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.
Legislators and road safety advocates have been attempting to educate the public about an emerging phenomenon for several years now. However, it seems that as more information on the subject of distracted driving emerges, individuals increasingly tend to engage in this dangerous behavior.
There has been much attention paid to the serious problem of distracted driving by teenagers and adults in general, but now it appears that another aspect of this problem may be even more serious. Police and distracted driving has become all too common a headline, especially in the state of Texas. The police department in Austin, TX, recently established a new policy for officers after a very serious car crash occurred when a city police officer hit and severely injured a motorcyclist while the officer was typing on a dashboard computer. Under the new policy, police officers need to be up-to-date with pertinent information and to facilitate this, patrol cars are now outfitted with dashboard-mounted computers in addition to two-way radios and smartphones. If an officer is typing on the computer, or using any of the other communication devices, it takes their attention away from driving for critical seconds during which accidents occur. In a recent 24-month period in Texas, over 70 accidents were reported that involved distracted driving by police officers.
The San Antonio man who hit and killed 30 year old Anthony Ramirez, an Austin bicyclist, this past Sunday, September 23, apparently called Austin police a few hours later to turn himself in. Brian Mahy, age 26, now faces charges of failing to render aid and intoxication manslaughter. He is in Travis County jail. Bail is $120,000. Austin police reported that Mahy appeared to be intoxicated when he turned himself in and he is reported to have had several bar receipts from the night before on him.
While most people have heard about the "black boxes" used in planes that provide vital information to investigators after a crash, many people do not know that there are similar devices installed in a number of cars. The device, called an event data recorder (EDR), contains a circuit board with a data jack and a memory chip from which the data is downloaded.
Some traffic rules are obvious. For example, we all know that we should not drive too fast, get behind the wheel after drinking or fail to stop at red lights. Unfortunately, many drivers choose not to follow these rules. In so doing, they put everyone else on the road at risk of serious injury.
On a Monday evening in early May 2012, a seven-year-old boy escaped serious injury after being hit by a pickup truck while riding his bike. The accident caused the boy to be thrown "quite some distance," reports WCYB.com.
Federal transportation data reports that deaths from large trucks are on the rise. From 2009 to 2010 there was an 8.7 percent increase in fatalities involving large trucks. Statistics show that the leading cause of death among workers in any industry is auto accidents.