By on October 3, 2012

 

16,290 people were killed in road accidents from January through June, says the NHTSA. For the first time since 2006, deaths are up. The NHTSA does not know why fatalities are up, but the usual suspects have already been rounded up.

Said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, to Reuters:

“Clearly there’s room for improvement in distracted driving – we would like all 50 states to pass texting bans. We’d practically eliminate alcohol impaired driving if we could get all offenders to use an ignition interlock.”

In the meantime, even the NHTSA warns that one should not jump to conclusions:

It should be noted that the historic downward trend in traffic fatalities in the past several years —a pattern which has continued through the early estimates for 2011 released recently that show deaths at a 60-year low — means any comparison will be to an unprecedented low baseline figure. In fact, fatalities during the first half of the year have declined by about 27 percent from the recent high in 2006 to the low during the first half of 2011 (from 20,500 fatalities in 2006 to a projected 14,950 fatalities in 2011 during the first six months of the year).”

Apparently, Ms. Harsha did not read that part. Instead she says that “We may just be going back to the way it was before.”

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96 Comments on “Traffic Deaths Up Slightly, Truth Among The Victims...”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    There has been a freeway LED sign over 94/41 in the northern chicago suburbs for several months. Every day it flashes (paraphrasing) “don’t text & drive!” and then “Illinois traffic deaths this year X”

    I’ve slowly watched it go up from 430 or so…I think it’s around 750 now.

    Very grim.

    ON the other hand I’ve seen people texting as they pass under the sign…

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Having seen one of these signs on I-95 between Baltimore and Washington precipitate a massive slowdown (the sign read something like “Blue Pontiac with license # 123-456, call 301 123-4567″ I wonder of any of these “safety” outfits who seem to be flush with money have ever done a study of the effects of needless and useless roadway information signs, not to mention poor and/or confusing signage, including stuff like “this portion of your highway adopted by Boy Scout troop 642.”

      Not that I am condoning texting, or, frankly anything in the car which requires the operator to look away from the road; but having seen a dramatic demonstration of the distracting effects of government signage (now that billboards have pretty much been banned), seems like that ought to be scrutinized.

      And I also note that the prohibition on use of handheld cellphones is observed more in the breach in DC; I’ve even seen the parking meter folks using cellphones while driving. So, the effectiveness of legal prohibitions on texting has got to be pretty suspect.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Interesting thing about government signage, there is an abyssmal shortage of signs being properly placed to tell you where you are and what’s ahead. Plenty of them telling you what not to do.

        I suspect an increase is due to GPS usage to compensate for the signs that have been removed. This may be regional to me, but I don’t think so. The larger and older a city, and the newer a road, the less likely a sign will be placed leading you to highway on ramps and off ramps as well as basic street signage.

        My new fave is the toll road signage designed to give you zero warning you are getting on a toll road.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      It doesn’t say “Illinois traffic deaths this year”, it says “Chicago traffic deaths this year” and presumably is Chicago metro, not the city proper – because 75% of the signs are in the suburbs.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        I stand corrected.

        IMHO that is a LOT of deaths for just the Chicago metro area….730′ish with 1/4 of the year still to go among 10M people?

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “IMHO that is a LOT of deaths for just the Chicago metro area….730′ish with 1/4 of the year still to go among 10M people?”

        It certainly is a lot of traffic deaths. But keep in mind that the hospital that delivered my baby girl earlier this year has delivered almost 10,000 babies so far this year. That’s just one hospital.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick T.

        The signs say 760 deaths in hereTN which has a population of about 6.5 million which is a greater rate. Of course it doesn’t help when you see stuff like a tow truck PUSHING a disabled pickup truck at about 75 mph.

  • avatar
    eamiller

    I’m more interested in deaths per mile driven. I suspect that there were more miles driven this summer than in past years due to the upward trend of airline ticket prices.

    I know, anecdotally, high airline ticket prices pushed me to drive from Indiana to Vermont this summer.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      +1. As the population increases and miles driven increases, the ‘baseline’ deaths can’t be used any longer.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Even more important than airline tickets is the economy. As more people get back to work & more people have a bit more money, the more they drive–to work, to buy things, to have fun, as well as to travel (fewer ‘staycations’).

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    This is all a political dance BS while sucking off on the manufacturers. NHTSA should make this one simple – NO TXT OR INTERNET BROWSING ACCESS CAPABILITIES WHEN THE CAR IS IN GEAR.

