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Entries in Accident Avoidance (12)


Adaptive Headlights Crash Avoidance Feature Shown to Yield Benefits

Kevin Jones
Technical Analyst

Crash avoidance technologies used by auto industry manufacturers appear to be showing some promise, according to insurance claims analyses performed by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). Over the past few years, some select manufacturers have been placing features in cars that were designed to help drivers avoid crashes. Some of these features include lane departure warnings, blind spot detection, and adaptive headlights.

Adaptive headlights, which are offered by manufacturers that include Acura, Mazda, Mercedes, and Volvo, were shown to be one of the most promising crash avoidance features when it comes to decreasing dollars spent on auto property damage and injury claims. While regular headlights are stationary, adaptive headlights are designed to respond to driver steering, speed, and other factors, and adjust according the vehicle’s travel direction. Based on data from the study, the HLDI’s expectations for this feature were met and exceeded.

On the other hand, the HLDI analysis showed that some of the crash avoidance features that were added did not yield the results that were expected. More analysis is still necessary to determine why the frequency of collision and property damage claims did not fall with other avoidance features.

To learn more about the study please read an HLDI news release, dated 03 July 2012.


NHTSA Administrator Strickland Discusses Rewarding Extra Credit for Vehicle Safety Technology

Kelly Messerschmidt
Technical Communications Manager

Last week in Detroit, Michigan, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland spoke to the Society of Automotive Analysts about NHTSA’s considering changes to their 5-star crash rating system, which would give “extra credit” to vehicles that include safety system technologies. Read more about what Administrator Strickland said about this in a news piece by David E. Zoia, of WardsAuto (01/09/12).

Strickland did not identify specifically which vehicle safety technologies would increase vehicles’ add-on safety credits; however, he said that NHTSA is currently evaluating technologies worthy of highlighting, and that decisions may be made soon.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication is a particularly interesting example of an emerging vehicle safety technology. According to the US DOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), V2V is the “dynamic wireless exchange of data between nearby vehicles that offers the opportunity for significant safety improvements." Read RITA's V2V "Research Overview."

V2V uses anonymous vehicle-based data exchange to allow vehicles to “talk” in real time about subjects that include (but are not limited to) speed, location, and position - in order to calculate risk, take proactive steps to reduce risk and mitigate vehicle crashes, provide warnings or advisories to drivers, and more.

Learn more about the US DOT's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Strategic Research Plan 2010-2014.

View RITA's overview of applications addressed by the Federal ITS program.


Gov. Robert Bentley Awards $914,700 in Grants for Traffic Safety

Kelly Messerschmidt
Technical Communications Manager

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded grants totaling $914,700 to help increase roadway safety through educational and awareness campaigns focused on the importance of using safety belts and properly restraining children riding in motor vehicles, as well as on the dangers of drunk driving. Read the press release issued by the State of Alabama on 30 August 2011.

The following briefly describes how the grant funds will be put to use:

  • A $200,000 grant to the Alabama Department of Public Health is funding the production of educational materials on seat belts and child restraint usage; funds are also being used for observational surveys that will measure compliance with safety restraint laws.

  • A $214,700 grant to the North Alabama Highway Safety office, located at Northwest Shoals Community College, will fund the training of child passenger safety technicians in the state's nine Community Traffic Safety Program regions. Technicians are trained to teach parents and caregivers how to protect children in vehicles through the proper use of child restraint systems and safety belts.

  • A $500,000 grant to the Alabama Development Office is funding a multimedia campaign against drunk driving. This campaign is occurring at the same time as the national Over the Limit, Under Arrest law enforcement campaign, which runs through Labor Day weekend.

The funding was made available by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the state Traffic Safety Trust Fund and is being administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.


"Green" Drivers: Proceed with Caution

Kelly Messerschmidt
Technical Communications Manager

Every year, close to 11,000 "green" drivers - teen and young adults ages 15-24 - die in motor vehicle accidents. This is the equivalent of an airplane-full of young people dying each week.

