Intersections and Crash Risk

sideswipe illustration FHWADriving is, arguably, the most complex task that most people handle on a daily basis.  We interact with other vehicles, struggling to identify all potential hazards in front, to the side, and behind us.

In a idealized, fantasy world, we’d be the only vehicle and driver on the road, but that’s just not reality.

One of the most challenging interactions on the road is dealing with intersections.  These crossroads provide multiple points of conflict with cyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles. Whether going straight, turning right or left, we have to follow the rules and watch out for others who may not follow the rules.  Signals and signs help, but oddly intersecting roads, multiple driveways and alleys can combine to make a very dangerous environment where drivers could become confused (even if they’re not texting and driving).

SafetyZone-Safety GoalThis month’s Ten-Minute Training Topic deals with “Avoiding Intersection Crashes” and includes:

  • Driver Handouts
  • Slide shows
  • Mini-poster to reinforce key points
  • Manager’s supplemental report with talking points, news articles and insights into policy development

One of the trendy recommendations affecting road design is to move away from traditional intersections towards modern roundabouts.  Here are two videos about the benefits of roundabouts:

AND

Traffic safety has to begin within each and every driver – you and me.  Only when we personalize the need to be safe will we talk to our family and friends about “stepping up” to drive consistently according to the rules of the road.

wb banner traf circle

Please don’t become a “textpert”

A colleague sent me a link to an odd, funny and “catchy” video (embedded below) that features a pair of rappers who are trying to make a point to “the younger generation” of drivers:

…you may think that you’re an expert at texting while driving (a “textpert”), but you’re kidding yourself that your actions are somehow safe…

Take three minutes to watch the video below.  For some of us it may appear “silly” but if educational efforts make any impact on changing behavior in our teen and young adult drivers, I’m all for it.

SafetyZone-Safety Goal

No Excuse for Speeding

Most of us appreciate the humor of “top ten lists” and heading about the silly excuses people deliver to cover over their poor choices.  A recent article at consumerreports.com listed the top ten reasons people gave when pulled over for speeding.

It is funny to read these excuses (below), but we also recognize that speeding itself is never funny.

Sobering facts about speeding:

  1. Driving Too Fast PPTSpeeding is four times more likely to lead to a death than talking/texting with a hand-held cell phone.  
  2. Speeding reduces your time to react to unexpected situations
  3. Speeding reduces the effective control of your steering and braking systems — it takes more time to safely maneuver and/or stop.
  4. Speeding violations increase your personal insurance costs, decrease your future employ-ability, frustrate your employer and can have substantial fines associated.
  5. More ‘exceeding the speed limit’ crashes occur in home towns, on side streets and involve pedestrians, bikes and motorcycles than on the open highway.  
  6. There’s rarely a good excuse to speed.

So the results of a survey of 500 licensed drivers age 18 and over who reported using an excuse during a traffic stop include the following top 10 excuses:

10. My GPS said it was the right thing to do: 2.2 percent.
9. I was on my way to an emergency: 4 percent.
8. I didn’t do anything dangerous: 4.2 percent.
7. I had to go to the bathroom: 4.6 percent.
6. I missed my turn/exit: 4.8 percent.
5. I’m having an emergency situation in my car: 5.4 percent.
4. Everyone else was doing it: 6.4 percent.
3. I didn’t know I broke the speed limit: 12.4 percent.
2. I’m lost and unfamiliar with the roads: 15.6 percent.

And the number one reason…

1. I couldn’t see the sign telling me not to do it:  20.4 percent.

Summary

The common thread through these excuses is a combination of feigned ignorance of the law (or more simply, the rules of the road) and self-deception that the risk isn’t real (i.e. I’m a good driver, only other drivers actually crash because of their choices or “speeding isn’t dangerous”).

Some may argue that “having an emergency situation in my car” could be a legitimate concern, but since this is a summary of drivers who actually got ticketed, I have to wonder how serious the “emergency” was (the police took the time to issue the ticket and conduct the survey).

We all share a responsibility to each other, as drivers, to be safe and execute reasonable judgement while following the law.  Some drivers deceive themselves into believing that the law doesn’t apply to them (or their circumstance) or that they’re so skilled that they can  overcome any dangerous situation that may arise.  All they’re accomplishing is endangering themselves and the rest of us.

Take time to talk with your friends and family about driving safely — it starts within our immediate social circles and spreads out from there.  We can’t wait for someone else to step up and lead the discussion — it starts with you, today.  Be brave enough to have that conversation.

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.