By on May 2, 2017

'Distracted Driving Law In Effect' Road Sign, Image: Public Domain

Back in 2012, a Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) spokesman said one reason southeastern Michigan had seen an increase in traffic crashes and deaths is because the area is more urbanized, thus has more motorists than the rest of the state.

In a column the next day on The Michigan ViewThe Detroit News political website, I countered the spokesperson’s claim, arguing “more motorists” logically explained “why” there are more accidents and deaths in urbanized areas, but did not explain the increasing frequency of those rates. (That column is also featured in my second book, Jimmy Hoffa Called My Mom a Bitch: Profiles in Stupidity. Pardon the self-promotion.)

What could be behind the rise after years of declining numbers? Maybe, I argued, it was a regulation legislators began enacting in SE Michigan, the state, and — in fact — the entire country in 2007: the ban on texting while driving.

(Read More…)

By on March 3, 2017

Enjoy The Freedom of a Car Postcard, Image: "Free!" (CC BY 2.0) by Payton Chung

“One day in Maryland about four years ago, Carr was teaching his 16-year-old daughter how to drive when two police cars went rocketing by on the interstate, doing 80 in a 55 mph zone without lights on.” From that tiny seed — which, let’s face it, is planted about fifty thousand times a day on American roads — a great tree grew. Soldier and veteran Glen Carr now spends a significant portion of his time photographing illegally-parked police cars. It’s hard to think of a more quintessentially American thing: a man comes back from war and decides to fixate on some injustice, major or minor. It’s a story that in various forms has underpinned everything from Victorian novels to the movie Walking Tall.

What makes Carr’s jihad so engaging and admirable? Perhaps it’s the certain knowledge that he is doomed to fail. At best, he’s gonna get tired of documenting these quotidian injustices. At worst, some cop is going to shoot him dead when Carr pulls out his camera then claim he thought it was a gun. You can’t fight City Hall. Illegal vehicle operation by police officers isn’t going to stop any time soon. It might not stop until every cop car is fully autonomous. Maybe not even then. Does everybody remember the quote from Blade Runner? “If you’re not a cop, you’re little people!”

Meanwhile, for the little people in the UK, things are about to get significantly more strict.

(Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

Texting and Driving

There’s no denying that distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic, but consumer and safety advocates are split on the best ways to tackle it.

While the proposed guidelines for mobile device makers issued last week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won applause from safety groups, one consumer technology organization has accused the regulator of overreach.

It’s a “slippery slope” argument, now that the federal government wants mobile devices to operate in the same way as in-car infotainment systems. (Read More…)

By on November 23, 2016

Texting and Driving

First, it came for your car’s infotainment interface. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is after your phone.

The road safety regulator has proposed a new set of guidelines designed to combat rising distracted driving deaths, and part of it involves making your phone aware of where you’re sitting. Specifically, that seat behind the wheel. (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

2017 Ford Police Interceptor Utility

Danger, nudity, drugs and the long arm of the law. You’re not safe from any of those things while on the road. There’s Buicks out there, too.

In this edition of Freaky Friday, a young lady discovers that some things are best left to the intimate and discreet confines of one’s own home (or an airport bathroom), a crack aficionado wants everyone to know his favorite pastime, Portland residents are walking caricatures, and a Buick Verano returns excellent fuel economy on a 16-mile journey.  (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2016

helicopter (Ted Velas/Facebook]

Remember the good old days? When men were men, women were grateful for that, and drunk drivers weren’t running into aircraft? Well, it’s #THE CURRENT YEAR, as noted pint-sized pansy ass John Oliver reminds America’s idle rich every Sunday night, and those innocent times of yore are long gone, replaced by a world in which even fire ants need a safe space.

But there’s no space in Gallup, New Mexico that is safe from drunk drivers, as 26-year-old Glenn Livingston recently proved.

(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2016

traffic highway (Bryce Watanabe/Flickr)

Traffic deaths skyrocketed last year by the largest amount since 1966, erasing safety gains made in recent years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released raw 2015 data yesterday, revealing that 35,092 people died on U.S. roads — a 7.2 percent spike in fatalities compared to the previous year. The data shows the deaths weren’t confined to any particular demographic. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2016

coffee while driving (bluemini/Flickr)

New Jersey Democrats are pushing a wide-ranging distracted driving bill that would lead to harsh penalties for motorists, but does it mean cupholders will soon be outlawed in the Garden State?

