INTERNATIONAL

 

ROAD SAFETY NEWS

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ARCHIVE FOR MARCH 2004

 

(205 articles from 47 countries, including 14* new)

 


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The main purpose of this web page is to let drivers, legislators, road safety experts, police officers, parents of young drivers, etc., have an easily accessible insight into what is happening in their own countries and elsewhere, and thereby possibly do something to help save some of the many wasted lives on roads everywhere.

 

 

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Please always bear in mind that news and information from other countries can be important because -- irrespective of irrelevant things like which side of the road people drive on -- the laws of physics are exactly the same everywhere, and by checking data from around the world you will gain access to "best practice" and techniques which may not have been considered in your own country/community. Information is deliberately included here from "first world," "developing" and "third world" nations, as no one country has all the answers. Please note, also, that in some of the articles 'Drive and Stay Alive' writers will include glossary-type definitions for readers in different countries. For example, the word "pavement" in America means the road, but in Britain and elsewhere it means what Americans call the "sidewalk" so 'translations', in parentheses, may be given.

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  March 31, 2004:  As if to emphasize the seriousness of MADD's latest report (see below, March 25) a father has been arrested in Washington State for the traffic death of his own 6-year-old son.

     Daniel Viloria, 6, riding in the back seat of a Plymouth Voyager, died when the vehicle slammed into a guard rail on an off-ramp from Washington 3 early Tuesday morning.

     The father was being held for investigation of vehicular homicide, child endangerment, drunken driving and driving with a suspended license.

Full story, from Seattle Post Intelligencer

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  March 31, 2004:  In 2003, 44 people, including five construction workers, were killed in Illinois work zones

     Now, to combat the driver stupidity that was undoubtedly to blame for many of these deaths, state transportation officials and Governor Rod Blagojevich have announced a safety program that will utilise using covert tactics, including undercover police and radar-activated cameras.

     Multiple law-enforcement agents, including plainclothes troopers, will be in Illinois Department of Transportation vehicles to monitor drivers' speeds, said State Police Director Larry Trent.

     He added that motorists can expect fines of up to $10,000 and a possible14-year jail term if they hit a road worker.

     Work zone safety is a national concern, with 1,181 deaths occurring in road construction areas in 2002, the latest figures available from the Federal Highway Administration. About 80 percent of those who die are motorists or their passengers, said Jennifer Gavin, spokeswoman for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. "There tends to be an attitude by the driver that this must be someone's problem other than theirs," she said. "It's the people in the car who have the most on the line and who also have the most control over preventing a tragedy."
[
multiple sources]

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  March 31, 2004:  Grants of $36.4 Million to Increase Safety Belt Use in the USA, plus $10 Million for Advertising

     U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today announced that 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will share $36.4 million in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grants for states that develop innovative projects to increase safety belt use.

     "Safety belts are the most effective safety device in a car. They prevent people from getting killed in crashes,” Secretary Mineta said. “These grants provide incentives to states to enact and enforce laws that promote use and educate people about the effectiveness of safety belts.”

     Secretary Mineta said that safety belts also save money. Injuries to unbuckled occupants cost this country roughly $18 billion each year in medical care and lost productivity.

     For details of the amount awarded to each state, click here.

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  March 31, 2004:  Road accidents are killing over 18,500 children under 14 years old in China each year.

     Statistics show that in 2003, approximately 300 people were killed in car accidents on average each day in China.

     "Traffic accidents, of all accidents, have become the second largest killer for Chinese children, next only to drowning," said Martin Eichelberger, president and chief executive officer of SafeKids Worldwide.

     His organization has joined hands with the Shanghai municipal committee of China's Communist Youth League, the municipal women's federation and Federal Express, a US-based courier service, in a program that aims to protect Shanghai's 450,000 primary school students from road accidents.

Full and detailed story, from China View at Xinhuanet

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  March 31, 2004:  If Drivers in New Delhi think they can get away with traffic violations early in the morning because no one is watching, they are in for a shock.

      Traffic policemen have literally been lying in wait for the offenders who jump red lights. They have selected the intersections which are normally left unmanned and at times they are usually believed to be off duty — between 6 am and 8 am, and 8 pm and 10 pm.

     "Knowing the unruly Delhi traffic, it is perfectly imaginable how well they are likely to behave when they are not being supervised. Even at manned crossings, policemen often have to ask people to withdraw their vehicles behind the stopline" said joint commissioner of police (traffic) Qamar Ahmed.

     And the results are telling. The drive was started on March 24 and till March 30, the traffic police challaned 1,179 motorists for jumping the redlight between 6am and 8am, while another 1,796 were prosecuted between 8pm and 10pm.

[Source: The Times of India]

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  March 30, 2004:  Deputy Traffic Police Brigadier Mohsen Ansari said the number of car accidents [in Iran] has increased by 10.6 percent since last year, adding that 20,000 car accident have occurred over the past 12 days

     “Over the Noruz holidays last year, 150 people lost their lives in car accidents and the number has increased to 201 people in the New Year, 153 of whom have been killed on [out of town] roads,” he said.

[Source Mehr News Agency]

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  March 30, 2004:  The Easter period is the busiest weekend on KwaZulu-Natal's roads.

     The KwaZulu-Natal transport department unveiled its Easter road safety plans today.

     Last year, 50 people died, the majority pedestrians. The department has now taken steps to ensure that this is not repeated.

[Source: SABC News]

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  March 30, 2004:   Volkswagen has Announced its Largest Teen Seat Belt Campaign Ever -- It Will Reach 14,000 High School Classrooms in the USA

     More than 5,500 teens lose their lives in car crashes in America every year and about two thirds of them would have survived if they had simply used safety belts.

     For a second straight year, Volkswagen of America, Inc. and Scholastic Marketing Partners, a division of Scholastic, are joining forces to help thwart this number-one killer of teenagers by encouraging them to buckle up.

     For 2004, Volkswagen and Scholastic are expanding the "Fasten Your Seat Belt ... Go Far!" in-school education campaign to encompass a total of ten U.S. metropolitan areas. In addition, the campaign uses a new educational videotape to be made available to communities across the nation.

     Early this spring the Fasten Your Seat Belt ... Go Far! curriculum kits were sent to 14,000 high school English, history, and social studies teachers, grades nine through 12, in Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Los Angeles; Miami/Ft. Lauderdale; New York/Newark; San Francisco; St. Louis; and Washington, D.C.

Full details here, including competition details, contacts for teachers' kits, etc..

Erin Cousins (driver's seat) last year's Fasten Your Seat Belt ... Go Far! contest winner, Brandyn Anderson (front passenger seat) and Len Hunt, vice president in charge of sales and marketing, Volkswagen of America, Inc. (back seat) are buckled up.

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and   March 30, 2004:   A Supreme Badge of Capitalism in the Heart of the Former Soviet Union

     Rolls-Royce Motor Cars announced today the opening of its latest dealership, situated at number 1 Red Square, Moscow. 

     Housed within a converted museum, these very special premises sit next door to the Kremlin and opposite St. Basils Cathedral on the north side of the square.

     Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Moscow will welcome visitors and customers to this unique site where they will be able to appreciate the new Phantom and also view the Rolls-Royce that belonged to Lenin, which is on special loan. This motor car famously had bespoke tracks fitted during the winter months to cope with the heavy Moscow snowfall.

   International home page - www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com

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  March 29, 2004:   Among America's biggest cities, New York has, proportionately, the safest roads

     There are 4.4 traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents in the nation's largest city, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. Los Angeles, the country's second-biggest hub, followed with 7.2 deaths per 100,000 people.

     You have to go all the way to the nation's 46th-largest city - Minneapolis (pop. 375,600) - to find a metropolis with a better safety record than New York. Minneapolis recorded 3.7 deaths per 100,000 residents.

     New York had 355 traffic fatalities in 2002 - nearly half of them, 162 - were pedestrians, according to the report, which was based on 2002 data.

     Cops have waged ticket blitzes on double-parking -- which creates hazards when cars have to swerve -- driving while talking on hand-held cell phones, and not buckling up.

Full article here, from the New York Daily News.

 

DSA Comment: It is good to see "per capita" data being used (i.e. "deaths per 100,000 population") but we are puzzled as to why this approach is rarely if ever used to show national road-death rates in this country. It is much more revealing than "deaths per 100 million miles" (or other distances) and shows in a much more understandable and tangible manner the true scale of the road-death problem in the USA. Click here for selected U.S. statistics which do use this approach.

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  March 29, 2004:   The Electronic Stability Control Coalition have released new materials at the Lifesavers 2004 Conference.

     The Electronic Stability Control Coalition today released new educational materials at the annual Lifesavers Conference aimed at continuing its efforts to educate consumers about the latest in automotive safety.

     For the first time, the public has free access to a recent research study, conducted by the University of Iowa, which found that 34 percent more drivers maintained control of their vehicles with ESC than without.

Full details here.

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  March 29, 2004:   Awards to 13 individuals for high standards of achievement in traffic safety.

     Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D., administrator of the U.S.  Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety  Administration (NHTSA), today presented the 2004 NHTSA Awards for  Public Service to 13 individuals exemplifying high standards of achievement in the field of traffic safety.

     Dr. Runge presented the awards in San Diego during Lifesavers 2004, a national three-day conference on highway safety priorities.   More than 1,800 people are expected to participate in more than 85  workshops at the conference and view more than 90 exhibits of traffic  safety products and programs.

Full report on the award recipients.

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  March 29, 2004:   Two people who have done outstanding work for road safety have been given the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents' top award for individuals.

     Graham Feest, secretary of the Association of Industrial Road Safety Officers (AIRSO), and Professor James Thomson of Strathclyde University were presented with RoSPA's Distinguished Service Award for road safety at the Society's National Road Safety Congress in Cardiff.

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and   March 29, 2004:   Active Safety

     Modern vehicles are overwhelmingly better than they used to be in every way, and not least in terms of safety. Improvements in vehicle safety have contributed significantly to reducing road deaths and injuries and will continue to do so. The British Government sees technology as a vital ally across their transport policy, and particularly in safety issues.

     In the past many of the innovations have been in the field of passive safety. Now, however, we will see rapid advances in active safety systems.
Click here for the complete (but short) summary.

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  March 29, 2004:   In the Netherlands, police arrested a man on Saturday for driving at 203Km/h (127mph) on the A4 motorway. The maximum speed limit was just 120Km/h (75mph).

     Despite a "difficult" police chase (and the fact that the driver did not have a license) the driver claimed that he didn't think he was driving faster than 130Km/h.

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* March 28, 2004:   As the bodies pile up on Jamaica's roads, frustrated officials are likening the busy highways to "killing fields, saying that motorists, mainly men, recklessly push their machines to full throttle, often in a mad rush to an early grave.

     Careless and dangerous driving have claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Jamaicans in the last five years. In 2001 alone, more than 6,000 were hospitalised, said executive director of the National Road Safety Council, Paula Fletcher.

     Her concern is backed by further statistics from the police which show that in 2002 there were 351 fatal accidents, resulting in 388 deaths; and 323 accidents in 2003, which resulted in 358 deaths, less but still far too high a toll.

     Over the period January 1-March 18, 2004, there were 63 reported deaths from 59 road accidents.

     Most accidents take place in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine where the majority of the so-called black spots are located. Data provided identified 152 black spots across all 14 parishes.

     But accident statistician at the Ministry of Transport and Works, Kenute Hare, insisted that black spots by themselves do not cause accidents.

     "Drivers have turned the roads, especially the Mandela Highway, into a killing field," he declared.

Read the full article, from the Jamaica Observer.

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March 28, 2004:   Drunk-driving arrests rise as Ohio and Michigan enforce stricter laws

     "I guess you take your chances," said one young man, in a bar. "I'm not real concerned." 

     But he should be.

     Arrests of drunken drivers in Ohio and Michigan jumped last year after both states dropped their threshold for drunk driving from the long-held 0.10 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent, according to review of arrest data by The Blade.

     [Even more important, in terms of those self-centered individuals who think it is only their own "chances" that they are taking, is the fact that] in 2002, 42,815 people died in traffic accidents on the nation's road. Of those deaths, nearly 41 percent, or 17,419, were believed to be alcohol-related, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

     "People have tried to frame [drunk driving laws] as people against drinking," said John Bobo, director of the American Prosecutors Research Institute's National Traffic Law Center. "It's not. It's about people wanting to save lives. We have these human land mines on our roads, and they're taking out entire families with a left turn."

