Pedestrian Deaths Climb
This appears to be due to a combination of three main factors:
In an effort to avoid getting behind the wheel intoxicated and emboldened by the buzz of alcohol, many are taking the streets by foot after a night of drinking.
A third of pedestrians killed in crashes in 2016 were over the legal limit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That number comes to 2,000 people, which is 300 more than in 2014.
Many programs have been implemented to combat impaired driving such as checkpoints and ride services like Uber, which have likely contributed to the decline. But now it is time to redirect efforts to pedestrian safety. It is important that efforts to make pedestrian safety a priority don’t come off as shaming those who are opting to walk rather than get behind the wheel – as that is a decision that protects the most lives. Rather, city officials are working to promote being seen while walking (with reflective gear and always staying in the proper pedestrian lanes).
Walking while distracted – most commonly while using a cell phone – is just as dangerous as driving. Without your full attention on where you are walking, you lower your ability to make yourself seen. Distraction causes pedestrians to sway into the road, cross streets at inappropriate times and make poor decisions that weren’t full thought through.
Additionally, wearing headphones can lessen your ability to hear oncoming traffic.
Non-Pedestrian Friendly Infrastructure:
The urban parts of the Carolinas are rapidly expanding and it is difficult for city roads to match the growth. Many have a shortage of convenient crossing locations and sidewalks. One solution to combat the problem involves not only adding more cross walks to prevent j-walking but to give them flashing light features for pedestrians to alert motorists at night.
A report conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety outlines efforts to make crossing zones more visible, poorly lit areas brighter and public transportation more accessible as a start to ending this rising issue. These are part of a broader initiative known as “road diets,” in which the number of travel lanes for vehicle traffic is reduced, which reduces the number of lanes for pedestrians to cross and could in turn lower vehicle speeds as well.
The entire study conducted by IIHS can be found here.
AAA Dip Courses
The AAA Driver Improvement Program was first developed in 1977 when it became evident that there was a need for informational and behavioral programming for roadway drivers. Over the years, AAA has worked with many organizations to improve and expand the program to meet the safe driving needs of drivers including:
The defensive driving material in this course may qualify traffic offenders for violation point reduction or citation dismissal. If you received a ticket or points on your license, we may be able to help reduce your punishment.
From small to large fleets, companies enrolling their drivers in our improvement program can cut costs related to crashes and boost productivity.
Getting tips and training on how to cope with the physical changes that come with aging can be beneficial in maintaining one’s independence as we age.
When used in combination with state driver education curriculum, teens are more prepared and better equipped behind the wheel for responsible driving.
Whether you have received a traffic ticket or just want to sharpen your driving skills, AAA’s Traffic Safety Courses can help. If you have been charged with a moving violation in North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia, you may be eligible to attend AAA’s Traffic Safety Course. Successful course completion may entitle you to a reduced charge or dismissal of your citation. Contact the district attorney in the county where you received your ticket for eligibility. All AAA Driver Improvement Classes cover many of the key concepts that effect drivers on the road today including how to manage the risks associated with driving, distracted driving, using speed and space effectively, alcohol and other drugs, and much more.
Our driver improvement program is delivered in an 8-hour or 4-hour in-person classroom setting using core and supplementary content through interactive videos and student guides. These classes are taught throughout the Carolinas by AAA certified instructors to all licensed drivers. All AAA Driver Improvement Program instructors are certified to teach our program and many have years of training in the Driver Education and Traffic Safety fields. We also offer an online option for driver improvement and senior classes via this link: http://northcarolina.aaadriverprogram.com/?lgr=5bd4e54e-7839-e611-9721-00155d007909
The senior course ROADWISE, was first introduced in 1985 and is for drivers above the age of 55. This four or eight hour course specializes in the needs of the mature driver, from age-based changes and their effects on driving, to how they can maintain safe mobility for a lifetime.
Visit aaa.com/safety for more information about our driving programs, how you can receive a discount as a AAA member, and sign up today!
Traffic Safety Legislation Wins
The North Carolina legislature has been busy with traffic safety related delegation this session. Two notable new bills have passed, benefitting North Carolinian motorists: a roads bill and a disabled veteran motorist bill. In South Carolina, the vision screening bill for motorists to adhere to has passed.
Build NC Bond Act
Over the next 20 years, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Florida will account for 50% of the nation’s total population growth. It is imperative that our state’s transportation infrastructure is able to keep the pace to support that growth.