The answer: probably not, but the bill would give law enforcement the blanket regulation they need to lay a charge for anything from eating behind the wheel to fixing your hair. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2016

pokemon

If you’re anything like the writers at TTAC, Pokémon Go is a strange and scary thing, like what those teenagers might be doing over there.

We’ve avoided writing about the misadventures associated with the nerdy phone app — grown men falling off cliffs, kids finding corpses, awkward romantic escapades — but a moron in Baltimore tipped our hand.

Two nights ago, a Baltimore police officer’s body camera captured a Toyota RAV4 colliding with his parked cruiser. The young male driver, who clearly couldn’t figure out how to cover his ass, immediately admits to playing Pokémon Go behind the wheel.

(Read More…)

By on July 10, 2016

Volvo Autonomous Drive, Image: Volvo Cars

The National Transportation Safety Board plans to investigate the fatal May 7 Tesla crash to see if the trend of increased automation in driving functions has a dark side, Bloomberg reports.

Already, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the incident and the role the vehicle’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system played in the crash, but the NTSB has a broader scope in mind. As vehicles increasingly rely on electronic aids for safety, drivers could be letting down their guard. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2016

driver

They already came for your cell phone, but a new study on distracted driving could be the spark legislators are looking for to take away your hands-free calling.

Keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road means nothing if your brain is busy visualizing something else, say researchers at Britain’s University of Sussex. Their study, published in the journal Transportation Research, showed that hands-free motorists can miss seeing objects right in front of them, especially when they’re not just pretending to listen to the other person.

Having a conversation while driving creates an epic battle inside the brain, with reality and imagination duking it out for dominance, the study found. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2016

distracted

Let’s have some fun with this video featuring two narcissists whining at each other about the use of a cell phone in a stopped vehicle. It’s extra fun, because one of them is a cop!

(Read More…)

By on April 12, 2016

texting behind the wheel of death

As the state of New York debates new distracted driving legislation, an Israeli firm is putting the finishing touches on a “textalyzer” device that could rat out drivers for using their phone before a crash.

Israeli mobile forensics firm Cellebrite developed the data-scanning device, according to Ars Technica, which could become the newest — and most controversial — law enforcement tool since the Taser.

Cellebrite, which sounds like a medication for over-sexed honors students, specializes in data extraction and decoding, and boasts of its 15,000-plus military and law enforcement customers on its website. The firm really knows its stuff — it’s generally believed that they helped the FBI hack into the iPhone at the heart of the San Bernardino/Apple controversy.

(Read More…)

By on March 3, 2016

Front Pedestrian Braking, a new active safety technology available on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and 2016 Cadillac CT6, is one of many safety features tested at General Motors' new Active Safety Test Area at the Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. Image: Jeffrey Sauger/General Motors

Isaac writes:

Recently my family was sitting around the table discussing how my youngest sister will obtain her driving permit in a month to begin the wonderful process of becoming a licensed driver. The interesting part of this conversation, and the part I hope you can offer some advice, is when we talked about safety. Are modern cars too safe for beginner drivers?

While many publications and parents say new drivers should be placed in the safest vehicle possible, I have struggled with this concept and can only wonder how safety equipment in car affects new drivers. Comparing the two vehicles that my parents are considering giving to my youngest sister, my older sister’s 2002 Saturn SC2 or my mom’s old 2008 Ford Taurus X, there is a big difference in the safety between these cars. My sister and I were given cars that lacked ABS, side or curtain airbags, ESP, and traction control. Not having features, like AB, taught my sister to be more attentive in slippery conditions.

While I will not argue against the safety these systems provide, nor their existence, I can only wonder if we are hindering the drivers of tomorrow. I wonder how modern features like blind spot monitoring, radar based cruise control, and backup cameras will affect new drivers. Personally, I like to think I am a better driver today because of the lack of safety features I had in my first couple of cars.

Any thoughts?

(Read More…)

By on February 2, 2016

selfiecauses

Or, at least, that’s what this nifty, little, easily digestible graph from Priceonomics would lead you to believe.

The often utilized and equally abhorred selfie, the act of recording a moment in time of thyself, has been directly linked to the deaths of two people while driving, according to news reports compiled by Priceonomics. That pales in comparison to the 16 people who’ve fallen from great heights to their deaths in their personal quests to capture that perfect MySpace-esque profile pic.

Or, you know, impaired driving deaths.

(Read More…)

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