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Teen Drivers Put Everyone at Risk

May 27th, 2015 by AAA

Tamra JohnsonAAA Foundation Study Raises Alert as 100 Deadliest Days Begins

WASHINGTON (May 27, 2015) – Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel, according to a new report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  In 2013 alone, 371,645 people were injured and 2,927 were killed in crashes that involved a teen driver. The results come just as the “100 Deadliest Days” begin, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb.

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“Teen crash rates are higher than any other age group, and this data confirm that the impact of their crashes extend well beyond the teen who is behind the wheel,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  “Since teens drive more during the summer than any other season, this insight is a timely reminder to everyone—drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists— to be mindful when sharing the roads with young drivers.”

The study analyzed data of police-reported crashes of drivers aged 15-19, from 1994-2013 and found that:

  • While the overall number of teen crashes are down,  the majority of people killed (66%) and injured (67%) in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen themselves
  • Nearly 50 percent of those injured were in another vehicle; 17 percent were in the teen driver’s car; and 2 percent were non-motorists (i.e., pedestrian, bicyclist)
  • Nearly 30 percent of those killed were in another car, 27 percent were the teen’s passenger and ten percent were non-motorists (i.e., pedestrians, bicyclist)

AAA is promoting the study findings to raise attention among parents of teen drivers and all road users particularly during the “100 Deadliest Days” period.  Based on a AAA analysis of the government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), in 2013, an average of 220 teen drivers and passengers died in traffic crashes during each of the summer months, a 43 percent increase compared to the rest of the year.

“Everyone has an incentive to keep teen drivers safe during the summer—and all year long—because it makes roads safer for everyone,” says Jennifer Ryan, AAA Director of State Relations. “Insightful data from this research help to inform parents and policymakers who can push legislation that results in an impactful difference.”

AAA has been a decades-long advocate on behalf of teen drivers and their families and has been a leader at the state level in advocating for the implementation and improvement of both graduated drivers licensing (GDL) laws and quality driver education programs.  Additional data from this study point to the drop in overall crash rates for teen drivers that can be attributed to strong GDL legislation as well as other factors including rising gas prices and the economy.

In the last 20 years, non-fatal injury crashes and fatal crashes of teen drivers aged 15-19 decreased by 51 percent and 56 percent respectively.  In comparison, crashes resulting in non-fatal injuries and fatalities, including but not limited to those involving teen drivers fell by 25 percent and 17 percent respectively.

“While great strides have been made to improve the safety of teen drivers over the past 20 years, motor vehicle crashes still remain the leading cause of death for drivers aged 15-19, so advocating on behalf of teen driver safety remains a top priority for AAA,” said Ryan.

Tools to help parents prepare for the “100 Deadliest Days” of summer driving and other resources to coach teens through the learning-to drive process including a parent-teen driving agreement can be found on AAA’s award-winning website TeenDriving.AAA.com. Parents have found the online AAA StartSmart program to be particularly useful, helping them to quickly become effective in-car coaches, make informed decisions about access to a vehicle, and manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.

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 200 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 55 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.

Erin SteppTests show headlights lights may fail to safely illuminate dark roadways

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 13, 2015) – New test results from AAA reveal the potential for significant headlight shortcomings when traveling on roadways that lack overhead lighting, typically America’s rural roads, which account for 40 percent of vehicle miles traveled annually. To assess headlight capabilities and limitations and learn what, if any, advantage advanced headlight technologies offer, AAA compared the performance of halogen, high intensity discharge (HID) and light emitting diode (LED) headlights. AAA’s test results suggest that halogen headlights, found in over 80 percent of vehicles on the road today, may fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph.

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The testing, conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, measured the distances at which modern headlights illuminate non-reflective objects on both low-beam and high-beam settings. These findings, paired with guidelines issued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, indicate that when traveling on unlit roadways, today’s headlights fail to light the full distance necessary for a driver to detect an object or obstacle in the roadway, react and come to a complete stop.

“AAA’s test results reveal that headlights found in U.S. vehicles fall short on safety,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “By failing to properly light roadways at moderate speeds, a pedestrian or animal may not become visible to a driver until it’s too late to stop.”

While high-beam settings on halogen headlights improved sight distances by 28 percent at the testing facility, in real-world conditions they may only provide enough light to safely stop at speeds of up to 48 mph, leaving drivers vulnerable at highway speeds. Despite the clear need for the additional visibility that high-beams offer, particularly on unlit roads, a recent AAA survey found that only a third of Americans admit to using these settings regularly.

