Drowsy Driving Update 2014

National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week runs November 2-9, 2014. Highlighting the need for drivers and safety teams to focus on drowsy driving, the AAA AAFTS Drowsy DrivingFoundation for Traffic Safety has issued a new research report which states that 21% (one in five) fatal crashes involved driver fatigue. Further, the report summary indicates that:

  • 6% of all crashes in which a vehicle was towed from the scene,
  • 7% of crashes in which a person received treatment for injuries sustained in the crash,
  • 13% of crashes in which a person was hospitalized, and
  • 21% of crashes in which a person was killed involved a drowsy driver.

How did we miss the scope of these crashes?  AAAFTS suggests that National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics “are widely regarded as substantial underestimates of the true magnitude of the problem.”  Why?

The statistics reported by the NHTSA are based on data compiled from reports completed by police officers investigating the scenes of motor vehicle crashes. However, unlike impairment by alcohol, impairment by sleepiness, drowsiness, or fatigue does not leave behind physical evidence, and it may be difficult or impossible for the police to ascertain in the event that a driver is reluctant to
admit to the police that he or she had fallen asleep, if the driver does not realize or remember that his or her performance was impaired due to fatigue, or if the driver is
incapacitated or deceased and thus unable to convey information regarding his level of alertness prior to the crash. This inherent limitation is further compounded by the design of the forms that police officers complete when investigating crashes, which in many cases obfuscate the distinction between whether a driver was known not to have been asleep or fatigued versus whether a driver’s level of alertness or fatigue was unknown.

Based on these concerns, many experts have concluded that the NHTSA data was merely indicating the tip of a large iceberg of hidden or mis-coded results.  Compounding this opinion were results from other studies, including naturalistic (camera in cabin, continuously recording) studies showing a much higher rate of drowsy driving related events.

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Of course, this study makes several assumptions and may not present a perfect picture of drowsy driving in the USA.  However, it is reasonable to assertively promote tactics to avoid drowsy driving situations based on the following:

  • drivers are unable to prevent micronapping from occuring – the fatigued body will overpower their mind’s alertness
  • Poor diet, lack of exercise, frequently interrupted sleep periods, lack of consistent sleep cycles all contribute to weak health and drowsiness.
  • Many “home remedies” for drowsy driving may work for a few minutes, but can’t be relied upon for a real solution — many drivers who’ve turned on the air conditioning or turned up the radio still had crashes happen.

Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is quoted as saying;

Despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans deem it ‘unacceptable’ to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28 percent admit to doing so in the last month,”…“Like other impairments, driving while drowsy is not without risk.”

AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds sums it up nicely;

Unfortunately many drivers underestimate the risk of driving while tired, and overestimate their ability to deal with it.

Find other articles on drowsy driving at https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/?s=drowsy%20driving

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Electronic Logs for HOS Reporting

Geotab HOSLast month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed electronic log mandate took another key step forward towards becoming part of the regulations.  The proposal still faces it’s comment period and potential legal challenges before it would become finalized.

Still, this 256-page proposal marks a big change in one of trucking’s older “traditions” — moving from paper log books with their “flexibility” to smudge the lines to electronic devices that demand absolutes from drivers.

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A recent article published at truckinginfo.com (click HERE) summarizes the current proposal’s status:

The agency will take comments on the proposal until about mid-May. After it reviews the comments and publishes a final rule, perhaps later this year, carriers will have two years to comply. Carriers that already have recording devices that meet current specifications would have an additional two years to bring their devices into compliance with the new specifications.

The rule will apply to drivers who have to prepare paper logs. Drivers who don’t have to prepare logs may use the electronic devices but won’t have to. Drivers who use timecards will not have to use the devices. And drivers who use logs intermittently can stick with paper logs unless they use them more than eight days in 30 days.

Of course there are many technical details to be addressed:

The technical specifications spell out how ELDs should work.
The basic requirement is that the device record specific information – date, time, location, engine hours, mileage and driver, vehicle and carrier identification – and make it available to inspectors.

The driver must be identified by his full license number and the state where his license is issued.

The device has to be synchronized with the engine to record on/off status, the truck’s motion, mileage and engine hours.

The device will have to automatically record a driver’s change of duty and hourly status while the truck is moving. It also must track engine on/off, and the beginning and end of personal use or yard moves.

The agency is proposing that the devices use automatic positioning services: either the satellite-based Global Positioning System, land-based systems, or both.

