Driving while fatigued can be a common occurrence for long-haul truck drivers, and studies have shown it can be as problematic as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Yet almost a third of people in a AAA survey said at least once in the prior month they had driven while so tired that they could barely keep their eyes open.
On April 3, I represented the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) at an event kicking off Distracted Driving Awareness Month and California Teen Driver Safety Week, in Sacramento. I challenged California to lead the nation in acting on NTSB’s 2011 recommendation to ban the non-emergency driver use of portable electronic devices that do not support the driving task.
The effect of plastic on workers in the plastic industry, Apple’s efforts to resist curbs on distracted driving and amateur video helps a state OSH agency crack down on asbestos violators. These were among the top safety stories featured this week on ISHN.com.
After two years of increases, highway fatalities were down last year - and the trend appears to be continuing in 2018. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that 37,133 people died in motor vehicle crashes on U.S. highways in 2017. That’s a decrease of almost 2 percent from 2016.
Automakers have packed many of their new models with distracting infotainment features that allow drivers not only to play music and get directions, but to talk, text and use social media while tooling down the road.
Now new research has found that two popular smartphone-based systems –Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto – are somewhat simpler and safer to use than the built-in electronics.
Most fear that distracted driving is getting worse. Drivers who report using a cellphone behind the wheel has jumped 46 percent since 2013, and almost half (49 percent) of all drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving, and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email.
Early on Feb. 2, 2016, a van carrying members of the California Conservation Corps paused at a stop sign on a country road near the Central Valley town of Reedley. Then the van rolled into the intersection, where it was broadsided by a 40-ton gravel truck and trailer, killing three corps members and leaving another with catastrophic brain and spinal injuries.
The victims include a Bible college student in Iowa who was bicycling home from work, a 13-year-old Michigan boy riding in his older sister’s car and a Minnesota school bus driver picking up the morning newspaper in front of his home.
All were killed in recent years by distracted drivers who had been texting or looking at their GPS. Yet none of the drivers responsible for those deaths spent more than a few days behind bars.
Just after noon on March 29, a pickup truck crossed the center line of a rural road in South Texas and slammed into a church bus, killing 13 members of the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels. A police report said the 20-year-old pickup driver, who survived, had taken medication and was texting.
Forget about student loan debt. There's a far more serious debt that occurs earlier in a young person's life, one that - according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) - could endanger their safety, along with the safety of those sharing the road with them.