National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Keeping Your Teen Safe On The Road This Summer

teen driver

Did you know that summer is the most dangerous time of year for teens to be on the road? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest for drivers between ages 15-20.   It makes sense, less time in school, more time for parties, going to the beach, road trips, and endless other places to drive to during the summer season. Don’t let your teen become another statistic, share these safety tips with them and help them practice safe driving this summer!  Remember to set a good example as well, teens pick up habits from other drivers that they observe and you don’t want them to think it’s ok to send a quick text or ditch their seat belt just because they’re going somewhere close.  These tips may seem like common sense to some, but new drivers  don’t have as much experience behind the wheel and may not consider things that drivers with a little more experience would consider obvious.

  • Click it or ticket!  Wearing your seat belt is not only a good idea, but it’s also the law here in Massachusetts.  New drivers may think it’s no big deal to hop in the car and ride down the street to the store without their seat belt just because it’s close, but accidents can happen anywhere. Make sure your teen knows just how important it is to wear your seat belt.  Did you know that drivers and passengers increase their risk of injury or death by up to 50% by not wearing a safety belt?  Those are odds you don’t want to gamble with so remind your teen of the importance of their seat belt and set a good example when you’re driving as well!
  • Talk To Your Teen About Car Maintenance – Again, some things that may seem obvious to experienced drivers may not be so clear to teens.  Make sure your teen knows how to check their tire pressure, put air in the tires, knows how often they need an oil change and tire rotation, and knows how to check and replace the car’s fluids.  A problem as small as low tire pressure can cause the car to handle differently, and may even potentially lead to an accident.  Make sure your teen knows exactly what to look for when it comes to their car.
  • Understand the Dangers of Distracted Driving – Although teens are the least experienced drivers on the road, they are typically the most likely to use their cell phones when behind the wheel.  Averting your eyes from the road for even five seconds, or the amount of time it takes to send a quick text, can lead to a major accident.  Even having too many passengers in a car can be a major distraction, paying attention to friends, music, and the road all at the same time is difficult for any driver, but especially those with little experience. If your teen still has their junior operator license, make sure they are following the rules and regulations that go along with that, which can be found here.
  • Communicate the Danger of Drinking And Driving – Again, this may seem obvious but it’s still a good idea to sit down with your teen and make sure they understand exactly how important this is.  Underage drinking continues to be an issue and although there are attempts to crack down on it, teens still find access to alcohol and it’s important that parents communicate how dangerous and deadly drinking and driving can be.  Make sure your teen knows not to drive themselves, or get into the car with anyone that has had a drink.
  • Limit Unnecessary Trips – Unless your teen has a purpose for their outing, they shouldn’t be going out “just for a drive”.  The less time they spend on the road, the less likely they are to be in an accident.
  • Make Sure Your Teen Knows Where They Are Going – If your teen is taking a trip to the beach or a concert, make sure they know exactly how to get there to prevent getting lost.  If their destination is nearby, take a test drive out there with them and make sure they know exactly where they’re going. If their destination is too far for a convenient test drive, make sure they have a GPS system, and fully charged cell phone to use in case of emergency.

These tips will help your teen make smart decisions and stay safe on the road this summer.  Make sure they understand how important it is for them to give the road their undivided attention, distractions while driving have caused fatal accidents in the past, and the sad thing is that they are typically preventable.  The sooner your teen understands these tips, the safer they will be!

Photo By: State Farm

Talking To Your Teen About Distracted Driving

teen driver

In honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness month, we wanted to continue spreading the awareness and give you some tips for talking to your teenager about the dangers of distracted driving.  Teens are some of the most frequent texters, tweeters, and social media addicts out there, and phones are staples of our daily lives in today’s world.  It can be difficult to put our phones down even for a moment, but in the moment it takes to respond to a text or look at your phone, anything can happen.

Although it can be difficult to unplug from your mobile device while driving, it’s necessary to fully concentrate on the task at hand.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers.  These accidents can be prevented, and talking to your teens and setting a good example for them are some of the most important things you can do for your young driver.  The following facts, figures, and tips will come in handy when you sit down with your teen to talk about the dangers of distracted driving.

According to a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center for drivers ages 16-21, nearly half of the respondents said they had talked on their handheld phone while driving in the past 30 days.  Although this statistic is not surprising, it is nevertheless frightening to know that so many drivers on the road are endangering their own lives as well as the lives of other drivers and pedestrians.  The majority of drivers acknowledged such behavior as dangerous, but 48% of respondents said they had witnessed a parent talking on their phone while driving in the past 30 days, which is why it’s extremely important to set a good example for your children or any young drivers that you interact with.