Full article, from the Toledo Blade.

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March 28, 2004:   If a car rolls over (or -- more likely -- an SUV, as these are much more prone to roll over) and the roof collapses, people die.

     Consumer groups last week called for Congress to require automakers to make vehicle roofs safer during rollover crashes as part of a “top 10” list of auto safety improvements.

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March 28, 2004:   If someone drives while drowsy, they stand the same chance of getting into a traffic collision as if they were drinking.

     Studies show that going just 18 hours without sleep will impair your reaction times just as severely as if you were legally drunk.

Full article, by Keith McKelvey of Livermore Police Department, in the Contra Costa Times.

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March 28, 2004:   Newly doubled fines and further efforts to embarrass drunken drivers are fueling a debate on how best to curb Arizona's mounting death toll from alcohol-related collisions.

     The new fines, which took effect March 13, call for a $950 assessment for a first conviction and $2,150 for a second one.
     Some state lawmakers and groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving say that a multifaceted strategy is needed to discourage impaired drivers from getting behind the wheels of their cars.

Full story, from the Arizona Republic

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March 28, 2004:   According to the New York Daily News, large vans in New York City are killing a disproportionate number of pedestrians.

     Vans killed 92 pedestrians in 85 crashes from 1998 through 2002. That five-year toll is more than double the 42 pedestrians killed by taxis.

     Vans accounted for only 3% of vehicles on local roads but were responsible for 10% of all pedestrian deaths.

Detailed story here, from the NY Daily News.

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* March 27, 2004:   In Nepal, most accidents involve motorcycles.

     Surendra Bahadur Pal, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), made some interesting comments to Nepal News -- too many to itemize here, so see the full article -- but he summed up thus:

     "On the part of road safety, we need to have more infrastructures and awareness. If we cannot generate awareness among our citizens, we cannot prevent the accident injuries. Our part is just to manage. So far as generating awareness is concerned, it is up to the media and civil society as a whole. They need to play effective role. We cannot prevent injury just by executing the law. The government cannot do it alone. We have to introduce traffic in a curriculum at school and college levels. You cannot control the accidents by organizing monthly and annul traffic campaign. The short-term actions will not be effective. We have to show our new generation how to maintain the road discipline. During the course of socialization, children can learn the manners of road traffic. At school level, we have found very negligible interest."

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* March 27, 2004:   In light of 194 road fatalities in 2003, in Trinidad and Tobago, Ashmeed Ramdath has written an opinion piece outlining desirable road safety improvements to which the islands should aspire.

     There are many sound suggestions in the list, including protective measures for children in cars, a possible introduction of a 40Km/h (25mph) minimum speed limit on highways unless with police escort, and the acquisition of speed radars to permit enforcement of speed limits. But one of the recommendations bears witness to the existing state of affairs: "Introduce the breathalyser. Alcohol and gasoline just doesn't mix!"

     Come on, T&T -- that last one is so fundamental that it shouldn't even need discussion. Indeed the writer immediately takes it to "best practice" level by adding that there should be mandatory drug and alcohol testing for all drivers involved in any road accident in any public or private location in Trinidad and Tobago.

     Good luck with your goals, Ashmeed Ramdath -- the people of your country would unquestionably benefit from them.

Full article, from the Trinidad & Tobago Express.

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March 27, 2004:   In Phoenix a Bishop has got off, remarkably unpunished, after a a hit-and-run incident that killed a pedestrian.

     Bishop Thomas O'Brien was sentenced on Friday to four years of probation. He was also ordered to carry out 1,000 hours of community service. He could have received up to three years and nine months in prison but Judge Stephen Gerst said that the conviction alone was a significant punishment for a public figure like O'Brien.

     This was despite the fact that the victim's mother had asked Judge Gerst to impose the maximum sentence on the bishop.

     Afterwards, Chief prosecutor Rick Romley said the judge had sent a message that the court system gives prominent people special treatment.

 

     If this weren't bad enough, it is worth noting that on June 2, 2003, the Arizona Republic reported that Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien had acknowledged that he covered up allegations of sexual abuse by priests for decades and would relinquish some of his power as head of the Phoenix Diocese to avoid possible criminal indictment.

 

     The hypocrites.com website summed this man up with their scathing headline "Can you feel God's love?" But in the strictly driving context the fact is that O'Brien hit a pedestrian then drove away and pretended it had never happened, yet he got off lightly because of his job.

[Multiple sources]

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  March 27, 2004:   Pioneering road safety work in developing countries has won Britain's "Transport Research Laboratory" a royal award.

Full details here.

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March 27, 2004:   The Top Ten Auto Trends at the New York Auto Show

     In New York, supercars are roaring ahead, sedans are anything but sedentary, SUVs are moving mountains, convertibles are fun-in-the-sun fabulous, and pick-ups are picking-up more fans as the 2004 New York International Automobile Show "readies for the most exciting and diverse show in its 104-year history."

Click here to view the ten trends.

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and   March 26, 2004:   Sheer lunacy a rare but ever-present danger

     An Italian motorist who drove the wrong way through the Mont Blanc tunnel at high speed was in hospital last night in a critical condition.

     The man sped through the seven-mile tunnel at more than 100mph in his Opel Astra, police said yesterday. Officers said it was only the fact that the incident took place in the early hours that averted a serious pile-up. His behaviour caused security barriers to be activated, to blocked further traffic from entering the tunnel.

     As he emerged from the French side just before 5am, the driver lost control of his car and ploughed into a concrete barrier at high speed. He was cut free from the wreckage and was taken to hospital. The reason for his actions is not known.

[Source:  The Scotsman]

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March 26, 2004:   A Child Safety Seat Inspection Protects a Mayor's Son from Injury

     In New Jersey, the Prospect Park Mayor William Kubofcik and his wife Nuha are breathing a heavy sigh of relief after a traffic crash that could have been deadly for their 14-month old son Josef. Ten days before the crash, Mrs. Kubofcik had visited a DaimlerChrysler "Fit for a Kid" inspector for a child seat inspection. The parents and fire personnel that responded to the crash credit the inspection for keeping Josef out of harm's way.

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March 26, 2004:   Bikers in Bus Lanes in Northern Ireland

     Motorcyclists across Northern Ireland were jubilant at the announcement in the press this month that bikers in the province would be legally allowed to ride in bus lanes from March 22nd 2004. The announcement was embraced by the motorcyclists and riders groups who have campaigned endlessly for access to bus lanes since 1996.

[Source:  Roadsafe]

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and ALL  March 26, 2004:   Over Three Thousand Deaths a Day on the World's Roads.

     With nearly 1.2 million fatalities and over 20 million injured in road accidents each year, road safety is an issue of immense proportions. Over 75% of these casualties occur in developing countries and countries in transition, although those same countries account for only 32% of all motor vehicles.

     The World Health Organisation has dedicated World Health Day on 7 April 2004 to road safety. On this day there will be a call for action and events round the world will raise awareness of the appalling level of death and injury on our roads.

     In this press release, RoadSafe announce that the UK launch of World Road Safety Network will take place at a Department for Transport conference on World Health Day.  Full text here.   [See the DSA page about World Health Day]

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March 25, 2004:   U.S. fares poorly in highway fatalities per capita

     Only six of the 30 nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have had [more*] road deaths per 100,000 residents than the United States.

     In fact, 11 U.S. states have higher numbers of road fatalities per 100,000 residents than Portugal, the nation that has the highest number of road deaths per population.

     Drive And Stay Alive, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on reducing the American road deaths, used figures from the Brussels-based OECD, which maintains the International Road Traffic and Accident Database, a highway safety indicator for the 30 OECD member countries...
     The United States has an annual rate of 14.8 road deaths per 100,000 people, while Portugal had 21 fatalities per 100,000. The lowest was Turkey, with 5.6 deaths per 100,000, while the United Kingdom and Norway tied for second lowest at 6.1 deaths per 100,000.
     Eleven U.S. states have higher road fatality rates than Portugal: Wyoming, 35.2; Mississippi, 30.7; Montana, 29.4; South Carolina, 25.7; West Virginia, 24.4; New Mexico, 23.9; Arkansas 23.7; South Dakota, 23.7; Alabama, 22.5; Kentucky, 22.3; and Missouri, 21.9...

     The IRTAD also logs deaths per one billion vehicle kilometers, but only nine nations submitted those statistics. The United States ranked fifth out of the nine that participated in that category.
Full article here, from eTrucker 

[* typographical error in the article, which was mistakenly worded "fewer"]

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March 25, 2004:   Is a family sedan the best vehicle for your family? What’s the safest car for your teenage driver? 

     Consumer Reports asked those questions and more in its first investigation and ratings based on how well 182 cars and trucks serve today’s family-travel needs.

Full article here.

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March 25, 2004:

     A recently released study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 2,335 children died in car crashes involving drinking drivers between 1997 and 2002.  Of those children killed, more than two-thirds were riding in the car with a drinking driver.

     In response to these tragic figures, MADD has released its Child Endangerment Report: Every Child Deserves a Designated Driver, outlining weaknesses in state laws and calling for increased penalties and more training and awareness about the problem. 

     What every child should know if they have no choice but to ride with a driver who has been drinking:

1. Sit in the back seat
2. Buckle-up tight and use your booster seat, if needed
3. Put all of your belongings on the floor
4. Don't bother the driver -- stay quiet
5. Tell a trusted grown-up immediately about any unsafe ride

 

 

View MADD's  Child Endangerment video   (Flash viewer required)

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March 25, 2004:   Two days ago, Public Citizen was joined by safety advocates and consumer groups to urge the House of Representatives to pass a bill already approved by the Senate that would require federal regulators and automakers to take action on much need auto safety reforms.

Click here to access Public Citizen's report: "Keeping the Safety in SAFETEA: Life-Saving Vehicle Safety Provisions Are Long-Overdue and Feasible"

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  March 25, 2004:   In New Zealand, TV3's live national quiz programme, "The Great Kiwi Drivers' Challenge" is getting to be compulsive viewing.

     A two-hour special was built around 40 questions on road safety, mostly driving rules but with some tricky safety statistics thrown in.

     Taking part was irresistible. The questions were cleverly contrived: about 50 per cent no-brainer easy, 25 per cent tricky, and 25 per cent falling into the "well I'll be blowed, I never knew that" category.

     You would think the combination of Oscar Kightley's jaw, Petra Bagust's dimples and a whole lot of finger-waggy stuff about the Road Code would be too, too much, specially on a Monday night, but taking part, even in obsessive secrecy, was clearly an improving experience. Even the seasoned drivers who made up the studio audience averaged below 50 per cent for most of the show.

This amended extract is from a very amusing article, by Jane Clifton, at Stuff. It is well worth reading and may just give some TV producers in other countries an idea.

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  March 25, 2004:   An editorial column from Bangladesh that made DSA staff wince, in two ways:

     ...the present number of accidents can definitely be brought down to an acceptable level. It has been observed that road-dividers have played a key role in bringing down incidences of accidents.

     The authorities should try and put up dividers along the highways as much as possible. It is not viable to put up railings alongside the ditches. But boulders can be kept at regular distances. Highway patrolling in Bangladesh is pitiably inadequate. More trained police personnel should be deployed. At present the members of law enforcement agencies seem to be more keen on getting their palms greased [i.e. accepting bribes] on any pretexts instead of taking measures to ensure road safety...

Full article, from the Independent

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??? March 25, 2004:   A few male journalists display their ignorance and arrogance at the Geneva Auto Show

Full story here, from Ann Job at the Detroit News.

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March 24, 2004:   Yesterday, Public Citizen was joined by safety advocates and consumer groups to urge the House of Representatives to pass a bill already approved by the Senate that would require federal regulators and automakers to take action on much need auto safety reforms.

     While auto safety opponents claim that safety mandates are too costly, too speedy and too difficult, we also yesterday released a report answering these claims and building a strong case for the bill.

     Periodically, the U.S. Congress must reauthorize the legislative program for agencies within the Department of Transportation. These bills -- passed only every six years -- can include important new mandates for the agencies.  In 2003, the reauthorization bill was dubbed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act , or "SAFETEA."

Click here to view Public Citizen's web page on this issue.

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March 24, 2004:   Groups Push Bill on Auto Safety

     Consumer advocates, crash victims and proponents of more automotive safety technology called on Congress Tuesday to enact sweeping new safety rules for new cars and trucks.

