The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says we are in too big of a hurry in our vehicles. The deaths from drivers running red lights are at a 10-year high. Or to put it a different way, two or more people are killed every day by someone running a red light.
AAA looked at traffic fatalities from 2008 to 2017. Drivers ripping through red lights killed 939 people in 2017. That’s up 31% from 2009 when just 715 people were killed.
• Half of those killed were passengers or people driving in other vehicles
• 35% were the drivers of the vehicles that ran the light
• 5% were pedestrians or cyclists
No one — says Jake Nelson of AAA — is sure about the why of the increase but he thinks distracted driving may be a major contributor to the deaths. “Drivers distracted on their phones, pedestrians distracted when crossing intersections, are all reasonable contributing causes to what we see the data telling us,” Nelson said.
AAA did a separate survey and learned in the last month a third of drivers admit to have whizzed through an intersection when the light was red. This is in spite of knowing it’s a safety concern. “So that implies that they weren't distracted," Nelson said.
Longer commutes also might be part of the issue. Nelson said people are driving longer distances to work than they did in 2008.
“Ten years ago, we were recovering from an economic recession, and people were driving a lot less. So, pure exposure to more driving is going to result in increased crashes of all kinds,” Nelson said. “As a result of that, there will be more people who die in crashes involving red-light-running drivers.”
AAA wants more red light cameras in areas where there is a pattern of crashes.
Another part of the problem could be drivers turning off part or all of the safety systems in their vehicles. J.D. Power and Associates said some consumers are turning them off because they are “annoying or bothersome.”
Spokeswoman Kristen Kolodge said these systems are designed by automakers to improve safety and put drivers more at ease. However, it doesn’t appear to be doing that in some cases.
“Automakers are spending lots of money on advanced technology development, but the constant alerts can confuse and frustrate drivers,” she said and pointed out that the technologies are coming off like “a nagging parent; no one wants to be constantly told they aren’t driving correctly.”
This all comes from the J.D. Powers 2019 U.S. Tech Experience Index Study. It found that those turning the devices off were most ticked-off at the lane-keeping and lane-centering systems.
• 23% said the systems are annoying or bothersome
• Of those, 61% said they sometimes disable them
• 21% said they aren’t bothered by them at all
Kolodge said all this portends negatives for the acceptance of self-driving vehicles. “If they can’t be sold on lane-keeping — a core technology of self-driving — how are they going to accept fully automated vehicles?” she asked.
When it comes to technology satisfaction in a vehicle the 2019 Kia Stinger topped the best-performing vehicles.Of the 250 vehicles tested it came in at 834 out of 1,000 points. The lowest scoring model is 709 points.
The average is 781 points. Here are the other top performers:
• Hyundai Kona
• Toyota CH-R
• Kia Forte
• Chevrolet Blazer
• Ford Expedition
• Porsche Cayenne
For the ratings J.D. Power specifically looked at:
• Entertainment systems
• Collision protection
• Comfort and convenience
• Driving assistance
• Smartphone mirroring
Here is how these systems rated out of 1,000 points:
• Collision protection — 813
• Smartphone mirroring — 789
• Comfort and convenience — 787
• Entertainment and connectivity — 782
• Driving assistance — 768
• Navigation — 744
One other distracted driving problem? Pets. Dogs specifically. Volvo Car USA did a study with Harris that found allowing a pet or pets to roam unrestrained through a vehicle leads to significantly higher dangerous driving behaviors.
To come to the conclusion the Volvo and Harris looked at 15 drivers and their dogs in 30 hours of driving and came to the conclusion that they were “significantly more unsafe driving behaviors, more time distracted, and increased stress.”
Things were much calmer when the pets used pet seatbelts, harnesses, crates or carriers. Allowed to freely roam and the unsafe behaviors doubled and the distracted driving time doubled as did the stress level on humans and the dogs.
Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro is an emergency-car veterinarian (EDITOR’S NOTE: What the heck? There are veterinarians specifically for vehicles? Seriously?) She said, "While pets roaming around the car can be cute and convenient, it poses serious risk for both drivers and their pets both in terms of causing distractions and increasing the chances of serious injury in the event of an accident."
Source links: NPR, CNBC, Car and Driver