April 16th, 2014
Collision with road debris resulting in a solar vehicle accident for SunStang at the 2007 World Solar Challenge, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Various studies have been done about debris on our roadways and how it relates to injury and fatality accidents. Different agencies process the information differently; for instance, only some studies include airborne vehicle parts from crashes as examples of road debris. Some of the results of studies on road debris follow:
- A federal report that spans a ten-year period ending 2004 shows that 823 people across the U.S. died in collisions with objects in the road other than automobiles.
- One study shows that about 1 out of every 200 accidents in which one automobile was towed from the scene was caused by road debris. Less than 1% of those accidents were fatal, but almost 40% involved injuries.
- In 25% of the accidents caused by road debris, the driver steered clear of the debris but did not avoid crashing.
- A study by AAA revealed that lost cargo causes about 50% of the accidents related to road debris. One-third of the accidents are caused by mechanical debris from other automobiles, and the remaining are caused by various other objects.
Recommendations for reducing accidents caused by road debris include:
- Do a better job of educating truck drivers and fleet maintenance workers about how to properly secure loads.
- Do a better job of teaching safety inspectors what to look for when inspecting secured loads.
- Impose stiffer fines for those caught with unsecured loads and for related safety violations.
- Use public awareness campaigns to encourage motorists to report unsafe cargo loads and unsafe vehicles.
Allowing “loose materials” to blow or spill out of an automobile currently carries a fine of up to $200 or $500 for subsequent violations, according to the Texas Transportation Code. Sand, gravel, and dirt are included in the definition of “loose material.”
See Part 1 of this two-part series for more statistics and other information about road debris.
April 9th, 2014
Cedar Creek Reservoir (Texas) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Debris on a Texas highway caused two deaths on February 20. The traffic fatalities occurred on the Cedar Creek Reservoir bridge crossing in the 3000 block of W. Main Street near Gun Barrel City, which is 49 miles southeast of Dallas. According to Damon Boswell, Gun Barrel City Police Department Chief, 33-year-old Angie Hardy and 28-year-old Brittany Smith were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Both of the victims were from Gun Barrel City. A 3-year-old girl was also in the vehicle with Smith and Hardy and was taken by medical helicopter to a Dallas hospital.
According to police, Smith was driving a 1995 Toyota pick-up truck; Hardy and a 3-year-old girl were passengers. Roadway debris flew in front of the Toyota, and Smith swerved. In trying to dodge the debris, the Toyota struck a vehicle head-on. Hardy was thrown from the truck upon impact, and a third vehicle ran over Hardy and then crashed into a guardrail. A passenger in the third car suffered minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital.
Sherry Duncan of Mabank was the driver of the second car involved in the head-on crash. She, like the 3-year-old, was taken by life-flight to a hospital.
Road debris is frequently a deadly obstacle; this is not an isolated type of incident. Various studies give estimates on how often deadly accidents occur due to debris.
The American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, for instance, did a study and concluded that about 1 in 500 traffic fatalities in the U.S. are caused by vehicle-related road debris such as sofas, bedding, lost cargo, muffler parts, and shredded tires. The same study also indicates that about 1 in 300 traffic fatalities in Texas are caused by road debris.
See more statistics and other information about road debris in this continuing series.
April 2nd, 2014
English: 2002 Convertible Ford Mustang. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In Quanah, Texas, near the Texas Panhandle on Highway 6, a passenger in a Mustang was killed on Friday. Police say that speed was a factor in the accident in which the vehicle went airborne and hit a power pole, splitting it in two. The fatal crash occurred at 2:20 a.m. The passenger who died at the scene was not wearing a seatbelt. The other two occupants of the vehicle were taken to nearby hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
The accident is being investigated and the facts surrounding the deadly incident are not known.
In one-car accidents involving speed, reckless driving is often involved. A reckless driver operates an automobile in a negligent and dangerous manner. Reckless driving is a punishable misdemeanor criminal offense. Possible punishments include imprisonment, steep fines, and driver’s license revocation or suspension. Improper or careless driving are lesser traffic offenses.
It is not uncommon for a driver’s mental state to lead him or her to operate his or her vehicle in a manner that is irresponsible. Reckless driving can also occur and is just as unlawful even when the driver is behaving normally and not in any type of disturbed mental state.
A person who is driving 20 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit can be charged with reckless driving, even if maintaining proper control of the vehicle, using turn signals, and yielding to traffic.
The following are signs of a reckless driver:
- The driver will usually change lanes frequently
Male drivers under age 25 are the age group most frequently cited for reckless driving.
The following are tips for protecting yourself from a reckless driver:
- Drive in the lane farthest away from the reckless driver.
- Reduce speed as needed to allow the driver to pass.
- If the reckless driving is extreme, pull over until the vehicle has passed and alert the police.
