Drowsy Driving

AAA Studies Drowsy Driving

More than one-fifth of fatal motor vehicle crashes involved drowsy drivers according to a new study by the American Automobile Association. The study looked at data from a representative sample of 14,268 crashes between 2009 and 2013 and determined that an average of 6,400 people are killed in 328,000 drowsy driving crashes per year.

Among their findings, the study determined that drowsy driving caused:

  • 6% of all crashes in which a vehicle was towed from the scene;
  • 7% of crashes in which a person received treatment for injuries sustained in the crash;
  • 13% of crashes in which a person was hospitalized and;
  • 21% of crashes in which a person was killed.

Sleep deprived nation

America is a sleep deprived nation. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy and 37% admit to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year.

A recent National Geographic TV special explained that sleep serves a necessary biological function and serves to clear toxic chemicals from the brain. One toxic substance that is known to be cleared out during sleep is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and it’s thought that not getting enough sleep could lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to National Geographic, having a sleep deficit is like having an overdraft at the bank. If you sleep only six hours a night on weeknights and try to make it up by sleeping two extra hours on Saturday, you still have a sleep deficit of eight hours remaining. That has to be paid back somehow and, unfortunately, it’s often paid back behind the wheel.

Getting a full night’s sleep is critical, not only for safe driving but also for our overall health. For tips on getting a full night’s sleep, visit: Sleep tools and tips

Addicted to smartphone

Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone?

Addictions take many forms and it’s becoming apparent that more and more Americans are addicted to their smartphones or other digital devices.

Addictions can be somewhat harmless or they can take over and ruin your life and the lives of others that you love and care about. Not only can addictions ruin your life, they can be life threatening. In the case of smartphones and other digital devices, the constant urge to always stay connected can take over one’s life and, if done while driving, can easily lead to a fatal crash.

The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction has created a  test to determine whether or not you could be addicted to your digital devices and may need help in curbing your need to stay connected. To take the test, visit: Digital Distraction Test

Thanksgiving weekend travel

46.3 Million Expected On Roads Thanksgiving Weekend

This Thanksgiving weekend, the American Automobile Association (AAA) anticipates that 46.3 million people will be out on the roads. With gas prices lower than they have been in years, most Americans will be traveling by car on this, the most heavily traveled holiday of the year. This will also be the deadliest holiday of the year for American motorists.

Keep your cool

With so many cars on the road, you can expect that there will be traffic jams. Leave as early as you can and expect delays. Expect also that there will be drivers on the road with short tempers. Watch your temper and don’t let them goad you into taking some kind of risky action.

If you encounter other, inconsiderate drivers, don’t try to retaliate against them. You never know when you may be pushing another driver over the edge into a road rage situation. If another driver is driving aggressively and dangerously, stay out of their way.

Remember, there’s no such thing as a motor vehicle accident. Car crashes happen when one or more drivers make a poor choice. It’s not an accident! Bad driver behavior causes crashes, not fate.

Don’t Drive Drowsy

If you’re feeling groggy, don’t try to push it. Get off the road and rest. Swap off driving duties with another driver. Take a break every two hours or 100 miles.

If you’re feeling drowsy, stop and get some coffee or some other kind of caffeinated drink. Remember that it will take time for the caffeine to kick in so, after consuming the drink, take a short half-hour nap. With the short nap and the caffeine kicking in, you should feel rested and ready to go.

Remember that it’s better to be late than to never arrive at all.

Watch the weather

Weather conditions are expected to be bad with snow forecast from Washington DC northward. The mid-west is also expecting snow. Watch the weather forecasts and give yourself extra time for weather delays.

Make sure you have warm weather clothing and blankets in case you get stuck. Carry a bag of cat litter and salt in the trunk for traction in icy conditions.

Click it or ticket

Your seat belt is the most important safety device in the car. No matter what type or how bad the crash, you’re always safer when you’re buckled in. Police will be out in force this weekend and will be giving tickets to drivers who aren’t wearing a seat belt.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend.

Minivan Crash Tests

Minivans Fare Poorly In IIHS Crash Tests

Minivans are popular vehicles for families with children however, those families thinking about buying one will want to look carefully at the crash test results for those types of vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently issued a report on the results of their minivan crash tests. Only two minivans received an acceptable rating and three received a poor rating.

The IIHS only started evaluating cars in what are known as small overlap crash tests in 2012. According to the IIHS, frontal impacts are the most deadly type of crash and the small overlap crash tests are designed to imitate a common type of crash where the vehicle strikes an object on the front side; as in a crash against a tree or light pole. This type of crash generally bypasses the vehicle’s main energy absorbing structure.

In the most recent minivan tests, the Nissan Quest, the Chrysler Town & Country and its twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, all earned poor ratings. The crashes in these three vehicles showed major intrusion into the driver compartment that would result in severe and possibly fatal injuries to the driver.

It’s felt that the minivans fared poorly because many minivans are built on car chassis but are generally wider than cars. The wider vehicle extends out over the main structure.

Two minivans earned acceptable ratings; the 2015 Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey. Toyota modified the 2015 Sienna model to better withstand the small overlap crash test. However, even with the modification, there was still some intrusion into the driver’s compartment and the dummy’s head slid off the side of the airbag. The seat belt also allowed the dummy to move too far forward. Those results earned the Sienna an acceptable rating but, when combined with a crash avoidance system, it earns a top safety rating.

In the case of the poorly performing 2011-2015 Nissan Quest, there was more than two feet of intrusion into the passenger compartment. The dummy’s left foot was trapped between the seat and the instrument panel and the right foot was trapped beneath the brake pedal  and toe pan. Researchers had to cut the seat out and use a crowbar to remove the dummy’s foot. According to the researchers, a person who experienced this type of crash would be lucky to ever walk normally again.

The only minivan not tested by the IIHS was the Kia Sedona. The manufacturer stated that they are making modifications to the vehicle’s structure and it will be available for testing soon.

Read more: Minivans with a major flaw: 3 models have dire small overlap results

Photo: Courtesy of IIHS

Texting more dangerous

Drivers Abandon One Dangerous Habit For One More Dangerous

Drivers are using cell phones less but the even more dangerous habit of texting while driving hasn’t changed according to a new study by State Farm Insurance. State Farm has conducted a phone survey of drivers aged 18 and over every year for the past six years and the trends are both encouraging and disturbing at the same time. According to the survey:

  • There has been a steady reduction in the number of drivers talking on a hand-held cell phone.
  • The number of people who report texting while driving has remained stable over six years.

According to State Farm, the growth of Smartphones has created new distractions with “a significant increase over six years in drivers using their phones for: accessing the Internet, reading email, responding to email, programming and listening to a navigation system and reading social media.”

Another disturbing finding is that ten percent of drivers report that driving in school and construction zones has no impact on their cell phone use.

More drivers report that they are using hands-free devices but a recent study by AAA shows that hands free devices can be even more distracting because the effort required in getting the voice recognition system to recognize commands can frustrate drivers and distract their attention from the road.

Even though most drivers report that they are more likely to talk on a cell phone rather than text, drivers still don’t seem to be getting the word that cell phone use is still distracting because paying attention to a cell phone conversation requires concentration and brain power that should be devoted to the road ahead.

For more information, read: DRIVERS ADMIT TO USING THEIR PHONE WHEN BEHIND THE WHEEL – HERE’S WHEN