Uncategorized Archive

Deadliest Driving States

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

last place ribbonA few months ago, I wrote a post about America’s best and worst drivers. Based on that study, drivers in Fort Collins, Colorado, were the least likely to get into crashes (and therefore considered “safest”). Drivers in Worcester, Massachusetts, got into the most crashes and were ranked worst.

But the number of crashes doesn’t necessarily correlate to the severity or outcome of crashes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has broken down statistics from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System to show traffic fatalities by state, in terms of both population and miles driven. The national average of fatalities per 100,000 people is 10.3. The national average per million miles traveled is 1.11.

Which areas fared the best and worst?

Well, in terms of both population and miles traveled, Washington, D.C., had the fewest fatalities (3.1 deaths per 100,000 people, and 0.56 deaths per 100,000 miles traveled). The state with the most traffic deaths was Montana, with 22.6 fatalities per 100,000 people and 1.96 deaths per million miles traveled.

MontanaWhen you think about it, this isn’t surprising. Washington, D.C., is small and entirely urban. Crashes there might be frequent, but they’re probably fender-benders in congested traffic. Montana, on the other hand, is largely rural: 98% of their traffic fatalities were in rural areas. (Perhaps some lives could have been saved with quicker access to emergency responders or facilities?) It has varied terrain that includes mountainous roads and flat, wide-open spaces where people might be tempted to speed up. Montana also doesn’t have a ban on cell phone use or texting while driving.

Washington DCLet’s go back to that list of “worst drivers” based on frequency of crashes alone. The four worst cities were Washington, D.C., and three cities in Massachusetts. But as we just saw, Washington, D.C., has the lowest fatality rate. Second-lowest? Massachusetts. So crashes in those areas might be more common, but they’re not likely to be fatal.

The states/districts with the fewest fatalities per 100,000 population are:

  • 1. Washington, D.C. (3.1)
  • 2. Massachusetts (4.9)
  • 3. (tie) New Jersey and New York (6.1)
  • 5. Rhode Island (6.2)

The most fatalities per 100,000 people:

  • 5. (tie) Alabama and Oklahoma (17.6)
  • 4. West Virginia (17.9)
  • 2. (tie) Mississippi and North Dakota (20.5)
  • 1. Montana (22.6)

Keep in mind that several factors play into these statistics. Rural vs. urban areas, distracted driving laws, drunk driving laws, types of licenses, weather and road conditions, etc., so it’s not always possible to compare places as apples-to-apples. Don’t let statistics keep you from visiting Glacier National Park.

If you’re driving, don’t drink. Put down the cell phone and the mascara or razor. Obey the speed limit and slow down in bad weather. Have emergency provisions handy. And as always, use seat belts and appropriate child restraints.

 

Take Back Your Drive

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

640px-Cell_phone_use_while_drivingApril is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the National Safety Council wants you to “Take Back Your Drive.” What does that mean? It means you do a little something for yourself while you’re driving: You give yourself the gift of safety.

The NSC is urging people to focus on being less distracted. By now we all know it’s bad to text and talk on hand-held phones, but more than 30 studies have shown that hands-free devices are just as bad—and might even be worse. Here are some interesting facts:

  • Drivers talking on hands-free devices can fail to see 50% of their surroundings
  • Activity in the part of the brain that detects movement decreases by 1/3 when listening or talking on the distracted drivingphone (hands-free or hand-held)
  • Hands-free features in dashboards can increase distraction
  • Using voice-to-text features can be more distracting than typing them, in part because of frustration with the feature “hearing” things incorrectly

The NSC says that people believe hands-free systems must be safe if they’re built into cars, but the reality is that they’re not. The organization is urging people to take its Focused Driver Challenge, which includes pledging not to have any phone conversations in the car, not to send texts by typing or dictating them, and not to enter GPS destinations while the car is moving, among other things.

You can’t control what other drivers do, but you can go a long way in making yourself and your family safer by being the best driver you can be.

Extended Rear-Facing Recommendations Updated

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

IMG_1135Nearly all current convertibles will keep most kids rear-facing to 2 years old (the minimum recommend age to turn forward-facing). But if you want to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, we have some recommendations for you.

We’ve recently updated our list of “Super Extended” Rear-Facing Seats to include relative newcomers like the Britax Boulevard ClickTight and the Safety 1st Grow and Go EX Air.

We have also updated our list of Best Convertible Seats for Extended Rear-Facing to include the new Graco Extend2Fit.  Stay tuned for our full review of the E2F!

Check them out to find the seat that’s right for you!

If you need more information on why you should keep your child rear-facing, you can check our post on Why Rear-Facing is Better.

Worried that a rear-facing seat would be hard to fit in your vehicle? We have a comprehensive Space-Saving Guide that compares how much room convertible seats take up. Many are very compact and are great for smaller back seats.

You don’t need to keep your kids rear-facing through college, but rear-facing them through at least a good chunk of preschool is easy to do!

Don’t Sing and Drive?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

While doing research on distracted driving, I came across some articles about the dangers—or lack thereof—of singing while driving.

Honestly, listening to music or singing while driving wasn’t something I’d ever really thought about. Sure, I tend to turn off/down my music when I’m in dangerous road conditions or trying to navigate a tricky situation. I make sure not to play my music so loudly that I can’t hear sirens. But I’d never considered whether the music itself was dangerous.

Yet an Australian study found that people singing along to music are more likely to vary their speed and less likely to notice peripheral distractions. There was even a negative effect when people were just listening, not singing along.

However a British study showed that people who listen to music in the car might actually be safer. They’re less likely to fall asleep, they do a better job staying in their lane, and they tend to feel calmer. The study did find, though, that people listening to music took longer to respond to hazards in front of them.

The type of music might make a difference. “Hardcore” music tended to make people tense up, while pop and acoustic had the best results.

Given that somewhat contradictory information, what’s the bottom line? Does music make you a better driver or a more dangerous one? Probably neither.

I couldn’t find the actual Australian and British studies (just articles about them), but I did find a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that showed…listening to the radio had almost no impact on safety. It did create a negligible increase in cognitive distraction, but significantly less than the distraction caused by talking to a passenger or talking on the phone.

The good news is you can probably keep listening to your music. Just use common sense and listen responsibly.