     The groups back a Senate bill crafted by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that would require the federal government to address a long list of outstanding auto safety issues.

Full report, from the Detroit News.

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* March 24, 2004:   Gunnebo exports road safety systems to the United Arab Emirates

     Gunnebo Protection AB has received an order from the national road administration in the United Arab Emirates to supply approximately 100 km of its "Safety Line" cable barrier.

     Gunnebo Safety Line is currently being installed in the Nordic region as a central barrier on "2+1 roads", or as side or embankment crash barriers. Safety Line has been put through full-scale tests by the National Road and Transport Research Institute in Linköping and has been approved in accordance with current European standards.

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March 24, 2004:   IBM system to track data for state's road safety initiative

     The State of Texas has awarded a $10 million contract to IBM Corp. to study automobile crash reports in hopes of improving road safety and reducing the number of traffic accidents.

Full story, from Austin Business Journal

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March 24, 2004:   Celine Dion Will Deliver Life-Saving Messages to Parents of Young Children in a New Automobile Safety Campaign.

     The National Safety Council is launching a new safety campaign to prompt simple, life-saving steps parents can take to protect the lives of their children. A series of multilingual public service announcements will be released nationally.

     Motor vehicle crashes are still the number one cause of injury-related deaths in kids. By following simple, preventative steps, parents can help save lives. For example, even with the introduction of new, advanced airbags, parents need to know that the safest place for kids is always in the back seat.

     The new campaign, complete with the Celine Dion PSAs, will be be unveiled on March 25, at the Green Cross for Safety Award Dinner in Washington, D.C.  [Source: NSC]

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  March 24, 2004:   Israeli experience echoes that of many other countries: Stopping on road shoulders proves to be a fatal attraction.

     Sixty-three people were killed in 2003 in road accidents in Israel while they sought refuge on highway shoulders. This figure is one-third of all fatal traffic accidents the occurred on intercity roads.

     In 2002, 67 people were killed in such accidents.

     Traffic police say that while stops on highway shoulders are meant to be short, there are drivers who park on road shoulders for extended periods in order to pray, smoke, talk on the phone and even to sleep - without being aware of the dangers they are facing.

     According to police, one of the primary reasons for this is that proper parking areas have not been developed along Israeli roads. Therefore, drivers who need to rest, talk on their cellular phones or relieve themselves pull onto the shoulders and park without taking the dangers into account.  [Source:  Haaretz]

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  March 24, 2004:   In Finland, Lasse Sahrainen, head of teaching at Liikenneturva, says that seat belts could definitely help in accidents involving [a bus] sliding off the road, or in small collisions. However, he concedes that in Friday's accident in Konginkangas, where 23 people were killed, the impact was so powerful that seat belts would not have helped those sitting in the front of the bus.

     Sahrainen does not believe that education is enough, and says that rules are needed.

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March 24, 2004:   Over two-thirds of Canadians believe that truck drivers who are tired from driving long hours are a serious road safety problem. Two-thirds of Canadians are also very concerned about the use of drugs by truck drivers to help them stay awake.

     These are some of the findings in the third edition of the annual Road Safety Monitor, released today by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF). 

     On average, 557 people are killed each year in Canada as the result of crashes involving heavy trucks. About 12,000 others sustain injuries. In 2001, of all people killed in collisions with heavy trucks, 87% were the occupants of the other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists.

Click here to view a summary of the report.

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  March 23, 2004:   According to the editorial team at The Monitor newspaper, Uganda, the Kampala police have come up with "a 19th Century approach to a 21st Century problem."

     The Traffic Police, grappling with ways and means to resolve the traffic gridlock headache in Kampala City, has come up with what they might assume is an ingenious measure: erecting traffic towers at trouble spots. But the Monitor disagrees with this approach and points out that "the global trend has been to harness basic technology in the form of traffic lights - [which] works.

     "Why then is the police force sticking with such an archaic idea with little indication that it will produce a dividend? Traffic cops already have enough difficulty controlling motorists with their feet firmly planted on the ground, what are the chances that with them stuck up in those tin towers, several feet above the ground, they will fare any better?"

Get both sides of the argument from the full article, at allAfrica.com

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March 23, 2004:   An 'ambitious goal' is set for reducing road deaths in the USA

     Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is pushing an ambitious plan to cut the rate of traffic deaths by a third over the next four years. If successful, the program could save as many as 13,000 lives a year by 2008...

     No one would oppose the idea of improving safety, but many highway officials and safety advocates question whether the goal is attainable and whether the focus is on the real causes.  [Full article here, from USA Today]

 

DSA Comment: At risk of making ourselves very unpopular in certain quarters, the DSA opinion is that the goal is most definitely attainable even if the four-year target itself might be overly-ambitious.

     Why do we hold this opinion?  Simply because many other countries have achieved results as good as, or even better than this target -- despite the fact that driven mileage (etc., etc.) has increased in all of those countries, too.

     The fact is that in the last ten, fully measurable years, the USA achieved the least improvement among over twenty countries -- a mere 4% reduction in the road-death rate, on a per capita basis, compared with up to 39% in those other nations. (And the country that achieved a huge, 39% reduction was Portugal -- owner of Europe's most dangerous roads.) To see a table of the full results, click here.

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  March 23, 2004:  Cars, teens, and high speed -- a lethal combination

     It's a deadly recipe: A carload of teenagers having fun, ignoring the speed limit and taking risks.

     Over 10,000 kids between 15-24 die on America's roads each year and at the weekend many more joined that dreadful toll -- including two Arizona girls aged 15 and 16 who are thought to have been traveling around 75 to 80 mph when their car crashed and rolled over. This particular incident is reported in the Tucson Citizen.

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  March 23, 2004:  MADD to Protect Children from Becoming Victims  

MADD hosted a press conference at 10:00 a.m., today, in Washington, D.C., in connection with the fact that two of every three children killed in alcohol-related crashes, in the USA, are riding with drinking drivers.

     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will report that 24 percent of children killed in traffic crashes between 1997 and 2002 involved drivers who had been drinking, and that 68 percent of these child victims were riding in the same vehicle as the drinking driver. The new MADD report is based on a thorough examination of the problem by a panel of experts who identified serious gaps that need correction in order to save children's lives.

     Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will unveil its new "Child Endangerment Report. Web site: http://www.madd.org/

 

Read the New York Times report from this press conference, here.

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  March 23, 2004:  Pizza Hut Promotes Seatbelt Use

     The Ohio State Highway Patrol and Pizza Hut are partnering in a safety belt campaign to encourage youth to voluntarily comply with Ohio's safety belt laws.

     State troopers will visit elementary schools to talk about the dangers, and students will have an opportunity to sign a "Safety Belt Promise" indicating they will always wear their safety belt and also encourage family and friends to do the same. Those who sign the promise will receive a coupon for a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.

     Troopers also will make unannounced visits to area high schools this spring. They will monitor the school parking lots for students who are wearing their safety belts as they arrive for school. Those found wearing them will be rewarded with a coupon for a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.

[Source:  the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum]

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  March 23, 2004:  A drunk-driving record-check bill has been temporarily stalled in NJ, but it would appear that true justice is imminent

     It is clear that a very large number of repeat drunk-drivers in the USA are taken to court, over and over, as though each time was their first offense. But now New Jersey is working to stop this dangerous loophole in the law.

Read the article, from Courier News

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  March 23, 2004:  Planning for problems in China

     On December 17, 2001, a snowfall in the afternoon covered Beijing streets with a thin layer of ice. The city's entire traffic network, worsened by the weekend rush hour, was completely paralyzed and many people did not reach home until midnight.

     The impact was obvious. On the night of December 6 last year when a moderate snow blanketed Beijing, the command centre initiated a Grade-3 emergency plan two hours later. Traffic moved freely through the night.

     The lesson of the snow underlined the fragility of the city's emergency plans. Since then, the leaders have reportedly been considering the establishment of a city alarm and emergency response system to counter all kinds of potential hazards as Beijing prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.

This is a brief excerpt from a more involved article, dated March 23, from Xinhuanet. 

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  March 23, 2004:  A Scottish website is an ongoing hit with drivers.

     The Strathclyde Safety Camera Partnership, which operates the website, is a co-operative venture between the Strathclyde Police and all twelve local authorities. The website shows the location of every speed camera.

     Spokesman Ross Wilson said: "We want motorists to know the camera locations and to drive within the speed limit."

     The cameras cut crashes campaign has helped slash fatal and serious casualties in the area by two thirds in two years.

[Source:  the UK Evening Times]

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  March 23, 2004:  About sixty cars and six heavy trucks were involved in a major crash in mist and fog this morning, on the A15 motorway in the Netherlands.

     One shocked motorist said she was about to join the motorway traffic when she suddenly saw a line of brake lights. She said it was misty, but the visibility was not that bad.

     Meanwhile, 15 separate collisions were reported on the A67 motorway, which connects Eindhoven with Antwerp in Belgium.

Full story, from Expatica.

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  March 23, 2004:  Don't walk near French roads if you look like a terrorist!

     A driver in Montpellier, France, has been convicted for trying to run over a pedestrian he mistook for fugitive al-Qaeda boss Osama Bin Laden. But instead of a US$5 million reward, it won him a three-month suspended prison sentence.

Full story, from the BBC.

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March 23, 2004: In Australia, road safety experts are baffled by the results of a weekend road blitz in Bendigo where 70 people were caught speeding, including one driver nabbed at allegedly nearly 200 kilometres an hour [125mph].

     The chairman of Road Safe Central Victoria, John Cutting, says the [many of the] speeds were ridiculous and the results could have been catastrophic.

[Source: ABC Central Victoria]

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March 22, 2004:   According to the Italian Automobile Association, the number of motorway accidents was down by 16% last weekend compared to last year, and there was a 45% decrease in the number of people injured

[Source: Agenzia Giornalistica Italia]

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March 22, 2004:   Trendy oversize wheels can jeopardize driver safety.

     Experts say increasing wheel size can exaggerate the risk of hydroplaning, or wear out brakes, shocks and springs.

Full story, from the Detroit News.

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March 22, 2004:   It's That Man Again! -- No, not the ancient, British 'ITMA' radio programme, but the ascerbic Jeremy Clarkson -- who else!

     In his latest review, 'Good Car, Bad Car', he "finds the right car for your kind of life, selecting four of the best vehicles in each of 12 classes - plus he nails the worst in each class."

(From the UK Times)

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* March 22, 2004: In Malta, a new book -- Driving-The Theory Test -- has been published to guide new drivers through the recently introduced Driving Theory Test.

     "This publication focuses on important driving topics such as alertness, vehicle safety, driving attitudes, hazard awareness, vehicle handling, dual carriageway rules, road and traffic signs and car crash safety procedures. Its overall objective is to give one the opportunity to explore and appreciate various theoretical aspects that, when applied correctly in practice will help set driving standards in Malta."

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and ALL  March 22, 2004:   Problems at one junction/intersection in India are symptomatic of neglect in many countries:

     NEW DELHI : The Bhishma Pitamah Marg-Lodhi Road crossing was in the news for a long time after six persons were killed and eight injured in two consecutive accidents in 2002.

     Following a public outcry, preventive measures like the construction of rumble strips and pruning of foliage that hid the traffic signals were taken.

     Two years on, the rumble strip has disappeared and the over-grown foliage, once again, hides the traffic signals.

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March 22, 2004: In Israel, the Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman believes that he has found the right formula for reducing road accidents: stiffening penalties for drivers.

     Under the Transportation Ministry's new policy, which was disclosed in yesterday's Haaretz by Anat Georgi, the length of time during which offenders' cars will be impounded is to be doubled from 60 to 120 days. This policy joins a new program that has already been instituted for toughening the point system for traffic offenses.

     Lieberman's working assumption is that traffic offenders are the drivers most apt to be involved in road accidents. Though that assumption has logical appeal, it turns out that the connection between traffic offenses and road accidents is not so simple. Drivers break traffic rules virtually every time they take their cars out for a spin.

Full article, from Haaretz.

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  March 22, 2004: In Australia, drivers lives are being put at risk because insurance companies are forcing smash repairers to cut corners, it has been claimed.

     An independent crash repair expert says he has detailed evidence of shoddy and dangerous repair work.

Read the full story, from News.com

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March 21, 2004:   A San Jose police officer who originally claimed he was carjacked last year has been sentenced to 30 days on a weekend work program for hit-and-run and drunken driving.

