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Saturday, March 25 2017 @ 01:47 AM UTC

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How America’s Staggering Traffic Death Rate Became Matter-of-Fact

Biking ElsewhereBy Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog

How did more than 30,000 annual motor vehicle deaths become something that most Americans accept as normal? A new paper by Boston University professor Itai Vardi tries to answer that question.
...

1. Thinking of traffic deaths in terms of fatalities per mile driven
[B' Spokes: Here in Maryland we have a high per capita traffic fatality rate but since when also drive more than average to do the same daily activities our fatalities per mile are average as reported by MDOT. But read the article for more info.
...

2. “Saving Lives”
[B' Spokes: I'll add my two cents, over the past 10 years or so when driving milage was way less than predicted federal agencies (and locally) essentially claimed the lives saved by less driving was because of their intervention (which basically came down to efforts to encourage people to drive more.) Finding success in anything I guess. :/]
...

3. Seatbelts and Drunk Driving
[B' Spokes: This may be the most important bit, my take is rather than take responsibility for failed road design the blame was passed to a few errant drivers.]
...

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2015/09/14/how-americas-staggering-traffic-death-rate-became-matter-of-fact/
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Do pedestrian buttons actually work?

Biking ElsewhereVia OntarioTrafficman

...
Explaining why some pedestrian buttons don't seem to work
https://youtu.be/jn__NOYSdhc

At a typical intersection between a main street and a side street, the pedestrian signal along the main street defaults to walk, so it doesn’t matter whether or not anyone presses the button.
[B' Spokes: Not around here they don't and that irks me. Watch the video to see a better way to make Ped buttons work. Something the article failed to mention by requiring the ped button to be always pushed before the green phase has started and/or requiring a mandatory 90 second "pre-queue" before a pedestrian can start walking DOT is actually encouraging unsafe crossings. "must be programmed to minimize delay, which will increase compliance." (https://www.baltimorespokes.org/article.php?story=20170120183303614)]
...

https://ontariotrafficman.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/do-pedestrian-buttons-actually-work/
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The vast difference in driver education and biking/pedestrian education is what causes this rift between modes.

Biking ElsewhereBy Maggie Awad, Arlington Transportation Planers

...
[Just the headings]
So What Can We Do?
Equal Education
Change Safety Messaging
On-Demand Education for On-Demand Services


[B' Spokes: Seriously read this!]
http://blog.arlingtontransportationpartners.com/why-you-should-care-about-other-modes-now
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Guess who wants to teach cyclists a lesson?

Biking ElsewhereBy Jenifer Joy Madden, Greater greater Washington

...
The sub-sample’s rationale for aggressive behavior had two prevailing notions about cyclists:

They "had it coming"
They "needed to be taught a lesson"
Some of their sample comments:

“They need to obey highway rules EXACTLY the same as anyone driving.”
“Unsafe bicycle riding is the greatest single hazard in my community.”
“I don’t trust bicyclists in any way.”
“It’s like they dare you to hit them.”

In describing his soon-to-be-published research, Piatkowski observed that, among those exhibiting what he termed “corrective behavior,” they did not specify what lesson they were attempting to teach cyclists. He posits their motivation might be “crime as social control,” or using a crime as a means to enforce social norms. A similar example is placing a chair in a public parking space and calling it your own, then vandalizing any other cars that park there.
...

https://ggwash.org/view/62238/guess-who-wants-to-teach-cyclists-a-lesson-bicycle-backlash
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2016 Motor Vehicle Deaths Estimated to be Highest in Nine Years

Biking ElsewhereVia National Safety Council

​For the first time in nearly a decade, preliminary data from the National Safety Council estimates that as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. That marks a 6% increase over 2015 and a 14% increase over 2014 – the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years. ​

An estimated 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention, a 7% increase over 2015. This means 2016 may have been the deadliest year on the roads since 2007. Estimated cost to society was $432 billion.
...

NSC is calling for immediate implementation of life-saving measures that would set the nation on a road to zero deaths:

* Mandate ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers and better education about the nature of impairment and when it begins
* Install and use automated enforcement techniques to catch speeders
* Extend laws banning all cell phone use – including hands-free – to all drivers, not just teens; upgrade enforcement from secondary to primary in states with existing bans
* Upgrade seat belt laws from secondary to primary enforcement and extend restraint laws to every passenger in every seating position in all kinds of vehicles
* Adopt a three-tiered licensing system for all new drivers under 21 – not just those under 18
* Standardize and accelerate into the fleet automotive safety technologies with life-saving potential, including blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive headlights
* Pass or reinstate motorcycle helmet laws
* Adopt comprehensive programs for pedestrian safety
...

http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/Fatality-Estimates.aspx
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When it comes to traffic safety, fun beats fear

Biking ElsewhereBy Andrew Carpenter, City Lab, April 15, 2016

Being a pedestrian is, unfortunately, an increasingly dangerous proposition in many communities throughout the United States. A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that, just between 2014 and 2015, pedestrian deaths grew 10 percent.

In many regions, public safety campaigns are a go-to tactic to address the widespread issue of pedestrian safety. But the current, most prevalent approach of “fear appeals” – attempting to scare people into safer behaviors – has not been effective. Changing human behavior is no small task.

Routine tasks involved in commuting develop into automated habits, undermining the belief in many campaigns that road users make rational safety choices based on logic, information or fear. Such an approach tends to place the safety burden on the most vulnerable road users and remove it from drivers.

