Traffic Safety

CSG Midwest logo
When the clock strikes midnight, and people in states across the country ring in the new year, one of the most dangerous few hours on U.S. roadways begins. About half of all the fatal crashes on New Year's Day are due to imparied driving, higher than the rate for any other day of the year. And ...

Distracted driving is a national epidemic, claiming thousands of lives on American roads every year. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011. This complimentary webinar, presented by CSG South, featured panelists who addressed the latest research on the potential impact of using devices while driving, state legislative initiatives to hone distracted driving laws and updates on efforts at the federal level to reduce distracted driving accidents.

There are now more cellphone subscriptions than people in the United States.  Cell phones were involved in 23 percent of all automobile collisions in 2011 contributing to the 3,331 distracted driving deaths that year. Since the first texting ban was issued in Washington State in 2007, 40 other states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have initiated laws banning texting while driving. As a part of MAP-21, the 2012 surface transportation authorization legislation, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) administers a grant program to states which have such bans. The grants are not a sure thing for states however; of the 38 applicants, the DOT reported earlier this month that only 7 states and Guam will receive funding this year.

The tech industry waited with bated breath last year as rumors formed surrounding tech giant Google’s anticipated release of a hands-free computer which could fit in a pair of glasses and project information into consumers eyes. The product, Google Glass, launched a kind of beta version in May allowing a limited number of “explorers” to test drive the product as the bugs are worked out. The product received mixed reviews from the tech world and met with privacy concerns once some individuals realized that they could be filmed without their knowledge thanks to the technology. Now as some automakers are attempting to integrate Google Glass into the operation of certain vehicles, some state lawmakers are considering banning the technology from  the nation’s roads.

Pedestrian fatalities rose for two consecutive years between 2009 and 2011, according to a report this month from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is taking action to prevent what may or may not be a trend from continuing. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx used one of his first press conferences  since taking office to address the NHTSA data and to announce a new grant program and website which could give states and communities the tools they need to save lives.

Distracted driving killed more than 3,000 people in 2011, accounting for ten percent of traffic related deaths in the U.S. The high death toll has sparked an increase in laws that crack down on elements related to distracted driving, such as texting or using a handheld device. Despite the strict laws, 31 percent of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported reading or sending a text message or email while driving at least once within 30 days of the responding to the survey. States are now focusing on new strategies to combat distracted driving. 

On May 22, 2013, Illinois became the fourth state since March where the legislature has sent a bill to the governor’s desk either ordering or permitting a speed limit increase on some roads.  Governor Pat Quinn has been coy on the measure but the overwhelming support by the legislature would seem to make the initiative veto-proof. Ohio, Iowa and Maine have all passed similar measures since March and 34 states already have speed limits of 70 miles per hour or greater on some roads. With initiatives working through the North Carolina and Nevada legislatures and with bills being introduced in at least eight more states, it appears more of America’s roadways will permit higher speeds. States raise speeds on some toll roads, like America's fastest road, as an inovative funding mechanism and congestion measure. Higher speeds are sold to the consumer as a premium service.  Some question the timing of and rationale for these actions, coming as recently released preliminary traffic fatality analysis data for 2012 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed a 5.3 percent uptick in motor vehicle fatalities nationwide. But a review of the research on speed and safety isn’t as cut and dried as one might think.

Stateline Midwest ~ June 2013

Illinois lawmakers passed a bill in late May to make their state the first in the Midwest to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Chicago and some other municipalities had already outlawed the use of cell phones without a hands-free device. Illinois’ ban, though, has only applied to school and construction zones.

Stateline Midwest ~ June 2013

Illinois lawmakers passed a bill in late May to make their state the first in the Midwest to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Chicago and some other municipalities had already outlawed the use of cell phones without a hands-free device. Illinois’ ban, though, has only applied to school and construction zones.

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its report: “Reaching Zero: Actions to Reduce Alcohol-Impaired Driving.” A call to action, the report issued recommendations to curb the 10,000 alcohol-related yearly highway deaths. The easy take-away from the press release was the call for states to reduce their .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) DUI laws to .05 as it is in much of the developed world. Currently, all states define driving at or above .08 BAC as a crime.

This recommendation drew a great deal of press coverage; however, the report also calls for expansion of some other policies which didn’t necessarily make the headlines but that may prove to be far more politically palatable.

Pages