Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Missing 1-2 Hours of Sleep Doubles Crash Risk

December 6th, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Tamra JohnsonAAA Foundation study reveals the dangers of getting less than seven hours of sleep

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 6, 2016)- Drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours daily. And with drowsy driving involved in more than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year, AAA warns drivers that getting less than seven hours of sleep may have deadly consequences.

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“You cannot miss sleep and still expect to be able to safely function behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s report, Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement, reveals that drivers missing 2-3 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period more than quadrupled their risk of a crash compared to drivers getting the recommended seven hours of sleep. This is the same crash risk the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration associates with driving over the legal limit for alcohol.

The AAA Foundation report found that in a 24-hour period, crash risk for sleep-deprived drivers increased steadily when compared to drivers who slept the recommended seven hours or more:

  • Six to seven hours of sleep: 1.3 times the crash risk
  • Five to six hours of sleep: 1.9 times the crash risk
  • Four to five hours of sleep: 4.3 times the crash risk
  • Less than four hours of sleep: 11.5 times the crash risk

While 97 percent of drivers told the AAA Foundation they view drowsy driving as a completely unacceptable behavior that is a serious threat to their safety, nearly one in three admit that at least once in the past month they drove when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

“Managing a healthy work-life balance can be difficult and far too often we sacrifice our sleep as a result,” said Jake Nelson, director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research for AAA. “Failing to maintain a healthy sleep schedule could mean putting yourself or others on the road at risk.”

Symptoms of drowsy driving can include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes or not remembering the last few miles driven. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel. AAA urges drivers to not rely on their bodies to provide warning signs of fatigue and should instead prioritize getting plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) in their daily schedules. For longer trips, drivers should also:

  • Travel at times when normally awake
  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Avoid heavy foods
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment

The AAA Foundation report is based on the analysis of a representative sample of 7,234 drivers involved in 4,571 crashes. All data is from the NHTSA’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey which comprised a representative sample of police-reported crashes that involved at least one vehicle that was towed from the scene and resulted in emergency medical services being dispatched to the scene.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Speeding One of Top Deadly Mistakes Made by Teen Drivers

October 12th, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Tamra JohnsonAAA identifies the top mistakes teens make when learning to drive

WASHINGTON (October 12, 2016) – Over the past five years, teen drivers were involved in nearly 14,000 fatal crashes and more than 4,200 of those crashes involved speeding. According to a new AAA survey of driving instructors, speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive. With 65 percent of those instructors also reporting that parents today are worse at preparing their teens to drive compared to a decade ago, AAA cautions parents that their involvement is key to preventing deadly mistakes behind the wheel.

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“Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen,” said Bill Van Tassel, AAA’s manager of Driver Training Operations. “Involved parents really can help save lives, so it’s important for parents to coach their teens to slow down, as well as to avoid other common mistakes.”

In the survey, Skills of Novice Teen Drivers, 142 driving instructors revealed the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive:

  • Poor Visual Scanning: Driving with tunnel vision and not properly scanning the road for risks or hazards.
  • Speeding: Traveling over posted speed limits or too fast for road conditions.
  • Distraction: Interacting with a cell phone, talking with passengers or looking at other objects in the vehicle.

“We all know that the combination of inexperience and risk taking can be a deadly one,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of State Relations for AAA. “Parents need to understand the common mistakes teens are making and take the time to help their teens learn how to stay safer on the road when they are learning to drive.”

In addition to revealing that parents today are worse at preparing their teens to drive than they were 10 years ago, driving instructors report that parents often set a bad example through their own behaviors. A recent survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers aged 35-55 commonly report dangerous behaviors when behind the wheel.

  • 77 percent of drivers aged 35-55 reported talking on a cell phone while driving, compared to 68 percent of teen drivers.
  • A similar proportion of teens and drivers aged 35-55 reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (45 percent and 46 percent, respectively).

