Apple recently dodged several product liability lawsuits from families of victims of distracted driving crashes. The lawsuits claimed that Apple not only is aware that the Iphone triggers dangerous compulsive behaviors in some individuals but that the company has the technological means to prevent such behavior when a cellphone user is driving.
Back in 2008, the company submitted a patent for a lockout mechanism that disabled certain phone functions such as texting that could interfere with safe driving when the user is behind the wheel. In the patent, Apple indicated that it was fully aware of the dangers of its product by writing: “Texting while driving has become so widespread that it is doubtful that law enforcement will have any significant effect on stopping the process”. Later on in 2017 Apple briefly introduced a “Do not Disturb while Driving App”. The app had to be activated by the user and critics said that compulsive users would not be the one activating it.
Despite being aware of the danger of its product, Apple still hasn’t implemented any technology to protect innocent people from being killed on the road on a daily basis. So far all product litigation against the popular company has been dismissed. One of the most recent ones involved the family of 5 year old Moriah Modisette. Back in 2014, Moriah was in a car with her parents and her sister on a highway in Dallas when Garrett Wilhelm crashed into their car. Moriah died and her parents and sister were injured. The investigation found that at the time of the accident Wilhem was chatting on FaceTime.
Secondary traffic accidents are accidents that occur after a first accident mostly because the traffic conditions changed. When a car accident occurs, the road may be blocked for a significant time so that police can proprely assess the accident scene. As a result traffic conditions quickly change, with congestion increasing the risk of additional collisions especially rear-end crashes. Studies show that secondary crashes go up by a factor of almost 24 when highway safety officials are assessing an accident scene.
REDUCED RISK OF TRAFFIC ACCIDENT
To try to speed up the assessment process, Engineers at Purdue University teamed up with the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office to study how drones could help in assessing car accident scenes. They found that drones can significantly reduce the time to assess a crash scene. A drone can typically assess a crash scene in 5 to 8 minutes. As a result safety improves for everybody involved, from officers securing and assessing the scene of the accident to emergency responders assisting the victims and regular road users stuck in the traffic congestion created by the accident. The faster the road is back to normal conditions, the safest it is for everybody.
A recent study by the AAA Foundation found that crashes involving a teen driver with other teen passengers in the car are 515% more deadly for road users than crashes involving a teen driver with passengers older than 35.
When teens ride together in a car and they are involved in an accident the fatality rate increases by:
- 17% for pedestrians and cyclists
The Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS) just released a compilation of their 10 most recent projects in their 2018 annual report. Here is a summary of their area of studies and findings:
- Some recent studies are questioning if it may actually be safer for a child to be seated in a proper restraint system in the front passenger seat rather that in the back seat. The CChIPS conducted crash test studies with a child human body model called the PIPER. They found out that a six year old child seated in a high-back booster and forward-facing Child Restraint Seat (CRS) in the front passenger seating position was better protected from injuries in cars equipped with modern passenger airbags rather than cars with no airbags. These findings go against the common belief that airbags are dangerous for children. Additional tests are needed to validate these findings.
- Which booster seat design is best at protecting children from injury? Where should the belt be positioned? Would the addition of curtain airbag help prevent injuries in a car accident?
Distracted driving has led to a surge in fatal car accidents and even parents with young children in their car admit that they use their phone while driving.
According to a study recently released by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and published in the Journal of Pediatrics, out of 760 parents or caregivers interviewed:
- 47% talked on a hand-held phone
Vision Zero is a road safety program that was first started in Sweden and then successfully applied in many other European countries. When Bill de Blasio became the mayor of New York, he also implemented a Vision Zero strategy for New York City which over the last four years led to a significant reduction of traffic deaths, especially pedestrian fatalities.
While traffic deaths have been decreasing in New York City, they have been increasing at the national level. In the steps of Sweden and New York, the National Safety Council recently created the “Road to Zero Coalition“(RTZ) and just released “The Road to Zero, A Vision for Achieving Zero Roadway Deaths by 2050” a comprehensive report on how to apply Vision Zero Strategies at the national level and end roadway deaths in the US by 2050.
Roadway fatalities which had been declining in the US between 1985 and 2011 started to increase again between 2011 and 2016. In 2016, 5,000 more people died in roadway accidents than in 2011. Young people aged 15 to 24, men and rural road users are the most at risk of dying in a car crash.
2,049 people died in 1,980 fatal hit and run crashes in 2016 in the US according to a study recently released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This is the highest number of fatal hit and run crashes ever recorded in the US. Among the 2,049 people who died in these accidents, 1,229 of them were pedestrians, 169 were cyclists, 380 of them were drivers and 229 were passengers. Since 2009 hit and run crashes increased by an average annual rate of 7.2% per year.
New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida have the highest rate of fatal hit and run crashes per 100,000 people while New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota have the lowest rate.
Almost 60% of the victims of fatal hit and run are pedestrians with elderly over 80 year old and children under 6 being 50% more likely to be a victim of such accidents. Gender is also a factor. 70% of pedestrians dying in a hit and run accidents are male.
143 workers lost their lives on road construction sites in 2016 in America compared to respectively 130, 119 and 105 in 2015, 2014 and 2013. This is the third consecutive year that the number of worker deaths has been increasing. Over the last 10 years the number of road construction workers dying in crashes has been oscillating between 100 and 130. The average for the last 3 years is 130.7 It is the first year that this number is above 140.
Increased vehicular traffic, distracted driving and increase of road construction projects are among the main causes of this increase in fatalities. In a recent press release the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) urges drivers to be more careful and keep their eyes on the road when they drive near or through road construction zones.
Because of the nature of their activity, road workers and especially highway workers are highly exposed to fatal accidents. Last year they represented almost 20% of the 765 fatalities that occurred on road construction sites. Drivers and passengers of motor vehicles represented around 80% of the fatalities.
Senior drivers have a higher risk of dying in a car crash than younger drivers. Some inexpensive car accessories can help older drivers to drive more safely and prevent accidents but only 10% take advantage of them.
Drivers over 65-year-old often suffer from various health conditions that can affect driving. Reduced mental capacity and cognitive decline, arthritic hands, diminished vision, overweight, limited body motion or decreased leg strength are among the most common conditions affecting drivers over 65-year-old.
Diminished physical condition doesn’t automatically imply that someone should stop driving a car. Some cheap and easy to install accessories can make a difference and improve driving skills. For example: