According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois ranks among the top five states total number of roadway work zone fatal occupational injuries. Road construction accidents where motorists strike construction workers are not rare. They accounted for 7.9 percent of all construction deaths from 2003 to 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On average, more than 100 construction workers are killed per year in roadway work zone accidents.
September is a time for new drivers to learn to interact with school buses and for all drivers to familiarize themselves with the law concerning school buses and safe driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 19 school-age children die in school transportation-related traffic accidents every year. Most of the victims are between the ages of 5 and 7 and are actually outside the bus at the time of the accident. Accidents of this type are so common that the Illinois State Board of Education refers to the area around the bus as the "death zone." The problem comes from other motorists who fail to stop for the flashing red lights and stop arm of the bus, as required by Illinois law.
Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication devices are two methods by which cars may be made safer in the future. The U.S. Transportation Department has begun a new test of so-called "smart car" technology. Some 3,000 cars, trucks and buses equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle crash avoidance technology and vehicle-to-roadway devices will be evaluated to determine the efficacy and reliability of these devices. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland, this form of technology has the potential to "significantly reduce" traffic deaths and injuries, and help accidents from occurring in the first place.
The administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expressed his support for laws that require first-time offenders of DUI laws to have interlock devices installed in their vehicles. Federal data shows that a drunk driver who is involved in a fatal traffic accident is 400 percent more likely to have a prior DUI on his or her record than a sober driver. Federal officials have reported that they are considering ways to encourage states to pass tougher drunk driving laws.
Cell phones, iPods, and other portable electronic devices have been the source of significant scrutiny among traffic safety experts. Recently, the efforts of automakers to make their vehicles more appealing to technophiles have also drawn attention. As car accidents involving distracted driving continue to plague U.S. roadways, many consumers now believe that in-car technologies have become too distracting and dangerous. The survey by Harris Interactive also points to a generational gap regarding the importance of connectivity in a motor vehicle.
A study conducted at Ohio State University has demonstrated that multi-tasking between two visual tasks is more difficult than multi-tasking between a visual task and an audio task. The study has implications for those concerned about distracted driving. The laws that have been passed to ban texting and driving address situations where a driver is splitting his or her attention between the visual task of driving the visual task of reading or writing a text message.
The dangers of texting while driving may go beyond the distraction and reduced reaction time that comes with it. In addition to causing car and truck accidents by taking the driver's attention off the road, texting while driving may also inspire road rage.
The AAA released a forecast this week indicating that there will be more travelers on the road this week than at any time in the last decade. The increase in drivers is said to come from the fact that the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday this year, giving many people extra days in which to travel. If the estimated 40.3 million drivers materialize, the increase in accident rates that always attends the Fourth of July could lead to numerous car and truck accidents.
Though it is often cited as a major contributor to unsafe behavior among teens, peer pressure can also be a tool for positive change. Consumer Reports recently released a study indicating that peer pressure is increasingly being used to stop teen drivers from texting while driving. While teen drivers still suffer elevated rates of fatal car crashes, particularly when other teens are in the car with them, the results might show that efforts to accurately portray the dangers of distracted driving are working.
Styling trends and the need for improved aerodynamics may be increasing the danger of accidents that occur while vehicles are backing up. The blind zones behind a vehicle are areas of great risk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 221 deaths and 14,000 injuries are caused by back-over crashes every year. The blind zones behind many of the vehicles being produced today are larger than in older vehicles. One possible solution that has been discussed is the use of backup cameras.