October 7th, 2015
English: Homestead Air Reserve Base: Trucks began arriving here to pre-position water, military rations, ice and tarps for the post-hurricane relief effort. The trucks, which began arriving Oct. 20, have delivered supplies from Key West to northern Miami-Dade County since the storm passed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The following are more ways to stay safe while sharing the road with big rigs:
- Do not pass an 18-wheeler on the right side because that’s where the biggest blind spot is for the driver. Instead, pass quickly on the left. After passing, be careful not to pull too closely to the driver’s front. The entire truck should be in your rear-view mirror before pulling in front of it. After pulling in front of an 18-wheeler, do not slow down.
- Give plenty of room when an 18-wheeler driver is making a right turn because wide turns are necessary for the driver to complete the maneuver. If the truck driver can’t see you on his or her right, your vehicle could easily get crushed against the curb as a turn is executed.
- When roads are wet, stay away from 18-wheelers for several reasons. First, the roads are slick, making it even more difficult for the big rigs to stop. Secondly, 18-wheelers tend to spray and splash large amounts of mud, water, and snow onto other automobiles. If your windshield is inundated, you may be unable to see and could get into an accident.
- On days when there are high winds, avoid 18-wheelers. Turbulence is generated that can actually cause other vehicles to flip over or swerve. If you drive alongside an 18-wheeler or pass it, keep hands firmly on the steering wheel, to maintain control.
- If an 18-wheeler is parked on a hill, be careful not to get close behind it because it will likely roll backwards before moving forward again.
- Never stop abruptly in front of an 18-wheeler or any other kind of large commercial vehicle. The distance such vehicles need to stop is far greater than what is required for a passenger car or truck.
Learn more tips for safely sharing Texas roads with 18-wheelers in Part 1 of this two-part series.
October 5th, 2015
English: High Five Interchange (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the westbound Interstate 20 bridge to southbound Interstate 35 in Dallas, Texas, today, a fiery 18-wheeler crash resulted in at least two fatalities. A car somehow became entangled with a tractor-trailer carrying lumber. The gas tank on the 18-wheeler ruptured, causing a large blaze. Some of the burning lumber tumbled from the overpass to the road below. The wreck is still under investigation. Early on, authorities have said that a third person may have died in the accident. The 18-wheeler driver was not injured.
Sharing our Texas roadways with 18-wheelers may be a sign that the economy is booming, but it is definitely dangerous. Special considerations should be given to big rig drivers because the vehicles they are maneuvering have limitations. The following are some tips for staying safe around 18-wheelers:
- Do not follow too closely. Rear-ending an 18-wheeler can have far worse consequences than getting into a fender-bender with an average-sized vehicle. Big rigs have metal bumpers that don’t usually have a capacity to absorb impact. Your vehicle may also under-ride the trailer and become lodged underneath.
- Be aware of no zones and stay out of them. There are large blind spots that 18-wheeler drivers have to deal with; they are unable to see whether or not there is something in those blind spots. No Zones are on the:
- Left side,
- Right side, which is a huge blind spot
- Remember that if you are behind an 18-wheeler and cannot see the driver through the rearview mirrors, the driver can’t see you, either.
Learn more tips for safely sharing Texas roads with 18-wheelers in this continuing series.
October 5th, 2015
English: Dashboard Mercedes-Benz W123 with Driver-Airbag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The safety of Takata airbags has been called into question, and there has been a massive recall of automobiles in which they are installed. Part of the unfolding story regarding failure of the airbags involves a Volkswagen in a crash in June. The vehicle crashed into a deer, and the left side airbag inflated with too much force, causing the inflator canister to blow apart. This was the first time a side airbag was reported as defective. Takata had previously said that the problem with airbags was limited to older airbag designs installed in the front only.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has just asked seven more companies to specify each model that has had Takata air bag inflators with the propellant ammonium nitrate installed in them. In the letter the NHTSA sent to the companies, they said that Takata believes the cause of the defect may be that the chemical degrades over time. As a result, it is possible that overly aggressive combustion may occur or the inflator could rupture. Other possible factors contributing to malfunction include temperature, airborne moisture, and time.
The companies that received letters from the NHTSA include: Spartan Motors, Tesla, Volvo Trucks, Volkswagen, Jaguar-Land Rover, Suzuki, and Mercedes-Benz.
At this point, there has been a recall on approximately 23.4 million Takata driver and passenger airbag inflators. The defective airbags are in 19.2 million vehicles in the U.S. sold by 11 different companies including Honda and Fiat Chrysler but excluding the seven cited above.
When the inflators explode too forcefully, they can spew metal shrapnel. There have been at least eight fatalities worldwide because of this issue, and hundreds more people have been injured.
October 1st, 2015
English: 1997 Ford F-150 XLT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Friday, September 25, just after midnight, a deadly crash occurred at the intersection of TX 36 and US 283. The accident, which happened about 12 miles south of Baird, Texas, in Callahan County, involved a 2003 Dodge pickup truck and 2005 Freightliner 18-wheeler. The 18-wheeler was traveling west on TX 36. The pickup truck driver on US 283 allegedly failed to stop at the intersection and struck the tractor trailer broadside. Four people died as a result of the crash. Both drivers were killed as well as two passengers who were riding in the pickup truck.
