Recently in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Category

October 3, 2012

Older Driver Safety in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

According to the Associated Press, older drivers are on the road more than ever before. Nearly 34 million drivers are 65 or older. By 2030, deferral estimates show there will be about 57 million, making up about a quarter of all licensed drivers.

Older drivers have the highest rate of deadly crashes per mile even though they don't drive as often as younger drivers. Measured by miles driven, older drivers crash rates begin to rise in their 70s and even more in their 80s, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Health Issues can also impair older drivers. Health issues such as: arthritis and dementia, slower reflexes and they also use multiple medications, which can impair their driving. On average, about 60% of seniors voluntarily cut back their driving. Most avoid driving at night, on interstates and during bad weather. Older drivers seem to have more difficulty with intersections, making left turns, and changing lanes and/or merging. This is due to their gradual decline in vision and reaction times that come with aging.

In the District of Columbia seniors are required to have more vision tests, are required to renew their licenses more often than younger drivers and starting at the age of 70, older drivers must submit a doctor's certification that they are healthy enough to drive every time they renew their licenses. In Maryland, the Motor Vehicle Administration requires all people, starting at the age of 40, to take eye exams, and in Virginia, starting at the age of 80, drivers must renew their license in person and also pass an eye exam.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a national guideline for older driver safety earlier this summer. The proposal recommends that every state needs a program to improve older driver safety, doctors should be protected from lawsuits id they report a possibly unsafe driver and driver's licenses should be renewed in person after a certain age. These recommendations would push states to become more consistent and have safer roads.

June 5, 2012

Dangerous Vehicles on the Road

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The following vehicles have been determined to be the most dangerous vehicles on the road, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):

1) Dodge Ram 1500; score 2/5; bad ratings: side collisions and rollover

2) Colorado Crew Cab; score 3/5; bad ratings: side collisions, rollover & rear end
collisions

3) Mazda CX-7; score 4/5; bad ratings: rollover and rear end collisions

4) Mazda CX-9; score 4/5; bad ratings: rollover and rear end collisions

5) Nissan Pathfinder; score 3/5; bad ratings: rollover and rear end collisions

6) Jeep Wrangler; score 3/5; bad ratings: side collisions and rear end collisions

7) Suzuki SX4; score 2/5; bad ratings: rollover and rear end collisions


These vehicles were deemed the most dangerous based on 4 rating categories of the IIHS tests. The categories were: (1) a front crash test where a vehicle travels at 40 mph and hits a barrier head on; (2) a side-impact crash test where an SUV type vehicle strikes the driver side of the testing vehicle at a speed of 30 mph; (3) rollover crash testing where the vehicle is hit by metal plates on the corners to determine force capacity before the vehicle rolls over; and (4) a rear-end crash test where seats and seat belts are tested for protection against whiplash and other head and neck injuries.

Consumer Reports and crash safety ratings performed by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the JD Power's Initial Quality reports were also used to analyze the vehicles performance.

March 7, 2011

Fatal Crashes in DC and MD Down, But Up in VA

A report published in February 2010 shows, that in the last five years, fatal crashes at intersections with traffic lights have declined in Maryland and the District of Columbia, but have risen in Virginia. Experts have made the assumption that the drop in fatal crashes in MD and DC are due to the use of red-light cameras.

In Northern Virginia, only Arlington County and Falls Church, currently use red-light cameras. Between 2005 and 2009, fatal crashes in Virginia have increased. In 2005 only 39 fatal crashes occurred, but in 2009, there were 51 fatal crashes. Therefore, other counties in Virginia are seeking state approval to install more red-light cameras.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), between 2004 and 2008, 159 lives were saved in 14 cities nationwide by the use of red-light cameras. When red-light cameras are used for safety reasons and not just to generate revenue they have shown to save lives. People have a better understanding now of how important it is to not run a red light. The use of red-light cameras makes people drive safer and avoid running red-lights, and therefore, save lives. It is the heavy use of these cameras in Maryland and the District of Columbia that have caused the decline in fatal crashes. It is imperative that other cities and counties in Virginia do the same.

December 27, 2010

If Google Cars Drive Themselves, Who Would You Sue?

Google-Car-auto-toyota-prius.jpgGoogle has developed a new car called the "Google Car". It is a Toyota Prius that is equipped with software that allows it to drive itself. The Google cars use video cameras, installed on the roof, radar sensors and laser range finders to travel through traffic on its own. These cars also navigate the road by using detailed maps. According to Sebastian Thrun, a Google software engineer, "Our automated cars use... Google's data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain."

The Google car was made with the intention to help prevent traffic accidents, free people's time, reduce distracted driving and drunk driving, and reduce carbon emissions. So far, the Google Car, has traveled about 140,000 miles and has only been involved in one traffic accident, a rear-end.

Google has yet to determine when these Google Cars will be available to the general public, but when they are, a question arises, if there is an accident, who would you sue?. The current statutes and case law in the United States were written for cars with human drivers, in order to determine the liability in an automobile accident. Therefore; once these Google Cars are put out on the market, laws would need to change.
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There are three factors that could determine liability in case of an automobile accident:

1) Google - the author of the software used by the Google Car;
2) Toyota - the current and only car Manufacturer of the Google Car; and
3) The Owner of the vehicle.

Liability would be determined on the type of accident and could have one or more of these parties at fault. The legal process would examine who is at fault. For example, was it a software issue or a mechanical failure? A software issue would be if the program made the wrong decision and caused a crash, and a mechanical failure would be if a part used to build the Google car was defective or malfunctioned.

