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Monday, May 25, 2020

November 2017 Traffic Safety Newsletter

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Grading School Zones on Safety

With the school year in full swing, it’s the perfect time to remind motorists of the importance of staying alert in school zones. A recent study conducted by Zendrive analyzed school zones across the country and gave them a grade based on the level of danger on the roads near school zones.


Zendrive studied 75,000 schools nationwide and analyzed over 3.4 billion miles driven within them. With those parameters the study took into account phone use while driving, hard braking and fast acceleration. From there, it graded the schools A+ through F.


North Carolina ranked 10th out of 50 states and Washington D.C. with an overall score of an A-. Within North Carolina, 81 counties of the 100 were measured. The study revealed that rural counties scored higher than urban counties. Mecklenburg County scored a D while Wake County scored a D-.


South Carolina ranked 15th nationwide with an overall score of a B+. Within the state, 36 counties of the 46 total were measured. Of its most populous counties, Greenville County scored a C- while Richland County scored a C+.


The statistics gathered by Zendrive are significant as one in eleven public schools is within 500 feet of heavily trafficked roads – which have six times more pedestrian collisions.


AAA Carolinas is aiming to move North and South Carolina higher on the safe school zone list. In order to ensure safer school zones, AAA encourages that motorists:


  • Slow Down: Adhere to the speed limits of school zones. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 10 mph faster.
  • Eliminate All Distractions: Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of crashing. Refrain from using your phone, eating, talking to passengers, applying make-up, etc.
  • Come to a Complete Stop: One-third of drivers roll through stop signs and crossing lanes in school zones. Be sure to fully stop and check carefully for children on both sides.
  • Educate Your Teen Drivers: It is important that teens understand the dangers of driving recklessly in school-zones and the implications that they carry.
  • Spread the Word: If your kid’s school zone area is unsafe, let other parents and the school board know.


To find more information about specific states, counties or school zones, visit https://www.zendrive.com/school/.


The Distractions of Infotainment Systems in Vehicles

With distracted driving as one of the leaders in crash causes, AAA warns that in-vehicle technologies designed to curb the phenomenon may not be working as planned.


New vehicle infotainment systems take drivers’ eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel for potentially dangerous periods of time, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Drivers using in-vehicle technologies like voice-based and touch screen features experienced very high levels of visual and mental demand for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message. Removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash, according to previous research. With nearly 40 percent of U.S. drivers using infotainment systems while driving, AAA cautions that using these technologies while behind the wheel can have dangerous consequences.


In North Carolina, there were 119 fatal crashes resulting from distracted driving in 2016. To date, there have been 93 so far in 2017. In South Carolina, there have been 13,872 collisions as a result of distracted driving in 2017 resulting in 38 fatalities.


AAA has conducted this new research to help automakers and system designers improve the functionality of new infotainment systems and the demand they place on drivers.


The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Utah to examine the visual (eyes off road) and cognitive (mental) demand as well as the time it took drivers to complete a task using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles. Study participants were required to use voice command, touch screen and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio or program navigation, all while driving down the road.


Programming navigation was the most distracting task, taking an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete. When driving at 25 mph, a driver can travel the length of four football fields during the time it could take to enter a destination in navigation—all while distracted from the important task of driving. Programming navigation while driving was available in 12 of the 30 vehicle systems tested.


The next most difficult task was the text messaging feature – as it required a statistically significantly higher level of demand than the audio entertainment and calling/dialing tasks.


Using the auditory focal interactions did lower the visual demand of the driver, however the interaction times became longer and thus took the driver’s attention away for longer than before.


Overall, none of the 30 vehicle infotainment systems produced low demand, while 23 systems generated high or very high levels of demand on drivers:

  • 12 systems generated very high demand
  • 11 systems generated high demand
  • 7 systems generated moderate demand


Stranded Without a Spare

In an effort to reduce weight and improve fuel economy, automakers continue to eliminate spare tires from new vehicles. According to new research from AAA, nearly one‐third (28 percent) of 2017 model year vehicles do not come with a spare tire as standard equipment, creating an unnecessary hassle and expense for drivers.


In North and South Carolina, AAA Carolinas came to the rescue of 1,337 vehicles with a flat tire and no spare from January 2017 to September 30, 2017. To avoid a roadside surprise, AAA Carolinas urges motorists to check their trunk for a spare tire before trouble strikes.


