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11/19/2016 1:00 pm  #1

Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps

Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps

The messaging app Snapchat allows motorists to post photos that record the speed of the vehicle. The navigation app Waze rewards drivers with points when they report traffic jams and accidents. Even the game Pokémon Go has drivers searching for virtual creatures on the nation’s highways.

When distracted driving entered the national consciousness a decade ago, the problem was mainly people who made calls or sent texts from their cellphones. The solution then was to introduce new technologies to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel. Innovations since then — car Wi-Fi and a host of new apps — have led to a boom in internet use in vehicles that safety experts say is contributing to a surge in highway deaths.

After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. And the numbers so far this year are even worse. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“This is a crisis that needs to be addressed now,” Mark R. Rosekind, the head of the agency, said in an interview.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating an Oct. 26 crash near Tampa that killed five people. A passenger in one car, a teenager, recorded a Snapchat video showing her vehicle traveling at 115 m.p.h. just before the collision.

A lawsuit filed in a Georgia court claims a teenage driver who was in a September 2015 crash near Atlanta was using Snapchat while driving more than 100 m.p.h., according to court records. The car collided with the car of an Uber driver, who was seriously injured.

Alarmed by the statistics, the Department of Transportation in October outlined a plan to work with the National Safety Council and other advocacy groups to devise a “Road to Zero” strategy, with the ambitious goal of eliminating roadway fatalities within 30 years.

The Obama administration’s transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx, said that the near-term effort would involve identifying changes in regulations, laws and standards that could help reduce fatalities. That might include pushing for all states to tighten and enforce laws requiring use of seatbelts in cars and helmets on motorcycles, while cracking down on distracted or drunken driving. The effort might also include tougher regulation of heavy trucks, Mr. Foxx said.

A second, related effort would focus on setting longer-term goals and speeding the introduction of autonomous-driving technologies that many safety experts say have the potential to prevent accidents by removing distracted humans from the driving equation.

One concern so far, though, is that current generations of automated driver-assistance systems, like the Autopilot feature offered by Tesla Motors, may be lulling some drivers into a false sense of security that can contribute to distracted driving.

Whether highway safety officials in the Trump administration will have the same priorities, though, is too soon to say. The names of candidates for transportation secretary have not yet been publicly floated.

Last edited by Goose (11/19/2016 1:02 pm)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

11/19/2016 1:34 pm  #2

Re: Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps

From what I experience driving on I83 one has to include the low gas prices which gives drivers the incentive to exceed the posted speed limit by 20 mph.  Eighty to eighty-five mph seems to be the norm on this highway.  How do I know?  Driving near the posted speed limit cars speed past me and virtually disappear out of sight in the blink of an eye.  I recently had a trucker blow his horn over and over again even though I was passing vehicles and would continue to do within another minute or two.  I wasn't moving out if his way even though he was almost in my trunk.  Going up one of the steep hills on 83 he fell behind and finally moved over to the right lane where he stayed.  Yes, now the truckers on 83 are becoming more brazen with lower fuel prices.    


11/19/2016 2:11 pm  #3

Re: Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps

Add to the mix far too many PSP resources diverted to babysitting the sacred Casinos and taking over loca law enforcement for Borough too cheap to provide their own Police protection....

Life is an Orthros.

11/19/2016 4:30 pm  #4

Re: Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps

I think you are right, Tarnation.  I rarely see a trooper stop a vehicle or more rarer, see a trooper sitting along the highway any more except, perhaps, at the truck checkpoint at the Yocumtown exit..  I often however, see troopers speeding along to somewhere else.


11/19/2016 9:56 pm  #5

Re: Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps

  I often however, see troopers [i]speeding along to somewhere else.[/i]

Most likely speeding to get to a crash on 83.

Life is an Orthros.

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