Many carriers now have onboard information systems that warn the driver when he’s approaching his hourly limits, but the agency is not requiring that capability in its proposal.

The devices won’t have to print out the log, but may have that feature as an option. They will have to produce a graph grid of a driver’s daily duty status, either on a digital display unit or on a printout. This is the first time the agency has proposed using a printer, and it’s looking for comments on the costs and benefits of that approach.

If your fleet may be subject to this proposal, and you’re not sure where to start to learn about your options, costs and benefits.  SafetyFirst can help.  We work with multiple hardware providers and have found a wide range in costs for similar systems.

Depending on your fleet’s specific operations, you may want to install a more robust offering at higher cost, but for many fleets a basic, proven system is also available that increases productivity, reduces fuel costs, addresses key safety issues and handles the compliance portion in an easy to understand interface.

http://www.geotab.com/gps-fleet-management-solutions/compliance.aspx

http://www.safetyfirst.com/gps-telematics.php

TeleMatics

Sleep Apnea: One Pathway to Drowsy Driving

NOTE: This article is part of a series investigating the definition of “impaired driving” as it occurs in society, traffic safety and driver safety professional networks.

Drowsy driving, sometimes called fatigued driving, has long been suspected of a great number of crashes.  Over the past several decades, greater study into the causes and effective treatments for sleep apnea have been completed, and now there is great emphasis on diagnosing and treating sleep apnea.

At Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s own website there are resources available, and a great overview of the problem:

“Sleep apnea is a major contributor to daytime drowsiness—a condition that could prove deadly for commercial truck drivers and everyone sharing the road with them. It is a condition where, during sleep, a narrowing or closure of the upper airway causes repeated sleep disturbances leading to poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness. Since excessive sleepiness can impact a driver’s ability to safely operate the commercial vehicle, it is important that drivers with sleep apnea are aware of the warning signs.”

At this site (click here) you’ll find resources tailored towards drivers, the industry at large and even tools like quizzes to test knowledge and awareness levels.

Statistics from the American Sleep Apnea Association report that sleep apnea affects 1 in 4 men and 1 in 9 women in the United States—accounting for an estimated 22 million individuals—with 80% of moderate and severe sleep apnea cases still undiagnosed.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a myriad of serious health consequences, including increased mortality and an increased incidence of hypertension, stroke, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiac rhythm problems, type 2 diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease, nocturnal angina, hypothyroidism, or neurocognitive difficulties.(1-7) In addition, individuals with untreated sleep apnea are 10 times more likely to die from a motor vehicle accident compared with the general population because of impaired driving performance.(8-9)

Whether your fleet of vehicles and drivers are regulated or not, sleep apnea is a significant wellness factor that can affect more than just motor vehicle crash rates.  Take time to learn more about this issue and consider how you might share this information with your drivers.

Web sites that provide a more thorough review of sleep apnea conditions and treatment options exist.  You may want to conduct further research at:

Notes:

  1. What is sleep apnea? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea/. Accessed May 23, 2012.
  2. George C. Sleep apnea, alertness, and motor vehicle crashes. Amer J Resp Crit Care Med. 2007;176:954-956.
  3. Obstructive sleep apnea. American Society of Anesthesiologists website. http://www.lifelinetomodernmedicine.com/Anesthesia-Topics/Obstructive-Sleep-Apnea.aspx. Accessed May 23, 2012.
  4. Yaggi HK, Concato J, Kernan, WN, et al. Obstructive sleep apnea as a risk factor for stroke and death. N Engl J Med. 2005;353(19):2034-2041.
  5. Obstructive sleep apnea. Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals Online Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pulmonary_disorders/sleep_apnea/obstructive_sleep_apnea.html. Accessed May 23, 2012.
  6. Lin CM, Huang YS, Guilleminault C. Pharmacotherapy of obstructive sleep apnea. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2012;13(6):841-857.
  7. Marin JM, Agusti A, Villar I, et al. Association between treated and untreated obstructive sleep apnea and the risk of hypertension. JAMA. 2012;307(20):2169-2176.
  8. George C. Sleep apnea, alertness, and motor vehicle crashes. Amer J Resp Crit Care Med. 2007;176:954-956.
  9. Obstructive sleep apnea. American Society of Anesthesiologists website. http://www.lifelinetomodernmedicine.com/Anesthesia-Topics/Obstructive-Sleep-Apnea.aspx. Accessed May 23, 2012.
  10. http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2012/December2012/Obstructive-Sleep-Apnea-An-Important-Wake-Up-Call

“One for the road” – Alcohol Impairment

NOTE: This article is part of a series investigating the definition of “impaired driving” as it occurs in society, traffic safety and driver safety professional networks.