     He will now face an internal police investigation to determine if he keeps his job.

Full story, from the Mercury News.

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  March 21, 2004:   The 2004 Suzuki Verona was the only vehicle among six midsize cars to get less than the top rating in crash tests conducted by the IIHS.

     The Acura TL and TSX, the Nissan Maxima, the Chevrolet Malibu and the Mitsubishi Galant all received 'good' ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Verona scored 'acceptable'.

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March 21, 2004:   Japan is helping Pakistan improve highways

     ISLAMABAD: Mussadaq Muhammad Khan, joint secretary of the Communications Ministry, has said that Japan is playing a significant role in the development of a highway network in Pakistan and mutual cooperation between the two countries will pave the way for an improved highway system.

     Mr Khan was addressing the inaugural session of a seminar on Highway Management and Maintenance held at the National Highway Authority (NHA) head office on Saturday. The seminar was arranged by the NHA and the Japan International Cooperation Agency with the collaboration of the Express Highway Research Foundation. NHA Chairman Major General Farrukh Javed addressed the concluding session while Japanese experts Professor Kashima, Fujinami and Yamakawa spoke on highway safety, pavement management technology, overloading and its countermeasures.

Full story, from the Pakistan Daily Times.

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* March 21, 2004:   In Iran, road accidents on the first day of new year cause 42 deaths and 404 injuries.

     A report from the Public Relations Department at the Islamic Republic of Iran's Red Crescent Society said Tehran, Isfahan and Fars had the highest number of victims on the day, mainly due to the carelessness of the drivers.

[Source:  Payvand]

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  March 21, 2004:   In the UAE, the 20th Gulf Traffic Week, entitled "Road Safety is a Collaborative Effort", kicked off yesterday all over the region's cities.

     Brigadier Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, Director of the Dubai Police Traffic Department, said they have the active participation of most schools around the United Arab Emirates.

     He said 874 people lost their lives in the UAE last year, of which 281 were UAE nationals [and the rest were foreign workers]. "Most of the fatalities are usually from the youth group who are the future of this country."

Full story, from the Gulf News.

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March 21, 2004:   India Plans to Get First Aid in the Fast Lane

     Help could soon be on the way for motorists who get caught in accidents on the national highways. As a first step, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) plans to set up Road Accident Helpline Centres along the Golden Quadrilateral to immediately attend to accident victims. About 150 trauma care centres — each equipped with life-saving drugs and equipment — would be installed every 30 km (19 miles) along the stretch connecting the four metropolis. In addition, 78 ambulances would be deployed -- one every 60 km (38 miles) -- along the 5,846-km Golden Quadrilateral to rush the victims to a trauma care centre or a nearby hospital.

     To get the project rolling, NHAI’s parent ministry is trying to rope in the State-run oil firms — which run retail outlets along the highways — to set up and manage the centres.

     The NHAI felt the need for the roadside centres as a substantial number of highway deaths occur due to the non-availability of immediate medical help or transport. Even though the NHAI is building wider and better roads under the National Highways Development Project, accidents continue to occur because of human error, indisciplined drivers, unfit vehicles or poor visibility due to bad weather conditions.

[Source:  Indian Sunday Express]

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  March 21, 2004:   "Road kill" is bad enough, but one wonderful bird faces extinction because of Britain's roads.

     The barn owl, one of Britain's most reclusive, yet most treasured birds, is facing extinction in many parts of the UK. The population of barn owls now stands at just 4,000 pairs, a drop of 70 per cent since the 1930s, according to a new survey by conservationists.

     The main reason for the decline of the bird is the construction of trunk roads and dual carriageways [i.e. "divided highways"] through Britain's countryside. Motor vehicles exact a devastating toll, and the survey found that 72 per cent of barn owls that encounter a major road are killed and that half of all known barn owl deaths occur on roads. Adult barn owls that nest within 500 yards of a road are almost certain to be killed during the nesting season.

Full story, from the UK Independent.

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March 20, 2004:   A Massachusetts Appeals Court Justice, Joseph Trainor, was reprimanded Friday by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct for allegedly driving while under the influence in February 2003. The reprimand was issued with undisclosed conditions.

     Trainor, who was appointed to the 25-member court in 2001, was arrested for drunken driving after refusing to take a Breathalyzer test when he was stopped on Route 128 in Needham early last year. He automatically lost his driver's license for 120 days.

Full report from the Herald Tribune.

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March 20, 2004:   Italy approves landmark decision on road safety.

     Italy's highest court has ruled that drivers are responsible for ensuring their passengers wear safety belts and must pay damages if the passengers are injured in an accident.

     Last Wednesday's ruling in Rome serves as a stern warning not just to Italian motorists but to the hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists who drive on Italy's roads each year...

     A recent survey of 72,000 people by Eures, an Italian social research institute, showed that 24.4 per cent of car drivers and 22.7 per cent of motorcyclists were on the roads without wearing seat belts or helmets.

Full story, from the Financial Times.

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March 20, 2004:   A 22-year-old man accused of driving drunk and causing a wreck in Texas that left six people dead and one seriously injured has been indicted by a Tarrant County grand jury.

     He is now in the County Jail awaiting trial on six charges of intoxication manslaughter in the deaths and one charge of intoxication assault in connection with the injuries that a 14-year-old girl suffered.

Full story, from the Star Telegram.

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March 20, 2004:   AAA and Evenflo® Urge Parents to Learn the '3 Bs'

A new educational campaign illustrates why children age four and up should ride buckled-up in the back seat in a booster seat.

     The "Put Big Kids in Booster Seats" effort urges parents to keep their child passengers safe by learning the "3 Bs" -- Ride Buckled-up in the Back seat in a Booster seat.

Full article here.

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  March 19, 2004:   The gravest traffic accident ever on Finnish roads happened around 2.30am today when a truck-trailer combination, loaded with rolls of paper, jack-knifed after a curve and an oncoming bus hit the trailer head-on. Police have reported that the road was very icy at the time of the accident.

     According to a senior police officer at the scene, nearly all the victims were teenagers and young people, with the youngest being around fourteen years of age. They were travelling from Helsinki to the popular ski-resort of Ruka in Southern Lapland.

     The front section of the bus and the front of the trailer were both totally destroyed in the crash. The huge number of fatalities was caused by the rolls of paper, which were dislodged by the impact and apparently flew into the coach with devastating effect. Most of the victims were killed instantly.

     Fourteen people are being treated in hospital, several in critical condition. Flags are at half-mast across country.

Full story, from the Helsingin Sanomat

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March 19, 2004:   Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the Combined Joint Task Force-7 commander, had private vehicle safety in mind when he started Operation Guardian Angel for the U.S. Army.

     From fiscal year 2001 to 2003 the Army's accident rate has spiked from 168 accidental deaths to 255, according to officials from the Army Safety Center, Fort Rucker, Ala.

     There have already been 29 deaths this year caused by privately owned vehicles, according to officials from the Safety Center. Last fiscal year private vehicle accidents were responsible for 40 percent of accident fatalities.

     Military police are aggressively ticketing people who disregard seatbelt laws, and showing zero tolerance during holiday weekends.

     The Army is hoping that saturating Soldiers with the two simple and heartfelt words, "be safe," can help keep them alive.

Full article, from Sgt. 1st Class Marcia Triggs of the Army News Service, and www.dcmilitary.com 

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  March 19, 2004:   South Africa -- one of the few non-war-zones where guns kill more people than road accidents.

     The National Injury Mortality Surveillance System annual survey found that firearms caused 7,091 deaths in 2002, making them the leading cause of non-natural death in South Africa once again.
     Pedestrian collisions were the leading cause of death for children 3 to 14 years old; but firearms took over as the major cause for all ages from 15-65.

     The report also showed that women were five times more likely to die of traffic injuries than murder, whereas men were seven times more likely to die of murder than traffic injuries.

[Source:  sundaytimes.co.za]

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March 19, 2004:   Auto Safety Rules Battle Brews.

     WASHINGTON — A key House panel looking at auto safety refused Thursday to agree to a series of sweeping new safety measures mandated by a Senate panel last month, setting the stage for a major legislative battle.

This is an important article, by Jeff Plungis of the Detroit News; read it in full, here.

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March 19, 2004:   Crash puts focus on distracted driving -- As some call for restricting cell phone use behind the wheel, authorities say the problem goes beyond just talking on the phone.

     Most attempts to curb driver distraction have focused on cell phones, probably because it's easier than trying to ban food or to prevent adults from quieting unruly children, said Troy Costales, an administrator in the transportation safety division of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

     "The best message to drivers is, don't use your cell phone; don't play with the radio," said Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Administration, a nonprofit group that represents states' highway safety interests. "Driving is a complex task."

Read the full, worthy article here, by Lisa Grace Lednicer, from The Oregonian.

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March 19, 2004:   In Botswana, a total of 18 people died, 44 sustained serious injuries and 75 escaped with minor injuries in 732 accidents reported to the police in the past two weeks.

     A news release from the police services says this brings the number of people killed in road accidents to 175 this year as compared to 163 during the same period in 2003.

     The release says out of 4401 cases of traffic violations 1680 involved drivers who were charged for speeding.

[Source:  Botswana Government Daily News]

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March 19, 2004:   Continental's engaging "Safely There" Tour is on its way to a destination or event near you.

     Continental's custom designed tractor-trailer is traveling throughout the U.S. to better educate consumers, particularly women, about onboard safety systems available in vehicles. The trailer has interactive educational kiosks with Cramer-created realistic driving simulations. Full details, and tour schedule, here.

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  March 19, 2004:   The Thailand government yesterday launched a road-safety campaign aimed at reducing accidents during the Songkran festival, next month

     The campaign, implemented in cooperation with the private sector, will focus on drink driving, speed control and the overloading of passengers in pick-up trucks.

     Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang said some 800 people died last year from recklessness during ten days of Songkran celebrations. "This year, the road safety campaign will strive to stop the death toll from reaching 900 as has been predicted," he said.

     This year's festival falls on April 13 to 15.  [Source: The Nation]

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  March 18, 2004:   The Zambia Parliament yesterday unanimously adopted a private members' motion urging Government to institute stringent measures to reduce the increased number of road accidents.

     Kafue Member of Parliament Robert Sichinga said most accidents were caused by drivers who disobeyed traffic rules by either overspeeding or drink-driving.

     About 1,046 people died last year from the 21,692 reported accidents countrywide.

     A law to ban night driving of public service vehicles, and one to compel alcohol testing will apparently be introduced soon.  Full story, from the Times of Zambia.  

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  March 18, 2004:   Drivers are using a new section of motorway, in England, for excessive speeds.

     Police have confirmed that many drivers are travelling well in excess of 100mph on the 27-mile long, £900 million M6 Toll.

     Inspector Paul Andrews, from the Central Motorway Police Group, said that officers are carrying out regular patrols and he warned: "If you are caught over 100mph you are going straight to court and will have to explain to the magistrate why you're going so fast."

     Drivers face big fines, driving bans and even imprisonment. The police have voiced the opinion that the combination of a brand new road together with very light traffic have been the catalyst for such reckless driving.

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  March 18, 2004:   So that's where all the stolen cars went!

     A new stage in campaign against so-called “werewolves” in the Russian police seems to have started. This time it concerns representatives of not very popular department – road police.

     A group of State Inspection of Traffic Safety (GIBDD) officers was arrested in Moscow today. Ten have been charged with illegal car registration, Izestia reports. According to Ministry of Internal Affairs, the gang registered more than six thousand foreign cars, previously stolen in Europe.
[Source:  The Russia Journal]

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March 17, 2004:   In South Carolina, Anderson County authorities say a legally drunk man has died in a wreck just four days after he was charged with drunken driving in an unrelated case.

Full story, from WISTV.

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* March 17, 2004:   Kuwait, with about one million vehicles on its roads, reported today an 18.1 per cent rise in the number of deaths from traffic accidents last year.

     Interior ministry assistant undersecretary Major-General Thabet Al Muhanna said 372 people died last year, 57 more than in 2002, as a result of 45,400 traffic accidents.

     In addition, 405 people were seriously injured and 927 others received light wounds.

     Kuwait has a population of some 2.5 million people, 900,000 of whom are indigenous citizens and the rest foreign workers and their families.

     Muhanna said traffic police issued over 2.4 million tickets, the equivalent of more than two tickets per vehicle.