    See, simple, and don’t need 15 airbags to save your sorry texting ass.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      Agreed, but how do you enforce this without co-operation from the cellphone makers?

      • 0 avatar
        MadHungarian

        I am assuming this does not refer to disabling handheld units (since I can’t imagine how you could disable the driver’s unit but not the passenger’s). I assumed the proposal referred to systems installed in the car. For some reason, NHTSA seems reluctant to put the brakes on increasingly sophisticated in-car systems, with bigger and bigger screens, that are making it possible for anyone to Facebook while driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      I suppose they could implement that if the phone was linked to the car through Bluetooth, or if the phone deactivates those features when the GPS detects movement of greater than say 25km/h. But how would you be able to distinguish that from passengers in the car (or bus) who are free to text/surf?

      Make no mistake though, I’m with you on the general idea.

    • 0 avatar
      cdakost

      But how would you do that?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I just call it Darwinism at work.

      • 0 avatar
        Watch Carefully

        I’m as apathetic to people killing themselves via their own stupid decisions as the next guy, but I don’t want my wife/daughter dying as a consequence of someone else’s poor judgement.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      Also: On the flip side, I turn on my gps tracking software on my phone when I go out motorcycling alone on long trips because my wife worries. She can view a hidden webpage to see where I am if I don’t return on time. This was MY idea, not hers as she was always expressing worry about me riding out alone several hundred miles. After turning it on I tuck it in my leather jacket pocket & it works fine like that. I don’t have bluetooth or anything on as it would be impossible for me to hear with the background noise of the motorcycle. I am basically off the grid when on the bike.

      I wouldn’t want to lose this capability if new laws are passed regarding turning cellphones off while moving….

      As an addendum: I wouldn’t be opposed to swapping my phone with gps tracking to something similar that is screenless/can’t make calls/otherwise limited but performed the same function as my gps tracking software. It would need to have a swappable sim & be relatively cheap however.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “As an addendum: I wouldn’t be opposed to swapping my phone with gps tracking to something similar that is screenless/can’t make calls/otherwise limited but performed the same function as my gps tracking software. It would need to have a swappable sim & be relatively cheap however.”

        ~$50 on Amazon right now. Up to $200 if you want more features.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        Just looked on Amazon. Most of those dont’ seem to have enough battery life (need 12 hours) to work, from the comments. ALso they don’t really have specs about where it sends the data, and they are by unknown chinese companies.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “I wouldn’t be opposed to swapping my phone with gps tracking to something similar that is screenless/can’t make calls/otherwise limited ”

        You distrust yourself that much?

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        @ Dan> No, I figure if a law came about that banned cellphones in any moving vechie, that would cover anything with a screen or that can make calls. I would be willing to accept something screenless and/or with no microphone speaker as a viable solution while riding since I wouldn’t use those features anyhow.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Until something goes horribly wrong in the 10 airbag vehicle filled with a bunch of nuns and handi-capable kids with much scientific examination indicating said nuns and kids would be alive today had they 15 airbags.

      Anyways, even if the feds didn’t give a flying crap about safety from this day forward you can bet the number of airbags in vehicles wouldn’t diminish since safety is a selling factor. Hell safety is even a factor in who wins in the internet bench racing contest.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “Anyways, even if the feds didn’t give a flying crap about safety from this day forward you can bet the number of airbags in vehicles wouldn’t diminish since safety is a selling factor.”

        Family vehicles that need to be approved by the woman, of course.

        Cars bought by single men, not so much.

        Econo crapboxes, not at all. An $8000 Versa-Darwin would outsell a $13000 (and 400 lbs heavier, and 5 mpg thirstier) Versa-Nanny 8 ways from Sunday.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Thank you for not misusing the word “kabuki”!

    • 0 avatar

      So if you’re on a bus or train or in a car as a passenger, you shouldn’t be able to use those features either?

      This is the problem – it’s only an issue if the driver does these things.

  • avatar
    thecavanaughs

    Amen, Stumpaster.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I am on the road alot. It boggles the mind how many people are looking down at their hand helds while going 80 mph. I can spot them, pretty much the same as drunk driving: The begin to drift out of the lane, then suddenly correcting. Slow driving in the fast lane. Slow driving in the middle lane. This on the NJ and PA turnpike, with like a million cars all over the place.

    I dont know what to do. I try to avoid them, much as i do a drunk driver. But what about a 2 lane road? theres not so much drift room.

