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       Spring 2016

    Ask Alex Epstein

    Advanced Safety Technologies Can Eliminate Top Cause of Crashes

    In this issue of Focus on the Drive, National Safety Council Senior Director of Digital Strategy and Content Alex Epstein takes a look at questions surrounding advanced driving assistance systems.

    Q:As a fleet manager, trainer or insurance specialist, you're always looking for ways to improve your company's Compliance Safety Accountability score, attract top talent and keep your employees as safe as possible – all while keeping costs low. How can traffic safety technologies assist you?

    A: These technologies can eliminate the top cause of crashes: Human error.

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94% of traffic crashes can be attributed to human error. The most common types of errors drivers make include:

    • Missing road hazards or detecting them too slowly
    • Choosing the incorrect defensive driving action
    • Driving in a distracted or altered state, such as having inadequate sleep, being distracted by a phone or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

    In 2016, there were hundreds of thousands of crashes and an estimated 40,200 lives lost on U.S. roads, so it is important for fleet operators – and all employers with staff who drive as part of their work – to address human error.

    Start with the most crucial aspect of any fleet safety program: training. Make sure drivers are prepared, experienced and competent behind the wheel. But understand: Even the most seasoned driver still can be involved in a catastrophic crash.

    New technologies – known as advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) – are the next evolution in crash prevention. Using cameras, sensors and advanced computing technologies, ADAS are capable of detecting danger quicker than a human's reaction time typically would allow. Some of the most advanced versions of these technologies can intervene when faced with a crash by automatically slowing, stopping or steering a truck or car back to safety – reducing the severity of the crash or preventing it entirely.

    Q: A fleet safety professional likely has questions about ADAS and how to approach integrating them into the fleet. Are All ADAS optional?

    A: Yes and no. The only ADAS that is mandated for large commercial trucks is electronic stability control. Other systems are currently voluntary (but highly recommended) additions to your fleet.

    Once implemented fleet-wide, NHTSA predicts electronic stability control systems will prevent 40% to 56% of untripped rollover crashes. These types of crashes occur when cornering forces destabilize a vehicle. In addition, NHTSA says electronic stability control systems will account for a 14% reduction in loss-of-control crashes among Class 7 and 8 tractor trailers and large buses.

    This equates to 49 lives saved, 649 fewer injuries and 1,759 less crashes being recorded annually. For each life saved, the net economic benefit is as much as $600,000.

    Q: What should I focus on adding to my fleet first?

    A: The first ADAS to focus on is electronic stability control since it will be required in all new commercial vehicles.

    After that, we can look to the data to inform which advanced system would offer the greatest benefit. Look no further than lane departure warning, which was the focus (in addition to stability control) of a recent study by researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. According to analysis, fleets without lane departure warning installed on their vehicles experienced 1.917 more lane-change related crashes than fleets with lane departure warning installed.

    Beyond stability control and lane departure warning, other systems to consider include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitors and tire pressure monitoring systems. Early research findings from a variety of sources have indicated small but statistically significant crash reduction benefits from each, with a corresponding reduction of costs to the fleets.

    Q: How long before I see a return on my investment?

    A: Wrapped up in answering this question is what value fleet operators place on the safety of their drivers.

    But even the tangible cost-saving and credibility-boosting benefits begin to add up. With ADAS proven to result in fewer crashes, your fleet's Compliance Safety Accountability score will in turn improve – even if those crashes are minor. Systems such as tire pressure monitoring systems can alert your maintenance team to easily detectable and solvable issues with the state of the vehicles in your fleet. And, with the installation of ADAS systems early – and before they become mandates – you'll be a few steps ahead of the competition.

    Do you have a question about distracted driving? Please email it to NSC Web Content Writer Ron Kremer: It could be featured in the next edition of Focus on the Drive.

    Implementing Proven, Life-saving Measures Best Way to Halt Deadly Spiral

    An estimated 40,200 people died in traffic crashes in 2016, according to preliminary data from the National Safety Council. A quick crunch of the numbers reveals that to be a 6% increase in U.S. road fatalities over 2015 and a 14% increase over 2014.

    It is the most dramatic two-year escalation in traffic fatalities since 1964 – 53 years. If the estimate holds, 2016 will be remembered as one of the deadliest years on American roads in nearly a decade. In an effort to halt the surge, NSC supports immediate implementation of life-saving measures that would set the nation on a Road to Zero deaths, including:

    • Ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders, and better education about the nature of impairment and when it begins
    • Installation and use of automated enforcement techniques to catch speeders
    • Laws banning all cell phone use – including hands-free – and extended to all drivers, not just teens
    • Upgrading seat belt laws from secondary to primary and extending restraint laws to every passenger in every seating position

    Watch: Vehicle fatalities are on the rise; here are the #FatalFacts.
    Find it here: Social Media Kit

    Poll Shows Traffic Safety Concerns Fly Out the Window When Drivers Grip the Wheel

    In an NSC public opinion poll released in February, 83% of respondents said driving is a safety concern. Yet, more than six in 10 said they were comfortable speeding. Nearly half (47%) said they send texts manually or through voice controls. And 10% said their ability to drive was compromised by alcohol at least once within the last three months.

