Google Glass No Safer Than Smart Phones While Driving
October 9, 2014
We have written about the dangers of Google Glass before but our warning was basically just pure speculation based on years of experience in driving safety and distracted driving issues. Now the research data is in! Researchers from the University of Central Florida and the Air Force Research Laboratory conducted a study on the use of Google Glass while driving and the results aren’t at all surprising.
The researchers set up an experiment with 40 test subjects in their 20s and tested their ability to drive on a simulated driving course. The subjects were tested with both Google Glass and a smartphone. The results showed that Google Glass is no safer to use than a smartphone when it comes to avoiding a collision.
This study comes on the heels of another study released last week that shows that voice activated hands-free mobile devices such as Apple’s Siri are no safer than a hand-held cell phone while driving and, in fact, can be even more distracting.
Several states have passed laws banning the use of Google Glass while driving and more are considering it. Earlier this year a California driver successfully fought a ticket she was issued for using Google Glass while driving because there was, at that time, no law against it.
Read more: Drivers, Don’t Trade in Your Smartphone for Google Glass … Yet
Cyclists And New Road Markings
October 8, 2014
Cyclists use bikes as a way to stay in shape, save money or to help protect the environment. Whatever the reason, cycling is growing in popularity and there are more and more bicycles on the roads. Bike sharing is also growing in popularity and bike sharing programs are showing up on major university campuses and in most of the major cities in the US.
Unfortunately, with the increase in cyclists on the road the number of cyclists killed in traffic collisions is also on the rise. In 2012, 726 cyclists were killed and 49,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. With both the popularity of cycling and the number of cycling fatalities on the rise, demands are becoming louder to protect cyclists on the road and traffic engineers are looking at new ways to do just that.
Here are a few road markings designed to make the road safer for cyclists that you may already be familiar with or that you may see in the near future.
The first and probably the most familiar type of lane markings are bicycle lanes. These lanes are set aside for cyclists and they are identified by the image of a cyclist. In some places, the lane may be painted green. No parking is allowed in these lanes. You may enter the lane in preparation for a right turn but only after checking to make sure the lane is clear of cyclists that may be coming up from behind.
Sharrows are lanes that are shared by both cyclists and motorists. Motorists need to be careful and understand that cyclists may move into the center of the lane to avoid obstacles or potholes and they may move to the left in preparation for a left turn. They are marked with the image of a bicycle with two chevrons on top.
Advanced Stop Line
The advanced stop line is painted just before the stop line and crosswalk. This area is also marked with the sharrow image. It allows cyclists to to make left turns or to proceed across an intersection in a safer manner. Motor vehicle traffic must stop at the stop line before the bicycle images.
Bike boxes are essentially the same thing as an advanced stop line. They will be painted green. Motorists must stop before the bike box.
Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Pets In Cars
October 7, 2014
Question: Is it unsafe to drive with pets in cars?
Answer: It depends on how you transport the animal. Driving with unrestrained pets in a car can be dangerous for both you and the animal.
No matter how well trained an animal may be, they’re always unpredictable. It’s impossible to tell when something may be so enticing or frightening to an animal that it’s worth jumping out the window or clawing up the driver to escape. I’ll speak from a couple of my own experiences and hard learned lessons.
Many, many years ago we had a small terrier who used to accompany us when we ran errands or traveled. She had a lot of experience in the car and had never been a problem until one fateful day. We were traveling to a garden store that just happened to be across the street from her vet’s office. As soon as I turned the corner, even without looking out the window, she knew we were headed in the direction of the vet and she made a break for it by jumping out the open window into the middle of a very busy intersection. Fortunately, I was able to stop and other traffic cooperated by stopping long enough for me to catch her and get her safely back into the car.
On another occasion, we decided to get a kitten for our daughter. She had chosen a tiny kitten from a litter and we were on our way home on an interstate highway. So far, the sweet, tiny little kitten had remained very calm but, as I approached a toll booth, something spooked him. He raced right up my chest and dug his tiny, very sharp little claws into my face and held on for dear life. Luckily, there was very little traffic and I was already slowing for the toll booth. I had to steer with one hand and try to see around his body as I fought to rip his claws from my face. My three year old daughter thought it was hilarious.
If you’re the type of driver who likes to drive with pets in your lap, you might be heading for a big distraction if that pet wants to suddenly jump up and look out the window or try to escape. If a cat gets spooked in any way, you can count on being clawed as he tries to escape.