Additional testing found that while the advanced headlight technology found in HID and LED headlights illuminated dark roadways 25 percent further than their halogen counter parts, they still may fail to fully illuminate roadways at speeds greater than 45 mph. High-beam settings on these advanced headlights offered significant improvement over low-beam settings, lighting distances of up to 500 feet (equal to 55 mph). Despite the increase, even the most advanced headlights fall 60 percent short of the sight distances that the full light of day provides.

“While it’s encouraging to see the safety benefit that newer headlight technology offers to drivers, there’s still room for improvement,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director, Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Unlike the more advanced headlight technology available in European vehicles, current government regulations limit the light output for vehicles sold in the United States. AAA looks forward to working with U.S. policy makers to ensure federal regulations keep up with changing technology.”

In addition to testing low-beam and high-beam headlight performance, AAA tested the effect that deteriorated headlight lenses have on light intensity and glare. The protective coating used on the plastics of modern lenses can slowly deteriorate and cloud after about five years, reducing light output and increasing light scatter which results in glare for other drivers.  The testing found that restoring headlights doubles the maximum light intensity and reduces glare-producing light scatter by up to 60 percent.  Yet, according to a recent AAA survey, only 20 percent of Americans have performed this service.

“Deteriorated or dirty headlight lenses are not just an aesthetic issue,” warned Nielsen. “An annual service on older vehicles will increase your nighttime visibility and minimize distracting glare for fellow drivers.”

To learn more about AAA’s vehicle testing series, designed to educate and inform AAA members, the automotive industry and the general public, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

Erin SteppLower Gas Prices Help Fuel 2 Percent Decline From 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 28, 2015) – Due to declines in gas prices and finance charges, the annual cost to own and operate a vehicle has fallen to $8,698, a nearly 2 percent drop from last year, according to AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs study.  This research examines the cost of fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges associated with driving a typical sedan 15,000 miles annually. In the United States, a driver can expect to spend 58 cents for each mile driven, nearly $725 per month, to cover the fixed and variable costs associated with owning and operating a car in 2015.

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“Fortunately, reduced gasoline and finance costs more than offset rising costs in other areas,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.  “As a result, car owners can look forward to saving approximately $178 this year.”

Based on 15,000 miles

Small Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average

Minivan

SUV (4WD)

Annual Total Cost

$6,729

$8,716

$10,649

$8,698

$9,372

$10,624

Annual Cost Per Mile

$0.449

$0.581

$0.710

$0.580

$0.625

$0.708

 

Fuel: DOWN 13.77 percent to 11.2 cents per mile/$1,681.50 per year (-$268.50).

Compared to last year’s study, the average cost of regular unleaded fuel fell nearly 13 percent to $2.855 per gallon. This decline, coupled with improvements in vehicle fuel economy, resulted in an average 11.21 cents-per-mile fuel cost.  Due in large part to this decrease, the cost of owning and operating a sport utility vehicle is slightly less than that of a large sedan this year.

Finance Charges: DOWN 21.02 percent to $669 per year (-$178).

With rising car sales and stiff competition among dealers, many manufacturers are offering low finance rates to attract buyers.  In 2015, average vehicle finance rates dropped 21 percent, which equates to approximately $15 per month on a typical five-year loan. However, rates vary widely with borrower credit scores.

Depreciation: UP 4.10 percent to $3,654 per year (+144).

The single largest ownership expense, depreciation, rose for 2015 due to increasing new car sales that are causing an influx of used and off-lease vehicles entering the marketplace. This increased supply has resulted in lower values and selling prices for used vehicles, thus driving up depreciation costs.

Insurance: UP 8.99 percent to $1,115 per year (+$92)

Insurance rates vary widely by driver, driving habits, insurance company and geographical area. AAA’s calculations are based on low-risk drivers with excellent driving records. While premium calculations are confidential, this modest increase of $7.67 per month may be due in part to high-cost modern vehicle features such as infotainment systems, advanced safety features and lightweight materials that can be more expensive to repair and, therefore, insure.

