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The Harsh Reality of Teen Drivers

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When it comes to teen drivers, it’s no secret that they have a bad reputation. All one has to do is type “teen driver” into a Google search and find dozens of articles related to texting while driving, accident statistics among younger drivers, and the list goes on.

Car manufacturers and independent companies alike are creating software to be installed in new vehicle models to help combat the dangers that come with a teen behind the wheel of a car. For example, General Motors recently released their active safety technology called Teen Driver. This software allows parents to view their teen’s driving habits and use the information to continue to coach their new drivers, even when they can’t be in the car.

Producing a report card at the end of each ride, Teen Driver reports the maximum speed reached, stability control events, forward collision alerts, and more. These categories touch on the biggest issue teen drivers face: inexperience.

While distracted driving does play a role in many of the teen-related accidents, inexperience is the underlying cause. According to a study done by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, lack of scanning the roadway, driving too fast for conditions, and distraction by something inside or outside the vehicle were the most common errors leading to a crash involving a teen driver.

With motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, this is something that parents, fellow drivers, and industry leaders alike must be looking into. And while campaigns like “Don’t Text and Drive” and innovative technology such as tXtBlocker have begun to chip away at the problem, in 2014 alone, 2,270 teens in the U.S. ages 16-19 were killed and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes.

So what can parents do to help change the harsh realities of teen drivers on the road? First, they must take time to actually teach their child to drive. Studies show that the more the parent is involved when a teen is learning, the lower their chances are for a crash. While many states only require 50 hours or drive time before obtaining a license, parents should be striving to log more hours of time spent with them in the passenger seat, and their teen in the driver seat.

Secondly, both parents and non-parents alike can support local legislation to help achieve better road safety for everyone. AAA Arizona is advocating for Senate Bill 1080, which would prohibit teen drivers from the use of all wireless communication devices.

Arizona and Montana are the only two states that do not ban texting while driving for all or most motorists, so drivers can also rally for safer roads by pushing to eliminate texting while driving for all drivers, not just those in the teen age bracket.

Recent studies have found that teens who have been involved in a severe collision—defined as “police-reportable” and causing major damage, airbag deployment, injury or a rollover— experience an immediate change in their driving habits. In some cases, risky driving dropped by 34 percent.

The focus now, however, is to change the mentality of teen drivers before an accident ever occurs, and better teach and prepare them for the responsibility of operating a vehicle. Only then will we see a decrease in vehicle-related deaths for drivers of all ages.

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Safety

ADOT: Taking Highway Traffic Signs to the Next Level

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It may be biased to say, but when it comes to Arizona, we seem to do everything better than the rest. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is no exception, and their handiwork on freeway signs throughout the Valley is proof of that.

One of the most important things to know about the Arizona traffic safety sign rules is that they are more permissive than most. And there is a reason behind that; regular traffic signs just don’t catch the driver’s attention. Without a little creativity, and in most cases, a whole lot of humor, most signs go unnoticed by those driving by.

It is because of this reason that ADOT started an exciting campaign designed to boost traffic safety. Rather than the boring “Stay safe and buckle up” phrases, they are utilizing references to many items in pop culture that are trending at the time.

If you’ve been on an Arizona freeway recently, you’ve likely seen references to Adele, Star Wars, Pokémon Go!, and even guacamole. With creativity like that, it’s safe to say that the entire experience is designed to catch the driver’s attention, as well as stress the importance of staying safe on the road, which is the goal ADOT has set out to reach. They stress that the signs are meant to be both serious and fun.

According to ADOT, the signs help reinforce the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, which aims to cut down on DUIs, speeding, aggressive driving, distracted driving, failure to use seatbelts, and other bad driving behaviors.

With a few jokes and simple messages, each Arizona traffic sign will be able to save lives more efficiently. As safe as we may try to be on the road, and on the freeway specifically, it’s all too easy to get distracted. With an eye-catching sign, drivers are reminded to focus on the road, all while enjoying their commute a little more.

While ADOT has done an excellent job with the content they’ve come up with so far, they’re looking for a little help from Arizona locals. Drivers in the area can share their submissions with ADOT until February 19, and the best 15 messages will advance to the next round. In March, the public can then vote on which signs should be showcased on the road starting in April. To submit your own idea, just visit: http://azdot.gov/about/transportation-safety/safety-message-contest

Regardless of the messages picked, one thing is for certain; Arizona drivers can admire the commitment shown by ADOT for road safety, and we can all look forward to the creative signs in April!