At the "Alive at 25" defensive driving class, put on by the National Safety Council (NSC) and State Farm Insurance, in Birmingham, Alabama, June 14-16, 2011, instructor Janice Leverette told an audience of teen drivers that "the person right next to you is 'the other person.'" And that YOU are the "other person" to everyone else. She explained that you cannot make assumptions about what other people on the road are going to do.... You don't know what they are thinking, or what challenges they are facing behind their own steering wheel. However, while you can't control other drivers, it is your number one responsibility to control yourself and your vehicle. In order to arrive at your destination alive, you need to stay alert, attentive, and understand the hazards and consequences of what you do. Because no one plans to get into an accident.

During the class, the teens shared some of the challenges they've experienced and observed as new drivers. Distractions, lack of experience, "other people" on the road, inattention, arrogance, and feeling like certain rules of the road are "optional" were just some of the challenges this group has witnessed.

"Alive at 25" is an important and valuable class. As an adult sitting in on the class, it was a real eye-opener - and it served as a huge reminder to me that defensive driving is imperative. Something that surprised me (and also took me back down memory lane to my own teen years), was listening to the teens report having seen a number of seriously risky driving behaviors.

Bearing in mind that the oldest teens in today's class were 17, here are some of the things these young adults reported having SEEN other drivers doing: using drugs and/or alcohol, texting and using iPods while driving, dancing in the car, driving "crazy" for "fun," and taking risks for the thrill of it. As Ms. Leverette pointed out to the group, "you are your number one risk on the road." However, you should make the choices that will allow you to survive to grow old.

Strategies that were discussed in the class to help drivers be safer included:

  • Keeping a following distance of at least three seconds;
  • Slowing down in road construction zones;
  • Paying attention while on the road and especially during poor weather conditions;
  • Being very careful of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, and also slow-moving vehicles;
  • Not participating in distracting activities;
  • Watching out for hazards and having a plan;
  • Not speeding;
  • Taking responsibility for your decisions;
  • Buckling up every time you get in a vehicle.

The class participants were very engaged in the class, and they participated actively with each other. I believe the class was very successful in presenting powerful material to teens in a way that was both candid and meaningful. It's not too late to register for one of tomorrow's sessions of Alive at 25; tomorrow's sessions are geared to new drivers and attendance is free. The sessions will take place at 2125 Data Office Drive, Suite 102, in Hoover, Alabama. There is a session tomorrow at 8am and another one at 1pm. The class is three hours long. Refreshments are provided, and each participant receives a t-shirt and a red thumb ring to serve as a reminder to not text and drive. Call 1-800-457-7233 to sign up or to learn more.

If you can't make it for these new-driver sessions of "Alive at 25," there will be more offered this October during Teen Driver Week. However, the class is also offered to experienced drivers, as well as people who have received moving violations. To view contact information for signing up or learning more, please visit the National Safety Council’s Alabama Chapter online.



Photo Enforcement Helping Bring Red Light Runners to a Stop

Kelly Messerschmidt
Technical Communications Manager

Because police can’t be everywhere at once, red light cameras are being used more and more to enforce motorists’ coming to a stop at red lights. In fact, studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and others have found a 40-96% reduction in the number of people running red lights at intersections using this type of photo enforcement. Watch a YouTube video about red light cameras. 

The IIHS reports that in 2009, crashes caused by red light runners resulted in 676 deaths and an estimated 130,000 injuries. Obviously, enforcing drivers’ stopping at red lights has great ramifications for public safety.

You might be surprised at just how common red light runners are. In a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety telephone survey conducted in 2010, one-third of the drivers reported having run a red light in the past 30 days—even though 93% of them said they thought doing so was unacceptable if stopping safely was an option. Other studies cited by the IIHS report that about three drivers per hour run red lights at intersections lacking the red light cameras.
See how your state’s automatic enforcement laws measure up.

Contrary to what some think, red light cameras do not actually take a photo of every car driving through a particular intersection. Instead, the camera automatically photographs any car whose driver runs the red light. Red light cameras have been used for decades and have proven to be extremely accurate and reliable.

What constitutes one’s running a red light? It’s pretty simple. Running a red light is defined as the driver entering the intersection after the light has turned red. However, those who inadvertently find themselves in an intersection when the light changes to red are not considered red light runners. Who are the most likely to run a red light? An IIHS study conducted in 2009 found that red light runners were more likely to be younger (under 30), male, and have poor driving records with incidents of prior crashes, alcohol-related driving convictions, and speeding and other moving violations.

Read Q&As from IIHS about red light cameras.