Archive for the Category Highway Safety


CHP Enlists Helicopter Crew to Boost California Mid-State Fair Safety

This week will see the California Mid-State Fair pulling in visitors by the thousands, and the California Highway Patrol wants to make sure that they’re ready to tackle any safety issues that could arise.  To that end, they will be utilizing the services of their sole Central Coast helicopter crew to monitor traffic patterns in and out of the fair.  The department has already reported early success with the helicopter, which has thus far been able to assist with medical evacuations and Highway 101 accident responses.  A flight paramedic explains that fair visitors should take the proper precautions in the midst of heavy fair traffic.  That includes monitoring speed, wearing a seatbelt, and avoiding texting or talking on a cellphone.

For more information, follow this link.

Road Debris Creates Numerous Hazards in Los Angeles County

A new report attempts to get Los Angeles and indeed all California drivers to recognize the threat posed by debris along the road.  A Caltrans Public Information Officer explains that dump trucks pick up debris adding up to millions of pounds’ worth of items just at the LA county level.  These products can range from the relatively small, like shoes and microwaves, to larger items such as mattresses, ovens, and other large furniture.  Drivers are advised not just to look out for such debris, but also for the California Highway Patrol officer or public official tasked with getting it out of the way.  Vehicle operators who spot recently ejected debris are asked to slow their vehicles and get over if safe to do so.  If you collide with the debris or feel that it poses a safety threat, call 911 to report the incident.

Click here for more about the potential threat of road debris.

States Curbing Distraction In Myriad Ways, According To The GHSA

The Governors Highway Safety Association has released a new study that examines the state of distracted driving laws in place throughout the country, and the results show that officials everywhere are taking steps to curtail the threat, even if they’re doing so in different ways.  The organization points out that South Carolina, Arizona, and Montana are the only holdouts to having a distracted driving law of some type on the books.  However, various cities within those states have enacted their own measures, and it’s often possible to pull a driver over anyway if their distracting action leads to a reckless maneuver that would itself be deemed illegal.  The report also acknowledges the dramatic jump in texting and driving bans and the various awareness efforts that have been enacted to cut down on distraction.

For more about this study, click here.

Connecticut Enacts Stricter Laws Against Cellphone Driving

Two separate measures that aim to curtail distraction at the wheel have been signed into law by the governor of Connecticut.  At the moment, talking on a handheld cellphone can only prompt a ticket from the officer if the vehicle is actually in transit.  The new law would change things so that a driver could be pulled over and slapped with a ticket even if the automobile is stopped at a stop sign, traffic light, or traffic snarl.  The other law ratchets up the fines currently in place in regard to the cellphone ban.  In addition, a point system will be created that allows insurance companies to raise premiums once a texting and driving ticket is issued.

Click here for more information.

100,000 Tires Recalled By Michelin Due to Air Pressure Loss Risk

100,000 tires are being recalled by Michelin for a safety issue that could find the tires suffering from perforated sidewalls.  Although only 2,500 tires are thought to be affected by the potential defect, Michelin has gone ahead and issued this recall on Latitude Tour, LTX M/S2, and X Radial LT2 tires in order to fix those units which are affected.  No incidents have been reported yet in association with the defect, which if made manifest, can cause air pressure to emanate from the unit.  Persons whose vehicles carry these tires are being advised to drop in to a Michelin dealer to seek out free replacements.  To find out if their tires are affected, consumers are being asked to identify the tire’s date based off of the sidewall code and to compare it with a list of affected units.

For more about this recall, click here.

GHSA Study Illuminates Distracted Driving Laws Across The Country

A new report references a Governors Highway Safety Association study that took a look at the various laws states have enacted in regards to distracted driving.  With nine out of citizens across the country having a cellphone and half of the country in possession of a Smartphone, the issue will only continue to grow in importance.  The study’s lead author said that most states are at the very least making some strides in fighting this epidemic,  especially among the country’s youngest drivers.  Many states that have yet to ban texting or talking on a phone are at least enacting various educational efforts and mandates affecting employees.  37 states don’t allow teen drivers to use phones, but only 11 states have made the leap to ban all handheld cellphone usage among all drivers.

Click here for more about states’ various efforts.