    This is a really sad state of affairs. The cops do not seem to be ticketing these drivers, only speeders, maybe easier to prove? Dunno, but for the first time in a long time, i feel in fear of my life on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      ” The cops do not seem to be ticketing these drivers, only speeders”

      I really wish they would expand enforcement of things like tailgating, failing to signal, left lane is for passing only, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        I hope you meant LEFT lane for passing only. But yes, the cops need to focus on those things.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        “Right lane is for passing only”. You live in Chicago, don’t you? (where we have an express way where onramps put you in the left lane & people pass on the right)

        http://www.nbcchicago.com/traffic/transit/IDOT-Moving-I-290-Left-Right-158461535.html

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        Where in the California Vehicle code, for example, does it say “left lane is for passing only”? Only vehicles towing trailers are not allowed there, except for some insanely designed left lane on and off ramps.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The cashiers in blue here almost universally set up in the median and fish in the left lane.

        The only reasonable conclusion is that the left lane is for running cruise control at no more than 9 over and if you’re actually awake while driving you should be on the right.

        Insane.

      • 0 avatar
        another_pleb

        Failing to signal isn’t in and of itself dangerous.

        Failing to signal when a signal would be appropriate and beneficial to other road-users is dangerous.

        Signaling when not appropriate (such as when the signal could be ambiguous or when it os made without checking the relevant mirrors first or where there are no other road-users around to benefit from it) is also dangerous.

        In the MSPSL routine, only the M and the L are compulsory.

      • 0 avatar
        asapuntz

        “express way where onramps put you in the left lane”

        that’s not uncommon – plenty of it on I-5 in Seattle.

        Not unlike using a cloverleaf for an interchange between express ways (north/western I-290/I-90). A classic case of “one-time” construction costs taking priority over long-term usage (traffic delay) costs.

        I suspect that maintenance costs of the extra overpasses has long ago been dwarfed by the accident cleanup costs.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Slower traffic keep right” needs to be better enforced generally. Having lived in California for many many years now, Californians seem far dumber at this than in other places I’ve lived and/or driven.

        As for Nikita’s question, it’s most definitely in the California Vehicle Code:
        http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21654.htm The San Jose Mercury News’ car/traffic columnist refers to offenders as “road boulders.” I call them a–holes, usually. :)

        California also bans using non-handsfree phones while driving (whether calling or texting), but that’s not very well enforced. A lot of these violators are driving luxury cars and don’t give a crap (and I say that as a luxury car driver), but there are plenty of people who are not in luxury cars too. You can definitely see the slow/bob/weave that lots of people have mentioned. It seems like the almost-sideswipes have occurred more frequently lately than I ever remember.

        I had to look up MSPSL — what a horrible abbreviation. The first thing that comes up in Google is Michigan State Premier Soccer League!

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Slower traffic keep right” needs to be better enforced generally. Having lived in California for many many years now, Californians seem far dumber at this than in other places I’ve lived and/or driven.

        As for Nikita’s question, it’s most definitely in the California Vehicle Code:
        http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21654.htm The San Jose Mercury News’ car/traffic columnist refers to offenders as “road boulders.” That’s far nicer than the name I usually call them.

        California also bans using non-handsfree phones while driving (whether calling or texting), but that’s not very well enforced. A lot of these violators are driving luxury cars and don’t give a crap (and I say that as a luxury car driver), but there are plenty of people who are not in luxury cars too. You can definitely see the slow/bob/weave that lots of people have mentioned. It seems like the almost-sideswipes have occurred more frequently lately than I ever remember.

        I had to look up MSPSL — what a horrible abbreviation. The first thing that comes up in Google is Michigan State Premier Soccer League!

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      My experience has been the opposite. The texting/talking drivers are usually meandering along about 5-10 mph slower than everyone else.

      • 0 avatar
        jerseydevil

        yesa, i notice that too. Just like drunk drivers. On the left pale thing, the last dozen or so cops i’ve seen on the xways haev been busy staring into theit radar speed thingies on the side of the road. Not looking at traffic at all, not in traffic at all. Perhaps if they got out of their speed traps, they would be more effective. If I can easily spot distracted drivers, so can anyone, even cops.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Speaking of which, just saw an SFPD patrol car where the cop was on his phone, and that was in stop and go on a busy street. Probably not effective driving or policing.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Oh yes, it’s the evil texting!!!

    And remember, speed kills, just ask Richard hammond. Oh wait…

    I think it’s all the safety crap and driver aids that are actually killing more people.

    For YEARS I have been saying that people are supplementing proper driving skills with driver aids. Just look at all the people that need FWD/AWD to go through some snow? It’s insane.

