Articles Posted in Distracted Driving

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Passengers  have a big role to play in helping reduce a motorist’s risk of being involved in a car accident.   Passengers who speak up when the driver of their car is driving at excessive speeds or texting while driving can reduce their risk of being involved in a possibly serious auto accident.

That  message is being put out to passengers by two traffic safety organizations called We Save Lives and the National Road  Safety Foundation.  Both  of these organizations launched the National Passenger Safety Week initiative last year, and this year, the special commemoration was marked between January 22 and January 29.

According to these two groups,  it is important for passengers to understand that they play a  huge role in their own safety, even if they are not the ones behind the wheel.  Statistics show that passengers have enough incentive to speak up when they see the driver of their car engaging in dangerous driving behaviors.  According  to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as many as a quarter of all car accident wrongful deaths in the United States every year are passengers.

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A new study by an insurance company ranks Georgia as one of five states that together account for more than 40% of all auto accident wrongful deaths in the country.

In the first three quarters of 2022, a total of 31,785 car accident fatalities were recorded on American roads.  As many as 37% of these deaths, however, occurred in only 5 states.  One of those states is Georgia.

There is no denying the fact that Georgia has a serious problem with traffic safety. During the first 9 months of 2022, a total of 1,353 auto accident wrongful deaths were recorded in the state of Georgia.  That  was a 3.8% increase from the same period of time in 2021.

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Even as the number of car accidents linked to driving under the influence of alcohol continue to stabilize, federal and Georgia traffic safety agencies are looking ahead at a new threat –  auto accidents caused by people driving under the influence of drugs.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the results of a new study which finds an increase in the number of car accidents linked to motorists driving under the influence of drugs, especially cannabis.  The results of the study were released just in time for the launch of the federal agency’s annual holiday traffic safety enforcement campaign which specifically focuses on cracking down on motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.

The study focused on a total of 7,279 car accident victims, and found that close to 56% of these had one or more drugs in their system at the time of the accident.  The most commonly ingested intoxicants in these auto accidents were cannabinoids with marijuana accounting for close to a quarter of all the car accident victims in the study.  More than 23 % of the car accident victims had alcohol in their system at the time of the accident, while 10% were driving under the influence of stimulants.  More than 9% were driving under the influence of opioids, while close to 20% of the car accident victims were driving with more than one drug in their system.

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Falling asleep behind the wheel is much more common than we think, and it is probably for this reason that most people have plenty of suggestions to offer to prevent car accidents caused by sleepiness.  However, many of these techniques simply do not work, and in some cases, may actually make the sleepiness worse and increase your risk of being involved in a car accident.

The Cleveland Clinic has, for decades, studied sleep deprivation and its special effects on a person’s ability to drive safely. Sleep experts at the Cleveland Clinic say that there are several myths and misconceptions when it comes to staying awake while driving.  Most motorists believe that snacking while driving, rolling down the car window and slapping or punching yourself can keep sleep at bay.  Not only do these techniques not work effectively, but they can also actually increase sleepiness, thereby exacerbating your risk of being involved in a car accident.

Take snacking, for instance.  If you are snacking on chips or other high carb foods while driving and you have already started feeling sleepy, the snacking is only going to make the drowsiness worse. Once these foods metabolize and are eliminated from your bloodstream, you are immediately going to feel even more sleepy.  Slapping and pinching yourself while driving only causes you physical pain, and does little to stimulate the part of the brain that needs to wake up in order for you to feel alert and fresh.

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Record  numbers of motorists are expected to throng Georgia highways this Thanksgiving, and  traffic enforcement agencies are warning of a higher risk of auto accidents. This is true with all holidays, but especially with holidays that result in extended days off for many workers. All holidays of this nature see a spike in the number of car accidents and, unfortunately, wrongful deaths.

This year, authorities are gearing up for a significant increase in the number of motorists on Georgia’s roads and highways.  Across the metro Atlanta region and beyond, families will be traveling to meet up with friends and relatives as they celebrate the holiday under more normal circumstances.  Over the past three years, roadway travel over the Thanksgiving holiday dropped significantly.   This year, however, the story is markedly different. Authorities believe that there is likely to be an increase of approximately 26,000 motorists on Georgia roads over the Thanksgiving holiday compared to the same period of time last year.

Not only is Thanksgiving a time when people typically travel, but this year the crowds are expected to be even more intense since this is the first holiday since the pandemic that conditions are expected to be relatively normal. Georgians, in general, are traveling much more than they were during the pandemic, and vehicle miles traveled have increased significantly.

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More than 300,000 auto accidents every year can be linked to fatigued drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, and more than 6000 of these crashes end in deaths. The first step to preventing this auto accidents is to make drivers aware of the risk of driving while fatigued.

That data comes from the Governors Highway Safety Association which estimates that 328,000 car accidents every year can be linked to drowsy driving.  Out of these, more than 191,000 result in serious personal injuries while 6,400 crashes result in wrongful deaths. The Governors Highway Safety Association also estimates that the total cost of these auto accidents, not including property damage, amounts to more than 109 billion dollars each year.