The Build NC Bond Act was recently signed into law. It will issue up to $300 million annually through 2028 in an effort to keep NC road building robust over that time frame.
Regarding the new legislation, NC Governor Roy Cooper said, “For families trying to get to work and school faster, for farmers and business owners seeking to get their goods to customers, and for CEOs looking to grow in North Carolina, transportation is essential. Build NC is a bipartisan effort that pulled Republicans and Democrats together to help deliver critical transportation projects to communities more quickly, helping North Carolina attract opportunities and stay competitive.”
There are currently 350 highway projects and 144 additional projects in the 2018-2027 transportation plan.
House Bill 223
The passage of this bill includes military-friendly transit provisions in order to make the lives of North Carolina’s veterans easier and safer.
Advocated for by AAA Carolinas, H223 allows for the DMV to issue 100% Disabled Veteran and Partially Disabled Veteran motorcycle plates to veterans who suffered an injury as a result of their time in the United States Armed Forces. It also awards these disabled veterans their first plate free of charge.
It is imperative that special registration plates are not only on vehicles but are included on motorcycles as well to keep disabled veterans safe behind the handlebars.
This law reinstates the requirement for mandatory vision screening for all license renewals. This state-wide rule had been eliminated when the state adopted REAL ID in an effort to cut down on wait times at the DMV, but lawmakers decided this year to reinstate the requirement.
AAA Carolinas and the SC General Assembly felt that compromising on the safety of everyone on the roads in order to reduce wait times at the DMV was a grave mistake. Against the SCDMV’s recommendations, this bill was passed to bring back vision tests and ensure that every licensed driver on South Carolina roads is legally able to see the road as well as all of the obstacles that come with driving.
Senior Driver Setbacks
AAA encourages seniors to continue driving for as long as their health will allow them to. Having the ability to drive creates a sense of independence for seniors and results in an overall boost of happiness. It is important, however, for seniors to understand the physical changes that come with aging and how those changes may affect their ability to drive in a safe manner on the roads, as there are nearly 780,000 North Carolinians and over 410,000 South Carolinains aged 65 and older who are licensed drivers. To visit our senior driving resource site and learn more about safety features, click here.
Below are four health risks for senior drivers to consider courtesy of For Seniors Only:
Joint and Muscle Pain:
Conditions like Arthritis and Osteoporosis are common among seniors and can affect their ability to maneuver in a vehicle safely. Loss of full range of motion can affect one’s ability to quickly turn the wheel and manage the pedals. It can also affect one’s ability to fully turn in order to check blind spots before changing lanes or turning. There are extended steering wheel features as well as larger mirror options for senior drivers experiencing these types of limitations.
According to the national Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one in three senior adults over the age of 70 has a difficulty hearing. Yet, only 30 percent of seniors use hearing aids. Behind the wheel, this may make it harder to listen for emergency sirens, hear the warning horn of another vehicle or even to notice strange noises coming from an issue with your car. We recommend that aging motorists have their hearing tested once a year.
Elder motorists may have trouble seeing quick moving objects around the vehicle such as a person crossing the street or a deer off to the side of the road. Poor eyesight can also make reading traffic signs, speed limits, and seeing light signals more difficult. This decreases a senior driver’s ability to understand the conditions of the road they’re on. Have your eyes regularly checked and stay up-to-date on eye prescription. It may also be wise to avoid driving at night or during sunrise and sunset – when things are the most difficult to spot.
The attention span of a senior driver may be slower than that of younger drivers. This can severely affect reaction time in a car. It is important to be able to make a quick and safe decision in the moment of a car turning out in front of you or a sudden brake ahead. It is recommended that seniors always drive free of any distractions and keep their eyes AND mind on the road at all times. If you find that reacting quickly to unexpected situations frightens you to the point of making a poor decision, it may be time to consider carpooling with a more comfortable driver or using public transportation, for the safety of yourself and other drivers on the road.
Seniors, please remember:
- Limit travel time at night, dusk and dawn.
- Always plan your drive ahead of time to avoid route confusion.
- Avoid risky roads with heavy traffic or sharp curves.
- Never drive tired or upset.
- Always wear your hearing aids or glasses – and consider investing in vehicle adaptations for senior drivers such as raised seats, cushions, larger mirrors and extended steering wheels.