It doesn’t hurt that it is illegal in Massachusetts for anyone under the age of 18 to use their cell phone while driving.  Remind your children of the penalties associated with distracted driving.  The first offense will get you a $100 ticket, plus a potential license suspension.  Once your teenager has their license and therefore freedom, they won’t want to lose it.  Knowing in the back of their mind that they could potentially lose their license if caught, they will be more likely to think twice before picking up their phone while behind the wheel.  You should also remind your young driver how important they are to you, and how much it would affect you if anything ever happened to them.  If they understand that their actions can have a serious impact on others, they may be less likely to take unnecessary risks.

Giving your children the facts and talking to them really can make a difference!  According to the same survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center, concern about distracted driving convinced about three fourths of those surveyed to stop or decrease such behavior.  More than 60% say they were influenced after reading or hearing about the problem, 40% were convinced by related bans (such as the one here in MA that prohibits any cell phone use by drivers under the age of 18), and almost 30% by their family talking to them.  Your actions as a parent can make a huge impact on your child!  Young drivers learn by example, so set a good one!

Photo By: State Farm

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

distracted driving

The National Safety Council is recognizing April as distracted driving awareness month!  Many of us are guilty of it, but distracted driving is a dangerous habit that does not only jeopardize the person who is driving, but also anyone else on the road in that vicinity.  When you take a second to pick up your phone or read a text, you take your eyes off of the road for the split second it takes for an accident to occur. Thousands of people die every year because of distracted driving, help spread awareness this April, and set a good example for your own friends and family to follow!

So, how can you help?  First, you can take the pledge to drive cell free.  Starting with your own habits is the best way to end distracted driving, and from there you can convince others to follow your lead.  Did you know that the NSC estimates that 25% of car crashes involve cell phone use?  Those crashes are entirely preventable, and driving is a task that requires the driver’s undivided attention.  Drivers need to have their hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and brain focused on driving.  All three of those things are necessary to drive safely, and ANY cell phone use behind the wheel(even hands free)  is dangerous.

So what else can you do?  Spread the word!  Tell your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone who will listen about the dangers of distracted driving!  If someone calls you while they’re driving, tell them to call you back once they reach their destination.  There are many common myths and misconceptions about distracted driving, and although many people think they can multi-task, it is impossible for the brain to focus on the conversation you are having as well as the road.  You can read more about distracted driving myths in this infographic from the NSC called The Great Multitasking Lie.

If you’re wondering why cell phone use is being targeted as such a dangerous distraction while driving, it’s because there are many more drivers being distracted by cell phone use than anything else!  How often do you see someone putting on makeup or digging around in their car for something?  Definitely not as often as someone is on their cell phone, in fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about 9% of all drivers are talking on their cell phones at any given daylight moment.  This fact sheet from the NSC has more information regarding the scary truths about distracted driving.

Here in Massachusetts, certain types of distracted driving are even illegal.  Using your phone for texting or any internet-related activity is illegal for all drivers in the state, but drivers under 18 are prohibited from any and all cell phone use while driving.  What happens if you get caught texting and driving?  The fine for a first offense is $100, and after that it only goes up.  A second offense will get you a ticket for $250, and after that $500!  Sending a quick text can get pretty pricey if you get caught!  Police officers are having a difficult time enforcing the law, but they are employing new methods to catch distracted drivers!  You can read more about these methods and driving laws here.

If you’re not fully convinced of the dangers of distracted driving, the NSC has compiled these stories from family members of distracted driving victims, the sad thing is that these incidents could have been prevented if the driver simply ignored their phone.  So take the pledge, and start spreading the word about distracted driving this April!

Photo By: OregonDOT

 

MADD Supports Extended Measures Against Drunk Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 108 people were killed in Massachusetts due to drunk drivers in 2009. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has initiated a fight for legislators to support an extended reach of ignition interlock devices and monitoring. An interlock device prevents a driver from operating a vehicle if they do not pass the breathalyzer test. If the driver passes the interlock the vehicle will start however if their BAC is not up to par the vehicle will remain as it is.

In Massachusetts repeat drunk driving offenders are required to have the systems in their vehicles for the first two years. MADD is asking to reach further and include the requirement for first time offenders during the first 6 months their licnese is reinstated. Drivers will gain training in how to use the device to ensure proper use. The ignition interlock system typically costs $100 – $200 for installation with a monthly rental fee of approximately $70 – $100. The device is programed to prevent a vehicle from starting should you have too high BAC, have a friend blow into the device, use a mechanical device to blow into the system or tamper with it in any way. Drinking and driving is a serious matter. MADD is working along side Senator Robert Hedlund, sponsor of the bill, to ensure drunk driving recognized as such.