March 26th, 2014
2004-2007 Pontiac Grand Prix photographed in USA. Category:Pontiac Grand Prix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Tuesday of this week, one person was killed and five were injured in an alleged street racing incident in Houston, Texas. Two cars were involved in a race at about 2 p.m. in the 9100 block of southbound Scott Street. The driver of a Pontiac Grand Prix lost control and struck a tree with such force that the car was split in half. The person who was killed was thrown from the Pontiac and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Five people were transported to area hospitals Memorial Hermann Hospital and Ben Taub General Hospital.
According to the police investigation, the cars involved were both speeding; and witnesses said they believe the cars were racing.
Street racing is a hazard to onlookers, the community, and drivers, who are often inexperienced at handling a vehicle at high speeds. In addition, racing causes damage to streets as skid marks cover painted lines on the road and can lead to vandalism, littering, and loss of commercial revenue for nearby businesses.
In an accident in Washington D.C. in 2008, a fatal crash occurred which demonstrated dangers involved with street racing. A large group of spectators was assembled to watch an illegal street race on a country road that was infrequently traveled. A driver who happened on the scene failed to see the crowd of onlookers and plowed into them. Eight people lost their lives in that collision, and six more were injured.
It’s most typical for street racing to occur in remote areas or when streets are quiet and law enforcement is not believed to be nearby.
Spectators at illegal street races can be arrested and fined, along with the drivers.
March 19th, 2014
A typical speed limit sign in the United States showing a 50 mph restriction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Among the reasons people endanger themselves and others by speeding, according to Focus on Safety: A Practical Guide to Automated Traffic Enforcement, are the following:
- They are rushing because they are late for something or for countless other possible reasons.
- Motorists are not paying attention to the speed or speed limit.
- Some people don’t feel that laws apply to them; they don’t take traffic laws seriously.
- Some motorists who speed don’t realize speeding is a genuine hazard.They don’t believe they’ll be caught.
- A combination of some or all of the above.
Approximately 13,000 people die every year in traffic accidents associated with speeding.
Speeding creates danger in construction work zones. Of all the fatal collisions that took place in highway maintenance and construction zones in 2005, 27% of them involved speeding.
Studies show that compliance to school zone speed limits is poor.
There are several risky factors involved in most fatal crashes, and speeding is one of them. Drivers who are alcohol-impaired are more likely to speed. In addition, speeding drivers often don’t wear seatbelts, which means an accident is more likely to result in a fatality. Combining alcohol, not wearing a seat belt, and speeding, is often deadly.
Speeding is habit that many motorists develop, yet law enforcement has many competing challenges in the campaign to reduce crashes caused by speeding. One challenge is that speed enforcement is often considered a lower priority; when enforcement is lax, drivers are emboldened to speed.
See Part 1 for more about speeding in this two-part series.
March 12th, 2014
Result of a serious automobile accident (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A five-vehicle accident on North Lamar in Austin, Texas, left eleven people injured on Saturday. A 35-year-old man driving a Buick first rear-ended a Hyundai and then fled the scene, according to police. The Buick then side-swiped a Toyota Land Cruiser, continued driving and crashed into a GMC Envoy. At that point the Buick seemed to go completely out of control and struck a stationary object. The eleven injured people were treated by Emergency Medical Services, and five were transported to University Medical Center – Brackenridge. An 18-month-old was also transported by ambulance to Dell Children’s Medical Center. According to EMS, none of the injuries were life-threatening.
The streets were wet at the time of this multiple car crash. It isn’t known whether anything other than speed and poor road conditions caused the string of collisions. Witnesses said it appeared the driver was traveling at 50 or 60 miles per hour, rather than the speed limit on Lamar, which is 40 mph.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about one in three fatal crashes involve speed. A crash is deemed speeding-related, according to the NHTSA, if the driver is charged with an offense related to speed or if a police officer indicates that exceeding the posted speed limit, driving too fast for road conditions, or racing contributed to the collision.
Research shows that the majority of motorists speed, even though they recognize that speed is a threat to their safety and the safety of others.
See more about speeding in this continuing series.
March 5th, 2014
speed limit 10. (Photo credit: brian hefele)
A six-vehicle crash occurred near Lake Palestine, Texas, today at about 9:15 a.m. According to Jean Dark, Department of Public Safety Trooper, the wreck occurred near the State Highway 155 intersection with Farm to Market Road 344. A Sheriff’s deputy with Smith County was in a patrol car and was stopped at a light in the northbound lane. A motorist driving an SUV ran into the deputy’s vehicle. The crash also involved four other automobiles, which all had minor damages as a result of the crash. The people in those cars received medical treatment at the scene and were released. The deputy was transported by ambulance to East Texas Medical Center.
The driver of the SUV was cited for failure to yield the right of way and for failure to control speed.
Speeding is a leading cause of car crashes. The faster a vehicle is traveling, the longer it takes to come to a full stop. The faster a vehicle travels, the more dangerous the impact. The force of a crash at 40 miles per hour (MPH) is doubled at 60 mph.
Research shows that speed is a factor in 30% of all fatal car crashes. On average, 1,000 people are killed in the U.S. every month.