Of the most common ways a driver can impair their own ability to drive is to choose to consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel.  In fact, this is a world-wide phenomenon.  According to the Global Road Safety Partnership (Link),

“In high-income countries about 20% of fatally injured drivers have excess alcohol in their blood, while in some low- and middle-income countries these figures may be up to 69%.” (from “Drinking and Driving: an international good practice manual”)

Here in the USA, we have an annual fatality rate of roughly 32% from drinking and driving.  Granted this is much improved since the 1970’s when it was as high as 50% (and even 40% as recently as 2003 per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – NHTSA) These reductions were due largely to:

  • Changes in laws
  • Aggressive enforcement
  • Community involvement
  • Public awareness
  • Educational programs targeting the youth of our country

Unfortunately, as a nation, we seem to have hit a plateau over the past decade where further declines have been halted.

It’s a sobering reality to contemplate that we continue to record an alcohol fueled traffic fatality every 51 minutes despite our best efforts to curb these behaviors.

Patterns of Deep Seated Behavior?

In reviewing recent research and statistics on alcohol and driving, we find that out of 1.5 million arrests of impaired drivers each year, about a full third are repeat offenders.  Additionally, the Insurance Information Institute issued an update in September showing that first-time offenders are very likely to have driven drunk before their first arrest.  Further, studies suggest that on average, one arrest is made for every 88 instances of driving over the legal limit; therefore we have to wonder if the average first-timer has driven drunk 80+ times before getting caught. (Link to source)

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) reminds us that while alcohol related crashes happen at all hours, they peak at night and are more common on weekends than on weekdays.  This suggests a link between parties and crashing on the way home, but it’s not the whole picture.  Alcohol still plays a role at all other times on the calendar and clock.

When we combine the fact that most “drunk drivers” have a pattern of drinking and driving, and that while most crash on weekends, the choice to get behind the wheel while buzzed is primarily a judgment call, not one of convenience, conscience or mere location (i.e. the behavior of the weekend partier carries that judgment to the business vehicle during the week even if the alcohol is left behind).

Latest Trending – Binge Drinking

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that most alcohol-impaired drivers binge drink.  Binge drinking is a behavior where large quantities of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time with the purpose of becoming drunk as quickly as possible.

CDC further indicates that most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics in general.  They may be ordinary people who want to escape their normal routine, “have fun” or simply “get blitzed.”  Consider the following statistics from a January 2012 report:

  • More than half of the alcohol adults drink is consumed while binge drinking.
  • Age group with most binge drinkers: 18-34 years
  • Age group that binge drinks most often: 65+ years
  • Income group with most binge drinkers: more than $75,000
  • Income group that binge drinks the most often and drinks most per binge: less than $25,000

Binge drinking may be a sign that:  the person is unable to cope with other stressors in their life, it could affect more than just driving (i.e. job performance, workers comp injuries, customer complaints, etc.).  All in all, this may also signal a need for the employee to take advantage of an Employee Assistance Program if one is available to them.

Wrong Way Crashes and Links to Alcohol Impairment

On December 11, 2012, an Associated Press article was released which stated:

“Hundreds of people are killed each a year when drivers turn the wrong-way into the face of oncoming traffic on high-speed highways, and a majority of the crashes involves drivers with blood alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit, a federal accident researcher said Tuesday.

“The board’s study analyzed data from 1,566 crashes from 2004 to 2009, as well as nine wrong way collisions NTSB directly investigated. In 59 percent of the accidents, wrong-way drivers had blood alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit, researchers said. In another 10 percent of the crashes, drivers had alcohol levels between .08 and .14. The limit in most instances is .08.”

“Often the chain of events begins with drivers entering an exit ramp in the wrong direction, making a U-turn on the mainline of a highway or using an emergency turnaround through a median, investigators said.”

“To address the problem, the board is considering recommending all states require convicted first-time drunken-driving offenders use ignition interlock devices that test their breath for alcohol concentration in order to drive. The devices, mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard, prevent the engine from starting if the driver’s alcohol concentration is too high. Seventeen states already have such a requirement.”

Legal “Profiling”

In California, driver abstracts (aka motor vehicle reports or driver violation histories) that get issued to insurers automatically include any Driving Under the Influence (DUI) violations from the past ten years.  This was done to ensure that a past recipient of a DUI conviction would not qualify for a “good driver discount.”  Even though other types of violations can “fall off” or be “grandfathered”, DUIs are a much more indelible mark on a driver’s record.

