November 15, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 10

Large truck crashes have declined per mile but not per capita

Truck safety has improved, but not in all respects. Fewer people are killed per truck mile, but total truck mileage has increased, resulting in more deaths than before.

Don't permit interstate truck drivers younger than 21

The Institute has asked FMCSA to reject a petition for a pilot program that would allow people under 21 to drive trucks across state lines.

'Click it or ticket' expands beyond North Carolina

Seven more states have adopted the safety belt campaign in the wake of North Carolina's success.

Women drivers' fatal crashes have gone up because they're driving more

Women are involved in more fatal crashes than they used to be because they're driving more. Per mile, they crash much less often than men.

October 6, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 9

Head restraintsGeometry improves, and some have advanced designs

For the first time since the Institute began rating head restraints, more than half of all new passenger vehicles offer restraints that are rated good or acceptable.

How the Institute rates head restraints

Geometry is the basis for most head restraint ratings under an international protocol.

Institute to begin dynamic testing with new sled

A new crash test sled at the Vehicle Research Center will allow for dynamic testing of head restraints and seats, as well as other testing that doesn't require a whole vehicle.

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September 8, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 8

Special issue: older drivers

Older drivers aren't dangerous except maybe to themselves

U.S. seniors don't drive as much as other groups and don't pose a big threat to others on the road. They do, however, pose a risk to themselves.

Seniors are more likely to die from crash injuries

Older drivers are more easily injured and less likely to survive their injuries. That is the main reason they have higher death rates per mile traveled than drivers of other ages.

Changes at intersections might help seniors

Older drivers often have difficulty at intersections. Improvements ranging from more stop signs to converting intersections to roundabouts could lessen the toll.

Vehicle design changes might keep seniors in cars longer and safer

Improvements to safety belts, airbags and vehicle ergonomics promise to improve the safety of all drivers, including older ones.

Alternative ways of getting about might help older people

Seniors who stop driving often don't have many good options for getting around.

Older drivers aren't a serious threat, noted researcher says

John Eberhard, who heads NHTSA's older driver research program, says that while older drivers aren't a threat to other people on the road, they are increasingly at risk themselves, due to growing exposure.

Don’t look for screening tests to make a big difference

Taking away someone's license shouldn't be done lightly, but there aren't any tests sensitive enough to distinguish older drivers who will crash from those who won't.

July 28, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 7

Roundabout reduce traffic backups and crashes, too

Recently built roundabouts in the U.S. reduce both crashes and traffic delays, an IIHS study finds. Drivers say they like them — even if they were skeptical at first.

Even skeptical drivers end up being fans of roundabouts

Seeing is believing for many people, and experiencing roundabouts can convert skeptics.

Balanced approach to highway safety still isn't appreciated by all

Institute President Brian O'Neill rebuts New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell's analysis of U.S. highway safety policy.

More conspicuous trucks are less likely to be hit in side or rear

Red and white reflective tape significantly reduces crashes involving the sides and rears of tractor-trailers, NHTSA researchers have found.

June 30, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 6

Sobriety checkpoints work, but they aren't used often

A lack of public pressure and concern over limited resources keeps many states from using sobriety checkpoints, even though they are an effective deterrent.

Deterring DWI starts with better detection methods

A committee recommends legal and technical changes to improve detection of alcohol impairment.

BAC limits of 0.08 percent are effective, studies show

A new review of the research on the effects of lowering the legal threshold for impairment to 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration concludes that the change saves lives.

Many teens are unaware of zero tolerance laws

Many young drivers don't know about the zero-tolerance impaired-driving laws that apply to them. A lack of enforcement may be to blame.

California's strong graduated licensing law attracts broad support

Parents in California strongly support their state's teen licensing restrictions. Many teenagers also are in favor.

May 19, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 5

Special issue: what works and what doesn't

Education alone won't make drivers safer or reduce crashes

Highway safety used to be about asking people to "please drive safely." Fortunately, a more scientific approach won out.

Education alone is ineffective at best and can even increase risk

Research shows that education programs don't reduce crashes and in some cases have the opposite effect.

With publicity and education, traffic safety laws can change behavior

Most demonstrable improvements in driver behavior come from traffic safety laws. Belt use, motorcycle helmet use and travel speeds are clear examples.

References

A partial bibliography for this Status Report

April 28, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 4

Red light cameras yield big reductions in crashes and injuries

In the first U.S. study of how red light cameras affect crashes, Institute researchers found large reductions following the introduction of cameras in one California community.

Public favors cameras, but legal barriers impeded use

A recent Institute survey in 10 cities finds that most people support the use of red light cameras.

Allow right turn on red but not 24/7, new study indicates

Signs prohibiting right turns on red from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. increase the number of drivers who stop at stop lines, an Institute study has found.

Small changes in signal timing could reduce crashes

Modifying the yellow-light phase at intersections, along with the brief all-red phase, in accordance with new engineering standards reduces crashes, Institute researchers found.

New head restraint rule would prevent many whiplash injuries

A proposed upgrade to the federal standard on head restraints likely would reduce neck injuries, but a dynamic-testing option included in the proposal could compromise safety.

Group seeks global standard to prevent whiplash injuries

An international group of researchers is working to develop procedures for dynamic head restraint tests.

March 20, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 3

Special issue: crashworthiness improvements

Crashworthiness keeps getting better

Automakers are incorporating the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset test into their designs, and ratings are improving as a result.

Offset tests reveal safety problems, prompt remedies

The Institute's crash tests occasionally expose defects or other specific problems, prompting automakers to make midyear fixes or sometimes issue a recall.

Some vehicles are still waiting for improvements

Despite paying closer attention to crashworthiness, not all automakers are making fleetwide improvements.

Some bumpers improve, but they're exceptions

In contrast to the improvements in frontal crashworthiness, most bumpers haven't gotten better. There are a few exceptions, however.

February 17, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 2

First few months of driving unsupervised are most hazardous

The findings of two studies bolster the argument for letting teens ease into driving with graduated licensing laws.

Young drivers' crash rates decline sharply under graduated licensing

Research in three states with restrictions on teen driving shows that graduated licensing systems sharply reduce crashes.

Approval of graduated licensing is high in both rural areas and cities

Approval of graduated licensing is strong among teens and their parents in both urban and rural counties.

New child restraint attachments are simpler, but designs need refining

Child seats are now coming with connectors that attach directly to anchors in cars. This makes installation simpler, but Institute evaluations show the designs need work.

January 6, 2001 |Volume 36, Number 1

Special issue: head protection in side impacts

Institute crash tests show value of head-protecting side airbags

Many cars now come with head-protecting side airbags, and recent crash tests show just how beneficial they can be.

Side impacts with fatal head injuries show need for side airbags

Many of the nearly 10,000 deaths that occur each year in side crashes are the result of head injuries. Side airbags with head protection could prevent many of them.

New crash test barrier is key to improving side impact protection

The Institute is developing its own side impact test procedures. A prototype barrier is taller than the one used in government tests to represent a typical SUV instead of a car.