The statistics for teenagers is a little different. More than 50% of all fatal crashes in which a teenager was driving involved speeding. According to research, teenagers are more likely to speed than older drivers; and they also allow for shorter headway or distance from the rear of one automobile to the front of the one behind it.
February 26th, 2014
Photograph of the steering wheel of a 1998 Volvo V70 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are always risks involved with driving on Texas roads. Road hazards such as animals, pot holes and debris can instinctively cause a motorist to swerve, which can result in a more serious accident than hitting the object. Other motorists create dangers because of distracted driving, drunk driving, or fatigued driving. It’s extremely helpful to develop tactics for surviving traffic accidents, which begins with knowing whether or not your vehicle has anti-lock brakes (See Part 1 for more on braking in an accident.) Here are a few more survival tips:
- Steer as smoothly as possible because extremely jerky steering can lead to skids, particularly with cars that have light rear ends or with heavy vehicles.
- When in a possible collision situation, remember that acceleration may be the best option, since it’s sometimes possible to avoid an accident by speeding up to get out of the way.
Follow these steps in the event that you lose control or begin to skid, to regain control of the automobile:
- Do not hit the brakes because it will only worsen the situation.
- Firmly grip the steering wheel.
- Steer in the direction of the skid. For instance, if the back of your vehicle is sliding to the driver’s left, turn the steering wheel to the left.
- Before braking or accelerating, wait for your tires to regain traction.
If a collision is unavoidable, take steps to minimize the amount of potential damage, as follows:
- Try to control your automobile’s speed because more damage is caused by an impact at a greater speed.
- Avoid side impacts because automobiles are much weaker structurally on the sides.
- Avoid getting into a head-on collision with other vehicles or with immovable objects such as concrete barriers or large trees.
See more tips for surviving a traffic accident in Part 1 of this two-part series.
February 19th, 2014
Brake and Accelerator (Photo credit: The Tire Zoo)
On Sunday night five students from Muenster, Texas, were in a rollover crash; two of the passengers were ejected from the vehicle. All five of the girls were transported to nearby Metroplex hospitals. Troopers said their conditions varied, from serious to critical. The vehicle went airborne at the top of a hill, and the driver lost control, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The car landed in a baseball field after rolling at least five times.
Speed affects both the ability of a driver to maintain control of an automobile and the seriousness of car crashes. In all circumstances, it helps for the driver to become familiar with strategies for avoiding a crash. Here are a few survival tips, if a car accident seems imminent:
- Remain calm. Vehicles of every make and model respond best to smooth braking and steering.
- Be deliberate about your actions and decide on the combination of braking, accelerating, and steering that will best contribute to accident avoidance.
- What type of brakes you have has an impact on how you should respond:
- If you do not have anti-lock brakes, pump the brakes to keep the vehicle under control. If you slam on the brakes, you will skid and lose control because you can’t steer when the brakes are locked. Instead, press firmly and release. Release the brakes before steering, if you feel the tires go into a skid.
- If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump the brakes. Simply hold the brakes firmly, and steer normally. The ABS computer in your car will pulse the brakes automatically. You can feel the brake pedal vibrating when this occurs.
See more tips for surviving a traffic accident in this continuing series.
February 12th, 2014
Icy roads slow traffic (Photo credit: OregonDOT)
Treacherous, icy roads are being blamed for four traffic-related fatalities and numerous injuries in North Texas on Monday and Tuesday of this week, though the accidents are still under investigation.
On Monday night at about 5:30 p.m., according to Sgt. Lonny Haschel, 16-year-old Katelyn ShyAnn Hooper of Haslet was killed in a collision near Texas 114 on Farm Road 156 in Denton County. Haschel says that a motorist driving a Ford pickup truck was traveling north on the slick roads, and he lost control. The truck moved into lanes of oncoming traffic and was struck by the Ford Contour Hooper was driving. There was another teen in the Contour, and she was transported to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth with serious injuries. The Ford truck driver was also seriously injured and transported to Harris Methodist. Hooper was pronounced dead at the scene.
Forty-year-old William Scott Tanksley, a Dallas firefighter, also died Monday night. He had responded to a major traffic accident in southwest Dallas on Interstate 20, and he fell from an ice-covered highway overpass after being struck by a vehicle that was sliding on the ice.
Two motorists died on Tuesday, and icy precipitation is a suspected cause of those accidents, as well.
At about 5 a.m., a man from Kennedale was traveling on Southeast Loop 820 in Forest Hill when his vehicle crashed into another car and then hit the guardrail. He was thrown from the car and then struck by an oncoming vehicle. Five people were also injured in that tragic accident.
Fifty-six-year-old Kenneth Jones died in a one-vehicle accident near the Parker County Line in northwest Tarrant County. Jones was on Cattlebaron Drive when he lost control of his automobile and crashed into a tree. Sheriff’s spokesman Terry Grisham said the accident which took Jones’ life was caused by ice on the overpass.
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