While new vehicles are equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems that alert drivers to low tire pressure, AAA’s roadside assistance data shows that tire-related problems continue to be one of the top reasons why members call for assistance. Even if drivers do have a spare tire, they are often reaching for their cell phones to call for roadside assistance rather than changing the tire themselves. According to a previous AAA survey, nearly 20 percent (39 million) of U.S. drivers do not know how to change a flat tire.


“Having a spare tire on board is an easy way to save time and money in the event of a flat,” said AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety President Tiffany Wright. “It is of equal importance that motorists take the time to learn how to change a flat. It is a skill that could benefit you greatly down the road.”


As a replacement for a spare tire, some automakers are including tire-inflator kits that can temporarily repair small punctures in flat tires. However, a 2015 AAA study found that tire-inflator kits have limited functionality and cannot provide even a temporary fix for many tire-related problems, including sidewall damage or blowouts. Not only are tire-inflator kits not a good substitute for a spare tire, they can cost up to 10 times more than a tire repair and have a shelf life of only four to eight years.


“Tire-inflator kits and other temporary fixes may bring a false sense of comfort to drivers,” Wright said. “AAA Carolinas urges drivers to make it a priority to check their vehicle’s equipment and know what to do if faced with a flat tire.”


To prevent drivers from being stranded in the event of a flat tire, AAA Carolinas offers these precautionary tips:


  • Do not assume there’s a spare. When purchasing a new vehicle, always ask for a detailed list of equipment and whether a spare tire can be purchased.
  • Inspect all five tires. Check tire pressures monthly and have all tires inspected as part of routine maintenance. If your vehicle has a spare tire, be sure that it’s properly inflated.
  • Read ahead. If your vehicle is equipped with a tire-inflator kit, read the owner’s manual and understand how it works and its limitations.
  • Check expiration dates. If your vehicle is equipped with a tire-inflator kit, check its expiration date. Most need to be replaced every four to eight years.
  • Check your new vehicle. Follow this link for a comprehensive list of which 2017 vehicles come with a spare.
  • Consider roadside assistance coverage. Roadside assistance coverage can offer peace of mind when faced with roadside trouble, including a flat tire. To become a AAA member, visit AAA.com/join.


In addition, drivers should identify a repair shop they trust to help keep their vehicle tires in good shape. AAA’s Approved Auto Repair network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members have saved a total of more than $3 million dollars by visiting AAR facilities in the last year. Visit AAA.com/AutoRepair to find a nearby facility.


AAA Carolinas offers also a hassle-free auto-buying service to members and non-members. For more information on purchasing a vehicle through AAA visit aaa.com/autobuying


Adhere to the Move Over Law

As the holiday travel season approaches, traffic is expected to greatly increase on highways and interstates as Carolinians take road trips to visit with family and friends. This is the perfect time to remind everyone to adhere to the Move Over Law – effective in all 50 states.


This law is essential in protecting State Troopers and other law enforcement officers as well as emergency personnel and utility workers stopped alongside the highway. It is also extended to highway workers in temporary work zones.


The law requires that drivers – if they deem it is safe to do so – move a lane away from any law enforcement or emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Law enforcement, emergency (such as an AAA towing service vehicle) and utility vehicles should be stopped with lights flashing to alert drivers to move over.


It is also required that motorists slow down when driving by a stopped emergency vehicle.


Drivers approaching a stopped emergency vehicle, law enforcement vehicle, utility vehicle or temporary work zone should:

  • Significantly reduce their vehicle speed and keep vehicle under control.
  • Approach the scene cautiously.
  • If there is a second lane, motorists are required to change lanes away from the stopped vehicle.
  • Maintain the reduced speed until fully clear of the situation.


Failure to adhere to the Move Over Law in North Carolina will result in a $500 fine along with the possibility of being charged with a felony if a collision occurs.  Failure to adhere to the Move Over Law in South Carolina is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $300 and $500.


Emergency personnel workers put their lives at risk each day to keep the Carolinas safe and respond to all road incidents. The Move Over Law was established to protect them while on duty and therefore it is strictly enforced. Unfortunately, it remains widely ignored by drivers – resulting in many avoidable collisions.


AAA Carolinas urges motorists to follow the guidelines of this law to ensure a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday for all.


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