     Hundreds of sophisticated cameras and radars have been installed on Kuwait's main roads in a bid to stem a rise in serious traffic accidents, mostly caused by speeding and motorists who run red lights.

Full article, from Trade Arabia.

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March 17, 2004:   Pennsylvania -- Student drivers in the Mount Carmel area have responded to the school district’s seat belt challenge with a Herculean effort, according to Thomas Ryan, alcohol traffic safety educator for the North Central Highway Safety Network Inc. in Pottsville.

     Ryan reported pre-challenge surveys indicated that seat-belt usage in the district was 42 percent. But with the support of the Mount Carmel Area School District administration, faculty, driver education department and the North Central Highway Safety Network, current buckle up rates are near the goal of 80 percent.

Full story, from NewsItem.com

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March 17, 2004:   In Oregon, the city of Portland has delayed buying 70 new Ford Crown Victorias because of ongoing worries about fuel-tank ruptures.

Full story, from The Oregonian.

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  March 17, 2004:    Every child in Scotland knows the basics of road safety, thanks to the 'Green Cross Code'. But Glasgow City Council is putting the emphasis on 'green' with a new road safety scheme -- for frogs!

Full story, from the Evening Times Online.

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  March 17, 2004:    Haldex has been invited to participate in an EU funded development project regarding future brake systems on trucks.

     The development project is called SPARC (Secure Propulsion using Advanced Redundant Control) and its overall objective is to substantially improve traffic safety and efficiency for heavy commercial vehicles by using advanced electronic systems, including preventive safety systems which compensate for driver mistakes.

Full details here.

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  March 17, 2004:    The Police Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) last year recorded 15,000 road traffic offences in Ghana, with Greater-Accra alone recording 9,000.

     Mr Solomon Kwabena Ntim, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), MTTU, who said this at a two-day seminar in Accra said the figure, was "too high for a country with only 620,000 vehicle-population."

     DSP Ntim said when road offenders were apprehended and found guilty by the courts, they are liable to imprisonment between three months and two years, stressing, "we have widened our net and will not spare any culprits".
     The 'Road Safety and Maintenance Equipment Seminar and Exhibition' being attended by 40 participants from Cote D'Ivoire, France, Moscow and Ghana will discuss the benefit in using quality and cost effective road maintenance materials.

     An exhibition of new improved road furniture including reflectors, road signs, information boards, markings and traffic signals is being mounted at the seminar.

Full story, from Ghana Web.      

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  March 17, 2004:    A tourist police officer was shot dead in Thailand, late Monday night, in what his colleagues believe was either a retaliation by illegal motorcycle racers or a stray bullet from a road racers’ brawl.

     The gunman might have wanted to take revenge against police following the stepped-up crackdown on road-racing activities,” said Colonel Sakonrat Thirasawas, Tourist Police Bureau deputy commander.

Full story, from The Nation.

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March 17, 2004:   Fasten your seat belts, put on your helmets. The traffic police, after all persuasion and education to vehicle owners, is all set to strictly enforce rules.

     SSP Ropar S P Singh said they were planning to give leverage of about a week’s relaxation to the residents. ‘‘From March 22, we will be strict on offenders,’’ he said adding that more police force, including commandos, would be deployed to manage the traffic.

 

On the same web page, but worthy of separate mention is this:

The Children's Traffic Park in Ludhiana is home to former policeman Sham Sunder Juneja, 69, who has dedicated his life to educating people on road safety.

     Founder of the Park, he says that he took voluntary retirement in 1976 and decided to dedicated his life to this cause. 

     "I visit educational institutions, tell children to abide by the law," he says. "I was inspired to work for road safety after I underwent training in Mumbai [Bombay] in 1975.

     "I could not concentrate on my mission due to frequent transfers. Voluntary retirement was the only option,’’ he says, adding, "I am collecting traffic related data and exploring the possibility of legal engineering devices of traffic control to prevent accident."

Both of these articles are from Chandigarh News.

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March 16, 2004:   High-tech gadgets could boost auto safety

     It all used to be done with mirrors, and a quick turn of the head. But high-tech companies are creating sophisticated gizmos that will help motorists see where they've never seen before.

Full article, from USA Today.

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  March 16, 2004:   In the last 10 years, 154 officers have been killed in the USA in traffic accidents while they were outside their police vehicles, usually helping another driver, directing traffic, issuing a ticket or responding to an accident.

     Journalist Sarah Bahari has written a good article in the Star-Telegram (Texas) about police motorcyclists being issued with bright, reflective jackets for the sake of safety. Click here to read it.

 

DSA Comment: The editor of the DSA website is a former traffic patrol officer from a police force in which reflective jackets have been used (and compulsory) since the 1970s. They undoubtedly save many officers lives and - comparatively speaking - have few if any disadvantages. DSA also has a web page that covers the topic of patrol car conspicuity, click here to view it.

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March 16, 2004:   Arizona state senators may be sending negative messages on highway safety by clearing the way for 80-mph speeds on rural interstates and rejecting a bill to allow police to pull over drivers not wearing seat belts.

     The speed limit legislation, approved in an 18-12 Senate vote March 9, allows the Arizona Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit to 80 from 75 mph on roads like Interstate 10 from Phoenix to Tucson. If enacted, it would be the nation's highest speed limit.

Full story, from the Tucson Citizen.

DSA Comment: The Senators concerned clearly know more about how to win votes at the next election than they do about saving lives by means of sensible highway safety measures. This attitude may be part of the reason why Arizona is in 38th position out of the 50 states in terms of the per capita death rate.

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March 16, 2004:   The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's Research and Development Advisory Committee recently met and selected the 2004 research agenda. Seven projects in all were selected, a record number of new projects in a funding cycle for the Foundation.

     The projects address issues such as child passenger safety, graduated driver licensing, drunk driving, road and intersection safety, senior drivers, and mobility. Details about each project will be forthcoming as contracts are signed.

[Source:  AAA Foundation]

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and   March 16, 2004:   American military officials insisted last night that new road safety measures had been successful, despite the death of a teenager after a string of fatal accidents last year.

     Last year, nine base personnel or their family members were killed on roads in Suffolk, England, including Cortina Hamilton, a mother who died with her three children after their car tumbled into a roadside ditch.

     Following that accident, RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath launched a wave of safety measures for the USAF, including an overtaking [i.e. "passing"] ban on minor roads, a safety hotline and changes to the training airmen and their families receive when they enter the U.K.

Full article, from EDP24.

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March 16, 2004:   Auckland police are alarmed and disappointed after stopping 31 drunk drivers in central Auckland early on Saturday.

     "Operation Wake-up" involved 30 police at checkpoints set up on all motorway on-ramps from the central city, between 4.30am and 8am last Saturday.

     Some drivers were more than two-and-a-half times the legal breath-alcohol limit, which is 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.

     "There was an element of surprise to the operation at the weekend for which there is no apology, and given the high rate of offending more operations are planned," said Inspector Dave Walker, officer in charge of the motorways and traffic alcohol group.

Full article, from the New Zealand Herald.

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March 16, 2004:    Despite Britain having the lowest crash casualty rates in the world and a stringent driving test, newly-qualified motorists have slammed the learn-to-drive regime for putting them on the roads with too little training.

     Four in five young drivers believe they're a danger to other road users despite having passed their test. And six in ten claim they were trained just to pass the test rather than drive safely.  Full article here, from Autoglass.

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  March 16, 2004:    The Transport Minister for Quebec, Yvon Marcoux, is not prepared to ban the use of cell phones by motorists despite a coroner's recommendation, according to a spokesperson.

     Marcoux, whose office has apparently reviewed studies about cell-phone use by drivers, allegedly prefers to use only a public-awareness campaign.

A full report is available from the Montreal Gazette.

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  March 16, 2004:    A bus carrying 20 passengers on a tourist tour in Vietnam plunged into a house on the road-side, yesterday.

     Five people were killed and 14 others injured.

     The cause of the accident is believed to be the driver's exceeding the speed limit in the early foggy morning.

[Source: Vietnam News Agency]

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  March 16, 2004:    Hyundai Mobis has today announced an ambitious plan to invest 1 trillion won in research and development, with the aim of becoming a global top-ten auto parts maker by 2010.

     The firm -- an arm of the Hyundai Automotive Group comprising Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors -- will spend 140 billion won annually on R&D and expand the number of R&D staff from 600 to 1,700 over the next seven years.

     A Hyundai Mobis executive said the company's R&D efforts will focus on the development of advanced systems and technologies, including smart vehicle safety systems and battery-less tire pressure monitoring systems.

Full report, from the Korea Times.

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March 16, 2004:   Consumer Groups Challenge the Use of Regional Safety Recalls. 

     If Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety prevail in their suit against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorists could feel more confident that safety defects possibly affecting their vehicles are not falling into a geographical black hole.

Click here for the full article, from the NY Times (subscription may be required).

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March 16, 2004:    National Capital Region Police Office Chief Director Ricardo de Leon yesterday called on the public in the Philippines to exercise self-discipline as he reported that in less than a week of massive operations against traffic violators, the police have nabbed 1,889 motorists.

     He urged the public to shy away from the "easy to get away with" notion, which, he said, is typical of the criminal mind-set. "The reason we have laws is to put order in our society. They are not always created to suit us, but for a higher purpose of serving the greater good," De Leon said.

Full article, from the Manila Bulletin Online.

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March 16, 2004:    Britain’s real best-selling cars are revealed today for the first time

     An Autocar magazine investigation designed to coincide with this week’s Budget has lifted the lid on secret industry documents that show what private buyers really spend their money on – and it’s a very different story from the picture car manufacturers paint. 

     A staggering 56% of new cars sold in Britain are fleet or company vehicles – bought not for quality, desirability or handling, but because of discounts, future values and running costs.  Full report here.

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March 15, 2004: Police statistics from Dubai (UAE) reveal that over the last 12 months, six per cent of traffic fatalities were children under 10, a rise over 2002, when the figure stood at 5.5 per cent.

     During the same period 6.5 per cent of those injured in traffic accidents were children aged less than 10 years, a rise over 2002 when six per cent were injured.

     Brigadier Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, Director of Dubai Traffic Police, said most of these accidents could have been prevented if adults had been more careful. "The deaths of these innocent souls could have been prevented if parents and other motorists had taken more care on the roads," he said.

     At 30km per hour [19mph], five per cent of children struck are killed. At 50km per hour [31mph], 45 per cent are killed, while at 70km per hour [44mph], 85 per cent are killed.
Full story, from Gulf News.

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  March 16, 2004:    Thailand drivers understandably complain about what sounds like a rather pointless road safety display (Note: that headline is a DSA comment)

     The mastermind behind a structure promoting the government's road-safety campaign yesterday defended his creation amid criticism that it was annoying passing motorists and was itself a hazard.

     The structure features two life-sized dummies riding real motorcycles on a three-metre-high platform, on Thani Road. The "motorcyclists" are wearing helmets and black jackets and are illuminated at night by spotlights.

     Many motorists and motorcyclists, however, have expressed concern that the structure could cause accidents as the motorcycles' headlamps and break lights [sic] are always on and annoy oncoming motorists when they look up at them, particularly at night...

     The government campaign aims to encourage motorcyclists to wear crash helmets and keep their headlamps on while riding.

Full story, from The Nation.

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March 15, 2004: The AAA and Parents Magazine Select 15 'Best Cars for Families'

The Scion xB and Pontiac Vibe join long-time family favorites from Honda and Volvo.

     While test-driving the vehicles, AAA and Parents considered everything from air bags and fuel economy to cup holders and cargo space. The reviewers also installed a variety of child safety seats into every car, making sure it could be done easily and securely. Of those vehicles that have been tested, the AAA/Parents picks are among the top performers in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).  Full article here.

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March 15, 2004: A paper from Nigeria -- Prompt Assistance to Victims Of Road Accident (PATVORA) -- has been selected by the International Scientific Programme Committee for presentation in connection with the forthcoming 7th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion and will be published in a CDROM abstract book by the committee during its Vienna Conference in June 2004.

     A statement issued by the Chairman of the committee, Professor Richard Horst Noack, said thatover 1,800 submissions were received and reviewed.

     The abstract, "Road Casualty Reduction Scheme For An African Environment", authored by two Nigerians, Charles Chude Ojugbana and Frank Odiachi, took into consideration the average African setting with bad roads, poor insurance participation, poverty, inadequate trauma care system, increased motorisation with poor counter measures for road safety, insufficient resources of the National Road Safety Agencies, competing needs of the government, and the necessity for adoption of a trisector partnership model that provides joint value creation. It will now contest for the best global abstract award in injury prevention and safety promotion.