The most dangerous place to be on Texas roads is at an intersection. In a national study, it was found that crashes at intersections cost the U.S. more than $40 billion every year. More than one-fifth of all nationwide highway crash fatalities occur at intersections.
There are many diverse strategies to address safety at intersections. These strategies include: application of traffic control devices, including signals, signs, and markings; engineering-based solutions that include geometric design; education; and enforcement.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHA), safety at intersections is a priority at the local, state, and national level.
Studies regarding intersections are painstaking and include numerous factors, including driver behavior. The goal is to find ways to prevent fatal collisions and fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents at intersections. Complicated analyses aside, motorists should take their safety and the safety of their passengers into their own hands and practice defensive driving at all times. Stop signs should never be ignored.
September 28th, 2015
Uses the Roadgeek 2005 fonts. (United States law does not permit the copyrighting of typeface designs, and the fonts are meant to be copies of a U.S. Government-produced work anyway.) Colors are from http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/kno-colorspec.htm (Pantone Red 187), converted to RGB by http://www.reeddesign.co.uk/test/pantone2rgb.html. The outside border has a width of 1 (1 mm) and a color of black so it shows up; in reality, signs have no outside border. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tragedy occurred on Wednesday when the driver of an SUV allegedly ran a stop sign in Houston, Texas. The collision occurred just south of Highway 290 in the 1700 block of Magnum. According to police, the SUV driver allegedly ran a stop sign and struck the METRO bus, which did not have passengers at the time. The bus driver sustained minor injuries, but the SUV driver was killed.
Running stop signs is one of the leading causes of serious traffic collisions in the U.S. In fact, according to the American Safety Council, there are hundreds of thousands of crashes that occur every year as a result of drivers running stop signs.
The following are some examples of what can happen when you run a stop sign:
- Another vehicle that has the right-of-way could be driving through the intersection at the same time, and your vehicle could crash into it. You must come to a complete stop. Otherwise, you run the risk of colliding with a car that rightfully enters the intersection.
- If you run a stop sign, your vehicle could be struck by another car or truck. You and any passengers in your vehicle could potentially be placed in grave danger, if you fail to make a stop at a stop sign.
- You may hit a bicyclist or pedestrian, especially if you run a stop sign at night or in an area where there is low visibility.
- If you fail to stop at a stop sign, you could be ticketed. This type of violation usually results in points on your driver’s license, which lead to other negative consequences, such as higher insurance premiums.
Learn more about running stop signs and the danger it poses to society in Part 1 of this two-part series.
September 25th, 2015
Stop sign in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tragedy occurred on Wednesday when the driver of an SUV allegedly ran a stop sign in Houston, Texas. The collision occurred just south of Highway 290 in the 1700 block of Magnum. According to police, the SUV driver allegedly ran a stop sign and struck the METRO bus, which did not have passengers at the time. The bus driver sustained minor injuries, and the SUV driver was killed.
Running stop signs is one of the leading causes of serious traffic collisions in the U.S. In fact, according to the American Safety Council, there are hundreds of thousands of crashes that occur every year as a result of drivers running stop signs. Many of those events result in fatalities, including many pedestrian deaths.
Although inattention and impatience are the leading reasons people choose to ignore stop signs, the following are more common reasons that people give for running a stop sign:
- The motorist approaches the stop sign, doesn’t see anyone, and incorrectly assumes it’s safe to just drive straight through without stopping.
- Whether because of texting, talking on a cell phone, grooming, eating, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio, or engaging in some other activity, drivers say they were distracted and therefore ran a stop sign.
- People are often attempting to reduce their time on the road when they fail to stop at stop signs. Unfortunately, the practice is often deadly.
- Many motorists feel that slowing down at a stop sign is sufficient, but it is, in fact, extremely dangerous.
Learn more about running stop signs and the danger it poses to society in this ongoing series.
September 23rd, 2015
English: AMS2000 Ignition Interlock Device manufactured by Guardian Interlock Systems (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the most effective deterrents to drunk driving has been the establishment and efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). When MADD was founded in 1980, there were approximately 25,000 drunk driving collisions annually. That deadly statistic has been cut in half.
MADD’s 2015-2019 strategic plan to further reduce drunk driving fatalities includes, among other things:
- Reaching and serving more victims of fatal drunk driving accidents.
- Accelerating the progress of the effort to eliminate drunk driving by increasing the number of ignition interlocks, supporting efforts to develop advanced technology for detecting alcohol, and increasing passage of all-offender interlock laws to 30 states total.
- Using evidence-based strategies to decrease the percentage of people between the ages of 12 and 20 that drink alcohol.
Ignition interlocks are devices that are installed in the automobiles of people convicted of impaired driving. The devices will not allow a vehicle to start if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the safe level that has been specified, which is usually between 0.02% – 0.04%. Research shows that there is a 70% reduction in arrest rates for drunk driving when interlocks are installed.