“Parents play a major role in keeping our roads safe,” continued Ryan. “Most teens are learning important driving skills from watching their parents and they are picking up bad behaviors along with the good ones. So it’s up to today’s parents to set a good example. It may end up saving their children’s lives.”

Past research shows that teens with parents who impose stricter driving limits reported fewer crashes and traffic violations. AAA recommends parents stay actively involved in coaching their teens through the learning-to-drive process by:

  • Having conversations early and regularly about the dangers of speeding and distraction.
  • Taking the time to practice driving with their teens in varying conditions.
  • Adopting and enforcing a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for the road.
  • Leading by example and minimizing distractions and speeding when they are driving.

AAA also recommends that teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills. Resources to help parents choose a class and coach their teen through the learning-to drive process can be found on AAA’s award-winning website TeenDriving.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Tamra JohnsonNew AAA Foundation report reveals habits and characteristics of the American driver

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 8, 2016)- American drivers spend an average of more than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year, according to a new survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The research finds that more than 87.5 percent of Americans aged 16 years and older reported driving in the past year. During this time, drivers travelled nearly 10,900 miles on average and spent more than 290 hours on the road.

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“The amount of time the average driver spends behind the wheel each year is equivalent to seven 40-hour weeks at the office,” says Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It’s clear that traveling by car remains a central part of American’s lives.”

The American Driving Survey is the most current and comprehensive look at how much Americans drive on a daily and yearly basis. It revealed that Americans drove a total of 2.45 trillion miles last year, which is a 2.4 percent increase from 2014. Other survey findings show that:

  • On average, men report driving 2,314 more miles than women per year and spend 18 percent more time behind the wheel.
  • More than 86 percent of U.S. households have at least one car for every driver in the home and 28 percent report having more cars than drivers.
  • Seniors over the age of 75 drive fewer miles (5,840 annually) than teenagers (7,551 annually). Drivers ages 30-49 drive an average of 13,506 miles annually, more than any other age group.
  • Drivers who report living in rural areas drive more miles (13,029 annually) compared to drivers who live in cities or towns (10,571 annually).
  • Motorists in the Midwest and Southern regions drive more (11,295 miles annually) compared to those in the Northeast (9,328 miles annually).
  • More than 50 percent of miles driven by Americans are done in cars, followed by SUVs (20 percent), pickup trucks (17 percent) and vans (7.9 percent). Men report doing a much greater share of their driving in pickup trucks compared to women who report doing most of their driving in cars and SUVs.
  • Over 66 percent of total driving trips and nearly 62 percent of total miles driven are done by drivers without a passenger in the vehicle. Women are 24 percent more likely than men to have a passenger in the vehicle on any given trip.
  • On average, Americans drive the most during the fall (October through December) at 31.5 miles daily and drive the least during the winter (January through March) at 26.2 miles daily.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual American Driving Survey, which reveals the driving habits of the American public. The survey data are from a sample of 5,774 drivers who provided information about their daily driving trips in calendar years 2014 and 2015. The AAA Foundation released their first American Driving Survey in 2015.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Tamra JohnsonNew AAA Foundation study shows that more than 200,000 Crashes Are Caused by Road Debris

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 11, 2016)- More than 200,000 crashes involved debris on U.S. roadways during the past four years, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Road debris has resulted in approximately 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths between 2011 and 2014. AAA is calling for drivers to properly secure their loads to prevent dangerous debris.

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AAA researchers examined common characteristics of crashes involving road debris and found that:

  • Nearly 37 percent of all deaths in road debris crashes resulted from the driver swerving to avoid hitting an object. Overcorrecting at the last minute to avoid debris can increase a driver’s risk of losing control of their vehicle and make a bad situation worse.
  • More than one in three crashes involving debris occur between 10:00 a.m. and 3:59 p.m., a time when many people are on the road hauling or moving heavy items like furniture or construction equipment.
  • Debris-related crashes are much more likely to occur on Interstate highways. Driving at high speeds increases the risk for vehicle parts to become detached or cargo to fall onto the roadway.