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SafetyTrending Automotive News

Big Changes Expected on Interstate 10

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The cities of Phoenix, Casa Grande, and Tucson make up what’s known as the ‘growing southwest megaregion’ in Arizona. Cities within a megaregion are tied together by strong links and can influence one another, even if they’re hundreds of miles apart.

For this megaregion in Arizona, Interstate 10 serves as a conduit between the cities, and is heavily trafficked by freight vehicles. Carrying everything from avocados to medical supplies, the freight traffic is both necessary and taxing on I-10.

From wear and tear of the road itself to placement of rest stops and fuel stations, all of this has begun to affect driver safety. Thanks to students at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, a new study is being done to plan for the future of freight traffic on the I-10 with a focus on efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

“Hopefully, in the long run, this research will help shorten commutes, save lives, create more breathable air and find a way to pay for all of it,” Michael Kuby, a professor in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, said.

This study will focus on topics such as reaping more benefits from pass-through traffic, emerging technology called connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), and identifying threats posed to transportation infrastructure by natural and man-made hazards, to name a few.

Students at the three major in-state universities aren’t the only ones taking a look at the I-10 and devising strategies to improve it. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) launched their own study back in 2014.

Their study focuses on the 31-mile freeway corridor beginning at the I-17/Loop 101 North Stack interchange in the north Valley and travels south and east to the Interchange I-10/Loop 202 Pecos Stack. This area has been dubbed the “Spine” because it is the transportation backbone of Maricopa County. In fact, more than 40 percent of all freeway traffic in the area travels over the Spine.

Drivers in that area have been pressing for solutions due to a high volume of accidents, closures, and gridlocks. According to Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, “the goal is to make our most heavily traveled freeway safer and more efficient for commuters, residents, and pedestrians.”

With MAG, ADOT, and FHA completing their study, they now have recommendations including upgrading 24 of 31 traffic interchanges to widen roads and improve cross-freeway traffic, provide better technology to help communicate travel information to drivers, and improving availability and reliability for transit and carpooling, among other things.

Arizona locals are urged to give their feedback on these proposed changes, and have until February 17th to do so. Simply click here for a chance to give your feedback and have it included in the study record.

Beyond the major improvements happening on the I-10, the local universities are excited about the opportunity to be working alongside one another.

“This is the first time we have a project between all of us, and you can see relationships and partnerships develop as we work through this. It’s going to be very exciting and very fruitful as we move into the future,” Edward Smaglik, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Environmental Engineering at NAU said.

So whether you’re a Sun Devil, Wildcat, or Lumberjack fan, this I-10 project is something we can all be rooting for.

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SafetyTrending Automotive News

SB 1054: Arizona Collision Law Moving to Senate

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On June 17, 2016, recent Horizon High School graduate Joe Smith and three of his high school friends were driving back from a post-graduation trip to California. Upon nearing Quartzsite, Arizona on Interstate 10, the boys slowed down due to an accident, when an 18-wheeler barreled into them and another vehicle.

As a result of the impact, 18-year-old Joe was killed and the three other boys in his vehicle were seriously injured. In the other vehicle, 74-year-old Sun City resident Joseph Garcia was killed, and his wife Mary Lou was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Seven months later, and the truck driver has not been charged with any crime. As it stands currently, Arizona law does not require that drivers in deadly accidents be given a drug or alcohol test. Steve and Tana Smith, Joe’s parents, are on a mission to change that.

The Smith’s are lobbying a new bill in the Senate that would change the law in his name. SB 1054, known as “Joe’s Law” would require drug or alcohol testing for driver’s involved in crashes that cause serious injury or death.

According to records obtained from a Department of Public Safety trooper, the 42-year-old semi-truck driver seemed lethargic and tired after the accident, and when asked if he was tired, he responded “yes.” However, he was not tested for drugs or alcohol.

“If this bill passes, ‘Joe’s Law’ would help ensure that families who endure a tragedy like ours won’t have the added stress of forever wondering and never knowing if there were more factors that caused the crash, “ Tana Smith wrote in a post on Facebook.

The bill’s primary sponsor is Senator Judy Burges, and the co-sponsors are Senator Sylvia Allen, Senator David Farnsworth, Senator Steve Montenegro, and Senator Frank Pratt.

