Monday, April 15, 2013

Recent Research on the Dangers of Distracted Driving

Some recent studies on the dangers of distracted driving:
More adults text while driving
Source: USA Today, March 28, 2013
Forget teenagers. Adults are the biggest texting-while-driving problem in the U.S. What's worse — they know it's wrong. Almost half of all adults admit to texting while driving in a survey by AT&T compared with 43% of teenagers. More than 98% of adults — almost all of them — admit they know it's wrong. Six in 10 say they weren't doing it three years ago. This follows an extensive national campaign against distracted driving: 39 states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving for all drivers, and an additional five states prohibit the practice for new drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The AT&T survey follows a study this month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found 31% of drivers in the U.S. reported texting or e-mailing while driving. To see the full article, go to:
Do texting bans really prevent fatal accidents?
Source: The Atlantic Cities, March 27, 2013
The psychological evidence is quite clear: using a cell phone while you're driving is distracting. Conversing with someone on the phone imposes a cognitive strain that makes it harder for the brain to concentrate on other tasks. Hands-free systems keep drivers eyes on the road, but they don't do much to reduce their level of distraction. No matter how you cut it, the case for banning drivers from using mobile phones is a strong one. What's less clear is whether or not these bans actually reduce collisions. Given that mobile technology is fairly new, the question hasn't received much empirical attention. One study to look at texting bans in four states, back in 2010, actually found that crashes increased in those states, compared to neighboring states without the bans — perhaps because drivers tried to hide their phones while texting, making the act even more dangerous. To see the full article, go to:
Kids one of the worst distractions while driving, study suggests Source: 680 News (Canada), March 20, 2013
Distracted driving campaigns usually center around eating, texting and talking behind the wheel — but what about your young passengers? An Australian study says children may be taking your eyes off the road the most. Pulling squabbling siblings apart, calming fussy babies and even picking up dropped toys are taking parents' eyes away from the road, the study suggests. According to the study, children are 12 times more distracting to drivers than cellphones, with the average parent taking their eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip. The Canadian Automobile Association said statistics in Ontario show children are four times more distracting than cellphones. To see the full article, go to:
(Source for these abstracts: Network of Employers for Traffic Safety newsletter, April 15, 2013)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Coordinated Approach to Pedestrian Safety Education and Enforcement Efforts Kick-Off at Seneca Valley High School

Pedestrian Safety assembly at Seneca Valley High School
Jeff Dunckel (MCDOT) and Captain Thomas Didone (MCPD) address students at Seneca Valley High School about pedestrian safe

The morning of April 11 marked the beginning of a pedestrian safety education and enforcement campaign at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown.  The campaign kicked off with a student assembly featuring Seneca Valley High School Principal Marc Cohen, Montgomery County Police Captain Thomas Didone, and Montgomery County Department of Transportation's Pedestrian Safety Coordinator Jeff Dunckel.  Mrs. Gwendolyn Ward, mother of Christina Morris-Ward, a 15-year old Seneca Valley student who was tragically killed crossing Germantown Road this past Halloween morning, also spoke to the crowd of more than 1,200 high school students about the potentially life-threatening consequences of not obeying pedestrian safety laws.  The assembly also featured a 10-minute Public Safety Announcement produced by students at the high school, which highlighted the importance of being a safe pedestrian and driver.
Over the next week and a half a team of pedestrian safety Champions, comprised of parents and members of the community, as well as representatives from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, will be out on the streets talking to the high school students about crossing safely and handing out reflective materials.  The Champions will remind pedestrians to practice the following safe behaviors:
  Cross the street at marked crosswalks and intersections
· Look left, right, left, and over their shoulder for turning vehicles when crossing the street
· Begin crossing the street on the "walk" signal
· Stay visible after dark
· Make eye contact with drivers
· Stop texting and talking on the cell and remove earphones

If you would like to partcipate as a Champion in this campaign, please contact Joana Conklin:
Following the education campaign, police will be out on the streets around the high school issuing citations to pedestrians and drivers who do not obey the law.  Pedestrians will be fined $50 for crossing outside of a crosswalk if both adjacent intersections have traffic signals, or starting to cross at a signalized intersection if the pedestrian signal is red or flashing red.  Drivers will be fined $80 for not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.  The purpose of the education and enforcement campaign is to inform the students about crossing safely so that future tragedies can be avoided.  The campaign will encourage students to BE SAFE, BE SEEN, and BE STREET SMART.
Read aticles on the Seneca Valley HS Pedestrian Safety Campaign:
Germantown Patch

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Station 22 Distributing Reflective Materials to Students at Seneca Valley High School
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Station 22 Distributing Pedestrian Safety Materials to Seneca Valley High School Students

Pedestrian Safety Champions
Seneca Valley High School Principal Marc Cohen with Derrick Gilliam (MCPS Security) and pedestrian safety Champions Ellyn Terry and Ruthanne Stoltzfus