In the D.C. region, the Street Smart campaign [which they also use in the Baltimore area], for example, has come under fire in the past as being counterproductive for its use of fear-based messages directed at pedestrians and bicyclists.
...

In August 2013, the dynamic message board at the intersection, which had previously warned drivers of the dangerous merge, changed its message to something simple that pointed directly at drivers’ immediate actions: “Do not hit the car in front of you.” Though it seems laughable, accidents at that intersection actually dropped significantly in the following weeks.
...

Properly placed and engaging signals with direct, positive messaging can bring safety back to the forefront of people’s minds and have them actively consider their behavior. However, to change the roots of bad driving and long-standing, culturally ingrained habits, planners will have to shift the built environment itself in order to encourage the best possible actions from road users.

https://mobilitylab.org/2016/04/15/traffic-safety-fun-beats-fear/
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SLOWER SPEED LIMITS MOVE MORE TRAFFIC, CUT PED CRASHES

Biking Elsewhere-> The Urban Reality blog reports on a study conducted by the Helsinki, Finland City Planning Department. (Speed Management in Helsinki: http://bit.ly/2kLJzKd) The 2004 study noted since the early 1970s, the number of traffic fatalities per year has dropped dramatically in spite of doubling of car mileage. Speed management has been the most important single factor behind this development. Helsinki originally reduced speed limits on their highways in 1973 and cut the number of pedestrian crashes in half. After a series of interim speed reductions on various types of roads, the city reduced all its 50 & 40 km/hr speed limits to 40 & 30 km/hr (25 - 18.6 mph) in 2004.

The study notes slowing down cars can actually move more people who are driving as the capacity of a lane depends on the intervals between successive vehicles. The slower the leading car drives in front of a queue, the closer the next car can follow. It looks like the optimal speed in urban street network for capacity is somewhere between 30 and 40 kilometers per hour. http://bit.ly/2kHfmMt

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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SEATTLE, WA DOT: TRUCK SIDE GUARDS TO PROTECT PEDS & CYCLISTS

Biking Elsewhere-> City Lab reports The City of Seattle DOT will put side guards on its trucks to protect cyclists and pedestrians. Side guards, or panels on both sides of a truck reduce the risk of serious injury or death by preventing pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycles from being caught underneath a large truck in a side collision. Of all vulnerable road users killed by large trucks, nearly half of bicyclists and more than one-quarter of pedestrians first impact the side of a truck. These guards also improve fuel economy by up to 7 percent. The Cities of New York, Boston, Cambridge, and San Francisco have taken steps to make truck side guards standard equipment on city vehicles. http://bit.ly/2k11x6V http://bit.ly/2k12ufJ

(See Resources section for 3 papers related to truck side guards and bicyclist and pedestrian safety published by Volpe in 2016.)

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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VIDEO ANALYTICS TOWARDS VISION ZERO

Biking Elsewhere-> "Video Analytics towards Vision Zero" report describes how Microsoft, the City of Bellevue, WA, and the University of Washington are using video analytics and machine learning to make roads safer without waiting until there are enough crash reports filed to trigger a "High Accident Corridor" designation. This new technology offers unprecedented ways to map, manage, and analyze near-miss data in real time to predict where collisions could happen, and provide essential information so that governments can evaluate the effectiveness of current safety programs and pinpoint interventions. http://bit.ly/2kqWUap

CAMERAS & COMPUTERS TRACK NEAR MISSES, INFORM COUNTERMEASURES
-> Next City reports the traditional way to attack traffic safety is to identify places with a high number of crashes, then make changes at those places and wait a few years to see if the changes reduce crashes. Traffic engineers agree that you need a baseline of around three years of crashes to have statistically significant results. Now "computer vision and automated safety analysis" uses off-the-shelf cameras, or cameras that are already installed in an area, to film a given intersection. Computer algorithms track cars, bikes, people that move through the intersection and knows whether the moving blip is a person or a car, how fast they're going, how close they got to hitting another road user. This system has already helped Edmonton, Canada reduce collisions by 92 percent at one intersection. http://bit.ly/2jVcbw4

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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IT'S NOT JUST AN ACCIDENT

Biking ElsewhereBY NATHANIEL M. HOOD, Strong Towns

Car-centric policy dominates our legal system and the way police conduct business. And it's not holding people truly responsible.
...

[A bunch of horrible things.]

You would expect the police to pull out the handcuffs and drag the 65-year old into the back of the squad car. If you thought this, you’d be mistaken. The police determined the woman seemed fine and let her go without issuing a traffic citation, more or less criminal charges. No charges were filed and her driver’s license has not been suspended. It was just an “accident.”

As City Pages reports:

[The jogger’s] injuries left her hospitalized for more than a month, and since her release she's been wheelchair-bound. Her life has been forever changed, says her lawyer … and it doesn’t appear as if police ever investigated the incident further.
...

This is the system we've created; one that favors drivers at nearly every level. It's unfortunate that car culture dominates our system and law enforcement so much that it doesn't hold people responsible. And until it truly does, we're not going to see as much progress as we need. Changes to laws and public mindset must happen in tandem with changes to the design of our streets. We need to reorient our understanding of transportation to value the safety and rights of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users just as much as drivers.

https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2017/1/24/its-not-just-an-accident
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