Entries in Car Crashes (9)


Tests Expose Weakness of Trucks' Underride Guards

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- What are your chances of surviving a rear-end collision with a modern semi-trailer truck if you're driving a passenger car?  Not bad, according to new tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which show that trucks do a good job of keeping vehicles from sliding underneath them.

But the same can't be said if you hit only a small portion of the truck's rear.  In that scenario, the majority of semi-trailers fail to prevent underride.

Most trucks are required to have steel bars -- known as underride guards -- hanging from the back to prevent passenger cars from sliding underneath them.  IIHS engineers put semi-trailers from the eight largest manufacturers to the test to see just how well they work.

"All eight trailers prevented underride in the full overlap crash test at 35 miles per hour.  All but one prevented the underride in the 50 percent overlap.  And only one managed to prevent underride in all three test conditions," says David Zuby, IIHS' chief research officer.

The one exception was a semi-trailer from Canadian manufacturer Manac.

"Manac engineers show it's possible to go much further.  If all trailers had guards like the one on the Manac trailer, many of the lives that are lost in underride crashes could be saved," Zuby says.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Traffic Fatalities Soar During First Half of 2012

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many more people were killed on the nation’s roadways during the first six months of this year than the same period in 2011.

This 9 percent increase in traffic deaths from 14,950 to 16,290 represents the biggest jump since 1975 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began keeping detailed stats on crashes.

Previously, the largest spike in road deaths for the first six months of any of the past 37 years was 6.4 percent in 1979.  Meanwhile, the fatality rate of 1.12 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was the highest since 2009.

While the NHTSA wouldn’t speculate on factors contributing to the rise in traffic fatalities during the first half of the year, it appears that the unseasonably warm winter across much of the country might have been responsible for more drivers on the road.

Indeed, crashes from January through March were up 13.4 percent from the same period in 2011, compared to a 5.4 percent increase from April through June.

Nonetheless, overall traffic deaths have fallen dramatically since 2005 when they totaled 42,708.  Last year, 32,310 died on the roadways.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Safest City for Driving Is Sioux Falls, South Dakota

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What’s the safest city to take your new car out for a spin? That would be Sioux Falls, S.D., which Allstate Insurance Co. proclaimed as ”America’s Safest Driving City” for the fifth year in a row.

The report, drawing from Allstate claims data, ranks America’s 200 largest cities in terms of car collision frequency.  The good news for Sioux Falls drivers?  The average driver in Sioux Falls will get into an auto collision every 13.8 years -- or is about 28 percent less likely to get into a crash when compared with the national average of 10 years.

Boise, Idaho; Fort Collins, Colo.; Madison, Wis.; and Lincoln, Neb., took the top spots behind Sioux City. And for the eighth year in a row, ever since Allstate has issued its safe-driver report, motorists in Phoenix topped the list among commuters in U.S. cities with more than one million people, with the average driver experiencing a collision every 10.2 years.

While car crash fatalities are at their lowest level since 1949, they still average more than 32,000 every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports.

“Allstate’s Best Driver’s Report was created to boost the country’s discussion on safe driving,” Mike Roche, senior vice president of claims, said in a statement.  “Minimizing distractions, obeying traffic laws and using your car’s safety features like turn signals and headlights, are all ways to be safer, no matter where you drive.”

So where are the worst drivers?  In Washington, D.C., where the average driver has a collision every 4.7 years, which, when compared with the national average, makes D.C. drivers 112 percent more likely to have a crash.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Auto Crash-Avoidance Technology Found to Reduce Collisions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Millions of Americans will be traveling this week, making the Fourth of July the nation’s most dangerous holiday on the highway. And new technologies could not only be protecting Americans from accidents, but avoiding crashes on the roadways all together, according to a new study released on Tuesday.

