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Distraction raises risk for work zone crash on highways

Highway work zones are always a dangerous area for Arizona drivers to navigate because of their narrow lanes. Speeding, though, is not the only form of negligence that can lead to crashes in these zones. A study from the University of Missouri has found that distracted drivers are 29 times more likely to get in a collision or near-collision in highway work zones than drivers who are attentive.

These researchers could use the results of their study to recommend behavioral countermeasures for the reduction of crashes and injuries in highway work zones. These recommendations would be considered by the Federal Highway Administration, which funded the study, and by state transportation agencies; they could include complete texting bans and better public education.

Pedestrian fatalities increase in 2018

A new study by the Governors Highway Safety Administration claims that pedestrian deaths in the United States are reaching epidemic proportions. Since 2009, the annual pedestrian death toll has increased by about 50 percent. This may understandably cause alarm for many people who use the streets in Arizona.

Most pedestrians killed by vehicles are struck on local roadways after sunset. Night crashes account for roughly 90 percent of the increase in pedestrian fatalities over the past 10 years. In about half of these crashes, either the pedestrian or the driver was reportedly impaired by alcohol consumption.

Steps drivers can take to prevent an accident

From 2015 to 2017, the number of large truck occupant fatalities increased each year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Furthermore, the number of fatalities and fatal accidents increased during this time period. However, the FMCSA acknowledged that crashes in Arizona and elsewhere generally have many factors. Therefore, the truckers were not singled out as the sole reason why this increase has taken place. This doesn't mean that there aren't steps that truckers can take to keep themselves safe.

Drivers are encouraged to put their phones or tablets in places where they won't fall or otherwise distract them. Mirrors, the radio and other tools should be adjusted before starting a trip to further prevent driver distraction. Generally speaking, it is against the law to hold a cellphone or other device while driving, so putting it in a holder may prevent a driver from incurring a citation as well as keeping safe.

Road Safe America touts the benefits of speed limiters

Citing federal data on large truck crash deaths, the highway safety group Road Safe America is once again calling for truck fleet owners to use speed limiters. Truckers in Arizona should know that 35,882 individuals died in large truck crashes between 2009 and 2017 (the latest year for which there is data).

All but six states saw an increase in these deaths in that eight-year period, with Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and Nevada seeing the largest percentage increases. Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania experienced the greatest number of such deaths in 2017. The non-profit has shown that most of these states have truck speed limits of 70 mph or more, which is too fast for safe operation.

Conditions that contribute to motor vehicle accidents

When it comes to motor vehicle accidents in the Tuscon area, it is imperative to plan for the many issues and conditions that may arise and impact your safety. Cars, especially late model vehicles, have many safety features that minimize the risk of collision that some drivers take for granted. These safety features do not reduce the need for responsible driving behaviors and attentiveness, mainly when there are nasty road and weather conditions.

Many weather-related motor vehicle collisions are preventable with the help of precautions. Below are a few common weather conditions you should be mindful of every time you drive.

How to prevent drowsy driving in Arizona

Many drivers head out on the road without getting enough sleep. The longer they stay awake, the greater their drowsiness becomes and the higher their chances of causing a car wreck. Fatigued driving has been likened to driving while intoxicated. The National Sleep Foundation says that being awake for 24 hours is like having a blood alcohol content of .10, which is just over the legal limit of .08.

Drowsiness may even come to those who get seven or more hours of rest because they have obstructive sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. Someone who might have a disorder should be evaluated by a doctor. In addition, an individual who takes sleep aids or other medications that induce drowsiness, such as antidepressants or blood pressure medications, should have their doctor adjust the regimen so as to avert drowsiness behind the wheel.

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.

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