Even if the animal is calm and resting, if you have to suddenly hit the brakes, the animal is going to go flying into or under the dashboard; possibly interfering with your control of the gas and brake pedals. Depending on your speed at the time, it could lead to serious injuries for the animal.
Just like people, pets need to be restrained while in a car; either in a carrying case or by use of a halter designed to work with the seat belts. Now, when I travel out of state with my dog, she wears a travel harness and is clipped in to a D-ring in the cargo area behind the back seat. That’s the only way she has ever traveled. She’s used to it and remains very calm on our trips. It’s the best way to travel with a pet for both her safety and mine.
Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Emergency Flashers
October 1, 2014
Question: Should You use your emergency flashers when it is raining hard?
Answer: This is a common sight, especially in the South where heavy summer thunderstorms hit often. Driving with your emergency flashers on is not only illegal, it’s a really bad idea.
Emergency flashers are only supposed to be used on disabled vehicles to warn other drivers away. They can’t be used in the rain or to identify slow moving vehicles and there are good reasons for this.
Having personally witnessed multiple drivers using their flashers in heavy traffic during a rain storm, I can tell you it made it very confusing for me and, I’m sure, other drivers. The flashers made it hard to tell the difference between the vehicle’s emergency flashers and the brake lights. Determining when the brake lights came on was even more difficult because people tend to ignore the lights on a vehicle whose lights are continually flashing. It also makes it difficult to distinguish between a vehicle that is moving and one that may actually be disabled and stopped. With the lowered visibility due to the rain, the flashers just added to the hazards.
If it’s raining so hard that visibility is reduced to the point where you can’t see other traffic, drivers should pull off the road and wait until the storm passes. If you pull off the road and stop, then the emergency flashers can and should be used.
Using your emergency flashers to indicate that you are driving slower than other traffic is also illegal. Vehicles with mattresses tied to the roof with string or cars running on less than all cylinders don’t belong on the road. If you need to carry something that won’t fit inside your vehicle, you need to rent a trailer or a van. If your vehicle is unable, for whatever reason, to keep up with the flow of traffic, you should also stay off the road until the condition can be fixed.
Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Speed Limits
September 24, 2014
Question: Do speed limits reduce traffic accidents?
Answer: No, speed limits by themselves can’t save lives. However, drivers who obey the posted speed limits do save lives. Let’s look at the purpose of speed limits and then, at why speed is dangerous.
According to the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), approximately one-third of all highway traffic deaths are directly due to speeding. Speeding means either going faster than the posted speed limit or traveling too fast for conditions.
What’s the purpose of speed limits?
There’s a popular belief that speed limits are just a way for governments to raise income by handing out traffic tickets but that’s not the case. Speed limits are determined by traffic engineers and set by local or state governments. No one likes traffic jams so, when trying to determine a speed limit, traffic engineers are actually trying to determine the highest safe speed that will allow traffic to move freely. In order to do this, they have to look at a lot of factors including; size of the road, number of lanes, curves, hills, whether the roadway passes through a school zone, shopping district, etc.
Taking all of those factors into consideration, once a speed limit is set, it is the maximum speed allowed during ideal conditions. Ideal conditions mean clear visibility and dry roads. When there is heavy rain, snow or fog, it’s up to drivers to adjust their speed according to conditions. Even if a driver is traveling at or below the speed limit, it’s still possible to get a speeding ticket for driving too fast for conditions.
Why is speed a problem?
The higher the speed, the less time a driver has to react to an emergency situation ahead. It takes between 1 to 1.5 seconds for a driver to react to an emergency situation. That means a driver obeying a speed limit of 45 mph will travel approximately 99 feet before he or she can fully react. A driver traveling 10 mph over the speed limit will travel more than 121 feet in the same amount of time. A lot can happen in that amount of space.
Laws of Physics
The laws of physics come into play also. A basic law of motion states that an object in motion tends to remain in motion – in a straight line. A driver driving too fast in a curve stands a good chance of losing control and running off the roadway because, due to the laws of motion, it’s physically impossible to keep the vehicle on the road. Physics also come into play in a crash. The higher the speed, the greater the crash forces will be.
Reducing traffic Jams
Believe it or not, if everyone were to obey the speed limit and keep a safe following distance between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead, traffic would move much faster and more smoothly. Traffic jams are caused by drivers who are driving too fast and then hit the brakes when they approach a vehicle ahead. This causes traffic behind to hit the brakes and a traffic jam is the result.
You won’t get there any faster by speeding and yes, obeying the speed limit saves lives!