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How technology can be distracting to drivers

Citizens of Arizona who have purchased a car in the past decade are likely aware of the excitement that comes with that new car, a big part of which comes from exploring all the gadgets and gizmos installed. If anything, people want more technology in their car: A recent survey found that more than 7 out of every 10 American adults would pay for new technology in their car whereas less than a quarter of those surveyed were already content with their current tech.

However, more technology does not mean safer cars. In fact, researchers have found that the abundance of features in a car can lead to a higher risk of getting into a car accident because said features distract the driver and pull his or her eyes away from the road. Surprisingly, out of all the features that impaired a driver's ability to handle the car, including texting and dialing their phone, the biggest culprit was the GPS navigator.

Statistics indicate disturbing truck crash trend

Arizona motorists may have more reasons to be concerned about serious truck accidents. Statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicate that certain kinds of large truck accidents are on the rise, and the consequences can be particularly dangerous for other drivers and passengers on the roads. The size and weight of large trucks often mean that an impact is devastating for smaller motor vehicles and pedestrians.

While large truck accidents have been on the rise, reversing a trend in the early 2000s of declining crash numbers, dump truck and concrete delivery truck crashes are a particular area of concern. In 2016, dump truck crashes serious enough to require a vehicle to be towed from the scene rose by 9 percent, reaching a total of 8,206. At the same time, dump truck accidents causing injuries rose 2.7 percent, reaching 5,483 in the same year. Ready-mix concrete delivery trucks were also linked to an increased number of crashes, rising 9.6 percent to 538; injury accidents involving these vehicles also rose by 3.6 percent. In addition, fatal crashes involving concrete trucks rose to 38, up by five from the prior year.

Why have pedestrian fatality rates reached the highest in years?

Walking can serve as a means of exercise, a form of transportation and a way to reduce carbon footprint, especially in Tucson, where the weather is warm all year round. Despite its many benefits, walking has become increasingly dangerous over the years.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths are at the highest they have been in 25 years and increased by 27 percent in approximately the last decade. Arizona was one of five states that made up for nearly half of those fatalities in the first half of 2017. Its rate of deaths per resident population was also the highest out of the entire nation.

Google launches self-driving ride service in Arizona

Self-driving vehicle technology just took a big step forward in Arizona. On Dec. 5, Google introduced a short-distance ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area featuring its Waymo autonomous cars.

Google has been developing Waymo vehicles since 2009. During that time, the cars have logged over 10 million miles on public roads in Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan and Washington. Overall, they have performed well, only getting into a few minor accidents. However, earlier this year, one of Uber's self-driving test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, attracting worldwide media attention and sending shockwaves through the burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry. As a result, Google is exercising caution in the initial stages of its ride-hailing service named Waymo One.

Automatic emergency braking systems prevent crashes

Arizona vehicles with automatic emergency braking systems are much less likely to become involved in rear-end striking collisions according to a new study. The study was conducted by researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and focused on General Motors vehicles.

The purpose of the study was to determine if AEB systems are truly effective at preventing rear-end collisions. To do this, IIHS researchers cross-referenced police-reported car accidents with vehicle VIN numbers, which were supplied by GM, to determine how often vehicles with and without AEB systems are involved in rear-end crashes. The GM vehicles included in the study were various Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet models manufactured between 2013 and 2015.

CVSA finds violations during Brake Safety Week

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance ran an inspection spree as part of its Brake Safety Week in September, inspecting 35,080 vehicles in Arizona and other states as well as in Canada. The inspections were conducted on commercial vehicles, and brake violations requiring removal from service were found in 14.1 percent of them. According to the CVSA, 4,955 vehicles were placed out of service during Brake Safety Week 2018.

In 2017, the CVSA ran a Brake Safety Day, rather than 2018's week-long event. The results of Brake Safety Day were similar to those of Brake Safety Week, with 14 percent of vehicles removed from service during the 2017 blitz. The CVSA also ran an inspection blitz in June 2018, the International Roadcheck, which lasted 72 hours. During that event, brake violations were the most common violation, accounting for 28.4 percent of all out of service orders.

Construction zone accidents on the rise across the nation

The state of Arizona continues to undergo explosive growth, and with the influx of new residents and communities comes a need for improved and expanded infrastructure. In other words, road construction is a common site across Tucson and the remainder of the state, but these work zones can prove highly dangerous and even potentially deadly for motorists.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the number of car crashes occurring in the nation’s construction zones rose sharply between 2013 and 2015, increasing by more than 40 percent during this time period. Just what is causing today’s construction zone accidents, and what can you do to avoid becoming a statistic?

Fatigue, distraction major dangers behind the wheel

When truck drivers get behind the wheel in Arizona, they could be at risk for fatigue and other forms of distraction. While these apply to all drivers of different types of vehicles, the consequences can be particularly devastating when large trucks are involved. Fatigued drivers can cause serious crashes, and people in other vehicles or pedestrians are at a much higher risk of injury or death when involved in a collision with a semi-truck.

Some estimates indicate that driver fatigue could play a role in up to 100,000 reported accidents every year. In addition, 13 percent of all fatal trucking accidents and 28 percent of those involving only a single truck are related to fatigue. As a result, some trucking companies are taking action to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. Truckers' schedules can play a major role in fatigue; when people are forced to frequently switch shifts, they could be more vulnerable to exhaustion, even when their drives meet federal safety standards. In addition, lengthy drives over monotonous, large highways, frequently at night, can be conducive to fatigue.

Company uses cameras and AI to track driving

Some Arizona truck drivers might be operating vehicles that have artificial intelligence-based analytics and a camera installed on the vehicle. According to the owner of the company that supplies the technology, even though truck drivers usually do not like this kind of surveillance, the feedback on this has been positive.

Driver safety improved in the first two months of the system's implementation. For example, there are moderate and major stop sign events. The former is when a truck goes through a stop sign at a speed that is under 7 miles per hour while the latter is when the truck goes through faster. Stop sign events decreased by 60 percent after installing the technology.

AAA study: drivers are too reliant on car safety tech

Drivers in Arizona, as in other states, may be relying too much on safety technology like blind-spot monitoring systems and adaptive cruise control. This trend has been the subject of a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the results of which should be of interest to anyone with a driver assistance system.

AAA has found, for example, that 80 percent of drivers with blind-spot monitoring overestimate its ability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. 20 percent never bother to look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes. Over 40 percent of those with automatic emergency braking confuse it with forward-collision warning (the former takes action, while the latter gives the warning).

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