Safety features that help drivers avoid front-end collisions by braking autonomously and headlights that help guide vehicles around corners are, indeed, reducing crashes, according to insurance claim analyses by the Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“The message for the consumer is if they are in the market for a new car, they ought to look for cars with forward-collision warning systems and also the adaptive headlights,” said David Zuby, one of the main authors of the study.  “We’re finding that these actually help drivers avoid getting in crashes.”

The crash-avoidance systems analyzed were all offered as optional equipment.  The Highway Loss Data Institute compared the insurance records of the vehicles with the features to the same models without the features.  Clear patterns were found in property-damage liability insurance claims, covering damage caused by the insured vehicle, and collision insurance, covering damage to the insured vehicle.

Forward-collision warning systems alert the driver if the vehicle is gaining on traffic ahead so quickly that a crash is imminent.  Some of the systems are equipped with autonomous braking so that even if the driver doesn’t respond to the warning, the car will brake on its own.

“For those times when your attention strays from the driving task, if you’re about to have a crash, the system can warn you and get your attention back on the road so you can brake,” Zuby said.  “And if for some reason you’re slow to respond, it can begin braking on your behalf to take out some of the energy of the crash and make it less severe.”

Some models equipped with a forward collision-avoidance system with autonomous braking lowered property-damage liability insurance claims by 14 percent.  Models with forward collision-avoidance systems but without autonomous braking also lowered claims, but not to the extent of models with the extra feature.

Adaptive headlights were also successful in lowering claims.  To the surprise of the analysts, headlights that respond to a vehicle’s speed and direction of the steering wheel to help direct the lights onto the vehicle’s intended path lowered claims by 10 percent and substantially decreased injuries to occupants of the insured vehicle.

But analyses of another safety feature were not so promising.  Technology that warns drivers when it is unsafe to leave their lane is, in some cases, increasing the number of crashes.

Lane-departure warnings, which tell drivers when they are drifting out of their lane, were associated with increased collision and property-damage liability insurance claims, as well as increased injuries to occupants of the insured vehicle.

Zuby said researchers have no good explanation for why the lane departure warnings increase crashes, but there are reasons why the feature could be ineffective.

Analysts say that the technology relies on cameras to monitor lane markings and if not clear, the system could be giving off false alarms, causing drivers to tune out the warnings.

While the crash-avoidance analysis highlighted forward-collision avoidance, adaptive headlights and lane-departure warning, the Highway Loss Data Institute is also gathering data on other safety features including blind-spot detection, park assist and backup cameras.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fall Danger: How to Avoid Deer Versus Car Crashes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BLOOMINGTON, Ill.) -- As the nation heads deeper into the fall season, the chances of Americans having a car crash involving a deer greatly increases.

More than a million deer-versus-car collisions occur annually in the U.S., according to data released Monday by State Farm Insurance.

The good news: that represents a 7 percent decline from the previous year.  The bad news: November and October, respectively, are the two most dangerous months for hitting a deer.

“State Farm’s data shows that November, the heart of the deer migration and mating season, is the month during which deer-vehicle encounters are most likely,” the insurer said in a statement.  “More than 18 percent of all such mishaps take place during the 30 days of November.”

Drivers in West Virginia carry the greatest risk of hitting a deer with their car -- a 1 in 53 chance -- according to State Farm.  The best place to drive, deer-free, appears to be Hawaii.

“The odds of a Hawaiian driver colliding with a deer between now and 12 months from now are approximately equal to the odds that that driver is a practicing nudist,” said the insurer.

[Click here to view State Farm’s map and see how your state ranks]

It can be a costly accident; State Farm estimates that the average cost of car repairs after a deer collision is more than $3,000.

To reduce your chances of hitting a deer, State Farm offers the following tips:  Be aware of posted deer crossing signs.  These are placed in active deer crossing areas.

Remember that deer are most active between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.  Use high-beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways.  Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds -- if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No Evidence Cellphone Bans Are Effective, Report Shows

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Despite nationwide initiatives to curb cellphone use while driving, there is no evidence indicating that the bans are effective, according to a report out Thursday.