     The selection of the abstract for presentation in an international forum is considered a huge step for Africa, especially now that road safety crisis has been classified a development disease, particularly in medium and low income countries.

Full story, from This Day (Lagos), via the excellent allAfrica.com

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March 15, 2004: Software is starting to play a bigger role in allowing auto manufacturers to build more safety features into cars.

     OnStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors Corp., is a pioneer in that area. OnStar launched its telematics subscription service in the 1997 Cadillac, and now some 2.5 million drivers of all types of vehicles subscribe to it. (more...)

     Iteris Inc. says it will unveil in April a partnership with a large auto manufacturer for its Lane Departure Warning System in passenger vehicles. (more...)

     Ford is using a simulator it developed, called the Virtual Test Track Experiment, to create software-based technologies aimed at warning drivers if they start to fall asleep at the wheel. (more...)

Full article, by Laurie Sullivan of Information Week.

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March 16, 2004:    Aquaplaning caused the spectacular crash and the lack of a seatbelt made it terminal:  "Porsche driver in somersault death crash".

     The vehicle was being driven south along the A1M motorway when it hit a stretch of water and veered off the carriageway.

     The dark blue Porsche 911 convertible careered up a steep bank before smashing through a crash barrier, somersaulting and landing upside down, hundreds of feet away, on another road.

     It is believed that the driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. His body was found away from the wreckage of his car.

Full story, from the Peterborough Now.

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March 15, 2004: United Arab Emirates -- A Dubai court has fined a British-Lebanese newsreader with Al-Arabiya television 8,000 dirhams (US$2,180) for a hit-and-run crash while drunk, a newspaper said Sunday.

     The newsreader, who lost control of her car and rammed into two others vehicles on the main highway through the emirate, also had to surrender her driving licence for three months. The court also fined a Jordanian student 2,000 dirhams (US$545) for claiming to police that he had been driving the unnamed woman's car.

Full story, from the Borneo Bulletin

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March 15, 2004: Aggressive driving and road rage have become major contributors to the 80 000 "non-natural" deaths that occur in South Africa each year, a new study has found.

     A surveillance study indicates that transport-related incidents are now the second highest cause of such deaths in the country - and the KwaZulu-Natal traffic police say they are determined to clamp down on aggressive driving behaviour.

Full report, from IOL, and The Mercury.

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* March 15, 2004: The BBC's Robert Walker in Kigali says there have been suggestions that corruption has increased among traffic police, in Rwanda, following moves against driving offences.

     Hundreds of vehicles were impounded in recent months - until their owners paid tough new fines.

Full article, from the BBC.

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  March 15, 2004:   A volunteer Community First Responder team which provides emergency cover for walkers and other users of the remote Staffordshire moorlands is making good use of a new Toyota Land Cruiser LC2 – now that an intensive off-road course has allowed drivers to improve their ability to rescue people trapped in difficult access areas.

 

     The volunteers who make up Wetton & Alstonefield Community First Responders recently won a Queen's Golden Jubilee Award for their work. Only the second self-funding team of its kind in the UK, its 25 members stand by round the clock ready to respond to any type of medical emergency.

     In a month they can receive as many as 20 calls, so the volunteers need to be able to drive in rugged terrain inaccessible to regular ambulances, and often snowbound in winter.

 

     Their previous vehicle was an elderly Jeep Cherokee and, because most of the responders were untrained in off-road driving, they often had to leave it on the nearest road and proceed on foot, losing valuable time and carrying capacity.

 

     "We're delighted with the Land Cruiser," said the team's co-ordinator John Clarke. "It fulfils our requirements exactly and everybody likes driving it because it's so easy." The team had considered all the appropriate 4x4s on the market. "And we all knew Toyota's reputation for reliability."

 

DSA Comment: At the risk of appearing churlish, we would point out that the passenger, in the picture on the right, does not appear to be wearing a seat belt (even when a larger, clearer picture is examined). This is obviously unwise in any moving vehicle but on terrain such as this it is downright silly and definitely not a good advert for safety awareness! 

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  March 15, 2004:   Innovative concepts steal the spotlight at the 2004 Geneva Auto Show

Full report, from the Detroit News.

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ALL  March 14, 2004: For decades, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz have been the clear leaders in the auto-safety stakes, but now Honda is making a serious bid to join these top people-protectors.

Full story, from John O'Dell at the LA Times. 

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March 14, 2004: The claim that repeat offenders are the most dangerous drunk drivers on the road is simply not true, according to Wisconsin DOT statistics:

     The vast majority of drivers involved in fatal or serious injury crashes involving alcohol, in Wisconsin, have no prior drunken driving convictions.

     A new state report indicates that in alcohol-related crashes in which someone was killed or seriously injured, three-fourths of the drivers had no prior convictions for DWI or related traffic offenses on their Wisconsin driver record, according to an analysis of 12 years of data (1991-2002).

Read this important article, from the Wisconsin State Journal.

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March 14, 2004: West Virginians, consider yourself warned: On Monday, state and local law enforcement agencies began the third "blitz period" of the year for the national Click It or Ticket campaign.

     Across the Mountain State, law enforcement officers are making the public's use of seat belts and child safety seats one of their primary concerns. The new, stepped-up enforcement period will continue until Wednesday (March 17). Another period will begin on May 19 and run until June 2.

     Officers, however, can only ticket seat belt infractions if they pull over a motorist for a separate violation, such as a broken tail light, said Wheeling Police Sgt. Ron Didion, who acts as highway safety director for the northern region of the state.

     Since the program began, seat belt use in West Virginia has improved markedly. In 2001, surveys of West Virginia motorists showed that only 49 percent were buckled up. As a result, West Virginia ranked 49th in the nation. It is now up to 74 percent compliance and officers are aiming for 78 to 79 percent this year.

Full report, from the Wheeling News Register.

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March 14, 2004: After years of declaring Detroit’s cars and trucks shoddy, dull and just plain bad, Consumer Reports used surveys covering 675,000 vehicles to proclaim that Detroit metal now is more reliable than the Europeans...

     Of course, Detroit’s average of 18 problems per 100 vehicles still is worse than the industry average of 17 and substantially worse than the 12 ranking accorded the Asians. Yes, that’s progress for the Motor City, but it’s not worthy of popping a single champagne cork.

Read the full article, by Daniel Howes at the Detroit News.

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March 14, 2004: In Australia, drivers will be stopped at crash sites and questioned about their driving habits as road safety experts try to understand why more people die on rural and remote roads.

     Researchers will visit more than 250 sites in far north Queensland where they will flag down drivers and ask them about their trip, attitudes to road safety, behaviour on the road and driving history.

     In addition, road victims are being interviewed in hospital so researchers can determine the circumstances behind each crash, such as road conditions and whether they were distracted.

     The study is being conducted by the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety and staff from James Cook University's school of medicine. It is expected to continue for three years.

     Reports will be filed every six months so road authorities can consider the findings and any recommended actions.

     Senior researcher Colin Edmonston said road safety statistics showed motorists were four to six times more likely to be killed on rural or remote roads than on motorways.

     "We've made fairly huge inroads into road safety in urban areas but we haven't made a dent in the problem in rural areas," he said. "We need to change that situation."

Full story, from the Sunday Mail.

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* March 13, 2004: The statistic of one fatality almost every hour on the nation’s roads is causing alarm among officials and families throughout the Saudi Arabia, reports Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

     According to traffic statistics, 78 percent of people killed are under the age of 45. One fifth are children under 15.

     According to statistics, there were 65,000 people killed and 55,000 injured in 800,000 car accidents between 1971-1995 an average of 2,708 deaths per year. However in 2002, figures for Saudi Arabia showed that 4,840 fatalities occurred in car accidents.

     Adel Al-Qahtani, [a resident of Riyadh], said, “Most accidents happen as a result of speeding and ignoring traffic rules. It is normal to have tragedies from car accidents here. In other countries, they have strict traffic laws that are applied to everyone without exception. I think it is about time we did that here.”

Full article, from the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, via Arab News.

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and   March 13, 2004: "If people died at the same rate but in one horrifying crash a month that killed 3,500 people, then Bush and Congress would speedily make auto safety a priority and save thousands of lives a year," says Nicholas Kristof.

     Here’s a pop quiz. Rank the following in order of the number of American lives they claim in a typical year: food, guns, terrorists, flu and cars.

     Ready? The most deadly are automobiles, which kill 117 Americans a day, or nearly 43,000 a year. Then comes flu, which (along with pneumonia, its associated disease) kills 36,000 people. Third is guns: 26,000 deaths. Fourth, food-borne illness: 5,000. And finally, terrorism, which in a typical year claims virtually no US lives -- with horrific exceptions like 2001. But antiterrorism efforts get most of the attention and the resources...

     Governing the United States is like playing 200 simultaneous chess matches (while whiny columnists second-guess every move on every board). The terrorism chessboard is among the most important, but if we could just devote a bit more energy to the others, we could save thousands of lives.

Read this excellent commentary, from the Today newspaper and ABS-CBN Interactive.

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March 13, 2004: San Jose City Councilman Terry Gregory was arrested early Friday morning on suspicion of drunken driving, according to the California Highway Patrol.

     Gregory, 48, was pulled over going 70 mph in a 40 mph zone on Monterey Highway near Phelan Avenue, said CHP officer Les Bishop. After officers conducted a field sobriety test, the first-term councilman was arrested.

     The councilman said he had "a few glasses of wine'' over dinner with friends at a restaurant...

Full story, from The Mercury News.

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March 13, 2004: Safety issues raised as lawmakers look at higher limits in Kansas

     The debate pits drivers who want to reach their destinations sooner against experts who analyze statistics about car wrecks.

     The issue does not concern Kansas alone. Across the country, states are looking at the idea of raising speed limits, just as they did a decade ago.

     Arizona legislators seem favorable toward a speed limit of 80 on some rural highways. Support has been building for raising the 65 mph speed limit in Iowa. Maryland has also been eyeing higher limits. Missouri is not part of the trend, however. No big push has developed to increase the 70 mph speed limit there.

Full article, by John A. Dvorak, at the Kansas City Star.

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March 13, 2004: The Zimbabwe Government will next month open to traffic another section of the dual carriageway on the Harare-Norton highway (i.e. a new section of "divided highway").

     President Mugabe last year said it was "a must" that all major roads be upgraded into dual carriageways to reduce road accidents, which were killing and maiming hundreds of people every year.

[Source:  The Herald, Harare]

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  March 13, 2004: The Police in Mbarara, Uganda, have withdrawn driving permits from all drivers of government vehicles over forgery allegations, and "hill starts" are used to reveal the fraudsters.

     "We are investigating allegations that several drivers have forged permits," the inspector of vehicles, Peter Kimalen, said recently.

     Kimalen, said he would verify the permits and test the drivers' skills.

     Most of the drivers tested on Friday failed the test of balancing the vehicle on a slope.

[Source:  New Vision, Kampala]

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March 12, 2004:  Ford's driver drowsiness study, using the VIRTTEX simulator, has come to a successful end

Click here to read the outline for this extremely important research.

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ALL  March 12, 2004: A Truly International Dummy

     The WorldSID Task Group of the International Organization for Standardization has officially released the world's first internationally designed crash test dummy today for production.

     For the first time in the automotive history, a crash test dummy has been designed, developed and tested collectively by technical working groups from the America's, European and the Asia/Pacific regions.

     The dummy, known as WorldSID (for World Side Impact Dummy), has been under development since 1997. Its 212 sensors capture data more than 1000 times per second and store the information in special memory boards inside the dummy, making it the most advanced (and probably the smartest) crash test dummy in the world.

SID, taking it easy

     Highlighting the international nature of this massive effort, the WorldSID dummy will make its official debut in June at a meeting of the Working Party on Passive Safety at the United Nations in Geneva.

[Source: Ford Media]

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  March 12, 2004: Umbrellas for traffic control cops!

     Hyderabad:  Now that the summer sun has already set in, some of the worst sufferers are the traffic constables who are yet to be provided with some kind of protection from the direct rays of the sun.

     Traffic constables will be provided with 'Mobile Traffic Umbrellas' in about a month or so at about 12 junctions in the city. The umbrellas-on-wheels are designed to provide shade for one constable, and also has a seat attached to it. It is an open booth, but will protect the constable from head to toe from the burning rays of the sun.