About 10 to 20 percent of all care accidents and truck accidents in the United States can be linked to driving under the influence of tiredness or fatigue.  The actual number could be even higher because it’s hard to tell if a driver was dozing off or fell asleep at the wheel after an accident.  Unlike with alcohol – related car accidents in which it is possible to identify and determine if the person was drunk at the time of the accident, there are no tests that can identify if a person dozed off in the seconds before a car crash.  All data points to the probability that drowsy driving is much more common than estimated.

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Parents who make use of a smartphone app instead of the traditional pen and paper system to supervise their teen children’s mandatory practice driving hours could be helping the driver avoid car accidents and stay safe on the road.  Due to their limited experience, teen driver’s are more likely to be involved in an auto accident.

A new study focuses on the effectiveness of smartphone apps used to track teenage motorists’ supervised driving hours as part of their mandatory GDL requirements, and compares the effectiveness of these apps with logs using pen and paper.  In Georgia, like in most other states, teenagers must complete several hours of supervised driving before they are eligible to get learners’ permits.  Under  Georgia law, a novice driver who is at least 15 years of age must first obtain an instructional permit that allows him or her to drive under the supervision of a  licensed motorist who is at least 21 years of age.  In many cases, parents act as the driving supervisors for their children.  It is only after this supervised driving phase has been completed that a person can appear for an intermediate license.

Needless to say, these hours of supervised driving are critically important to the teen driver.  Not only do they allow her or him to practice driving safely under the supervision of a parent, but also allow parents to foster the kind of driving behavior that they want their child to practice when they are driving on their own, in order to avoid car accidents.

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From inexperience to distractions from passengers, teen motorists  are faced with a variety of auto accident risks.   However, the two biggest risks facing teen motorists are their tendencies to drive at high speeds and use cell phones while driving.

That information comes from the results of a new study presented recently at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition. The study was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

The driving behaviors of a total of 155 teenagers were studied as part of the research.  The data was collected in the form of an app that the teenagers used while they were driving.  The  app measured and monitored the presence of dangerous driving behaviors like using a cell phone and driving at high speeds that increased car accident risks.

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A combination of proven and time-tested strategies like expansion of seatbelt usage and cracking down on intoxicated driving could help save as many as half a million lives in auto accidents across the world every year.

According to a new study, hundreds of thousands of lives are lost across the world every year in car accidents, and many of these lives could be saved if simple strategies are implemented by governments. In a new study that was published recently in the Lancet journal, researchers analyzed car accident statistics around the world and identified the strategies that can be used to prevent these auto accidents and the resultant wrongful deaths. An overwhelming majority of car accident fatalities, according to the study, are linked to  drunk driving,  failure to wear seat belts,  and high speeds.  These are the three most critical factors in auto accidents, no matter which country you are driving in. They are also some of the most preventable factors.

A strong focus on reducing the incidence of drunk driving, for instance, would help save hundreds of thousands of lives in car accidents every year.  Stringent enforcement with tougher penalties for violations can help the government reduce the incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in this country.  Similarly, enforcement should be at the crux of any campaign that calls on drivers to drive at posted speeds.  It is not as if drivers are not aware of the dangers of drunk driving or driving at high speeds.  Rather, this knowledge is often ignored.  Stronger enforcement of existing rules and penalties for violations can encourage motorists to drive at safe speeds.

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Last year, Georgia made it legal for commercial establishments to sell to-go alcoholic drinks in sealed containers.  There have been concerns, however, that  to-go alcoholic drinks can increase a motorist’s risk of driving under the influence of alcohol and being involved in an auto accident.

The demand for alcoholic drinks which are sold in containers and are meant for persons to carry home with them skyrocketed during the pandemic when bars and restaurants were restricted in the number of patrons they could serve.  Seven states, including Georgia, passed laws that allowed the sale of these sealed containers of alcohol,  with restrictions imposed on these sales.  In Georgia, to-go cocktails must contain a maximum of 3 ounces of alcohol.  The container must be sealed with no option for a straw. Further, the person taking the alcoholic drink must store these somewhere safe like a locked glove  box and the container must not be opened while driving.  The law never meant for the use of these to-go cocktails by persons to drink while driving.  You  cannot drink these to-go cocktails as you do other non-alcoholic beverages while driving.

However, safety advocates have been concerned that the law allowing availability of alcohol in the car places all the responsibility for safe use of these drinks on the motorist. However, the law does not take into consideration the fact that motorists might be tempted to open the container and drink at the wheel. While initial data seemed to suggest that there is no significant increase in the risk of drunk driving car accidents as a result of to-go cocktail sales, states that have allowed the sale of such alcoholic beverages to go have seen an increase in drunk driving car accidents.  The flip side, however, is that states that do not allow or severely restrict the sale of these cocktails have also seen an increase in alcohol-related auto accidents in the past two years.  It is hard, therefore, to pinpoint the sale of alcoholic beverages as the reason for the spike in car accidents.

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