“This new report shows that road debris can be extremely dangerous but all of these crashes are preventable,” said Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Drivers can easily save lives and prevent injuries by securing their loads and taking other simple precautions to prevent items from falling off the vehicle.”

About two-thirds of debris-related crashes are the result of items falling from a vehicle due to improper maintenance and unsecured loads. The most common types of vehicle debris are:

  • Parts becoming detached from a vehicle (tires, wheels, etc.) and falling onto the roadway
  • Unsecured cargo like furniture, appliances and other items falling onto the roadway
  • Tow trailers becoming separated and hitting another vehicle or landing on the roadway

Drivers can decrease their chances of being involved in a road debris crash by:

  • Maintaining Their Vehicles: Drivers should have their vehicles checked regularly by trained mechanics. Badly worn or underinflated tires often suffer blowouts that can leave pieces of tire on the roadway. Exhaust systems and the hardware that attach to the vehicle can also rust and corrode, causing mufflers and other parts to drag and eventually break loose. Potential tire and exhaust system problems can easily be spotted by trained mechanics as part of the routine maintenance performed during every oil change.
  • Securing Vehicle Loads: When moving or towing furniture, it is important to make sure all items are secured. To properly secure a load, drivers should:
    1. Tie down load with rope, netting or straps
    2. Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer
    3. Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting
    4. Don’t overload the vehicle
    5. Always double check load to make sure a load is secure

“Drivers have a much bigger responsibility when it comes to preventing debris on the roads than most realize,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA. “It’s important for drivers to know that many states have hefty fines and penalties for drivers who drop items from their vehicle onto the roadway, and in some cases states impose jail time.”

Currently every state has laws that make it illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while on the road. Most states’ penalties result in fines ranging from $10-$5,000, with at least 16 states listing jail as a possible punishment for offenders. AAA encourages drivers to educate themselves about specific road debris laws in their state. Drivers should also practice defensive driving techniques while on the road to prevent debris related crashes from occurring.

“Continually searching the road at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead can help drivers be prepared in the case of debris,” said William Van Tassel, Manager of Driver Training Programs for AAA. “Always try to maintain open space on at least one side of your vehicle in case you need to steer around an object. If you see you are unable to avoid debris on the roadway, safely reduce your speed as much as possible before making contact.”

AAA also recommends that drivers avoid tailgating and remain alert while on the road. Additional tips on defensive driving and how to report road debris to the proper authorities are available online at AAA.com/PreventRoadDebris.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Michael Green Contact TileAn Estimated Eight Million Drivers Admit to More Extreme Behavior Says New AAA Foundation Research

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 14, 2016)- Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to a new study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The most alarming findings suggest that approximately eight million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.

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“Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage,” said Jurek Grabowski, Director of Research for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly.”

A significant number of U.S. drivers reported engaging in angry and aggressive behaviors over the past year, according to the study’s estimates:

  • Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers)
  • Yelling at another driver: 47 percent (95 million drivers)
  • Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent (91 million drivers)
  • Making angry gestures: 33 percent (67 million drivers)
  • Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24 percent (49 million drivers)
  • Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent (24 million drivers)
  • Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent (7.6 million drivers)
  • Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent (5.7 million drivers)

Nearly 2 in 3 drivers believe that aggressive driving is a bigger problem today than three years ago, while nine out of ten believe aggressive drivers are a serious threat to their personal safety.

Aggressive driving and road rage varied considerably among drivers:

  • Male and younger drivers ages 19-39 were significantly more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors. For example, male drivers were more than three times as likely as female drivers to have gotten out of a vehicle to confront another driver or rammed another vehicle on purpose.
  • Drivers living in the Northeast were significantly more likely to yell, honk or gesture angrily than people living in other parts of the country. For example, drivers in the Northeast were nearly 30 percent more likely to have made an angry gesture than drivers in other parts of the country.
  • Drivers who reported other unsafe behaviors behind the wheel, such as speeding and running red lights, also were more likely to show aggression. For example, drivers who reported speeding on a freeway in the past month were four times more likely to have cut off another vehicle on purpose.