Maintenance: UP .99 percent to 5.11 cents per mile/$766.50 per year (+$7.50)

Annual maintenance, including labor time and repair part costs associated with factory-recommended maintenance, was factored into the 2015 survey along with average costs of an extended warranty.  Maintenance costs varied widely by vehicle type but, on average, were up slightly from 5.06 cents to 5.11 cents per mile. A recent survey of AAA-Approved Auto Repair shops found that the majority of drivers are behind schedule in routine maintenance, including oil changes, tire maintenance and battery inspection/testing.

License/Registration/Taxes: UP 3.74 percent to $665 per year (+$24)

Vehicle prices rose modestly in 2014, contributing to an overall increase in state and local tax costs.  Additionally, some states increased fees related to vehicle purchasing, titling, registration and licensing.

Tires: UP 1.03 percent to .98 cents per mile/$147 per year (+$1.50)

Due to the competitive and dynamic nature of the tire market, tire costs in 2015 remain relatively unchanged, rising by just .01 cents per mile.

In addition to calculating the driving costs for sedans, AAA determined annual costs associated with both minivans and sport utility vehicles. Owners of these vehicles will benefit from annual driving costs nearly four percent lower this year, at $9,372 and $10,624 respectively, due to lower gas prices and finance rates.

“When shopping for a vehicle, smaller isn’t always cheaper,” cautioned Nielsen. “A minivan, for example, can carry up to 7 passengers, yet costs $100 less to own and operate each month compared to a large sedan.”

AAA has published Your Driving Costs since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.

The Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Your actual operating costs may vary. See AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs brochure for a list of vehicles and additional information on the underlying criteria used in the study.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

Erin SteppORLANDO, Fla., (April 20, 2015) – The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D earned the top score in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide, the motor club announced today.  The Palo Alto-based automaker’s car is featured with more than 80 other green vehicles in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide.  The best green car value award went to the 2014 Nissan Versa SV.

To help those in the market for a green car or truck, the 160-page, comprehensive fifth annual AAA guide reviews 88 battery electric vehicles, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles, clean diesels, hybrids, partial zero emission vehicles (PZEVs), and vehicles with high fuel economy.  These vehicles were tested and scored by the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) in 13 categories (braking, fuel economy, emissions, handling, ride comfort, etc.). The report also contains comprehensive information about green technologies from the ARC evaluators.

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“Low-emission vehicles and hybrid choices vary in quality, price and size.  The AAA Green Car Guide is one of our ongoing programs to help consumers navigate the wide-ranging green car marketplace,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering.  “AAA’s expertise and history of automotive research with alternative fuel vehicles continues to benefit AAA members and the public today.”

“The center also has a long-term interest in helping motorists cut their fuel bills and clean the air,” said ARC Manager Megan McKernan. “Green vehicles offer motorists a way to reduce emissions and save fuel and, depending on the choice of green vehicle, can help motorists save cash, especially when gas prices are high,” she added.

“For the 2015 guide, the research center divided the vehicles into six car classifications and identified the winners and finalists in each category,” said McKernan. “We also recognized overall ‘Green Car’ and ‘Best Value’ winners,” she said. “The Tesla took two awards – best overall and large car category.”

In describing the top-scoring green vehicle manufacturer, which held onto the top spot from last year, McKernan said, “All evaluators rated the Tesla high for comfort and ride quality. It handled well on our slalom course, and it has the best acceleration times of all the vehicles.”

The Tesla P85D has a 253-mile range, but even with a 240-volt charger, it can take 12 hours to fully re-charge, according to McKernan.  “Despite charging time, the Model P85D was our top-scoring electric vehicle this year.”

The 2014 Nissan Versa SV tops the 2015 guide list as the best green car value when price is factored in, according to McKernan. “It’s priced under $17,000, averages about 35 miles per gallon and has a spacious interior making it an affordable fuel-sipping car,” she added.

The research center tracks significant changes to a vehicle from model year to model year. If no significant changes were made to the power train in 2015, a prior model year’s results were used. For example, staff tested a 2014 Mazda3 sedan. No significant changes were made to its powertrain in 2015, so the 2014 results were include in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide.