While not an official bill sponsor, Senator Lupe Contreras spoke emotionally in support of Joe’s Law. He lost his sister in a car accident when she was just 18 years old, as well.

“I know what that pain is cause here I am today and I’m able to sit up there and hopefully pass this law that will hopefully prevent another family from having to endure what we have endured for so many years,” Contreras said.

On January 26th, a Senate Panel approved SB 1054 on a 7 to 0 vote. The law will now move to the full Senate for action.

According to Joe’s dad, Steve, simply knowing whether the driver had been impaired would make the death of their son easier to manage.

“Had we known whether or not this driver was impaired, it would make this unbearable situation easier to cope with. The not knowing, because no test was done in our case, is agonizing,” Steve said.

A petition on Change.org has garnered more than 2,000 signatures in support of having the law passed, and will be delivered to Senator John McCain.

Tana believes that many individuals are unaware that the Arizona law does not require drug and alcohol testing after a deadly accident, and hopes that Joe’s Law will bring the flawed law to light, and ultimately change it.

“I’ll do whatever I can do to change this because this is something that can affect anybody at any time,” Tana said.

This will be an interesting story for the Arizona collision industry, as well as all Arizona residents, to follow in the coming months.

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SafetyTrending Automotive News

Rear Seat Reminder Newest Technology in GM Vehicles

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Recent events in the news have taught GM that a change needs to be made. Over the summer, it seemed like a weekly occurrence to hear about another child being left in the backseat of a car, oftentimes dying of heat stroke. In fact, in 2016 alone, 39 children died as a result of being left in vehicles or gaining access to an unattended vehicle, a 60 percent increase over 2015’s figure.

With technology in the automotive industry improving in new models each year, GM sought to make a change that could save lives, and their new 2017 models appear to be doing just that.

This industry-first system feature, called the Rear Seat Reminder, monitors rear door usage and is designed to remind drivers to check the back seat of their vehicle before they exit or walk away from their vehicle.

“We want to help everyone to take one simple, extra step. That’s why Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac will offer the Rear Seat Reminder on a broad range of vehicles, from small cars to full-size SUVs and everything in between,” Vice President of GM Global Vehicle Safety Jeff Boyer said.

How does the technology work? The Rear Seat Reminder system will activate when either rear door is opened and closed up to 10 minutes before the vehicle is started or while the vehicle is running. Once activated, the system sounds five chimes and displays a message on the drivers electronic dashboard display that reads “Rear Seat Reminder/Look in Rear Seat” the next time the vehicle is turned off.

Since the system itself cannot detect items in the backseat, it’s crucial that the driver check before exiting.

The Rear Seat Reminder debuted earlier this year on the all-new 2017 GMC Acadia. Models to offer this feature are:

  • 2017 Buick Lacrosse
  • 2017 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV
  • 2017 Cadillac CT6
  • 2017 Chevrolet Cruze and Cruze Hatchback
  • 2017 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe
  • 2017 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2017 Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2017 Chevrolet Colorado
  • 2017 GMC Yukon
  • 2017 GMC Yukon XL
  • 2017 GMC Sierra
  • 2017 GMC Canyon
  • 2018 Cadillac XT5
  • 2018 Cadillac CTS and CTS-V
  • 2018 Cadillac ATS
  • 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

The monitoring system will be available in additional 2018 vehicle models, to be announced at a later date.

According to Kate Carr, the president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, “This new technology developed by General Motors will give busy parents and caregivers the important reminder to always check the back seat. The safest way to protect a child from heatstroke is to never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, and features like Rear Seat Reminder, coupled with continued public education, can help combat this preventable tragedy.”

GM continues to lead the way in advanced technology for its vehicles, and many look forward to seeing how the Rear Seat Reminder will make an impact in communities.

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Safety

Pushbutton Ignitions Not as Secure as They Seem

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These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a new vehicle that doesn’t come with a pushbutton ignition. Gone are the days of digging through purses and briefcases to find car keys. With pushbutton ignitions, one simply needs to have their key fob on them to gain access to the vehicle, and start the engine.

As technology in the automotive industry continues to advance, cyber security has become a topic of significant concern. In late December, the pushbutton ignitions became the latest issue of security in our vehicles.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a “mystery device” (pictured above) has been discovered that is allowing criminals to steal vehicles with pushbutton ignitions.