    But it’s so darn easy to blame texting isn’t it? God forbid we admit that our own policies are killing people. Look at how small windows have gotten. Taurus anyone?Visability is horrid, especially to the rear.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Your theory is totally ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Agree with jmo here. Clearly modern cars are raising the number of deaths by being too safe and having too many driver aids, 86SN2001. Laughable everytime someone says this.

        Inattentive and poor drivers of ANY type suck. It has nothing to do with gizmos.

        We will never have German-style driving requirements here in the US because people are into their false sense of “freedom” and other nonsense and want to be able to drive broken poorly maintained cars and have inadequate driving tests where basically you are required not to run off the road.

        The irony is that, while there’s almost no speeding enforcement in many parts of Europe, we have tons of speeding enforcement here, and I’m not convinced that it makes our roads safer. If cops actually enforced other driving foibles that do make our roads unsafe, it’d be a far better use of resources, but cops and munipalities are lazy and see a pile of speeding tickets as a proxy for effectiveness and a source of revenue.

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      having poor visibility, especially to the rear, isn’t going to get an attentive driver in particular trouble – sure it might be a little more work, but I doubt there are many accidents that can directly be linked to small windows as THE deciding factor.

      I think the point here is that visibility doesn’t matter if the driver isn’t even looking out the windows. Be it texting, rummaging for a CD (oh, I guess it’s thumbing through your playlist now, isn’t it?), applying makeup, shaving, whatever takes your eyes off the portholes.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Yes, the visibility comments seem more based on style than on substance. I get it, you don’t like the style of modern vehicles. But as many here have stated, many older vehicles were not any better in terms of visibility. The real problem is driver inattentiveness.

        A good driver can drive a car with crap visibility (like a UHaul where you have NO visibility through a rear view) just fine, although I always give UHaul, Penske, and other rental truck drivers a wide berth because most people don’t know how to drive them and are doing it twice in a lifetime basically.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Wait, are you defending the poor, innocent texting while driving which never killed anyone?

      And as much as I appreciate a car with good visibility, unless you’re backing up, anything that goes on out the back of your car is somebody else’s problem. I’m serious. You need properly adjusted side mirrors to aid in lane changes, but you could live without a back window or a rearview mirror (much less the three rearview mirrors which is what most people make out of their reaview and side mirrors).

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        In theory you should be checking all your mirrors periodically so that in the event of an unforeseen occurrence you can avoid it with the appropriate maneuver. I used big words – but the point isthat we are all responsible for each other on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “For YEARS I have been saying that people are supplementing proper driving skills with driver aids. Just look at all the people that need FWD/AWD to go through some snow? It’s insane.”

      And yet traffic deaths go down every year, and there’s demonstrable proof that active and passive safety works.

      Bad drivers will always drive badly, training or not (and some training will make bad drivers not just careless, but arrogant). Short of fixing a foot-long dagger to the steering wheel hub, the solution is to mitigate the risk through technological progress. If you want to drive and text, you’re probably better off (as are your fellow motorists) if you drive an autonomous transport pod.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Poor visibility in some vehicles is nothing new. Sit in a 1960s or 1970s personal luxury coupe with the wide, “formal” D pillars. You can’t see out of those very well, either, even if the car has opera windows, as many 1970s personal luxury cars did.

    • 0 avatar
      jerseydevil

      this is too ridiculous to comment on, i tried, but i just can’t

  • avatar
    nikita

    These latest studies are finding an sharp increase in pedestrian fatalities in New York City and Los Angeles. Maybe its not all the fault of drivers. Folks walking with earphones on and looking down at smart phones may be part of the reason for an increase in “traffic deaths”.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      I wonder if this is an area where visibility issues in newer cars are a factor. I have been amazed in some cars how much distance a crossing pedestrian can cover while hidden by the forward blind spots caused by steeply sloped fat A-pillars and huge side mirrors that are sitting high up in the driver’s field of view due to high vehicle beltlines.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I worked with a guy who had 3 DUIs. When he wanted to get home from the bar he would have someone blow into the interlock to start his car. That’s how he got the third DUI. So forget the “virtually eliminate” DUI claim.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Wonder if Baruth’s used that line before?

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      If interlocks become more popular maybe places would employ “interlock blowers” in addition to valets and bouncers.

      I’m already writing a script for a movie about an alcoholic “blower” trying to face his demons and get back in the bigs. And the woman who loves him….