“It’s completely normal for drivers to experience anger behind the wheel, but we must not let our emotions lead to destructive choices,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. “Don’t risk escalating a frustrating situation because you never know what the other driver might do. Maintain a cool head, and focus on reaching your destination safely.”

AAA offers these tips to help prevent road rage:

  • Don’t Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes, or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.
  • Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it’s not personal.
  • Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 9-1-1 if needed.

The research report is available on the AAA Foundation’s website and is part of the annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to driver safety. The data was collected from a national survey of 2,705 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable research and educational organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited at AAA.com. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Game Over for Drivers Playing Pokemon Go

July 14th, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Michael Green Contact TileRecent Crashes Should Serve as Wake-Up Call to Drivers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 14, 2016) – AAA is urging drivers not to use Pokemon Go behind the wheel because it could lead to potentially deadly consequences. This week’s crashes involving the game should serve as a wake-up call to focus on the task of driving and not to be distracted.

“Driving is among the most dangerous activities that people do on a daily basis, and the last thing we need is to increase the number of distractions in the vehicle,” said Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research.

Distracted driving is very risky. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that at least 3,000 deaths per year involve distracted driving, though the true number is likely far higher. The following statistics help put the dangers of distracted driving into context:

  • Taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles your risk of a crash.
  • When driving 55 miles per hour, five seconds with eyes off the road is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
  • Distraction is a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes.

Pokemon Go should not be played while driving and motorists need to be aware of others playing the game that might enter an intersection or cross a street at an inopportune time.   “Driving requires your full attention, and putting away your phone until you reach your destination could save your life,” continued Nelson. “Pedestrians playing the game also should be aware so that they do not cross a busy intersection while distracted.”

Crashes are not the only risks affecting drivers. Drivers playing Pokemon Go also could face jail time and fines. Most states have laws against distracted driving and every state has laws to prevent reckless driving. Motorists are likely to be pulled over by law enforcement if they are a threat on the road.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited at AAA.com. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Tamra JohnsonResearch from AAA Foundation Finds 60% of Teen Crashes Involve Distraction  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 1, 2016)- Over the past five years, more than 5,000 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period starting at Memorial Day when teen crash deaths historically climb. As the summer driving season begins, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is releasing a follow-up study confirming that nearly 60 percent of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel. The research also finds a disturbing trend showing that texting and social media use are on the rise amongst teen drivers.

Crashes for teen drivers increase significantly during the summer months because teens drive more during this time of year. Over the past five years during the “100 Deadliest Days”:

  • An average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers
  • The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 16-19 increased by 16 percent per day compared to other days of the year

This year’s new follow-up report from the AAA Foundation is part of the most comprehensive eight-year research project ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers. In collaboration with researchers at the University of Iowa, the AAA Foundation analyzed the moments leading up to a crash in more than 2,200 videos captured from in-car dash cameras. The latest report compared new crash videos with those captured from 2007 -2012 and found consistent trends in the top three distractions for teens when behind the wheel in the moments leading up to a crash:

  • Talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle: 15 percent of crashes
  • Talking, texting or operating a cell phone: 12 percent of crashes
  • Attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle: 11 percent of crashes

“Every day during the summer driving season, an average of 10 people die as a result of injuries from a crash involving a teen driver” said Jurek Grabowski, Research Director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This new research shows that distraction continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers. By better understanding how teens are distracted on the road, we can better prevent deaths throughout the 100 Deadliest Days and the rest of the year.”

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Researchers also found that how teens use their cell phone when behind the wheel changed significantly over the course of the study.  In the moments leading up to a crash, teens were more likely to be texting or looking down at the phone than talking on it. This supports findings by Pew Research Center, which shows text messaging has become a key component in day-to-day interactions amongst teenagers. Fifty-five percent of teens spend time every day texting, sending an estimated 80 text messages per day.