     There was a proposal last year to provide the constables with umbrellas which could be attached to their waist-belts, but it failed. The umbrellas could not could not withstand windy conditions.

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  March 12, 2004: A member of the Metro Freeway Patrol unit in South Africa has been arrested and charged with corruption after requesting and accepting a bribe in relation to a traffic offence.

     He was caught after members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Mamelodi task team heard of his actions and arranged for marked notes to be used the next time the officer demanded a pay off.

Full story, from the Cape Times, and IOL.

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March 12, 2004: Road Safety is the Top Priority.

     West Lothian [i.e. a Scottish region] did its part this week to help promote World Health Day — while celebrating its improved road safety record at the same time.

     This year, the event — organised by the World Health Organisation — is focusing for the first time on road accidents and the county is joining the rest of the country in bolstering the Scottish Road Safety Campaign.

     To help bring its message to the public, the Campaign organisers created a baton containing a document stating its commitment to World Health Day which featured signatures from representatives of Scotland's 32 local authorities, eight police forces and 15 health boards.

     The baton has been making its way around Scotland, and reached West Lothian this week. 

     It was presented on Monday to Councillor Jim Swan of West Lothian Council’s community safety committee by junior road safety officers from Carmondean Primary School. It will finish its journey on World Health Day, on April 7, at Hampden Park Stadium in Glasgow.

DSA Comment:  Do read this article, from IC WestLothian. West Lothian is currently a leading light in showing everyone the way to achieve major reductions in road casualties, particularly among children.

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March 12, 2004: Trash, furniture and appliances on Georgia roadways not only cost about $14 million a year to clean up, but, as was shown twice this week, they can be fatal.

     Two deaths on metro Atlanta highways are the most recent and striking examples of how such debris can lead to tragedy.

     Priscilla Donald, 33, a Georgia Department of Transportation employee, died Thursday after being struck along I-20 in downtown Atlanta late Thursday morning while picking up a mattress and other debris, police said.

     Michael Ronald Hall, 43, an assistant dean in the business school of Clark Atlanta University, died Monday after he swerved to miss a new clothes dryer that had fallen from a pickup truck onto I-75 north near Forest Park.

     "Refrigerators, ladders, mattresses, furniture, trash: you name it and our crews are picking it up," said Bert Brantley, a GDOT spokesman. "Sometimes it's people just throwing it out; sometimes they fall off by accident. It's a huge problem. We fill up dump trucks with tons and tons and tons of trash."

     Brantley said that, in metro Atlanta's six core counties alone, 6,500 tons of debris were picked up by GDOT and prison crews last year. Private contractors picked up more, he said, possibly just as much.

Full story, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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March 12, 2004:  St Patrick's Day safety campaign gets underway in Ireland

     Gardaí* and the National Safety Council have launched a campaign aimed at avoiding any road deaths in the run-up to St Patrick’s Day.

     Operation Lifesaver will target speeding motorists and those who drive under the influence of alcohol.

     75 people have died on Ireland’s roads so far this year, a significant increase on the same period last year.

     Speaking at today’s launch, NSC spokesman Pat Costello expressed particular concern about the increased number of multiple-vehicle crashes this year and the large number of elderly pedestrians being killed in recent road accidents.

     Chief superintendent Denis Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, insisted that the penalty points scheme introduced in late 2002 was working, despite the increase in road deaths this year.

     “The trend is generally downwards,” he said.  

[Source:  Ireland Online]     *Gardaí = Irish Police.

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March 12, 2004: Almost half the adult population in Edinburgh have pledged to donate their organs after their death, according to new figures.

     The Scottish Capital has one of the highest sign-up rates for organ donation in Britain.

     One donor can save up to five individual lives. 

     A decade ago, a large proportion of donated organs came from car crash victims.

     However, seatbelts, drink-driving campaigns and traffic-calming measures such as speed bumps have led to one of the lowest road death rates in the world1.  

Full story, from The Scotsman.

1DSA Link: International Road Crash Fatality Rates, 1988-2001 (where Scotland is included in the UK figures)

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  March 12, 2004 (opening)

Nascar 3-D: The IMAX Experience

at the Henry Ford Imax Theater, Dearborn, Michigan. Get to know some of the world's most famous drivers and catch rare, behind-the-scenes glimpses of the fascinating world of racing. 

"Gripping footage of unpredictable racing action will make this film the most awesome IMAX experience ever." Details.

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  March 12, 2004:  Jakarta records 960 traffic violations on first day of political campaign

     "The violations were largely committed by party supporters on motorbikes," said Sr. Comr. Sulistyo Ishak. "Many of the motorists failed to wear helmets. Some were carrying too many passengers."

     Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Makbul Padmanagara said that despite the traffic violations, the first day of the campaign period was peaceful.

[Source: The Jakarta Post]

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March 12, 2004: The death of a baby, while on his grandmother's knee, prompts seatbelt warning

     Police in Australia have urged drivers to buckle up for even the shortest journeys, after a six-month-old baby boy sitting unrestrained on his grandmother's lap was killed after being hurled into the windscreen of a van.
     Acting Inspector Graham Clifford of WA police said the tragedy highlighted how important it was for drivers to restrain children in cars at all times.

     "We see this around town all the time, that for the best of reasons the parents have put the kids on their lap, and it doesn't work."

     "They take off like a bullet, like a lump of concrete – there is no way you can hang on to them, they have to be properly restrained."

Full article, from NewsCom Australia.

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March 12, 2004: The New South Wales Shadow Roads Minister and Ballina MP, Don Page, says police highway patrols in the region have been cut back while deaths and accidents continue to soar.

     Mr Page says it is a disgrace and means there are fewer police observing driver behaviour, especially on the Pacific Highway where 73 people died last year.

[Source:  ABC News Online]

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March 11, 2004: The "it'll never happen to me" syndrome costs five more lives

     Lancaster, Central Ohio -- In one week, three teens and two men died in vehicle crashes handled by the State Highway Patrol. None of them were using seat belts.

     "We have to intensify our (educational) efforts," said Lt. Gary Lewis, Lancaster post commander.

     "The most alarming statistic in the past week is the number of teenagers we've lost and the number of people not buckled," he added.

Full story, from the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette.

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March 11, 2004: A gang who terrorised motorists in the south of France by targeting freeway rest areas and following drivers home to rob them has been arrested after a long police operation, officers said on Wednesday.

     Police said the men picked their victims in rest areas along France's southern toll autoroute network. After following them, they pounced, sometimes robbing them at home, sometimes stealing the car.

[Source:  Expatica]

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March 11, 2004: Senior citizen classes in driver improvement are being offered in Minnesota

     A Minnesota Highway Safety & Research Center certified instructor teaches the classes, which will be either in Brooklyn Park or Brooklyn Center.

     The fee for the four-hour refresher course is $18, and the eight-hour course is $20 (which makes the extra four hours seem like pretty good value!).

     Persons age 55 and older who complete the course qualify for a 10 percent discount on their auto insurance premiums for three years.

[Source:  The MN Sun]

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March 11, 2004: Most automobile drivers have never been taught what they can do to avoid initiating an accident with a tractor-trailer (known as "articulated wagons" in some other countries).

     This morning, a demonstration of highway safety measures will be conducted for local news media, including "ride-alongs" in tractor-trailers, in Portland, Oregon.

     Such safety advice is critical for drivers because 35% of all truck-involved highway fatalities occur in a truck's blind spots (Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

     "Share the Road" is a highway safety program that delivers life-saving messages to hundreds of U.S. cities and reaches millions of motorists annually, designed to educate automobile drivers about sharing the roads safely with trucks. The program, sponsored by Mack Trucks, Inc., is presented by members of America's Road Team, a team of professional truck drivers with millions of miles of accident- free driving on America's highways.

     Visit their website for further information: www.truckline.com/safetynet/howtodrive/index.html

 

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March 11, 2004: In Israel, experts blame lack of road space for accident rate

     The stretch of the coastal highway that runs between Givat Olga and Kfar Vitkin is frequently clogged with traffic. The congestion occurs on the southern side of the highway, where the two lanes do not adequately serve the estimated 95,000 vehicles that rumble by each day.

     This seven-kilometer stretch is also the scene of frequent road accidents, some of them lethal. In the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, 56 road accidents occurred on this small stretch of the coastal highway and six of the accidents involved fatalities, according to data from the Central Statistics Bureau.

     Dr. Moshe Becker, a transportation expert, calculates that the number of fatal accidents on this stretch of the highway exceeds the national average. During the past three years, he says, there were 200 fatal road accidents a year on the 5,000 kilometers of roads that run between cities in Israel. This figure translates to one fatal accident for each 10 kilometers of road over the three-year period.

     Plans to widen the highway have been on the books for years, works authority officials say. But at a cost of NIS 150 million, implementation has been delayed due to budget limitations.

Full article, from Haartez.

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March 11, 2004: In Vietnam, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has called for a concerted effort to improve road safety following 11,864 traffic deaths and nearly twice that number of injuries nationwide last year.

     He said road improvements, better traffic flow monitoring, and the replacement of old vehicles – specially buses – were all on the Government’s agenda.

     The National Traffic Safety Committee said the number of road accidents in 2003 dropped 28 per cent from the previous year, with 9.4 percent fewer deaths and 25.2 percent fewer injuries.

     But the committee said the number of fatal traffic accidents in the past two months had increased 3.6 per cent compared with 2003, with 2,292 deaths and 3,477 injuries.

Full story, from Vietnam News.

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  March 11, 2004: In Utah, officials have been focusing on commercial vehicle violations

     "We want to prevent the accident from happening," said Senior Trooper Robert Skinner with the Highway Patrol Vehicle Safety Section in Utah County after he placed an orange slip of paper marked "out of service" on [one] truck's windshield.

     Last week, six deputies and seven troopers inspected 22 trucks in another blitz. The results: 12 trucks and one driver were rendered out of service. Three trucks didn't have any violations.

Read the full article, from the Daily Herald ('harktheherald.com!)

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March 11, 2004: A Texas man did the drinking and decided to let his 11-year-old son, who was barely able to see over the steering wheel, do the driving, police said.

     They arrested Robert Lee Crider on charges of child endangerment, public intoxication and having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle.

     Crider's son was pulled over by a Texas state trooper outside of the west Texas town of Big Spring in the predawn hours of Saturday after the officer saw the car speeding and weaving through traffic, said Sargeant Jason Hester, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Read the full story, from Reuters, via Yahoo News.

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March 11, 2004: Montreal — The airbag in Éric Gauthier's car was designed to save his life. But it could put the 26-year-old behind bars.

     Unbeknownst to Mr. Gauthier, the airbag in his Chevrolet Sunfire had a data recorder that proved he was driving at three times the 50-kilometre speed limit on a Montreal street when he hit another car, killing the driver...

     The palm-sized device that convicted Mr. Gauthier is now standard on most new car models. Manufacturers designed them as protection in case they are sued for airbag malfunctions.

Full report, from the Globe And Mail.

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March 11, 2004: In 2002, the Toyota Camry was the most stolen in the USA, followed by the Honda Accord and Honda Civic.

     "We believe that the percentage of thefts relative to the number of an individual model on the road is more telling. When measured by those criteria, the Camry's rate of theft and insurance loss claims are comparable to the average for all vehicle brands." -- Toyota spokesman.

[Source: Automotive Digest]

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March 10, 2004: So what is the alternative... letting pedestrians get killed?

     On the website at WSFA.com the recent deaths of two pedestrians inspired a lady called Colleen Catania to enquire why there weren't any crosswalks at certain locations.

     The article then read: Montgomery traffic engineer Bubba Bowden says there are so many factors to consider before putting up a cross walk complete with signals. Bowden says this part of Atlanta Highway is way too wide and it could take someone more than 30 seconds to walk across it.

     "At this intersection, you're looking at probably 80 feet across, so 80 times 4 would give about 32 seconds of walk time and that's a lot of time to just to get across, and a long time to tie up traffic," says Bowden.

     DSA Comment: We are not criticizing Mr. Bowden -- despite his puzzling math -- as he is undoubtedly governed by politics, but this is a sad state of affairs. If there are no pedestrian crossing facilities on 80-foot roads what chance has a person got if they need to cross it on foot? Sprint like a cheetah and hope for the best?

