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.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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: