NEWS | June 20, 2012

Private motor vehicles: slow down; pay attention

By 628th Air Base Wing Safety Office

Private Motor Vehicle mishaps are a serious danger to our safety. Reckless behavior includes excessive speed, alcohol use, no seat belt use or extreme maneuvers (surfing, racing, etc.); 86 percent of PMV fatality mishaps (as of Sept. 30, 2011) were attributable to these factors. It is this behavior that continues to be a threat to our service members.

Here are a few statistics and information related to speeding, aggressive driving and distracted driving:

According to the National Safety Council website, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that speed is involved in about one out of three fatal crashes. It is the third leading contributing factor to traffic crashes. But while injuries and fatalities due to other dangerous behaviors, such as driving while impaired and not wearing seatbelts have been significantly reduced, speeding is still a challenge.

Drivers speed because:
· They're in a hurry.
· They're inattentive to their driving.
· They don't take traffic laws seriously; they don't think the laws apply to them.
· They don't view their driving behavior as dangerous.
· They don't expect to get caught.
· Some or all of the above.

Speeding results in:
· Lives lost - more than 13,000 each year.
· Work zone crashes and fatalities - speed was a factor in 27 percent of fatal crashes in construction and maintenance zones in 2005.
· Unsafe school zones - compliance with lower speed limits is poor.
· Economic costs - speed-related crashes cost society more than $40 billion annually, according to NHTSA. Every minute "gained" by speeding to a destination costs U.S. society more than $76,000.

Aggressive Driving
Most of us know it when we see it, but NHTSA, after discussions with law enforcement and the judiciary, defines aggressive driving as occurring when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.
Road rage differs from aggressive driving. It is a criminal offense and is "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or is caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway."

Aggressive driving has become a serious problem on our roadways. Some behaviors typically associated with aggressive driving include: exceeding the posted speed limit, following too closely, erratic or unsafe lane changes, improperly signaling lane changes, failure to obey traffic control devices (stop signs, yield signs, traffic signals, railroad grade cross signals, etc.) Law enforcement agencies should include red light running as part of their definition of aggressive driving. NHTSA calls the act of red light running as one of the most dangerous forms of aggressive driving.

Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety.

These types of distractions include:
· Texting
· Using a cell phone or smart phone
· Eating and drinking
· Talking to passengers
· Grooming
· Reading, including maps
· Using a navigation system
· Watching a video
· Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player

Distractions can be broken into three main types:
· Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
· Visual: taking your eyes off the road
· Cognitive: taking your mind off driving

Because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

One last statistic: every 24 seconds there is a crash involving drivers using cell phones and texting.