Should We Worry Who Trump Appoints As NHTSA Director?

The Detroit Free Press published an interesting article this week regarding regarding the pending appointment of a chief executive National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). The NHTSA is the agency charged with regulating the safety of the nation’s automobiles. According to the article, consumer advocates are fearing the worst: that Trump will appoint an automobile company executive.

Rosemary Shahan, president of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety group, said she would not be surprised if Trump reaches out to an auto executive to fill the position of National Highway Traffic Safety administrator, vacant since Trump took office in January.

“He has a penchant of appointing people who have been regulated and allowing them to dismantle agencies,” Shahan continued. “You have all these companies who have been under investigations for safety violations recently. I wouldn’t be surprised if he appointed somebody from one of them. It would be consistent with his other appointments.”

Trump’s track record to date is not encouraging. He appointed an oil executing to run the EPA, which is the agency charged with protecting our environment. He appointed another oil executive as his Secretary of State.

We can’t jump to conclusions yet as no one has been appointed. But we should be wary of an appointment of an auto executive as there would be, in my opinion, an obvious conflict of interest if, say, a CEO of a major auto maker is appointment. Whose interest would they put first? The bottom line of the auto companies? Or, the safety of the consumer? Time will tell.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

NHTSA: Traffic Fatalities Up 8% In 2016

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) announced some unfortunate news in a press release last week that traffic fatalities were up 8% last year from the year before for the first nine months of each year. The agency’s statistical projection found an estimated 27,875 people died in vehicle accidents during that time in 2016, while 25,808 fatalities were reported for that same period in 2015. Also, the fatality rate for 2016’s first nine months increased to 1.15 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That represents an increase from 1.10 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled during the first nine months of 2015. The agency noted it relied on the same methodology used to generate the estimates for the first nine months of 2016 as it did to record the fatalities for 2015.

The various articles I have read don’t seem to point any specific reason why. The discouraging news is that these numbers are coming off a year where traffic deaths increased 7% in 2015 over 2014. Experts believe the increased travel is mostly a result of an improved economy and low gas prices. But NHTSA’s data experts said increased travel and a better economy alone can’t explain the rise in deaths. “We still have to figure out what is underlying those lives lost,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “If it was simple, we would already know that.”

The increase in deaths is especially concerning because it has happened at time when cars are safer than ever. Nearly all new cars and light trucks now have electronic stability control and rearview cameras, for example. Automakers are also beginning to equip more cars with sophisticated safety technology like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency-braking and blind-spot monitoring.

So what is the answer? The NHTSA isn’t giving us any plausible explanation. My own theory is that people continue to use their phones when driving. They continue to text and not take advantage of hands-free technology. I think this will continue to be the case as long as the penalties for texting and driving are weak. In my opinion, if an injury occurs from an accident where texting and driving was the cause, then the case needs to be treated like a DUI. At the very least the driver needs to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Without significant repercussions, drivers will not be deterred from typing on their phones while driving. This is the only explanation I can come up with as to why traffic fatalities have continued to rise the last two years.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

 

May Is Motorcycle Awareness Month

Spring is upon us and we are seeing a lot more motorcyclists on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has designated May as motorcyclist awareness month and are encouraging all motorists to “share the road” with each other.In a press release the NHTSA pointed out that in2014, 4,586 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a decrease of 2.3 percent from 2013 (4,692). Those deaths account for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year. This decrease in motorcycle fatalities continues to break a tragic trend over the last 17 years, which saw only one other decline in 2009. Injured motorcyclists also decreased from 93,000 in 2013 to 88,000 in 2014.

To help spread safety awareness, the NHTSA provided some tips on sharing the road:

  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate your movement and find a safe lane position.
  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle—it may not be self-canceling and the motorcyclist may have forgotten to turn it off. Wait to be sure the rider is going to turn before you proceed.
  • Allow more follow distance – three or four seconds – when following a motorcycle; this gives the motorcycle rider more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Motorcycle riders may suddenly need to change speed or adjust lane position to avoid hazards such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
  • Always look for motorcycles by checking your mirrors and blind spots before switching to another lane of traffic.
  • Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Though it may seem as if there is enough room in a single lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, looks can be deceiving. Share the road, but not the lane: a motorcyclist needs room to maneuver safely.
  • If you are turning at an intersection, and your view of oncoming traffic is partially obstructed, wait until you can see around the obstruction, sufficiently scan for all roadway users (pedestrians and motorcyclists included), and proceed with caution. Slow your decision-making process down at intersections.
  • Road users should never drive, bike, or walk while distracted. Doing so can result in tragic consequences for all on the road, including motorcyclists.

The press release also provided safety tips for motorcyclists.

  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and use reflective tape and gear to be more visible. NHTSA estimates helmets saved the lives of 1,630 motorcyclists in 2014.
  • Never ride while impaired or distracted—it is not worth the risk of killing or injuring yourself or someone else. Plus, a DUI costs $10,000 on average, and can lead to jail time, loss of your driver’s license, and higher insurance rates.

