Safety researchers thought that traffic accidents would increase as the nation's aging population increased the number of older drivers on the road, but now a new study suggests that they were wrong.
Today's drivers aged 70 and older are less likely to be involved in crashes than previous generations and are less likely to be killed or seriously injured if they do crash, according to a study released Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
That's because vehicles are getting safer and seniors are generally getting healthier, the institute said.
Traffic fatalities overall in the U.S. have declined to levels not seen since the late 1940s, and accident rates have come down for other drivers as well. But since 1997, older drivers have enjoyed bigger declines as measured by both fatal crash rates per driver and per vehicle miles driven than middle-age drivers, defined in the study as ages 35 to 54.
The greatest rate of decline was among drivers age 80 and over, nearly twice that of middle-age drivers and drivers ages 70 to 74.
"This should help ease fears that aging baby boomers are a safety threat," said Anne McCartt, the institute's senior vice president for research and co-author of the study.
Ford's MyFord Touch system is unreliable and dangerous for drivers, says a class action lawsuit filed in Federal Court in California on Monday.
The Center for Defensive Driving accuses Ford of deceptive trade and consumer law violations. It claims that that the touch screen entertainment and communication system is plagued with glitches that haven't been fixed.
Installed in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models since 2011, the system was developed by Microsoft and Ford, and incorporates GPS navigation, Sirius Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth communication for mobile devices.
If it does not crash first, the touch system is meant to detect collisions and automatically contact emergency services.
During a malfunction, vital features such as navigation and climate control may stop working, the class action claims.
"Additionally, because certain crucial vehicle functions, including the defroster and the rear-view camera, are routed through and controlled by MyFord Touch, these features become inoperable when the system crashes. Thus, driving in winter becomes dangerous because the driver cannot defrost his or her windshield and other windows, and drivers are more likely to collide with other cars or pedestrians when moving in reverse because the rear-view camera fails," the complaint states.
The class claims drivers pay a premium for the factory-installed system. By some estimates, it costs $1000 as a stand-alone product.
The class claims that Ford's own technicians have said, "there is no fix."
"So rampant are the problems, Consumer Reports recommends that no consumer purchase Ford vehicles that are equipped with MyFord Touch," according to the complaint.
The class seeks actual and punitive damages, and costs.
51 people have died in fiery crashes in Jeeps with gas tanks positioned behind the rear axle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Chrysler refused to recall 1993 - 2004 Grand Cherokees and 2002 - 2007 Libertys, but now says it will have dealers inspect the vehicles and install trailer hitches to protect the gas tanks. Vehicles without hitches will get them, as will those with broken hitches or hitches that aren't from Chrysler.
Chrysler will begin notifying owners of the vehicles in about a month.
Words matter. We know that intuitively, but now there is a study to remind us as lawyers to choose our verbs carefully.
A group of subjects watched videos of car accidents, and researchers asked them to estimate how fast the cars were traveling. Some viewers were asked how fast the cars were going when they "hit" one another, while others were asked how fast cars were going when they "smashed, collided, bumped or contacted" each other.
The results? Subjects estimated that the cars that smashed
into one another were traveling at 40.6 miles per hour, those that collided
at 39.3 mph, the ones that bumped
at 38.1 mph, those in the hit
category at a mere 34.0 mph, and those that had contact
at only 31.8 mph.
But, wait, it gets worse. Some of the verbs even created a false memory. The researchers waited a week, then they asked the subjects to recall whether they had seen any broken glass after the accident. Almost all the subjects who got the “hit” language in the question recalled no broken glass. But almost 33 percent of those told the cars had “smashed” recalled seeing broken glass.
Credit: Michael Maslanka at http://texaslawyer.typepad.com/work_matters/
Congratulations to Chad Dunn who was recognized this month in Texas Lawyer Magazine as one of the top 25 lawyers under the age of 40 in Texas.