Sobriety checkpoints are another type of strategy that has helped to reduce alcohol-related crashes. When law enforcement officers stop traffic to check drivers for level of alcohol impairment, there is typically about a 9% decrease in alcohol-related crashes.
See Part 1 of this two-part series to learn more drunk driving statistics.
September 21st, 2015
English: Crash and rescue workers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just before 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon, a deadly crash occurred on State Highway 150 that had traffic at a standstill for hours, both directions in Montgomery County, Texas. Two cars and a Jeep were involved in a crash near the Conroe Fire Station that killed four people and injured two others. The four people killed are Ronald, Melinda, Harley, and Sofie Sedlmeier, ages 49, 42, 6, and 4, respectively. A driver involved in the crash has been arrested on four charges of intoxication manslaughter and two of intoxication assault.
Although the investigation is ongoing, according to Conroe police, a man was driving a silver car westbound and slammed into a green car occupied by the Sedlmeiers, which caused the family of four’s car to spin out of control and into oncoming traffic. A blue Jeep that was headed east struck the green car. All occupants of the green vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene; they had all been wearing seatbelts. There were two teenagers in the Jeep, and they both suffered minor injuries.
Following the crash, the man who was driving the silver car was transported to a local hospital. He suffered minor injuries in the fatal crash. According to police, he was arrested and charged after his blood was drawn.
Driving while impaired is a huge problem in the United States. Approximately 30 people die daily in the U.S. in crashed involving an alcohol-impaired driver, which comes to one fatality every 51 minutes.
Learn more drunk driving statistics and possible solutions in this ongoing series.
September 19th, 2015
English: Motor vehicle accident following a vehicular pursuit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At approximately 2:30 a.m. Thursday, approximately two miles south of Midland, Texas, the driver of a 2005 Jeep Cherokee had a crash that killed a passenger in her vehicle. According to a trooper with the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Jeep was headed west on West County Road 160 and the driver failed to stop at a stop sign, drove through the FM 1788 intersection, and struck a fence. The Jeep then overturned; it was a single-vehicle accident. Twenty-five-year old Allison Paige Andrews of Gatesville, Texas, was killed in the accident. The driver was transported to Midland Memorial Hospital, and no details about her condition have been given.
Authorities have given no further details, such as whether or not alcohol or drugs were allegedly a potential factor in the crash.
What is known is that in Texas, drivers of motor vehicles have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care in the operation of their car or truck. A driver must not drive in a manner which they know or should know is likely to cause harm or injury to property or to another person. If it is found that a motorist has failed to use reasonable care while operating a motor vehicle, according to Texas state law, that motorist is considered to have been driving negligently.
In Texas courts, various standards have been developed over time, and they serve as a guideline for determining whether a driver has been negligent. A driver, for instance, has a responsibility to observe surrounding traffic and the general situation in an area and subsequently take appropriate precautions to avoid an accident.
As mentioned, there is no indication of negligence in this tragic fatality accident, but it is reasonable to assume that investigators will try to determine whether or not that was a factor.
September 16th, 2015
English: A Houston Independent School District CE300 school bus made by IC Corporation; the bus is one of 120 newly-manufactured at the time school buses delivered to Houston ISD fleet in 2006 Español: Un autobús de transporte escolar CR400 del Distrito Escolar Independiente de Houston, fabricado por IC Corporation; Este autobús es uno de 120 nuevos autobúses, fue entregado en 2006. Tiếng Việt: Một xe buýt trường học CE300 do công ty IC Corporation chế tạo của Khu học chánh Houston. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Houston, Texas, community has been in shock this week regarding the tragic loss of two students. Two children died and two were seriously injured as a result of a traffic collision at about 7 a.m. Tuesday morning that sent a school bus flying off of the 610 South Loop onto the street below, at an overpass. The other vehicle involved in the crash was a Buick Le Sabre, and it was driven by a school teacher. Investigators have stated that there are no charges at this point.
According to the Houston Police Department, the fatal bus crash happened at Telephone Road. The teacher thought another vehicle was drifting into her lane. She jerked to the right, striking the school bus on the left side. The school bus driver swerved in an unsuccessful effort to avoid a collision. She over-corrected, which led to the bus crashing through the guardrail and onto the street below. Witnesses said the bus nose-dived, flipped, and landed on its side. The impact of the crash was loud enough to be heard from many blocks away, which sent people hurrying to see what had happened.
The bus had been en route to Furr High School, and it was equipped with lap seatbelts. One of the children was pronounced dead at the scene, and another child died later at the hospital. The bus driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
An HPD news release said that the bus accident was caused by the driver of the Buick making an unsafe lane change.
Sources say the bus driver has a clean driving record and has been with HISD for three years. The 2008 bus last had a maintenance inspection in June. It is equipped with seven security cameras, which will be reviewed as the investigation into the tragic crash is ongoing. State data seems to indicate that this is the first deadly school bus accident in Texas since 2008.