“It’s no secret that teens are extremely connected to their cell phones,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA Director of State Relations. “Many teens are texting or using social media behind the wheel more often than in the past, which is making an unsafe situation even worse.”

Research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. A recent AAA Foundation survey shows that nearly 50 percent of teen drivers admitted they had read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days. NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey also shows that from 2007 to 2014, the percentage of young drivers seen visibly manipulating a hand-held device quadrupled.

“Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen themselves,” continues Ryan. “This shows that teen drivers can be a risk to everyone on the road and it is important to regulate their actions when behind the wheel.”

Keeping cell phones out of the hands of teen drivers is a top priority for AAA. The Association’s advocacy efforts are helping to protect teens by working to pass graduated driver licensing laws and teen wireless bans in states across the country.

In preparation for the “100 Deadliest Days”, AAA encourages parents to educate their teen about the dangers of distracted driving and monitor their actions behind the wheel.  Parents should:

  • Have conversations early and often about the dangers of distraction.
  • Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules against distracted driving.
  • Teach by example and minimize distractions when driving.

TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable research and educational organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.  Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Michael Green Contact Tile

New AAA Foundation Research Also Shows that Legal Limits for Marijuana and Driving are Meaningless

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 10, 2016) – Fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized the drug, according to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. New research also shows that legal limits for marijuana and driving are arbitrary and unsupported by science, which could result in unsafe motorists going free and others being wrongfully convicted for impaired driving. Washington was one of the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and these findings raise serious concerns about drug-impaired driving with at least 20 states considering marijuana legalization this year.

The Foundation examined drug tests and fatal crashes among drivers in Washington, a state that legalized marijuana in December 2012. The researchers found:

  • The percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from eight to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014.
  • One in six drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana, which is the most recent data available.

“The significant increase in fatal crashes involving marijuana is alarming,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug.”

In an attempt to enforce drug-impaired driving, some states have created legal limits, also known as per se limits, which specify the maximum amount of active THC that drivers can have in their system based on a blood test. THC is the main chemical component in marijuana that can impair driver performance and affect the mind, and the presence of active THC is generally suggestive of recent marijuana use. These limits are similar in concept to the .08 BAC limit for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Researchers examined the lab results of drivers arrested for impaired driving, and the results suggest that legal limits for marijuana and driving are problematic because:

  • There is no science showing that drivers reliably become impaired at a specific level of marijuana in the blood. Depending on the individual, drivers with relatively high levels of marijuana in their system might not be impaired, while others with low levels may be unsafe behind the wheel. This finding is very different from alcohol, where it is clear that crash risk increases significantly at higher BAC levels.
  • High THC levels may drop below legal thresholds before a test is administered to a suspected impaired driver. The average time to collect blood from a suspected driver is often more than two hours because taking a blood sample typically requires a warrant and transport to a facility. Active THC blood levels may decline significantly and could drop below legal limits during that time.
  • Marijuana can affect people differently, making it challenging to develop consistent and fair guidelines. For example, frequent users of marijuana can exhibit persistent levels of the drug long after use, while drug levels can decline more rapidly among occasional users.

“There is understandably a strong desire by both lawmakers and the public to create legal limits for marijuana impairment, in the same manner as we do with alcohol,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s President and CEO. “In the case of marijuana, this approach is flawed and not supported by scientific research. It’s simply not possible today to determine whether a driver is impaired based solely on the amount of the drug in their body.”

AAA is urging states to use more comprehensive enforcement measures to improve road safety. Rather than relying on arbitrary legal limits, states should use a two-component system that requires (1) a positive test for recent marijuana use, and most importantly, (2) behavioral and physiological evidence of driver impairment. This system would rely heavily on two current law-enforcement training programs: Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and the 50-state Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program. These programs train law enforcement officers around the country to more effectively recognize drug-impaired driving.