Massachusetts Roads Remain Among Safest

This past month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported motor vehicle fatalities sharply declined in 2009. At an all time low the fatality rate reported was only 1.13 deaths per every 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Incredibly the total number of deaths is nearing those of 1950 in a time of less traffic, lower populations and shorter commutes.

The report shows a decrease in fatalities of 9.7% while miles traveled from 2008 to 2009 still showed a slight increase. Massachusetts remains one of the safest states to drive as motor vehicle fatalities fell from 354 in 2008 to 334 in 2009. Additionally the number of deaths attributed to alcohol decreased from 120 to 108. The government attributes the fatality decline to many improvements and precautions including: an advancement in vehicle design, increased use of seat belts, and standard air bags included in vehicles that previously lacked air bags.

These statistical improvements are great, however it is important to realized even these numbers can be better. The number of distracted drivers on the road will hopefully decrease further with the recent texting ban. While driving, remember you have the lives of many in your hands. Put the cell phone away, set down your mascara/ razor and focus on the road.

NHTSA Announces New 5-Star Vehicle Safety Rating

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, also known as NHTSA, has publicized their first lineup of 2011 model vehicles undergoing the government’s newly renovated 5-star safety rating program.

The NHTSA press release stated:

“In all, 24 passenger cars, 20 sport utility vehicles, two vans, and nine 2011 model year pickups will be rated under the new system that not only includes tougher crash tests, but, for the first time, provides consumers with a single overall safety score per vehicle.  The new testing program will also provide consumers with information about new advanced crash avoidance technologies, such as lane departure and forward collision warning systems.”

The ratings for the 55 vehicles undergoing the new NHTSA’s safety rating system will be posted on the agency’s future webpage: www.safecar.gov. Once the new scores are posted drivers will be able to compare the new ratings with old ones as the rating criteria has changed. Challenging auto manufacturers to create safer vehicles the new standards have made it more difficult to obtain a high safety rating.

The stricter standards are to include new injury testing and a new side impact pole test that simulates wrapping a vehicle around a tree. The new testing will also require crash-test dummies and a frontal crash test that will look more closely at knee, hip and thigh injuries.

If you’re in the market for a 2011 vehicle keep an eye out for these new ratings to be published on the NHTSA’s website. For a list of first vehicles to be tested on the new standards visit the NHTSA’s website at: www.nhtsa.gov/PR/NHTSA-05-10.

Phone laws put in the fast lane

Over the past couple years, more and more attention has been brought to the dangers of distracted driving. In particular, using your cell phone while driving. Some states have already made strict rules limiting use to only hands-free devices while other states have not done much. Recent legislation purposed in the House of Representatives would make it illegal to talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving nationwide.

Under this legislation, juvenile drivers would be prohibited from using a cell phone all together, while adult drivers would only be allowed to use hands-free devices.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said driver distraction accounts for 15 percent of highway dealths per year. Further research by the Department of Transportation estimates that drivers who use hand-held devices are 20 times more likely to get in a car accident then those using hands-free devices.

With statistics like these, it seems like the House may have good cause to pass this legislation through. Stay up to date on developments on this story here at MassDrive!

Road Rage and Ways to Combat Frustration on the Road

A recent nationwide study revealed driver habits and the cities that have the most aggressive drivers.  According to the study, if you live in major city on either coast, you’re more likely to expirience or witness road rage.  Miami tops the list as the worst cities for aggressive driving, followed by New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington.

 

While you may find yourself caught in the heat of the moment when the car in front of you cuts you off; road rage can have deadly consequences.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 66% of all annual traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving actions (ie: passing on the right, running red lights and tailgating.)

 

AAA’s website offers three rules that if followed, should reduce one’s chances of encountering or becoming an enraged driver.

  • “Don’t offend” Obey the rules of the road and be courteous of other drivers.  If you are driving slow in the left lane, and notice that someone wants to pass you, let them.  Do not tailgate or cut off other drivers and do not make gestures.
  • “Don’t engage” Do not make eye contact with an enraged driver and refrain from antagonize an already angry driver, as this would only exacerbate the situation.
  • “Adjust your attitude” It’s possible that the car in front of you, driving slow in the left hand lane, did not notice that you were trying to pass them.  It’s not about winning, if someone cuts you off; do not try to one up them.  Before getting angry, try putting yourself in the other driver’s shoes.

 

About CPA Staff

Mike is in charge of the 'colors and shapes' of Next Generation Insurance Group as well as the front-end development of the site (like this page). A long time standing deck enthusiast, Mike does his best work up-right and rocking out, with the occasional riff of air guitar, to heavy metal bands. Mike attended Northern Kentucky University, is a founding member of Team Do Stuff and a skilled home brewer.

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