From an employer’s perspective, there is a risk in voluntarily handing keys to a driver who has previously been convicted because of “negligent supervision”, “negligent entrustment” and similar legal theories.  Of course, employers might provide keys to company equipment if required by court order, if an “interlock ignition” system is installed or if any license restrictions allow commuting to the worksite (and don’t require the transport of passengers or other riders).

Commercial Drivers and Alcohol

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published regulations affecting drivers who hold a Commercial Drivers License (CDL).  Initially, a substance abuse testing program was launched in 1989 to cover certain controlled substances, but expanded in 1994 to include alcohol testing requirements.

The testing, along with enforcement initiatives and educational factors have made an impact.  In 1990, 2.8% of all drivers of heavy trucks who died in crashes had a BAC of 0.08 or greater.  By 2010, that percentage had dropped to 1.8%.  This compares favorably to drivers of passenger cars:  1990 = 28.9% and 2010 = 23.2% (these percentages are also similar to drivers of light-duty trucks).  This information is from the “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2010” (FMCSA-RRA-12-023, August 2012)

Here are some highlights from the FMCSA’s own website:  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/drug/engtesting.htm

  1. Who do these rules apply to (besides CDL holders, specifically)?
    1. Examples of drivers and employers that are subject to these rules are (the following does not represent a complete listing):
      1. Anyone who owns or leases commercial motor vehicles
      2. Anyone who assigns drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles
      3. Federal, State, and local governments
      4. For-Hire Motor Carriers
      5. Private Motor Carriers
      6. Civic Organizations (Disabled Veteran Transport, Boy/Girl Scouts, etc.)
      7. Churches
  2. WHAT ALCOHOL USE IS PROHIBITED?
    1. Alcohol is a legal substance; therefore, the rules define specific prohibited alcohol-related conduct. Performance of safety-sensitive functions is prohibited:
      1. While using alcohol.
      2. While having a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or greater as indicated by an alcohol breath test.
      3. Within four hours after using alcohol.
    2. In addition, refusing to submit to an alcohol test or using alcohol within eight hours after an accident or until tested (for drivers required to be tested) are prohibited.
  3. WHAT ALCOHOL TESTS ARE REQUIRED?
    1. The following alcohol tests are required:
      1. Post-accident – conducted after accidents on drivers whose performance could have contributed to the accident (as determined by a citation for a moving traffic violation) and for all fatal accidents even if the driver is not cited for a moving traffic violation.
      2. Reasonable suspicion – conducted when a trained supervisor or company official observes behavior or appearance that is characteristic of alcohol misuse.
      3. Random – conducted on a random unannounced basis just before, during, or just after performance of safety-sensitive functions.
      4. Return-to-duty and follow-up – conducted when an individual who has violated the prohibited alcohol conduct standards returns to performing safety-sensitive duties. Follow-up tests are unannounced. At least 6 tests must be conducted in the first 12 months after a driver returns to duty. Follow-up testing may be extended for up to 60 months following return to duty.

SUMMARY

The problem of drinking and driving is a significant contributor to road deaths despite improving results over the past four decades.  While we never make light of the emerging threat of electronic distractions, there remains a significant difference between these two conditions:

  • Distracted drivers can drive well, but choose to ignore their duty
  • Alcohol-impaired drivers can’t drive well because they’re physically or “medically” unfit for the duty, but choose to drive anyway

In reality, neither should get behind the wheel if they’re going to impair themselves, and yet both boldly choose to endanger themselves and other drivers despite the warnings and pleadings of safety professionals and the public at large.

As a nation, we’ve called for a complete ban on hand-held cell conversations and texting-while-driving, but it feels like we haven’t (recently or as loudly) called for true zero-tolerance of drinking and driving with the same fervor.  

As an employer, consider a timely review of your policies covering drinking and driving. Perhaps its time to remind your employees of your expectations — after all, you’re also expressing genuine concern for their wellness and safety by curbing the notion that buzzed driving is somehow OK — it isn’t.

Within your own family, talk with teens and seniors, moms and dads — everyone who drives should be reminded that the choices we make have direct and significant consequences.  Calling a cab (or mom and dad) for a ride is a far better choice than hoping for the best, or feeling lucky.

Join the conversation at our Linked In discussion site or our facebook page.