      Rourke is Back!! Blown – it will blow you away

      Mr. Rourke you’re wanted on the set-Mr. Rourke? …..

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      I hope the idiots who blew into the interlock were charged with some serious offense! They ought to be convicted of DUI themselves, or at least some equally serious offense.

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    Could this increase be put down to people neglecting the maintenance and replacement of safety-critical equipment on their cars due to economic circumstances?

    If your rent and electricity bills are overdue it may be tempting to try and make a balding set of tyres last a few extra miles and to ignore funny sounds from the brakes or steering.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      That goes hand in hand with deteriorating roads from less maintenance. Potholes and worn road surfaces accelerate tire and suspension wear and can lead to blown tires that can cause nasty accidents. Also leads to increased insurance costs.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    This article is a bit short on facts. The 1H2011 traffic deaths are ‘up’? Up from what? Up from last year? Up by how much? By 2 deaths? By 2,000 deaths?
    How about a trend chart showing the historical trend?

  • avatar
    gator marco

    I had a Pontiac in 1970, and the visibility out the back window is almost identical to my 2005 Taurus. Although I will admit the side mirrors are nicer.

    And the DUI ignition interlock system? Coming to a new car near you. Just wait for the problems when diabetics, people on certain medications, or just plain old folks can’t start their car because the device says they are “drunk”.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Perhaps we need to look at this on a more foundational level.

    I recall wanting a motorcycle at 15 after getting my license. My father told me he would allow it if we went to the emergency room on a Friday night to view accident victims with horrible injuries. Even though I never did it, the thought stayed with me later on when I started riding. Still with me to this day.

    Why not require all 14-15 year olds to do a stint in the ER to witness the consequences of poor decision making? Or at least offer a massive reduction on insurance costs for those that choose to do so? I believe the main way learning sticks is up close and personal. Just handing out info hasn’t worked effectively and, IMO, never will.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      They used to show gruesome films of real-life accidents in driver’s ed. That didn’t have any long-term effect. I believe you can even view some of the old ones on youtube.

      Many states HAVE cracked down on younger drivers. It takes longer to get a full license, and teen drivers face more restrictions on when they can drive and how many passengers they can have in the car.

      • 0 avatar
        FrankTheCat

        Yeah when I went through drivers ed at 16 (you can get a ‘restricted’ license 6 months after turning 16 in NYS, which only allows driving to work and school [but who do they expect to follow that rule],) we had to watch gruesome videos on the consequences of drinking and driving/texting and driving/getting road head and driving, etc. A majority of the class were staring under their desks at their phones mindlessly, not giving two shits.

        One of those very classmates rear-ended me the next fall when leaving school. Didn’t even notice they’d rubbed half the paint off their bumper, they were so goddamn engrossed in texting, until I walked up to their window (at a green light) and asked them what was their major malfunction.

        It’s frustrating how inattentive people are while driving, completely oblivious to the fact that they’re piloting a two ton rolling murder machine. And when I honk the horn at them after they start drifting into my lane at 75MPH (because they’re doing makeup or some stupid bullshit,) they give ME a dirty look.

        Sigh.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Add to this the increasing amount of in-car distractions; Cadillac CUE, Ford Sync and all the other infotainment crap. I love Bluetooth/Phone integration for music and phone, but do we need everything else these systems are selling us? Texting is only one part of our distracted driving culture.

    There is a time and place for these things and it’s not in a car. Too many people don’t know when NOT to use their tech, we don’t need the manufacturers saying it’s OK.

    As far as accident prevention (and I know that this is an unpopular notion) but I don’t understand why more places don’t have mandatory annual inspection/emissions? In my part of PA you must have an inspection and emission check done every year, other nearby counties only require inspection.

    I know the last thing many people want is for more government intervention, but I don’t see how making sure everyone is driving a minimally safe car ( 3/32s tread is minimum passing on tires for example) is that much of a hassle. $80 a year seems like a small price to pay for making sure everyone can stop, go and steer at a minimum all while not over-polluting the world.

    Of course, the problem comes with older cars and people who are really struggling financially. They need their car, which in my area, under-served by mass transit, it is really a need. To them, it’s more of a burden and one I can’t answer.

    All I know is that when I travel to states like Ohio which don’t have inspection programs, I cringe at a lot of the cars on the road. I know that they can’t be altogether safe. Add that to distracted driving( and/or walking in the case of pedestrian accidents), more miles being traveled and it’s not a huge surprise that fatalities have gone up.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I don’t think safety inspections are all that effective at getting unsafe cars off the road. I used to live in MA, which had annual safety inspections and emissions tests every other year.