Airbag Issue Prompts Recall of Grand Caravans and Town & Countrys

Dodge Grand Caravan and Town & Country vehicles of the 2013 model year have been recalled by Chrysler because of an issue that could compromise the proper deployment of the airbags.  184 of these vehicles could have the wrong software placed into the occupant restraint control module.  This brings the automobiles out of compliance with federal regulations encompassing airbags, as the airbags on these vehicles might go off improperly or simply fail to go off at all.  The recall should start by next month, at which time owners will start to receive notification from Chrysler.  A replacement of the affected module will be carried out by dealers at no cost to owners.

For more about the recall, click here.

Whittier Police Cracking Down on Motorcycle Endangerment This July

The remainder of the month of July will see officers with the Whittier Police Department cracking down on those persons whose actions contribute to safety threats among motorcyclists.  The operation is set to target such things as drunk driving, improper lane changing, and speeding.  Special attention will also be placed on motorcyclists who neglect to wear a helmet and any driver whose actions run afoul of the mandated right of way.  Since 2009, Whittier has seen 87 motorcycle accidents that contributed to three fatalities and 78 injuries.  The police believe that a better economy brings more new riders out on the road, and they suggest that such parties get the proper training from a class like the California Motorcyclist Safety Program.

For more about the crackdown, follow this link.

Official Seattle Bike Lane Buffer Prompted By Homemade Effort

Prompted by the unsanctioned creation of a bike lane buffer that was subsequently taken down, the city of Seattle has put the finishing touches on a buffer of its own making.  An anonymous group known as Reasonably Polite Seattleites had originally erected the buffer along Cherry Street beneath Interstate 5.  The group said that such a move was necessary in order to ride safely on that stretch of the road.  Although the buffer was removed by officials, the endeavor got the city thinking about the possibilities of installing a similar measure that met all necessary legal requirements.  That’s exactly what was completed this past Sunday.  However, a spokesperson for the Mayor explained that citizens as a rule shouldn’t take traffic management into their own hands.

For more about the safety improvement, follow this link.

Washington State Patrol Attributes Traffic Jams To Texting and Driving

A new press release from the Washington State Patrol explains that many traffic jams in the modern day can be attributed to texting and driving.  The thought is that persons texting at the wheel are getting in the types of minor traffic accidents that don’t necessarily lead to severe injuries or fatalities but that do tie up the roads.  The Chief of the Patrol explained that relatively few concrete statistics are available about these types of crashes because minor crashes are classified as civil infractions.  But with cellphones becoming increasingly common at the wheel, the department suspects that texting can be to blame for a large swath of wrecks and subsequent backups.

For more information, click here.

Crash Risk Leads to Recall of 45,961 Ram 1500 Trucks By Chrysler

Chrysler has announced the recall of Ram 1500 4 x 4 trucks of the 2013 model year because of a potential failure of the Electronic Stability Control mechanism.  A software problem is reportedly to blame for the possible safety shortfall, which could find the ESC turning off once the truck is turned on.  45,961 vehicles could suffer from this issue, which could lead the driver to lose their directional control.  A crash becomes more likely at that point.  In August, owners should start to receive notifications from Chrysler.  By bringing the trucks in to a dealer, consumers should be able to obtain a no-cost software update designed to fix the problem.

For more about the recall, follow this link.

Over 1,000 Ram Trucks Recalled By Chrysler Due to Crash Hazard

More than 1,000 Ram 5500 and 4500 trucks of the 2013 model year have been recalled by Chrysler because a certain component may not have been installed properly.  A bolt that keeps the frame and the track bar secured to one another may not be of the correct type, and thus this bolt is in danger of breaking or simply coming dislodged.  This can lead to the trucks careening to the left or right without notice to the driver.  A crash threat is then posed.  Next month, the recall is set to start, and owners can expect to begin hearing from Chrysler about the issue.  An inspection and, if necessary, free replacement of the affected components will be provided to vehicle owners by dealers.

Click here for more about the recall.

Texting and Driving Ban Not a Concern For Rapid City

South Dakota is one of the last remaining holdouts to a ban on texting and driving, and although some cities have already taken steps to ban texting or cellphone usage as a whole, others aren’t so keen to put a law on the books. Rapid City is one such city that isn’t eager to ban texting at the wheel.  The city’s attorney has noted that, although he has received numerous queries from media officials about the city’s possible pursuit of a texting ban, the same requests have not come in from local residents.  A Councilwoman explains that she is all for a ban but worries about issues of enforceability, while the city’s Police Chief hopes that the state will ban the act among younger drivers.

Follow this link for more information.