Don’t drink and bike and always wear a helmet. This seems like obvious advice. But remember that riding a motorcycle can be a very dangerous way to drive and doing so without a helmet is an incredibly dangerous proposition. If you are on a motorcycle and you leave your head unprotected, you increase your odds for a brain injury tenfold. Further, you are increasing your odds of a fatality. According to the NHTSA’s data inn 2014, 41 percent of fatally injured motorcycle riders and 53 percent of fatally injured motorcycle passengers were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. And as stated above, helmets save thousands of lives every year.

Even though Illinois does not require helmet use, I cannot stress how important of a decision it is. I cannot stress how important it is for motorcycle riders to wear a helmet.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago motorcycle accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Experts Warn Self-Driving Cars Are Not Safe

The Associated Press recently reported on a meeting hosted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) regarding self driving cars. Experts, including multiple engineers, spoke at the meeting and warned officials that self-driving vehicles still pose safety risks. The experts urged the NHTSA to issue regulations on self-driving vehicles as soon as possible as the technology is already been put out on the road unregulated.

James Niles, president of Orbit City Lab, a New York think tank, told the meeting that there is a complete absence of federal regulations and standards to prevent self-driving cars from being turned into weapons by “bad actors.”

“The concern that an autonomous vehicle could be used as a weapon has gone unnoticed by the general public and probably by the majority of government officials,” he said.

Some of the safety issues the experts believe self-driving vehicles cannot handle include:

—Poorly marked pavement, including parking lots and driveways, could foil the technology, which relies on clear lane markings.

—Bad weather can interfere with vehicle sensors.

—Self-driving cars can’t take directions from a policeman.

—Inconsistent traffic-control devices — horizontal versus lateral traffic lights, for example.

“It is dangerous, impractical and a major threat to the public health, safety and welfare to deploy them (self-driving vehicles),” said Mark Golden, executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

It will be interesting to see if and when the NHTSA will react to these concerns and issue regulations. It is clear self-driving cars are not safe to put on the road and they should be restricted until the proper software has been developed along with the much needed regulations.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois Distracted Driving Summit Gives Victim’s Families Time To Vent

Illinois hosted its first distracted driving summit last week in Addison. The event gave a forum for sharing stories by family members of victims of distracted diving accidents. I could not imagine the grieving that these people have gone through, and I believe this event was a positive step towards putting the dangers of testing and driving into the forefront.

One of the speakers, NHTSA Secretary, Ray LaHood, stressed that people need to change their mindset when it comes to the use of cell phones while driving.  “I am willing to bet that a majority of you have used this while driving,” LaHood said, holding up a cell phone.

It was pointed out during the summit that at least 1.6 million traffic crashes a year in the United States involve drivers who use cell phones or are texting.  In Illinois, there have been more than 4,900 crashes involving cell phone use since 2007, when the state Transportation Department began tracking such data.

These numbers need to go down, and the first step took place last year when Illinois made it illegal to text and drive.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago car accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.

Transportation Secretary LaHood Continues To Warn About Distracted Driving

NHSTA Secretary Ray LaHood released a statement today on the eve of the 2010 Distracted Driving Summit, promoting the decrease of traffic fatalities in 2009. 2009 statistics showed the lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1950.  Although, LaHood warned that the epidemic of distracted driving may be worse than the statistics show.  LaHood stated researchers believe the police reports in many states still do not routinely document whether distraction was a factor in vehicle crashes, making it more difficult to know the full extent of the problem.

These numbers show that distracted driving remains an epidemic in America, and they are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Tomorrow, I’m convening our second Distracted Driving Summit in the hopes that we can continue to draw attention to the dangers of distracted driving and work together to save lives.”

The NHTSA study found that the proportion of fatalities associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent to 16 percent between 2005 and 2009.  This news comes as overall traffic fatalities  fell in 2009 to their lowest levels since 1950.

According to NHTSA data, the age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group.  Sixteen percent of all under-20 drivers involved in a fatal crash were reported to have been distracted while driving.  Of those drivers involved in fatal crashes who were reportedly distracted, the 30-39 year old group had the highest proportion of cell phone involvement. 

I will, of course, be updating with the blog with reports and announcements from the Distracted Driving Summit.

If you or somone you know has been involved in a Chicago Car Accident  or Chicago Truck Accident , then call Chicago car accident attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

U.S. Transportation Department Announces Lowest Traffic Fatalities In Six Decades

The NHTSA continues to report positive news about undefined  in the U.S.  According to Transportation Secretary LaHood, the 33,808 undefined  deaths in 2009 was the lowest number since 1980.  In addition, 2009 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded:  1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, compared to 1.26 deaths for 2008.