“Marijuana can affect driver safety by impairing vehicle control and judgment,” continued Doney. “States need consistent, strong and fair enforcement measures to ensure that the increased use of marijuana does not impact road safety.”

Whether the use of marijuana is legal or not, all motorists should avoid driving while impaired. Just because a drug is legal does not mean it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired put themselves and others on the road at risk.

Four states, including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C., have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and 20 states have legalized it for therapeutic and medicinal use. Montana and Washington have implemented a per se limit for marijuana at 5 ng/mL; Nevada and Ohio have set a limit at 2 ng/mL; and Pennsylvania’s is set at 1 ng/mL. Twelve states have strict per se laws that forbid the presence of any levels of marijuana. In Colorado, a blood concentration of 5 ng/mL or more gives rise to permissible inference that a person was driving under the influence of the drug.

This news release promotes two new studies by the AAA Foundation into marijuana and driving:

  • Prevalence of Marijuana Involvement in Fatal Crashes: Washington, 2010-2014
  • An Evaluation of Data from Drivers Arrested for Driving Under the Influence in Relation to Per se Limits for Cannabis

The Foundation also is releasing related research into marijuana and driving, including:

  • Cannabis Use among Drivers Suspected of Driving Under the Influence or Involved in Collisions: Analysis of Washington State Patrol Data
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Marijuana: Beliefs and Behaviors, United States, 2013-2015
  • Advancing Drugged Driving Data at the State Level: Synthesis of Barriers and Expert Panel Recommendations
  • Overview of Major Issues Regarding the Impacts of Alcohol and Marijuana on Driving

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly supported charitable research and educational organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.  Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

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Tamra JohnsonAAA Foundation study suggests that preventing falls for older drivers can make roads safer

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Mar. 24, 2016)- Older drivers with a history of falling are 40 percent more likely to be involved in crashes than their peers, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Falls limit an older drivers’ ability to function behind the wheel and can make driving risky for themselves and others on the road. These findings are important since annually a record 12 million older adults will experience a fall.

“Drivers age 60 and older are involved in more than 400,000 crashes each year, and it’s important that we find ways to keep them and others safe on the road.” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This research is critical because it shows that we can now use an older driver’s fall history to identify if they are at greater risk for a crash.”

The report, Associations Between Falls and Driving Outcomes in Older Adults, is the latest research released in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project. Researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus along with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety say that falls can increase crash risk in two ways:

  • Falls can result in a loss of functional ability (i.e. wrist fractures or a broken leg), which can make it difficult for older drivers to steer or brake to avoid a crash.
  • Falls can increase an individual’s fear of falling, which can lead to a decrease in physical activity that weakens driving skills.

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“When it comes to physical health, you either use it or lose it,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety and Advocacy. “Falls often scare people into being less active, but decreasing physical activity can weaken muscles and coordination and make someone more likely to be in a crash.”

The research suggests that seniors and their families should view falls as a possible early indicator of declining physical fitness.  Addressing the health issues that originally led to the fall such as lower body weakness, poor balance, slow reaction time, certain medications, dizziness, or vision problems, can help older drivers strengthen their functional ability and lower their risk for crashing or experiencing another fall in the future.

“Older drivers should find activities that enhance balance, strengthen muscles and promote flexibility,” continued Nelson.  “Even a low impact fitness training program or driver improvement course can help safely extend an older driver’s years on the road.”

Fall prevention is a great way for older drivers to keep themselves and others safe while on the road.  Those concerned about a parent or other older driver should help them monitor risk factors that address health concerns or household dangers. AAA recommends a series of exercises and stretches to improve neck, shoulder, trunk, back and overall body flexibility, which can help a driver who has suffered from a recent fall.  As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA also offers a variety of programs and resources to help older drivers improve their driving performance and avoid crashes.