Debate Arises Over Google Glass’s Place In An Automobile

Google Glass hasn’t even arrived yet and a debate has already sprung up over the safety of such a device at the wheel.  Bills that would preemptively outlaw such systems among drivers are already scheduled to be taken up by lawmakers in Delaware and West Virginia, the thought being that Glass can distract an individual the same way that a telephone conversation might.  And yet app developers are already starting to think about how Glass can be used in conjunction with a driving system.  These two contradictory approaches to the device are destined to butt heads at some point down the line.   Google itself acknowledges the inappropriateness of the device in certain situations but has not made a statement about its usage in vehicles.

For more information, click here.

Long Beach Police To Crack Down on Actions That Endanger Motorcyclists

Motorcyclists and automobile operators alike in the Long Beach area should make themselves aware of an upcoming enforcement operation focused on rooting out those behaviors which could endanger riders.  Last year alone, 99 riders were killed and a half dozen were injured in the city of Long Beach.  There are certain behaviors that police will be paying especial attention to.  Drinking and driving will not be tolerated, nor will speeding or improper turning that could endanger motorcyclists, the two activities that led to most of the motorcycle accidents which took place last year.  The LBPD urges drivers to keep an eye out for motorcyclists, especially in the midst of a burgeoning economy that may bring new, untrained riders out on the roads.

Follow this link for more about the enforcement effort.

Rearview Camera Mandate Delayed For The Moment

In 2007, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act was passed with a provision that would have required the mandatory installation of rearview cameras in all new vehicles of the 2014 model year and beyond.  Unfortunately, Consumer Reports explains that the regulation now won’t be enacted until at least 2015, the fourth such delay the measure has faced.  The Senate Commerce Committee Chairman expressed sadness at the delay, stating that the rule could prevent many injuries and deaths from a vehicle backing into a child.  Consumer Reports urges consumers to invest in one of the many vehicles out there which have already utilized rearview camera technology.  In addition to the child safety ramifications, rearview cameras can prevent collisions related to parallel parking and backing up.

For more information about the delay, click here.

Fort Wayne City Vehicles Dubbed First in Nation To Limit Distraction

The Mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana is touting his city’s adoption of technology that places a limit on the potential distractions that a police officer might face when piloting his or her vehicle.  The technology in question, known as Archangel II, monitors the officer’s speed.  Once they reach a certain level, the touch screen and keyboard functions will be shut off so that the officer can focus their full attention on the road.  At the same time, the officer will still be able to activate the call screen if they need to communicate due to an emergency or some such situation.  And it’s not just police getting in on the action.  The city will be installing Archangel II in vehicles operated by public works, fire, and utility department workers.

Click here for more information.

Missouri Teens Question Efficacy of Anti-Texting Awareness Efforts

A series of interviews with teenagers in Cape Girardeau, Missouri reveals that many young people question how effective various awareness efforts focused on texting and driving really are.  Some said that teens are minimally aware of these messages, while others are afraid to speak up when a friend is texting even if they themselves don’t take part in the activity.  But all is not without hope. Some of the same teens interviewed stated that they don’t text because of fear of repercussions in the form of a crash or a ticket. One teen stated that anti-texting efforts seem to be more successful when police actually show up for school assemblies to discuss the danger.

Click here for more information.

37,000 Ram Trucks Recalled By Chrysler Over Safety Issues

37,000 trucks are being recalled by Chrysler because of two different issues that could pose safety hazards on the road.  The first recall affects 30,000 or so Ram 3500, 2500, and 1500 pickup trucks of the 2013 model year that may not properly inform drivers via a dashboard warning that taillights have gone out.  Thus, the owners would keep driving without knowing that their vehicles aren’t signaling other automobiles as to their braking intentions.  The other recall pertains to Ram 5500 and 4500 trucks of the 2012 model year that can be susceptible to damage of the front axle.  This can then contribute to a loss of power.  For the former issue, a software update should take care of the problem, while the latter will involve work on the front axle.

Click here to learn more about the recall.

Research Hopes to Reveal Means to Identify Driver Fatigue

A team of researchers from the University of Leicester hopes to use technology to catch and eliminate instances of a driver falling asleep at the wheel.  The tests are currently only being carried out at the laboratory level, and it could be some time before we could see a real world application.  However, the work is quite promising.  The system combines LED lights and a infrared camera that can detect eye movements with an EEG that can monitor brain activity.  When working in conjunction, it could be possible to deduce instances where an individual is getting close to falling asleep at the wheel.  An onboard computer could then send an alert to wake this person up and have them seek shelter on the side of the road.

Click here for more information.