To see the publication, follow the link: http://at.law.com/Texasleaders
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a new app for iPhones and iPods that will provide real-time vehicle safety information to consumers from NHTSA's SaferCar.gov site. NHTSA's SaferCar app
allows users to search its 5-Star Safety Ratings for vehicles by make and model, locate car seat installation help, file a vehicle safety complaint, find recall information and subscribe to automatic notices about vehicle recalls.
Fleet vehicles are white and school buses are yellow, but what color car is scientifically proven to be the safest?
We still don't know the answer.
A Swedish study found that pink cars are involved in the fewest crashes and black cars are involved in the most, but a study from New Zealand found that there was a significantly lower rate of serious injury in silver cars; with higher rates in, brown, black, and green cars.
Scientists have analyzed risk by light condition. It found that in daylight, black cars were 12% more likely than white to be involved in an accident, followed by grey cars at 11%, silver cars at 10%, and red and blue cars at 7%, with no other colors found to be significantly more or less risky than white.
At dawn or dusk the risk ratio for black cars jumped to 47% more likely than white, and that for silver cars to 15%. In the hours of darkness only red and silver cars were found to be significantly more risky than white, by 10% and 8% respectively.
However, no study on the relation between car color and safety is scientifically conclusive.
Source: AAA Foundation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been very busy lately. This federal agency, which has as its mission “to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce traffic-related health care and other economic costs”, has proposed two important rules:
1) Backup cameras in new cars, pickups and vans, and
2) Event Data Recorders in all light passenger vehicles Backup Cameras
NHTSA estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes involving all vehicles. Two particularly vulnerable populations – children and the elderly -– are affected most. NHTSA believes that back-up cameras, which activate when putting the vehicle into reverse, would save lives. Event Data Recorders
NHTSA is proposing that automakers install event data recorders (EDRs) in all light passenger vehicles beginning September 1, 2014. These “black boxes” would capture valuable safety-related data in the seconds before and during a motor vehicle crash.
A crash or air bag deployment typically triggers the EDR, which collects data in the seconds before and during a crash. The data collected by EDRs can be used to improve highway safety by ensuring NHTSA, other crash investigators and automotive manufacturers understand the dynamics involved in a crash and the performance of safety systems.
Examples of some of the information recorded include:
- vehicle speed
- whether the brake was activated in the moments before a crash;
- crash forces at the moment of impact;
- information about the state of the engine throttle;
- air bag deployment timing and air bag readiness prior to the crash; and
- whether the vehicle occupant's seat belt was buckled.
EDRs do not collect any personal identifying information or record conversations and do not run continuously. Idea for the future
While not being proposed at this time, the next logical step would be forward facing DVR (video recorders) in the mirror that would record the view of the road ahead during the 20 seconds before a collision. This video, already a presence in many police cars, would answer questions about how and why a collision occurred.
Each year, a countless number of drivers and passengers in motor vehicle accidents survive due to the deployment of the automobile airbag. According to a number of independent and government studies, automobile airbags have decreased fatalities by about 21 percent for unbelted drivers and by at least 9 percent for drivers wearing seatbelts.
The downside of airbag deployment is the introduction of a new spectrum of injuries
. Most are minor, but some can be life threatening. These injuries
include eye damage and trauma to the spine, facial nerves and facial bones.
Of particular interest to me are hearing and balance disturbances.
Clients who are in wrecks where the airbag explodes complain to me of hearing loss and/or ringing in their ears
, a condition that physicians call tinnitus.
New vehicles are now equipped with side and other airbags, sometimes totalling up to 10 airbags. With airbags exploding at about 170 dB, a car wreck suddenly becomes a very noisy environment with high potential for hearing loss and/or tinnitus
I hope that physicians treating victims of motor vehicle accidents will take ear injuries into consideration when documenting patient injuries and offering emergency care.
When shopping for a car, it would be helpful to know the relative cost of insurance of one model compared to another. While it is intuitive that expensive cars will cost more to insure than inexpensive cars, insurance company statistics reveal that the inexpensive car may have a much higher reported rate of injuries. That will result in higher premiums than an expensive car.
Here's a link
to help you make those comparisons before your purchase.