driveway waiting for the gate to open, the attacker pulls up behind and blocks the victim’s car.

If you are bumped from behind or if someone tries to alert you to a problem with your vehicle, pull over only when you reach a safe public place.

DURING A CARJACKING

In most carjacking situations, the attackers are interested only in the vehicle. Try to stay calm. Do not stare at the attacker as this may seem aggressive and cause them to harm you.

There are two options during an attack–nonresistive, nonconfrontational behavior and resistive or confrontational behavior. Your reaction should be based on certain factors:

    • Type of attack
    • Environment (isolated or public)
    • Mental state of attacker (reasonable or nervous)
    • Number of attackers
    • Weapons
    • Whether children are present

In the nonconfrontational situation, you would:

    • give up the vehicle freely.
    • listen carefully to all directions.
    • make no quick or sudden movements that the attacker could construe as a counter attack.
    • always keeps your hands in plain view. Tell the attacker of every move in advance.
    • make the attacker aware if children are present. The attacker may be focused only on the driver and not know children are in the car.

In a resistive or confrontational response, you would make a decision to escape or attack the carjacker. Before doing so, consider:

    • the mental state of the attacker.
    • possible avenues of escape.
    • the number of attackers; there is usually more than one.
    • the use of weapons. (Weapons are used in the majority of carjacking situations.)

In most instances, it is probably safest to give up your vehicle.

AFTER THE ATTACK

Safety  —  Always carry a cell phone or radio on your person.

If you are in a populated area, immediately go to a safe place. After an attack or an attempted attack, you might not be focused on your safety. Get to a safe place before contacting someone to report the incident.

Reporting the Crime — Describe the event. What time of day did it occur? Where did it happen? How did it happen? Who was involved?  Describe the attacker(s). Without staring, try to note height, weight, scars or other marks, hair and eye color, the presence of facial hair, build (slender, large), and complexion (dark, fair). Describe the attacker’s vehicle. If possible get the vehicle license number, color, make, model, and year, as well as any marks (scratches, dents, damage) and personal decorations (stickers, colored wheels). The golden rule for descriptions is to give only that information you absolutely remember. If you are not sure, don’t guess!

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