All in all, the Goggle Car was created to make driving and roadways safer. In 2008, the NHTSA reported that there were 37,261 automobile fatalities. Lets hope that if and when the Google Car is put on the market it will lower the yearly number of deaths in the United States.

December 6, 2010

Drugged Drivers Increase Fatal Car Accidents Nationwide

Out of the 21,798 drivers who were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the United States in 2009, 63 percent of them were tested positive for drugs, and according to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, 18 percent of them tested positive for drugs.

Drug data was collected Nationwide and analyzed by the NHTSA as part of a Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). The types of drugs reported were over-the-counter medicines, prescription drugs and illicit drugs as well.

Previous reports by the NHTSA have shown that alcohol and drowsiness are some of the leading causes of fatal traffic accidents, but this new report will begin to explore the role that legal and illegal drug use play in accidents. This report has shown that drug involvement in fatal motor vehicle accidents is indeed increasing nationwide. This report will pave the way for more research and could ultimately lead to the establishment of standardized testing methods that would look into drug involvement and fatal accidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has also published various reports that offer a look at roadway risks and show ways that lives can be saved. One IIHS report estimates that 7,440 driver deaths could have been prevented had blood-alcohol content levels been below .08%. The report also states that ignition interlock systems are one way to fight the problem of blood alcohol.

The ultimate solution would be that if you are impaired, whether it be from drowsiness, lack of sleep, alcohol use or legal or illegal drugs, it is best to not get behind the wheel and let someone else drive. Do not put yourself or others at risk of an accident and/or an untimely death. Common sense and caution need to be put at the forefront of your decision making and you need to give your keys to someone else. If you are impaired, Do not drive!

November 30, 2010

What States Have the Safest Roadways in the U.S.?

The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) released a report in early October 2010 that shows that the two safest roadways are in Washington and Oregon, according to their 2010 ENA National Scorecard of State Roadway Laws. The District of Columbia has a score of 12, Maryland a score of 11 and Virginia a score of 9.

The 2010 ENA National Scorecard ranks states based on 14 types of legislation that address such things as seat belt use, motorcycle helmet requirements, devices to prevent drunk driving and cell phone use laws. States receive one point for each type of legislation they currently have. Oregon and Washington both had a score of 14, making them the safest roadways to travel in the United States.

Date collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that someone dies in a car crash in the US every 12 minutes and someone is injured, taken to and treated in an emergency department for injuries as a result of an automobile accident every 10 seconds. These injuries and deaths are preventable through roadways laws and enforcement of these safety laws, it is the passing of these safety laws that save lives.

Twenty six states and the District of Columbia have passed or enacted laws that prevent the entering, sending, reading or otherwise retrieving data for all drivers using wireless communication devices (i.e.: cell phones). 5,474 people died in 2009 as a result of distraction-related automobile accidents, according to the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration (NHSTA). This means that 18% of annual fatalities are a result of distracted drivers nationwide.

To view the full 2010 ENA National Scorecard and State Roadway Laws report please visit www.ena.org.

October 25, 2010

5 Tips to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

5 Tips to keeping teen drivers safe while driving:
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1. Buckle up - make sure a seat belt is worn at all times when behind the wheel. The AAA-Mid Atlantic has done extensive research and has proven that when a lap and/or shoulder belt is used it reduces your risk of being involved in a fatal traffic accident by 45%.

2. Passenger Limit - the fewer passengers in a vehicle the more attentive the teen driver will be while driving. The fewer passengers in a vehicle the fewer distractions the teen driver has and the safer he/she will drive.


3. Maintain Speed Limit - speed limits are determined by road conditions and teen drivers must know to obey the posted speed limits, especially during inclement weather conditions.

4. Do not use cell phone while driving - In the state of Maryland, it is now illegal for anyone under the age of 18 with a provisional driver's license to talk on a cell phone while driving. MD, DC and VA also have strict laws on texting while driving. Therefore, it is best to just have the teen driver not use a cell phone for any purposes while driving; and

5. Do Not allow Driving at night - Studies by the AAA-Mid Atlantic and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that the most dangerous time for new drivers to be on the road is at night. Therefore do not allow your teen to drive at night unless its an emergency.

October 6, 2010

Are Women Drivers Favored by Car Insurance Companies in the U.S.?

In 1959, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was founded with the sole purpose of researching date to find out causes and preventive methods for motor vehicle accidents. IIHS is funded by auto insurers to help them gauge risk using three common factors of operating an automobile. The three factors are: human influence, vehicle influence and environmental influence.
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IIHS published gender reports in 2008 that found that more men die each year in automobile accidents than women. The report stated that men typically engage in much riskier driving practices than women. Some of these practices include:
- less seat belt usage
- driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, controlled and prescription drugs were included
- driving at higher rates of speed and above the posted speed limits

Also, in the 2008 gender report, were statistics that showed that when male drivers are involved in car accidents, the results are more often death. The report showed the following statistics:
- 71 % of all motor vehicle deaths were males
- 70 % of pedestrian deaths were cause by male drivers
- 87% of bicyclist deaths involved men drivers and
- 91 % of motorcycle deaths were male drivers

Gender, cell phone use, and zip codes are some of the factors used to determine automobile insurance premiums. Automobile insurance companies are for-profit industries; this means that all automobile insurance companies are in business to make a profit. The formula for profit includes an analysis of risk management.

Insurance rates are also determined by your driving record, the type of vehicle involved, how the vehicle will be used and your credit score. Since women seem to have better driving records, drive smaller and non-racing vehicles, use vehicles for work more than for pleasure and have better credit scores, it seems that women get lower premium rates.