The device works in two stages. First, it detects the signal from the vehicle’s key fob from a distance up to 10 feet. Then, the information is transferred to a “relay box” which allows the thief to open the doors and start the vehicle’s engine.

Having acquired the device from a third-party security expert overseas, NICB teamed up with CarMax and used the device on 35 makes and models of vehicles, successfully gaining entry into 19 of them. Of those 19, they were able to start the engine and drive away in 18 vehicles, and 12 of the vehicles were even able to be restarted once the ignition was turned off. For understandable reasons, NICB is not saying what vehicle makes and models are susceptible to the device.

This “mystery device” can get around engine immobilizers, alarms, and other security devices that may be on a vehicle, meaning a criminal can climb into your car and drive it like they own it.

Without the trace of broken glass, sound of the car alarm being triggered, or evidence of an ignition key being stolen, there is no way for the vehicle owner to know that their car has been taken. This also means that NICB does not know how many vehicles have been stolen using the mystery device.

NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle said, “The scary part is that there’s no warning or explanation for the owner. Unless someone catches the crime on a security camera, there’s no way for the owner or the police to really know what happened. Many times, they think the vehicle has been towed.”

While this mystery device seems to only work on new generation pushbutton ignition cars, the NICB say there are numerous devices that operate similarly that are being marketed to thieves. They believe that different devices work on different ignition systems and likely use different technology, putting all pushbutton vehicles at risk.

So where does this leave us? NICB spokesman Roger Morris explained that auto manufacturers must be diligent in making sure they adapt their pushbutton technology to counter these devices. However, he also noted that thieves will do the same with their technology in response.

As for vehicle owners, Morris suggests they keep valuable items out of their vehicles, keep their key fob on them at all times, and park in secure or crowded areas as often as possible.

NICB COO Jim Schweitzer was quoted saying, “The manufacturers have made tremendous strides with their technology, but now they have to adapt and develop countermeasures as threats like this surface.” Let’s hope all manufacturers hear that message loud and clear.

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SafetyTrending Automotive News

Vehicle Recalls You Need to Know About

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As 2017 is just a few days away, many are rushing to the dealership to purchase new or used cars.  According to Forbes, dealerships do the most business between December 26th and January 3rd.

Before heading out to decide which vehicle you’ll cruise into the New Year with, check out the information below from safecar.gov regarding the recent vehicle recalls. And even if you aren’t in the market for a new car, make sure you review the information in case your vehicle is affected:

2017 Chevrolet Malibu
Units affected: 113

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain 2017 Malibu vehicles manufactured on November 10, 2016. The right-hand rear side air bag inflator manifold may have insufficient welds.

GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear side air bag modules, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM’s number for this recall is 16146.

2016 Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot
Units affected: 43,071

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling certain model year 2016 Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass, and Jeep Patriot vehicles manufactured May 9, 2016, to July 15, 2016. The crankshaft or camshaft sensor may only work intermittently, causing the engine to stall.

Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the crankshaft or camshaft sensor, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 27, 2017.

Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is S89.

2017 Ford Fusion
Units affected: 25

Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain 2017 Ford Fusion vehicles manufactured September 27, 2016, to September 28, 2016. The left rear seat backs pivot pins may have been improperly welded.

Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the left hand, second row seat back frame, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 9, 2017. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford’s number for this recall is 16S43.

2016-2017 Hyundai Tucson; 2017 Santa Fe
Units affected: 5,669

Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) is recalling certain model year 2016-2017 Tucson vehicles manufactured May 19, 2015, to November 14, 2016, and 2017 Santa Fe vehicles manufactured November 28, 2015, to November 14, 2016. The affected vehicles may be equipped with an accessory trailer hitch wiring harness that, due to a malfunction of the tow hitch module, may result, in the trailer brake lights being constantly illuminated. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, ” Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected accessory trailer hitch wiring harnesses, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 13, 2017. Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-800-633-5151. Hyundai’s number for this recall is 153.

2016-2017 Kia Sorento; 2017 Sportage
Units affected: 10,212

Kia Motors America (Kia) is recalling certain model year 2016-2017 Sorento vehicles manufactured October 27, 2014, to August 25, 2016, and 2017 Sportage vehicles manufactured December 10, 2015, to August 26, 2016. The affected vehicles are equipped with an accessory trailer hitch wiring harness that, due to a malfunction of the tow hitch module, may result in the trailer brake lights being constantly illuminated. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, ” Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

Kia will notify owners, and dealers will replace the trailer tow hitch harness, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 18, 2017. Owners may contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. Kia’s number for this recall is SC142.