      The safety inspection is too easy to pass. Inspectors glance at the outside edge of the tires, make sure your seatbelt buckles still work, your head lights come on, and your horn works. Cars with excessive wear in the suspension, leaking brake fluid, and uneven tire wear will probably pass. Furthermore, a lot can fail in between inspections.

      What will cause your car to fail the inspection is BS like insufficient parking brakes.

      Now I live in CA, which has emissions test every other year, but no safety inspections. At first I was horrified, but then thought more about it and decided the safety inspections don’t weed out poorly maintained cars very well anyway. It’s just one more fee for the government to collect.

      I like the idea of inspections, but they seem to be either too lax (MA) or too strict (I think TTAC had an article a while back on strict Japanese inspections basically forcing people into new cars).

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        They’ve tightened this up in MA. I agree – a lot can be missed but with new computers they can’t fake too much. I think fear of inspections makes people fork out the $400 for a brake job even when fear of death doesn’t prompt them.

      • 0 avatar
        mikedt

        See this is why PA’s inspection was so good in my opinion. Leaking shocks is a fail, brake pads that won’t make it through the year – fail, tires that won’t last – fail. They pull the wheels and look at the pads and condition of other stuff. Unlike my current state of NJ who only seemed to worry if you could stop the car today, PA’s inspection gave some guarantee that you’d be able to stop the car 6 months from now.

    • 0 avatar
      samthedog

      amen brother, my neighbors’ Edge has MyTouch….holy distraction Batman….Coupled with bomb shelter visibility, its ( and they are ) an accident waiting to happen…Its fun though to listen to them rant about trying to change the “climate”….On the other hand, your hope for some form of mandatory inspection etc….I have had this issue for years….and I live in British Columbistan, which used to have mandatory inspections, but that was years ago that they turfed it….Now its only for out of province imports, and thats a shame….Mostly due to my belief that it would take care of all the mega truck and bike crowd that seem to think its ok to run straight pipes….One of my pet peeves on living anywhere near modern cities, is the NOISE….and no, its not a matter of selling and living in the bush, but do we REALLY need to hear your turbo spool up into a shriek, as you find your favourite parking spot in SprawlMart?….But thats really another rant altogether isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Driving safely isn’t about the car. Short of outright braking or steering failure, even the most neglected car will out stop, go and steer any commercial truck. Safety comes from the driver.

      Inspecting my car because someone else drove on belts isn’t safety. It’s egalitarian theater. If you want to punish people for causing accidents through negligent maintenance, go ahead. I didn’t cause an accident. Don’t punish me.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        How is forcing everyone to have a baseline level of safety “punishment”? If you keep your car well maintained, then it’s not an issue.

        The problem is that the neglected car comes with someone who’s usually a neglectful driver. I don’t want someone who “chooses” to drive on belts, who’s texting while tailgating at 80 mph in the rain to suffer a blow out, only to find their brakes can’t stop them either. Most people don’t make a conscious decision to drive on belts, worn out brakes or anything else.

        Most people don’t pay any mind to their cars unless it’s “making a noise” or “doesn’t feel right”. I feel that mandatory annual minimum inspection would at least give everyone a fighting chance. I’m not saying it fixes everything, not saying it’s the reason the death rate is up.But it would make us more aware as a society about our cars.

        It’s all about accident avoidance. You can’t avoid an accident as well with worn out brakes, tires,etc. In nearby Ohio, with no inspection, my brother says he’ll see at least three cars off the road during his 30 mile highway commute after a rain. Driver error is no doubt present, but so are worn out cars. My sister went to college in Ohio. I remember dropping off her stuff at a self-storage place and the women behind the desk said “Oh, you’re from PA. Your cars are always so nice.” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t due to envy of the 88 Tempo that my sister drove (this was in 2000)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Crash data does not support the belief that equipment failure is a common factor in crashes. Nor will you see a correlation between the use of inspection programs and a reduction in crash rates.

        Accordingly, the inspection programs don’t provide bang for the buck. I wouldn’t describe that as “punishment”, but it’s fair to say that they are ineffective.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Are you volunteering to waste your afternoon and $75 inspecting my car for me? I know perfectly well that it would pass because I already inspected it. Not because it was required, because I’m not a g-ddamn slob. Don’t treat me like I am.