Nevertheless, the 40-page document urged states to enact cellphone and texting bans, even as it declared that there is "no solid evidence that any [ban] is effective in reducing crashes, injuries, or fatalities."

The report, Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do, developed by a host of transportation safety officials, also called on employers, the automobile industry and the federal government to continue to develop tests and implement measures to combat all forms of distracted driving.

The report summarized all research on distracted drivers available as of January 2011 and focused its attention on distractions caused by cellphones and text messaging.

One recent study said that about two-thirds of all drivers reported using a cellphone while driving.

The new document found that there was no conclusive evidence whether hands-free cellphone use is less risky than hand-held use.  It suggested that texting may carry a higher risk than other forms of cellphone use, but again found there was no conclusive evidence to verify that claim.

As of June 2011, 34 states and the District of Columbia had enacted texting bans for all drivers, but a 2010 study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI) found that the bans did not reduce collision claims.  In fact, claims increased slightly in states enacting texting bans compared to neighboring states.

HLDI suggested two possible reasons for the increase.

"Texters may realize that texting bans are difficult to enforce, so they may have little incentive to reduce texting for fear of being detected and fined," the HDLI report said.  Or, the institute suggested, texters may have responded to the ban by "hiding their phones from view, potentially increasing their distractive effects by requiring longer glances away from the road."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are Red-Light Cameras Causing Accidents?

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- It's the "Gotcha!" flash that no driver wants to see after running a red light.  And it's quickly becoming the target of critics who say the cameras may cause drivers to take desperate measures to avoid being caught on film.

Red-light cameras, designed to catch drivers who run lights and endanger others, are now the subject of significant debate because some believe they may cause more harm than good.

It is a controversy that is leading to a red-light camera backlash.  Houston has already voted them out, and now the driving capital of the world, Los Angeles, is on the verge of doing the same.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine states have banned red-light cameras.  Several others have passed laws limiting the use of camera enforcement.

There is evidence to support both sides of the debate.  A study this year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that in 14 of America's largest cities the cameras have saved 159 lives during a four-year period.

The study also said that if all 99 of the country's largest cities had them installed, 815 lives could have been saved.

On the other side of the debate are statistics that show the cameras also cause accidents.  A 2005 federal study demonstrated that while injuries from right angle or T-bone crashes decreased by 16 percent at red-light camera intersections, injuries from rear-end collisions increased by 24 percent.

The final argument in the debate in Los Angeles may have already been decided by the courts.  The courts have ruled that violations caught on a photo are unenforceable since there is no live witness to testify against an alleged offender.

Nearly half the tickets issued in Los Angeles go unpaid without consequence, leaving the city paying $1.5 million a year for unpopular, if lifesaving cameras.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Today's SUVs Are Among the Safest Vehicles, Report Finds

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- SUVs, once considered one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road for their propensity to roll over, have reversed their reputation. They are now much safer than they used to be, according to a new report released Thursday.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says drivers of today's SUVs are among the least likely to die in a crash, thanks in large part to the availability of electronic stability control, or ECS.  The computer sensor technology automatically controls braking when it detects skids, helping vehicles stay upright and keeping drivers on their intended path.

Now that SUVs are less likely to roll over, the IIHS points out that they are safer than smaller cars because their larger size and weight offers drivers greater protection in a crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Red Light Cameras Cut Fatal Crashes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- U.S. cities with red light cameras have fewer fatal crashes than those that don't, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The study found that the cameras lowered fatal, red light-running crashes by 24 percent and saved 159 lives in 14 of the country's largest cities between 2004 and 2008.

Moreover, the study also found that all fatal crashes at intersections with signals -- not just red light-running crashes -- dropped by 14 percent in cities that had cameras and went up by 2 percent in cities that didn't.

The institute estimates 815 lives could have been saved between the five years studied if red light cameras were operating in all 99 U.S. cities with populations over 200,000.  Today, about 500 cities have the cameras in place.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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