2017 Ram ProMaster
Units affected: 23

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling certain model year 2017 RAM ProMaster vehicles manufactured October 1, 2016, to December 7, 2016. The seat mounted side air bag inflator initiator may fail to ignite during a crash.

Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the seat mounted side air bags, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 28, 2017. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is S96.

2016 Toyota Avalon; 2017 Camry
Units affected: 12

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling certain model year 2016 Avalon, and 2017 Camry vehicles manufactured August 3, 2016, to September 12, 2016. The front passenger knee air bag module may have been attached to the lower instrument panel with incorrect fasteners.

Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the fasteners, and if necessary, replace the instrument panel brace and body bracket and reattach the air bag assembly, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in December 2016. Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331. Toyota’s number for this recall is G05.

Note for all recalls: Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Worried that you might have missed a recall on your car? Now you can look it up yourself online. All you need is your vehicle’s VIN. Simply go to www.safercar.gov and use the “Recalls Look-up by VIN” tool. Or you can just go there directly with this link https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.

 

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SafetyUncategorized

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

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During the holiday season, we often find ourselves saying “It’s just a busy time of year.” Between holiday parties and helping kids finish up last-minute school assignments, this is most definitely true. However, if we’re being honest, we’re nearly as busy every other time of the year, too.

When our schedules become jam-packed with activities and obligations, we tend to neglect the one thing we need the most—sleep. While some may believe that needing a little extra caffeine to get through the day is the worst that can happen, a new study reveals that is not the case.

According to AAA, missing just a few hours of sleep significantly increases your chances of a fatal car accident.  In fact, exhaustion is a factor in one in five fatal crashes in the United States. With drunk driving playing a role in one in three crashes, driving while tired isn’t that far behind.

The study also found that missing just three hours of sleep quadruples your risk of a crash. And with 35 percent of adults getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night, this is a significant issue.

The Center for Disease Control found that one in 25 drivers (ages 18 and older) admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the last 30 days alone. This has become such a concern that the CDC now has a Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in November to raise awareness for the 21% of fatal crashes drowsy drivers are involved in each year.

Dr. David Yang, the executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, explained that a driver who has slept less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk. While a breathalyzer can determine whether someone has had too much to drink to drive, there is no official test to determine if someone has had enough sleep to drive.

While young men, individuals with children, and those working night shifts are most at risk for drowsy driving, it is something that all of us have fallen victim to. So, what can we do?

1. Know the signs of drowsy driving.

According to the UCLA Health Sleep Center, these are the most common symptoms of drowsy driving:

  • You yawn frequently.
  • You are unable to keep your eyes open.
  • You catch yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.
  • Your thoughts wander and take your focus off the road.
  • You can’t remember driving the last few miles.
  • You are impatient, in a hurry, and grouchy.
  • You end up too close to cars in front of you.
  • You miss road signs or drive past your turn.
  • You drift into the other lane or onto the shoulder of the road.

2. Find a different way home.

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, pull off to the side of the road and arrange another ride. Whether you call an Uber or Lyft, or ask a friend to come pick you up, it’s better to leave your car than to continue the drive home. If none of those options work for you, find a safe place to park your car and sleep for an hour or two. While this may be inconvenient, some drowsy driving cases land the driver in jail, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

3. Educate yourself and others.

While drunk driving and texting while driving are getting a significant amount of attention in the media, drowsy driving isn’t talked about as much as it needs to be. Educate yourself and those around you about the dangers of driving while tired, and if possible, offer yourself as someone they can contact should they feel tired behind the wheel.

While accidents may not be totally avoidable, knowing risk factors can help decrease the number of accidents each year, and keep us all safer on the road.

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SafetyUncategorized

The Connection Between Speed Limits and Car Accidents

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It’s no secret that speed limits are getting faster—much faster. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speed limits are designed to reflect the maximum rate of speed that drivers can legally go under ideal conditions. However, when faced with traffic, construction, poor weather, or other adverse conditions, drivers should adjust their speed accordingly. Unfortunately, many drivers view the speed limit as the minimum speed, and go at least 5 MPH over the speed limit, regardless of road conditions.