Overall Top Scoring Green Cars:

  1. 2015 Tesla S P85D Performance (Electric)                                                              94.87
  2. 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium (Electric)                                                 85.50
  3. 2014 BMW i3 (Electric)                                                                                                   85.40
  4. 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium Partial Zero-Emissions                            83.86
  5. 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE Clean Diesel                                                            80.91

 Best Value: Cost-Per-Point Scores:

  1. 2014 Nissan Versa SV  (Gasoline)                                                                             $249
  2. 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV (Gasoline)                                                                   $260
  3. 2013 Hyundai Accent GLS (Gasoline)                                                                      $269
  4. 2015 Toyota Yaris LE (Gasoline)                                                                                 $273
  5. 2014 Kia Soul+ (Gasoline)                                                                                            $276

2015 AAA Green Car Guide Category Winners:

  • Large car: Tesla Model S P85D (Electric)
  • Midsize: Audi A7 TDI Quattro Tiptronic (Clean Diesel)
  • Compact: Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium (Electric)
  • Subcompact: BMW i3 (Electric)
  • SUV/Minivan: Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium (PZEV)
  • Pickup Truck: Ford F-150 Supercab Lariat (Gasoline)

The ARC’s engineers and technicians – who have more than 100 years combined experience – evaluated the vehicles. Each category was scored on 0-10 points.  Scores were totaled to determine top vehicles.  Then, each vehicle’s total score was divided by its “as-tested” price to determine its cost per point for best value.  The guide lists vehicle specifications, test scores, data and observations in one-page summaries.

Tested vehicles were selected based on emission certifications from the California Air Resources Board and U.S. EPA fuel economy ratings.  Tests were performed at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and on Southern California roads.  Testing procedures were developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the EPA and the Auto Club.

The guide will be available to AAA members at no charge at AAA branches while supplies last.  It also can be downloaded on the iPad or on the AAA web site. More information can be found at www.AAA.com/greencar.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

Tesla_exterior news-2014-audi-a7-TDI-sedan-exterior-beauty-002 F-150 Is Truck Trend Magazine’s 2015 Pickup Truck of the Year The All-Electric BMW i3. BMW_i3_full_length BMW_i3_charging 2015SubaruOutback-15 2015 Ford F-150 2015_VW_Golf_TDI_IMG_9563 2015_e-golf_4196 2015_BMW_i8_slalom 2014_Nissan_Versa_SV_IMG_9280

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey Reveals High Tolerance for Drug-Impaired Drivers

Erin SteppWASHINGTON (December 29, 2014) – With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia, safety advocates are increasingly concerned that drugged drivers pose a very serious threat to the safety of American road users.  New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly half of Americans share this concern and report feeling that drug-impaired drivers are a bigger problem today compared to three years ago. With 85 percent of Americans supporting marijuana-impairment laws, the survey reveals that while there’s awareness of this serious issue, Americans are unclear on impairment thresholds, safety implications and legal ramifications.

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“While all states prohibit driving under the influence of drugs, there’s significant variation in the minimum acceptable levels of marijuana or its traces in a driver’s system,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Sixteen states forbid any presence of prohibited drugs, while five others have specific limits for marijuana. With a lack of uniformity, it’s no surprise we found that more than half of American drivers are unaware of the laws that exist in their state.”

The Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index also revealed that, compared to alcohol, American drivers are significantly less concerned about the threat of drug impairment behind the wheel. The survey found that while two-thirds feel that those who drive after drinking alcohol pose a “very serious” threat to their personal safety, just over half feel the same way about drug use.  In fact, one-in-six Americans report that, where they live, most people feel it’s acceptable to drive one hour after using marijuana.

“Federal government research suggests that marijuana can impair driving performance for up to 3 hours,” warned Kissinger.  “Decreased car handling performance, increased reaction times and sleepiness have all been documented driver impairments that result from marijuana use.”

When it comes to prescription drug use and driving, Americans report feeling even less concerned, with just over a quarter reporting feeling the same “very serious” threat to their personal safety.  However, many of these drugs, along with over-the-counter medications, can impair a driver in similar ways as alcohol. Previous studies have found that a single dose of some cold and allergy medications can have the same effect on driving as being above the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration, and certain antidepressants have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41 percent.

“Just because a doctor prescribes a drug, or you can purchase it over-the-counter doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to use while driving,” says Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy.  “Always discuss potential side effects and interactions with your doctor or pharmacist before getting behind the wheel.”

To educate drivers on the impact that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can have on safe driving ability, the AAA Foundation developed RoadwiseRX – a free, interactive tool that allows users to input various medications and check for side effects and interactions that can lead to driver impairment.

Each year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety surveys Americans ages 16 and older about their driving behaviors and attitudes. The goal of this annual Traffic Safety Culture Index is to foster a social climate in which traffic safety is highly valued and rigorously pursued.

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 200 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 54 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.

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