        I am so sick of this lowest common denominator, treat everyone like children crap. It’s degrading, it doesn’t even keep up the pretense of being effective, it’s exactly punishment.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    @ geeber,

    Viewing a 5 minute scene from a distance is not effective. See also my comment about ‘handing out info.’

    I’m thinking viewing the viscera up close and personal could be an oh,-so-this-is-a-big-deal kind of event. Witness a real tragedy and it could change/save a life.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I doubt that having teens view what goes on an ER would be any more effective. They would still think, “That can’t happen to me.” For that matter, so would most adults.

      I also doubt that doctors and nurses working in ERs want a public audience, and there are also patient confidentiality and privacy rights to consider.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Scared straight” programs don’t work. A widespread effort to do something that doesn’t work would be a waste of time and money, and we don’t have enough of either of those to justify wasting them.

  • avatar

    Up by 40% here in Austin.

    Digging into the numbers, the majority of those deaths are pedestrians (and cyclists) killed by cars.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Economic downturns correlate inversely with fatality rates. When things go southbound, fatality rates fall.

    What NHTSA is suggesting is that the fatality rates for 2010 and 2011 were dramatically lower than they had been previously, and those two years may prove to be statistical outliers in comparison to the overall trendline. The preliminary fatality rate calculation for the first half of 2012 is considerably higher than 2010 or 2011, but is similar to the level for 2009.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    As much as I don’t care for texting and driving I can’t put the sole blame on that, I feel that its a combination of people who text and people who live in Forza Turismo.

    I know how these types are, they don’t check their sides nor do they check in the distance, they just hammer down and look at whats close to them.

    I say this after almost hitting a Miata head-on in a parking lot, the Miata was going around blind corners like crazy and had I hit it the Miata would’ve been sandwiched between my Volvo and an S10 that was trailing it.

    Theres that and I saw a Cobalt on the road that must’ve been driven by a demon, it was right behind a truck waiting for a minute and as soon as the truck went the Cobalt shot into the oncoming lane on the corner and cut off the truck.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    This is not about being ‘scared straight.’ It’s about taking responsibility for thy fellow man. This cannot happen via the ivory tower, PSAs, etc. It happens in the trenches.

    Perhaps you are so hardened to tragedy that wheeling a double amputee around is like walking the dog. I’m guessing most impressionable young minds could not easily do this.

    And if it’s a waste of time it could be stopped. Predicting it to be wasteful is a bit rash.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You can call it whatever you like, but the type of thing that you’re suggesting doesn’t work.

      I know that it sounds like a really nifty idea to you, but things that don’t work don’t work. And there’s no reason to devote a lot of effort to doing things that we know won’t work.

      It’s not as if these things haven’t been tried before. We know that they don’t work because the effort was made and it failed. It’s not as if you’re the first person to come up with the idea.

      The problem with driving is that, like sex, everyone assumes that they’re better at it than average and it’s the other guy who sucks. So when they see mangled up cars and people, their assumption is that it’s going to be the other guy who does it, not themselves. Driver education efforts fail time and again because people assume that either (a) education will save them from the danger of taking unnecessary risks (even though it won’t) or that (b) it’s the other guy who needs the education.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Pch101: The problem with driving is that, like sex, everyone assumes that they’re better at it than average and it’s the other guy who sucks.

        That’s the “quote of the week” right there. I’m filing that one away for future use.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @PCH101,

        “Driver education efforts fail time and again because people assume that either (a) education will save them from the danger of taking unnecessary risks (even though it won’t) or that (b) it’s the other guy who needs the education.”

        Your data is false and misleading (time and again).

        It is true that the high school students that skip Driver’s Ed are statically better drivers, but they all had to wait until their 18th birthday to get a licence while those that do pass Driver’s Ed start driving as early as 16.

        Driver’s Ed doesn’t encourage risky behavior or dangerous maneuvers… being 16 does.

        You might prove that attending racing schools prompts overconfidence, but look at the dudes that attend these. No book nerds allowed.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        The issue, however, is that you’re analyzing the existing sample of driver’s education as to whether it’s effective. What if there were better driver’s ed than our current system. What if we had better instruction? Then what would happen?

        Saying that my driver’s ed teacher from back in the day was useless and ineffective goes without saying. The curriculum was crap. When I’ve gone to traffic school to erase a ticket, it’s not like the curriculum was any better than when I took driver’s ed.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “What if there were better driver’s ed than our current system.”

        Driver’s ed around the world has been a flop. Book training, simulator training, skidpad training…it’s all pretty much the same.