A new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study found that increases in speed limit over two decades have cost 33,000 lives in the U.S. In 2013 alone, the speed limit increases resulted in 1,900 additional deaths, essentially canceling out the number of lives saved by frontal airbags that same year.

In 1974, a National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) of 55 MPH was set to conserve fuel. However, in 1987, Congress allowed states to set speed limits at 65 MPH on interstate roads in areas with fewer than 50,000 people.

Finally, in 1995, Congress repealed the NMSL, allowing states to set their own speed limits. Since then, speed limits have been on the rise.

While IIHS’s study believes that higher speed limits cause more accidents, others believe that higher speed limits simply cause more severe accidents. In fact, accidents that occur at high speeds are more often fatal. So while there is a direct connection between freeway deaths and freeway speed limits, some believe that raised speed limits do not inflate the total number of collisions.

In that school of thought, most follow studies that show drivers rarely overshoot their speed comfort zones, even if they are legally permitted. They also believe that IIHS’s study fails to take into account that the number of miles driven has gone up as the economy continues to rebound, and gas prices are low. Additionally, according to census statistics, older drivers are staying on the road longer than they once were, putting more drivers on the road.

While this all may be true, IIHS’s study cannot be ignored. With a higher maximum speed limit, individuals are going anywhere from 5-15 MPH over the limit. And the reckless driving doesn’t stop there. Self-professed speeders say they often drive 15 MPH over the limit on freeways, and also admit to passing other cars, keeping up with fast traffic, and are more likely to not wear their seat belt and to use a cell phone while driving.

In June 2015, Wisconsin switched their speed limit to 70 MPH on interstate highways. In the 12 months following that change, fatalities rose 37% on the interstate, injuries increased by 11%, and the total number of accidents rose 12%, giving merit to the study done by IIHS.

Six states in the U.S. have speed limits of 80 MPH, and in Texas, drivers can drive 85 MPH on highways. So what can be done? IIHS hopes that the outcome of their study brings to light the deadly consequences of higher speeds, and hopes states will keep this in mind when considering a speed limit increase.

For all of us, this can serve as a reminder to follow the speed limit set in place, and avoid reckless driving habits in the hopes of saving lives.

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LifeStyleSafetyUncategorized

Driving Sober: The Best Way to Spread Holiday Cheer

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The holiday season, specifically between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, is all about spreading holiday cheer. As the turkey is cooking, and close loved ones begin to arrive, the bottles of wine are opened, and the festive cocktails are served.

Every holiday season, organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stress the importance of driving sober. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 1,000 people will be injured or killed due to drunk driving between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, a rate two to three times higher than the rest of the year.

With Arizona’s ‘zero tolerance’ DUI laws, and the possibility of killing yourself or others on the road, follow these tips to stay safe this holiday season.

1. Be extra cautious the night before Thanksgiving.

Blackout Wednesday, which occurs the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest drinking days of the years. With businesses closed the next day, and college kids home for break, the bars are packed. In fact, accidents from Blackout Wednesday to Black Friday account for more than 400 traffic deaths each year.

With the high volume of traffic on the road, it’s important to have a ride set up to come get you when the night ends before you have your first sip of alcohol. Whether you call a cab or appoint a designated driver in the group, this crucial step will certainly save lives.

2. Download the Uber and Lyft mobile apps.

With companies such as Uber and Lyft, there is no excuse for drunk driving. While there may be ‘surge pricing’ during the holiday season, the cost of taking an Uber or Lyft ride is significantly cheaper than a traditional cab, and definitely cheaper than a DUI ticket. Both user-friendly apps allow you to plug in your credit card information, and request a ride from your current location. You’ll know the price of your ride before you even get in the car.

3. Stay aware.

Even if you’re sober on the road, you can’t guarantee everyone else is. Take extra precautions at stop lights, waiting a few seconds after the light turns green to enter the intersection. If you notice someone driving erratically, call 911 to report the driver. Finally, make sure you’re aware of the individuals you’re at your holiday gathering with. If you notice your cousin or aunt grabbing his/her keys after a few drinks, make sure you step in for everyone’s safety.

The holidays should be a time of community, celebration, and laughter. Don’t let an unavoidable accident ruin a treasured time. Stay safe and look out for those around you to make your holiday season as merry and bright as possible!

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