    For those who admitted to drinking and driving:

    • 48% said they crossed a median, dozed off or drove on the shoulder
    • 47% said they nearly missed crashing
    • 45% said they were arrested for drunk driving

    The poll provides a glimpse at the risky behaviors drivers undertake while behind the wheel. The poll also provides insight into public opinion on cell phone legislation:

    • 80% said they would support or strongly support state law prohibiting adult drivers from using handheld phones
    • 65% said they would support or strongly support state law prohibiting adult drivers from using phones in any way, including hands-free

    More than 3,000 people are killed every year in distracted driving crashes. Distraction has spilled onto America's walkways, too. More than half of adult cell phone owners have been on the giving or receiving end of a distracted walking encounter, according to the PEW Research Center.

    Pedestrian fatalities nationwide increased by 9.5% from 2014 to 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, due in no small part to cell phone distraction.

    Lightlines: See what one city in the Netherlands is doing  to alert distracted pedestrians.

    Help Call Attention to Dangers of Distracted Driving

    Driver distraction is a contributing factor in about one-fourth of all traffic crashes. Technology allows us to make phone calls, dictate texts or emails and update social media while driving – all actions that are proven to increase crash risk. More than 3,000 people die every year in distracted driving incidents. Another 430,000 are injured.

    Most people are unaware of distractions associated with hands-free cell phone use and the voice control features that come standard in many vehicles on the road today. In a National Safety Council poll, 80% of respondents said they believe hands-free devices are safer than handheld, and 53% said they believe voice control features are safe because they are provided in vehicles.

    Research indicates drivers using handheld and hands-free phones only see about 50% of all the information in their driving environment. This phenomenon is called "inattention blindness" and can lead to drivers missing items such as stop signs and pedestrians. Three ways to draw a line in the sand during April – Distracted Driving Awareness Month:

  • ​Safety Spotlight

    Can Employers Trigger Seismic Shift in Driver Distraction?

    On Jan. 1, Cargill said no to employees using mobile phones while driving. No handheld devices. No hands-free devices. The Minneapolis-based company involved in everything from agriculture to financial services became what is believed to be the largest privately held corporation in the world to enact a total employee mobile phone ban.

    A global organization with 150,000 people working in seven countries, Cargill previously banned only handheld devices. The move to strengthen company policy came after leaders at Cargill examined Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why Driving While Using Hands-Free Cell Phones is Risky Behavior. Also, the total ban is in keeping with Cargill's commitment to safety and is viewed by top management as a means of reducing risk associated with distracted driving.

    Vehicle incidents are the #1 cause of workplace fatalities. Allowing employees to use cell phones while driving is allowing them to be four times more likely to crash. Reduce the risk of cell phone crashes among your employees with the NSC Cell Phone Policy Kit. The kit has all the materials you need to build leadership support for a cell phone policy and tools to communicate to employees.

    Get it Free: Cell Phone Policy Kit

    Survivor Advocate: Why It's Important to Ignore Some Calls

    Survivor advocate Cindy Cooper provides perspective on distracted driving by telling the story of how her family's life was changed in a split second. Her father was killed by a distracted driver, a young woman out after a GDL nighttime limit using her cell phone.

    Turns out, the woman was distracted when she went to answer a call from her own mother. Loved ones too often are the source of driver distraction. In fact, in an NSC public opinion poll, 82% of Americans said they felt the most pressure from their families to drive distracted.

    Beyond loss of life, the cost of crashes is one employers absorb through items such as increased insurance premiums and lost work days. Many employers are working to reduce risks by incorporating traffic safety as a part of their regular workplace safety culture.

    Watch at your workplace: NSC Distracted Driving Video Series

Get Social; Join the Discussion

The Council has a variety of social media channels for you to join the discussion on distracted driving.

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You Can Help

Cell phone distracted driving is an issue that touches all of us. Your contribution will help NSC continue to save lives by reducing crashes on our roadways.

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Download the NSC Cell Phone Policy Assessment Tool for Free

All cell phone distracted driving policies are not created equally. Download the free Cell Phone Policy Assessment Tool from NSC so you can see how your policy measures up.

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