For more information on AAA resources for older drivers, such as RoadWise online/classroom courses or other programs that help seniors better “fit” with their vehicles, visit www.SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

Recognizing that lifestyle changes, along with innovative technologies and medical advancements, will have a significant impact on the driving experiences of the baby boomer generation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has launched a multi-year research program to more fully understand the driving patterns and trends of older drivers in the United States. The LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) Study is designed to generate the largest and most comprehensive data base about senior drivers in existence and will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.  Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Michael Green Contact TileNew AAA Foundation Research Finds Culture of Indifference despite High Death Toll

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 25, 2016) – About 87 percent of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior while behind the wheel within the past month, according to latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. These unsafe behaviors include driving while distracted, impaired, drowsy, speeding, running red lights or not wearing a seat belt. These disturbing results come as nearly 33,000 Americans died in car crashes in 2014, and preliminary estimates project a nine percent increase in deaths for 2015.

“There is a culture of indifference for far too many drivers when it comes to road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The vast majority of motorists believe they are more careful than others on the road, though most of them are not making safe decisions while behind the wheel. We’re asking every driver to make responsible decisions to make the roads safer for everyone.”

The report finds that 1 in 3 drivers have had a friend or relative seriously injured or killed in a crash, and 1 in 5 have been involved in a crash that was serious enough for someone to go to the hospital. Common unsafe behaviors include:

Distracted Driving

  • More than 2 in 3 drivers (70 percent) report talking on a cell phone while driving within the past 30 days. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (31 percent) report doing this fairly often or regularly.
  • More than 2 in 5 drivers (42 percent) admit to reading a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days, while 12 percent report doing this fairly often or regularly. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) admit to typing or sending a text or email over the past month, while eight percent say they do so fairly often or regularly.
  • Over 80 percent of drivers view distracted driving as a bigger problem than three years ago.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that distracted driving is a factor in at least 3,000 deaths per year, though the actual number is likely much higher. Drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds can double their risk of being in a crash.

Speeding

  • Nearly half of all drivers (48 percent) report going 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway in the past month, while 15 percent admit doing so fairly often or regularly.
  • About 45 percent of drivers report going 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street in the past 30 days, and 11 percent admit doing so fairly often or regularly.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that speed plays a factor in nearly 10,000 deaths per year. Drivers are more likely to be seriously injured or killed at higher speeds, and speeding increases the risk of being in a crash because there is less time and distance available to respond.

Drowsy Driving

  • Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) say they have driven when they were so tired they had a hard time keeping their eyes open in the past 30 days. More than 1 in 5 (22 percent) admitted doing this more than once during that time.
  • Previous research by the AAA Foundation estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in an average of 328,000 crashes annually, including 109,000 crashes that result in injuries and 6,400 fatal crashes.

Red-light Running

  • More than 1 in 3 drivers (39 percent) admit to having driven through a light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely during the past 30 days. About 1 in 4 drivers (26 percent) reported doing this more than once during that time.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that 697 people were killed and 127,000 were injured in crashes that involved red-light running in 2013.

Seatbelt Use

  • Nearly 1 in 5 drivers (18 percent) report driving without a seatbelt within the past 30 days, and more than 1 in 7 (15 percent) admit to doing this more than once.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that nearly half of all vehicle occupants who died in a crash in 2013 were unrestrained at the time of the crash. Seatbelts can reduce the risk of fatal injury by more than 45 percent.

Impaired Driving

  • More than 1 in 8 motorists (13 percent) report driving when their alcohol level might have been near or over the legal limit within the past 12 months. About nine percent of drivers report doing this more than once over the past year.
  • Previous research by NHTSA estimates that there are nearly 10,000 deaths a year from crashes involving drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher, and impaired-driving crashes cost the country more than $50 billion per year.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to driver safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,442 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA’s Driver Improvement Program, available both online and in classroom settings, helps drivers improve their skills and habits, teaching how they can reduce not only their own risk, but the risk of their passengers as well. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.  Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

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