SafetyFirst provides automated MVR checking/ranking services, fleet policy consulting, access to tailored telematics that actually “fit” your company and it’s unique needs.  Validated best in class for reducing collision claims among insurance carriers and world-class safety organizations in every SIC division.
 

Impaired Driving in its many forms…

Until very recently, “Impaired Driving” was often interpreted as “Drunk Driving” or “driving under the influence of alcohol”.  I think it means a lot more than that and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) agrees. According to their website, they state:

“Impaired driving is dangerous and is the cause of more than half of all car crashes. It means operating a motor vehicle while: affected by alcohol; affected by illegal or legal drugs; too sleepy; distracted, such as using a cell phone or texting; having a medical condition which affects your driving.”

Where I disagree is their inclusion of “distracted driving.”  I think they chose to include it since the driver could be suffering from “inattention blindness” where their mind is so hopelessly preoccupied that they don’t recognize traffic signals and conditions properly.

I feel that there is a fundamental difference between distracted driving and impaired driving:

  • Distracted drivers are fully capable of driving well, but choose to ignore their duty to drive properly
  • Truly impaired drivers incapable of driving well because they’re tired, drugged, drunk or ill, but choose to drive anyway

In reality, neither should get behind the wheel, and both choose to endanger themselves and other drivers. 

Driving presents a unique challenge each time we get behind the wheel.  To be ready to handle the dynamic situations we’ll encounter when driving, we ought to be in top condition. 

Our bodies and minds can be affected by a wide range of factors: being tired; being physically ill; suffering from allergies; coping with chronic physical conditions; taking over the counter medications; drinking alcohol; smoking marijuana; taking prescription medications or abusing illicit drugs.

These factors most commonly contribute to collisions by impairing the driver’s judgment and/or reaction times. 

The universal precaution for impaired driving is to avoid becoming impaired in the first place.  This may translate into getting enough sleep and eating a proper diet to avoid fatigue, getting a flu shot annually to lessen the impact of symptoms, avoiding the intake of alcohol or other “recreational” drugs such as marijuana, or asking extra questions of the doctor and pharmacist when dealing with prescribed medications for illnesses or chronic conditions. 

For regulated drivers (i.e. those subject to FMCSRs), physical or medical qualification is an important aspect of becoming and remaining qualified to drive.  For most regulated drivers, this translates to visiting the doctor for a physical once every two years (or more frequently depending on your condition and the doctor’s findings).  In some cases, a failure to meet the minimum requirements (or any discovered fraud surrounding these issues) could lead to disqualification.  On November 30, 2012, the FMCSA issued a press release (Link) stating that it had ordered a driver to cease driving “due to his failure to exercise an appropriate duty of care to the motoring public regarding his medical conditions.”

The FMCSA placed the driver out of service “…after agency investigators found serious safety concerns surrounding his medical condition and qualifications under his commercial driver’s license (CDL) issued by the State of Georgia.” 

Specifically, “…Investigators discovered that Felton failed to disclose to a medical examiner his disqualifying medical conditions, including his medications prescribed in treating those conditions.”

The news release concludes with this message;

“This case sends a clear message that we will use every tool at our disposal to identify and remove from our roads unsafe operators,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Our agency is committed to raising the bar for commercial vehicle and driver safety.”

This month’s Ten-Minute Training Topic is on Impaired Driving and includes a driver handout, manager’s supplemental report, and a pair of slideshows to facilitate educational opportunities with drivers.  This is distributed to all of the supervisors who receive monthly summary reporting through our Safety Hotline program — in place at more than 3,800 active clients and covering about a quarter million commercial vehicles.

We’ll also be looking at individual forms of impairment more closely through our blog site over the next several weeks.

Thanksgiving & Driving 2012

Thanksgiving is a time here in the USA when families gather to share a meal, watch football and go shopping.  It’s a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, because everyone is traveling to get to their reunion location (or even to go to the mall for supplies, treats or presents) the roads can be a nightmare of congestion and traffic delays due to drivers who may be lost, looking for a turnoff, distracted by traffic apps and navigation systems, or just plain angry that they’re stuck in all this mess.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to remind everyone to buckle up during the holiday period.  While seatbelt use is at all time highs, anyone who fails to wear their restraint is exposed to the same potential outcomes — injuries and even death.  As NHTSA says, “Buckle UP, America!”

