Late last month, schools and safety organizations all over the nation observed National Teen Driver Safety Week. Novice driving safety is a priority year-round. This particular week's observances served as a valuable reminder of that fact. What should parents, educators and teens have taken away from National Teen Driver Safety Week? The lessons taught, and hopefully learned, were numerous.
Many Austin area residents pride themselves on being safe drivers. They obey the speed limits, wear their seatbelts, and remain committed to never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, these drivers might not always make safe decisions.
Several laws went into effect earlier this month in Texas that will hopefully impact road safety in the Lone Star State for the better. In an effort to reduce the rate of Texas auto wrecks that occur annually, Texas lawmakers passed several measures this past session that aim to protect motorists and pedestrians alike.
When seatbelts were first introduced, their installation was optional. Many automakers opted out of installing seatbelts in vehicles because the public resisted their use. Even after seatbelt installation became mandatory for automakers, their use was resisted by a large number of Americans. Only over a significant amount of time did motorists and passengers embrace the seatbelt as a critical safety mechanism.
In recent years, the media has begun reporting on a phenomenon known as "recall fatigue." In essence, consumers have become so overwhelmed by the volume of products being recalled on a monthly basis in the United States that they have simply stopped paying attention to them. Though this response is quite understandable, it is also very problematic. When consumers fail to respond to recalls, they place themselves in danger of preventable injury and even death.
Aging is a complex process. Not every adult ages in the same ways or at the same rates. An individual 90-year-old woman could remain completely capable of driving safely while an individual 72-year-old man would be much safer if he stopped driving. No two elderly people need approach the subject of giving up driving in the exact same way. However, it is critical that elderly drivers and their families remain aware of the fact that at some point, drivers do usually need to give up their keys in order to prevent car accidents from devastating their lives and the lives of others.
Not too many decades ago, many Americans believed that flying cars would be the next wave of travel-related innovation. It turns out that self-operating vehicles are slowly changing the future of American road travel. In an effort to reduce the number of auto accidents that occur annually due to preventable human error, numerous auto manufacturers and innovative giants like Google are creating vehicles capable of driving themselves.
Nationwide, spring has finally sprung. Individuals of every age group are embracing the season by taking long walks, going for bike rides and generally traveling outdoors sans motor vehicle. Unfortunately, not all pedestrians and cyclists will remain safe this season. In fact, during 2011 alone over 4,400 pedestrians were killed in car accidents and tens of thousands more were injured. Most of these accidents occurred during the warm months of spring and summer.
For those who understand the risks of distracted driving, the fact that individuals still choose to engage in distracted driving behavior seems almost unbelievable. Just as Americans now understand that driving drunk, drowsy or aggressively significantly increases the risk that motorists will be involved in motor vehicle accidents, most of us understand that distracted driving is either as risky or even riskier than these other practices. And yet, the rate of distracted driving accidents continues to increase.
The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety recently released its annual report detailing the state of the nation's highway safety laws. Within the text of the "Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws," each state is ranked according to its performance related to 15 auto and highway safety regulations. The report is used to inform future safety regulatory reform at the state level and is also used to inform federal regulators who funnel necessary highway safety funds to the states. Texas did not fare well in this year's report.