        The idea that drivers education will work is very appealing to peoples’ emotions. Unfortunately, there aren’t facts to support that argument. Your gut feelings on the subject have been invalidated, time and again, by a wide body of research.

        Ironically, I could try to teach you about it, and I would probably fail for the very same reasons that drivers ed doesn’t work — because you won’t like what you’re hearing, you’ll just ignore it and refuse to accept the facts.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @PCH101,

        “The idea that drivers education will work is very appealing to peoples’ emotions. Unfortunately, there aren’t facts to support that argument. Your gut feelings on the subject have been invalidated, time and again, by a wide body of research.”

        I don’t know how emotional or appealing it is, but it’s common sense.

        The studies you quote lack a control group. We know the crash rate per mile driven is almost 3 times as high among 16 year olds as it is among 18-19 year olds. Since 16 year olds cannot drive without a taking Driver’s Ed, your studies can only assume (wrong).

        One of the studies you linked even admits this fallacy.

        Another fallacy comes buy studying drivers that had completed a defensive driving course, pursuit or racing schools. Comparing these drivers to the general driving public is ridiculous. They’re already full-time professional drivers, LE or adrenaline junkies.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Again, this is not about driver education. It’s about viewing life from a different vantage point.

    Obviously it won’t be perfect and reduce all traffic accidents to zero. Not all problems have solutions, but they do have mitigations. And here I’ve offered one. You say it has been tried before? Where and when please.

    It is easy to go through life poo-pooing everything. Know what’s hard? Actually coming up with something that can be construed as constructive.

    So back to you. Therefore, what?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Again, you can call it whatever you like. The type of things that you’re suggesting don’t work. Just because it appeals to you doesn’t mean that it’s going to work.

      Governments around the world focus on increasing passive safety equipment levels in cars, because that actually works. Crush zones, airbags, stability control and the like are effective. Expecting people to wise up isn’t.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    So it hasn’t been tried and you were fibbing.

    Thanks for being honest.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “So it hasn’t been tried and you were fibbing.”

      Er, sure.

      Scared Straight programs don’t work. They’ve been tried with all sorts of things, from trying to keep at-risk youth from going to prison to teen pregnancy to reckless driving to drug and alcohol use.

      http://www.prevention.org/inc/Publications/documents/ScaredStraight.pdf

      Programs of the Scared Straight variety not only don’t work, but they often backfire. Teens often feel that the messages are heavy handed and exaggerated, so the programs can just make them cynical and less inclined to see how the messages apply to them.

      A problem with driver safety training generally is that drivers can do things that they shouldn’t do many, many times without suffering any of the dire consequences that they were warned about. When drivers manage to get away with bad behavior time and time again, they assume that (a) they were lied to and (b) they’re better at being bad than other people.

      They get exactly the wrong lesson from the warnings. With bad acts that don’t lead to consequences, the driver becomes more confident and convinced that he is above average and superior to the schmucks who get screwed up and end up in “Red Asphalt” or the hospital. It doesn’t work.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Darwinism.

    Which I’d agree to, if it didn’t seem like 50% of Houston’s fatalities were caused by the other driver.

  • avatar
    raded

    Let’s just make it legal to discharge a firearm at the vehicle of anyone who’s texting. That’d clear things up pretty quick.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    When I buy a car I pay close attention to the safety features. Not because I want to be able snooze, eat, drink, chat to my friends or text while I drive, but because I like to believe I have a well developed sense of self preservation and I know that there are people out there who do not. I choose not to text and drive.
    Legislation banning texting while driving would have zero affect for me and might lead to less stressful drives for everyone.
    The ignition lock, though, is just insidious and draconian. About the same as forcing cell phone makers to comply with disabling phones while driving…
    Just make it against the law and let the normal law enforcement processes take place.

    • 0 avatar
      FrankTheCat

      Except it doesn’t. It’s illegal to use your phone, whether talking or texting, in New York, but I’m willing to bet 90% of tickets are speeding tickets, since it’s easier for law enforcement officers to prove and bring in revenue. Unfortunately that’s what the NY State Troopers have stooped down to. They may deny quotas publicly, but that’s a load of horseshit.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      All distracted driving behavior should already be considered against the law everywhere already. Doesn’t every single state and commonwealth have something along the lines of “reckless driving”?

      I don’t know why lawmakers feel the need to itemize what qualifies as reckless driving. If the police see someone not in control of their vehicle doing something stupid behind the wheel, the should stop them and cite them with reckless driving.

      Enforcement is a whole different discussion.


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