Fatalities declined in all categories of vehicles including motorcycles, which saw fatalities fall by 850 from 2008, breaking an 11-year cycle of annual increases.

“At the Department of Transportation, we are laser-focused on our top priority: safety,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Today’s announcement shows that America’s roads are the safest they’ve ever been.  But they must be safer.  And we will not rest until they are.”

The NHTSA attributes several factors that have led to this decrease:  ““Today’s numbers reflect the tangible benefits of record seat belt use and strong anti-drunk driving enforcement campaigns,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.  “But we are still losing more than 30,000 lives a year on our highways, and about a third of these involve drunk driving.  We will continue to work with our state partners to strictly enforce both seat belt use and anti-drunk driving laws across this nation, every day and every night.”

These are encouraging statistics. I continue to wonder if the drastic decreases the past few years can be attributed to the recession and the overall state of our economy.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident  or truck accident , then call Chicago car accident attorney , Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

NHTSA Reports Study On Drinking And Driving

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration  released some startling numbers regarding drink and driving in their report titled: “National Survey On Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors.”  The survey concluded that and estimated 17 million motorists in the U.S. may have driven while drunk in the preceding 12 month and twenty percent of the public 16 and older had in the past year driven a motor vehicle within two hours of drinking alcohol.  About two-thirds of these, or 13 percent of the total population 16 and older had done so in the past 30 days. The survey produced an estimate of 85.5 million past-month drinking-driving trip, up from 73.7 million trips in 2004.

The scary part of the of this survey is the resulting damage that these drinking and driving trips have caused. Among persons 16 and older involved in a motor vehicle crash in the past two years, 20% reported that someone had been injured in the (most recent) crash. Respondents were more likely to report that an involved driver had been drinking alcohol if the car crash  led to injury (32%) than if no injury occurred (5%).

About 1% of the population 16 and older had been arrested for a drinking and driving violation in the past two years; the percentage was 5% for males 21 to 24. Almost three-fourths of the public believed that drivers who had too much to drink to drive safely would be somewhat likely (40%), very likely (21%), or almost certain (12%) to be stopped by police.

These are some eye-opening statistics. Remember, it is very simple to pick up the phone and call a cab or a friend. You may be protecting yourself and others, let alone the  avoiding the legal problems that can ensue.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident  or Chicago trucking accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney  Aaron Bryant for a free consultation  at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com

2009 A Record Low For Traffic Fatalities In The U.S.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration  (NHSTA) released some encouraging news this week. Their press release announced that 2009 was a record low traffic fatalities in the U.S. It was the lowest number of fatalities since 1954 and was the 15th year in a row that showed a decline.

The projected fatality data for 2009 places the highway death count at 33,963, a drop of 8.9 percent as compared to the 37,261 deaths reported in 2008. The fatality rate for 2009 declined to the lowest on record, to 1.16 fatalities per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) down from 1.25 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2008.

“This continuing decline in highway deaths is encouraging, but our work is far from over,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland. “We want to see those numbers drop further. We will not stop as long as there are still lives lost on our nation’s highways. We must continue our efforts to ensure seat belts are always used and stay focused on reducing distracted and impaired driving.”

Did the decrease have to do with the recession?  The NHSTA believes it was a combination of factors, including the safety campaigns it instituted the last several years. They attribute the decline in 2009 to a combination of factors that include, high visibility campaigns like Click It or Ticket to increase seat belt use, and Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest which helps with the enforcement of state laws to prevent drunk driving and distracted driving. In addition, the decline is also the result of safer roads, safer vehicles and motorists driving less.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for free consultation on your case at 312-588-3384.

NHSTA Issues Probe Into Recent Toyota Recalls

The National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration announced that they are issuing a probe into three (3) of the most recent Toyota recalls.  They are requesting documents from Toyota to determine if they made the most recent recalls in a timely manner.

 “Safety recalls are very serious matters and automakers are required to quickly report defects,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The auto safety agency is requiring Toyota to provide documents showing when and how it learned of the defects affecting approximately 6 million vehicles in the U.S. alone. The probe will examine how the manufacturer learned of these defects, such as through consumer complaints or factory testing. Investigators are also looking into whether Toyota discovered the problems during pre-production or post-production of the affected vehicles.

Officials are checking whether Toyota has covered all affected models in its recent recalls to ensure Toyota did not miss any problems. The agency will obtain information on production data, incidents, complaints, warranty complaints, copies of tests, dates of meetings, timeliness, and supplier information.

The three recalls in question involve various Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Two of the recalls are related to the entrapment of gas pedals by floor mats. The first recall was announced on September 26, 2007, and was followed by a subsequent one on October 6, 2009. The October recall was expanded on January 29, 2010, to include additional vehicles. The third recall, involving sticking gas pedals, was announced on January 21, 2010. “Our top priority is safety and we expect that all manufacturers address automotive safety issues quickly and in a forthright manner,” said David Strickland, Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.