Lost?  Stuck in traffic behind a crash? Using apps on smartphones to find alternate routes or directions to grandma’s house may be productive, but only if they’re not being used by the driver while he or she is driving!  Let a co-pilot manage the directions or simply agree to only access apps while safely parked on a side street or mall parking lot, etc.  Distractions also come from passengers who are either excited to be traveling or those who are bored and cranky from being couped up for too long.  Taking breaks on long trips can help the driver in many ways (i.e. fresh air and a little exercise refresh the body and mind — and give the passengers a chance to do the same).

It is important to remind folks that drinking and driving related crashes tend to spike around holidays.  “Buzzed Driving = Drunk Driving” (see the embedded video, below.  It was produced by NHTSA and the AdCouncil about a Thanksgiving holiday crash).  As a responsbile driver, no one should be tempted to use the excuse “but it was only one drink” — one drink too many leads to tragic outcomes.  Drinking and driving is a choice, not a chance — luck should never be a factor someone depends on when avoiding crashes.  Designated drivers save lives.

Eating too much Turkey?  Drivers who drive “drowsy”, especially during late night or early morning hours could easily fall asleep behind the wheel without realizing what’s happening until it’s too late.  Exercise, fresh air and a balanced diet can help with this issue.  Coffee is at best a “band-aid” for drowsiness and not dependable!  Be vigilant so that driving home after a long feast doesn’t become the last trip you ever make.

Now, no one wants to think about morbid issues like traffic fatalities during festive celebrations, but the shocking reality of getting “the phone call” that a loved one is never celebrating another holiday feast with their family, friends and neighbors isn’t on anyone’s wish list either.

Make time to remind your family and friends to be extra vigilant with their driving during the holidays – it’s a good use of your time and it shows that you care about them.  Don’t let a failure to wear seatbelts, a text message, rushing to get there, or “one-drink-too-many” tragically ruin what should be a time of celebration and thanksgiving for all the freedom, privileges and gifts we enjoy as a nation.

Here are a collection of tips and facts provided by NHTSA for you to consider and to share:

  • Wearing your seat belt is the single most effective way to save your life and the lives of your loved ones while on the road this Thanksgiving holiday.
  • One of the best ways to ensure a safe arrival at any destination is to buckle up, every trip, every time.
  • With the help of highway safety advocates and local law enforcement officers across the country, we can increase seat belt use and save lives on our roadways.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010 alone, seat belts saved more than 12,500 lives nationwide.
  • With proper seat belt use, research shows that the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent. 
  • Yet, nationally in 2010, 51 percent of the 22,187 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were NOT wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes.
  • During the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday (which ran from 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 24, to 5:59 a.m., Monday, November 29) 337 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide, and 55 percent of those killed were unbelted. 
  • Nighttime hours are the most dangerous.  In 2010 nationally, 61 percent of the 10,647 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes overnight (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash, compared to 42 percent during the daytime hours.
  • Unfortunately, nighttime fatalities spike over the Thanksgiving holiday. During the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, 64 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were unbelted, while only 41 percent of daytime fatalities during those same days involved unbelted passenger vehicle occupants.


SafetyFirst Systems provides comprehensive driver safety programs to commercial and sales fleets throughout North America.  We help more than 3800 active fleet clients to mitigate collisions in such diverse businesses as telecomunications, food & beverage, local delivery, construction, HVAC, human services, arborists and municipalities.

Greased Lightning vs. Driving Miss Daisy

The Great Safe Driver Debate
Browse more data visualization.
 

I enjoy interesting infographic displays — they tell a lot of data in a small space, but they don’t always tell the whole story (they’re not designed to!)

There are many layers of issues driving these statistics for each age band:

  • teens have less experience, take risks to impress friends and may not comprehend the power they wield in the car they drive
  • Seniors tend to be cautious drivers, chronological age is not a good predictor of ability (everyone’s body and mind age at different rates) and they often depend on their car to be able to look after themselves (car = lifeline to supplies, doctor, friends)

Traffic safety professionals continue to work on ways to educate, devise reasonable tests and lobby for enhanced legislation that provides results without unfair restriction on individual liberty.  The good news is that things are getting better, but we still read headlines about crashes every day.

Driver Safety is every person’s responsibility — whether buckling up, avoiding distraction, encouraging others to give up their keys, teaching teens to slow down, providing detailed reports on dangerous behavior to the appropriate authorities, restricting how many teen friends may ride along, or simply obeying the rules of the road consistently — when we each do our part, lives are saved.

Be safe this Labor Day weekend — don’t drink and drive, get plenty of rest (don’t drive drowsy) and try to stay calm as you idle in traffic and congestion on the way to the shore or mountains, etc.