     The USA is noted, across the developed world, for the general lack of pedestrian crossing facilities. The question is why are there also so few pedestrian footbridges (complete with zig-zag, gentle ramps for wheel chair users) to allow people to safely cross such large roads? Many other countries use this method.

     Is it because of the cost, perhaps? Well, given that every fatality on America's roads is said to cost the nation around $1 million per dead body, those seemingly high costs can be justified over a period of a few years. And that's before one even considers the emotional cost of every lost life.

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March 10, 2004: Oklahoma University Health Services is sponsoring Safe Break, a free vehicle safety check for all students, faculty and staff. Several area automobile service centers will donate their services to promote safer travel during spring break.

     Melissa Coniglio, manager of Goddard Health Center’s Health Education and Wellness Center, said she expects a turnout of a few hundred cars, and the first 175 people to arrive will receive a free T-shirt.

     “A lot of times students don’t have time to take their car in, or they don’t want to part with the extra cash they may have,” Coniglio said. “We’re trying to get people to their destinations safely.”

[Source:  OU Daily]

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and   March 10, 2004: "Europeans are famous for scoffing at American tastes in clothes, TV shows and food. But they appear ready to embrace U.S.-style sport-utility vehicles.

     "That's despite clogged city centers, narrow roads and gas prices three to four times as high as in the USA."

     DSA Comment:  Hmmmmm.... That's not a very accurate summary given that Europe has had SUVs in the form of Range Rovers, etc., for almost four decades, and Land Rovers for much, much longer. And that should be borne in mind if you read this interesting article, from the Detroit News.

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        March 10, 2004:

     Interactive Driving Systems has extended its range of award winning on-line driver assessment tools for car, truck, van and bus drivers to include a RoadRISK assessment specifically for van and truck drivers involved in multi-drop operations in the UK, continental Europe, the USA and Australia.

     The new assessment will focus on the unique issues faced by multi drop drivers, such as frequent stops and starts, manoeuvring, driving at slower speeds in congested traffic, and dealing with a wide range of other road users in densely populated urban area.

     Based on an on-going study of 13,000 drivers by Napier University the online RoadRISK assessment of attitude, hazard perception, knowledge, behaviour, personality and personal exposure can be used to identify drivers most at risk. The study found that 35% of the sample was responsible for over 95% of the crashes. It also found drivers with the worst scores were between 3-16 times more at risk than those with the highest scores, meaning that the RoadRISK assessment is an excellent and low cost tool with many pre-recruitment, in-employment and other uses for this particularly high-risk group of drivers.  Full article here.

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March 10, 2004: Latest Crash Study Finds Fatalities in Rural Georgia are double metro crash deaths

     The Governor's Office of Highway Safety announced today that the number of Georgians dying from crashes on rural county roads is more than double the number of motor vehicle fatalities occurring in the metropolitan areas of Georgia. “In the most recent study, 327 people died in crashes in the five metropolitan Atlanta counties, compared with 718 crash fatalities in our rural counties,” said GOHS Director Bob Dallas...

     Behind the disparity in highway fatality rates is a fact that shatters one major stereotype long-held by many motorists. Non-interstate roads here are statistically shown to be more dangerous than our interstates. In 2002, 1315 people died on state, county and city roads, compared with 216 deaths on Georgia's interstate highways. “Crash injury data also supports this perspective,” said Director Dallas. “In 2002, there were 5,068 serious injuries in crashes on non-interstate roads. The number of serious crash injuries on interstates came in considerably lower at 661.”   

DSA Comment:  There is much of interest and importance in this article. Read it here.

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March 10, 2004:   Teen Driver Safety is the topic for Project Ignition '05.

     State Farm and the National Youth Leadership Council have announced the launch of this new nationwide service-learning project for high school students. It will showcase top projects that combine service to the community with learning objectives. All projects are created by teenagers for teenagers on an important issue affecting young people. For 2005, the topic is Teen Driver Safety -- a particularly appropriate choice as car crashes are the #1 killer of our youth.

     Project Ignition is an opportunity for students and teachers in various classes to work together to create a public awareness campaign for their school and/or community on the subject of Teen Driver Safety. Step one includes an application by interested schools signaling their idea and process. The focus of the program is primarily on communication, how students choose to address and educate their peers on teen driver safety is up to them. Approximately 25 project ideas will be selected and awarded a $2,000 grant -- funded by State Farm -- to make their project a reality.  Full press release.

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March 10, 2004:    Public perception of speed cameras could be threatening support for other road safety strategies, according to the RAC Foundation. (But the successful reduction of casualties mitigates against the Foundation's viewpoint -- DSA comment). Full press release, plus DSA footnote, here.

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March 9, 2004:   Bridge Collapse Disaster in Zambia -- Known Death Toll Reaches Six

     The death toll from Sunday's Great East Road tragedy in which a Chipata-bound bus and two vans plunged into Nkalamabwe river has risen to six after the retrieval of two more bodies from the water.

     Although there were 34 passengers on the bus -- plus, one must assume, the occupants of the two vans -- only seventeen survivors are mentioned in the reports.

     The community at Chinyunyu are now allowing vehicles to cross the river by pushing the vehicles across what's left of the old bridge. 

     "This exercise is very dangerous since vehicles can slip and plunge into deep waters on both sides," said Works and Supply Minister, Dr Ludwig Sondashi, when he visited the site.

[Source:  The Times of Zambia]

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March 9, 2004:   A New Safety Study Finds That 34% More Drivers Maintain Control With Electronic Stability Control.

     This first-of-its-kind testing, via the NHTSA's National Advanced Driving Simulator, confirms that ESC prevents crashes and saves lives.  Full article here.

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March 9, 2004:   Dr. Wolfgang Ziebart, of Continental AG, will address attendees at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, in Detroit, at 9:00 a.m. today. 

     His keynote presentation, "Active Safety: Electronics Leading the Way to Smarter Vehicles," will discuss the car of the future that will link active and passive safety systems such as electronic stability control (ESC), active rollover protection (ARP), adaptive cruise control (ACC), lane departure systems and restraint systems, along with additional sensors that give the car electronic reflexes.

     In cars such as this, an onboard computer will constantly assess relevant information related to the driver, the vehicle and its surroundings to help avoid crashes and minimize injuries. 

     "While it is widely accepted that vehicles are well-equipped to protect occupants after a crash, many consumers are not aware that there is safety equipment available now to help them avoid the crash altogether," said Dr. Ziebart. "Surveys indicate that safety features, including electronic stability control, are among the highest desired by consumers."

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  March 9, 2004:   Among the experts at the SAE World Congress are Visteon Corporation engineers who will present a number of technical papers showcasing products that conserve power, increase filtration and improve electric motor performance. Full press release here.

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  March 8, 2004:   The Transport Services Branch of Yukon's Ministry of Highways and Public Works has more than tripled the number of roadside truck inspectors certified under the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance -- a North American group made up of transportation safety and government officials.

     The addition of the 11 new officers brings Yukon's total number of CVSA inspectors to14.

     Officials hope that number will increase in the near future -- resulting in broader and more efficient Roadcheck and Operation Air Brake inspection blitzes throughout the territory.

[Source: Today's Trucking]

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  March 8, 2004:   Omron Automotive Electronics, Inc., today announced the introduction of a proprietary, advanced electronic miniature camera for automotive safety applications.

     The new High Dynamic Range CMOS (HDRC(R)) camera provides a significantly increased dynamic range  in high- and low-light conditions such as tunnels, in blinding sunlight and after dark. It detects light levels over an intensity range of 170dB, a significant improvement compared to conventional CCD cameras, which typically have a limited dynamic range of 60dB.

     "Advanced driver assist systems now under development will increase safety," said Jerry Bricker, vice president and general sales manager at Omron Automotive. "These systems provide increased visibility for blind spot detection, lane departure, collision warning, and other functions. This image sensor and camera will meet or exceed the needs for advanced driver assist systems."

     The advanced camera technology is now available in automotive prototype form. It is expected to appear on cars and trucks by the latter part of the decade.

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March 8, 2004:   In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club on highway safety policy, Robert L. Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA, North America's largest organization for motorists, today urged the nation to recognize the epidemic of nearly 43-thousand highway deaths each year as a serious public health crisis

     "How do we calculate the loss of a beloved mother, the death of a bright-eyed six year old or the disappearance of a trusted friend we relied on for common sense advice and emotional support?" he asked. [Full press release here]

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March 8, 2004:   For Safety's Sake -- Police ‘ticket’ Clovis motorists for demonstrating good driving.

     Officer Paul Crowe of the Clovis Police Department (New Mexico) said he noticed traffic at the corner of Prince and Commerce was flowing better during the Tuesday lunch hour than it had for some time. Of course, that could have been because of the visible presence of his clearly marked patrol car and his use of a bright, reflective safety vest.

     Even so, as he scanned the oncoming cars, he noticed one vehicle — a bright yellow sports car driven by a young woman — and motioned for it to pull over into a parking lot. Crowe asked the driver for her license and registration and returned to his patrol car.
     “What’d I do?” asked the confused driver.

     “The reason I pulled you over is you are obeying the law,” Crowe said to the woman. “You’re wearing your seat belt, you’ve got your license and registration, you’re driving safely, you’re doing everything right.”
     And then Crowe handed her a ticket — not one citing her a fine, but rather a ticket allowing her to receive a free McDonald’s Extra Value Meal.

Read the full story, by at the Clovis News Journal.

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  March 8, 2004:   In Malaysia, there is a debate whether cars over 10 years old should be subject to roadworthiness tests before their owners are allowed to renew their road tax.

     Over the years, the Government has introduced a number of programmes to try to reduce the country's high rate of traffic accidents and fatalities.

     There has been some success. Last year, the ratio of fatal accidents per 10,000 cars was 4.9; down from 8.2 in 1996. But, the figures are still high.

     Now, the Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centre (Puspakom) is suggesting that car owners send cars that are more than 10 years old to Puspakom centres to be checked for roadworthiness before they can renew their annual road tax.

     Koris Attan of the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association feels that mandatory testing should only be imposed on cars that are more than 20 years old.

     In Singapore, Japan and Germany, says Puspakom CEO, Salamat Wahit, cars that are older than three years must be inspected every two years. In Argentina, annual inspections are mandatory for cars that are more than two years old. In Israel, all cars (new and old alike) must be inspected every year.

Full article, from the New Straits Times.

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and   March 8, 2004:   The most dramatic car launch at this week’s Geneva Motor Show is... well, it’s a boat!

     As Europe’s premier car event got under way, the British-built Aquada was being put through its paces on Lake Divonne, 15 miles away, in France.

     "This is the off-roader to beat them all... it appears to have managed the near impossible — to combine decent road manners with superb water skills."

Full story, from the UK Times Online.

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  March 8, 2004:   Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) is a new technology which actually steers the car for drivers performing difficult parking maneuvers in tight and restrictive spaces, such as parallel or garage parking.

     It was introduced by Aisin Seiki, today, at the 2004 SAE World Congress, Detroit.

     With the cooperation of Toyota Motor Corporation, the system has already been installed on the new Japanese market Prius.  [Source: Aisin World Corp. of America]

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* March 7, 2004:   Road safety is the theme of this year's World Health Day on April 7 and Bahrain is lining up a host of activities to mark the event.

     "The probability of getting in a road accident is high -- higher than contracting Sars or bird flu," said Health Education department head Dr Amal Al Jowder. "The theme is important as people have car accidents in Bahrain every day."

     In Bahrain, the latest figures from the General Directorate of Traffic showed the number of serious accidents in 2003 had risen to 535, up 5 per cent on 506 in 2002. Minor accidents rose by 26pc from 2,269 in 2002 to 2,873 in 2003.

     There were more than 40,000 minor, non-injury accidents last year, but fatal accidents fell six per cent to 76 in 2003, compared to 81 in 2002.

Full article, from the Gulf Daily News.

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March 6, 2004:   In Inverness, Florida, a judge has sentenced an Ocala man to serve 30 years in prison for driving drunk and killing two Citrus County men.

     Ralph M. Wagner, 51, pleaded no contest in late January to driving under the influence and DUI-manslaughter charges.

     Prosecutors said tests showed his blood alcohol content was 0.153 and 0.154 early the morning of Dec. 14, 2002, when the crash occurred. That's almost twice the 0.08 level at which Florida law presumes that someone is unable to safely drive a motor vehicle.

Full story, from the St Petersburg Times.

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March 6, 2004:   Officials in Delaware are urging motorists to use "extreme caution" after 15 people were killed in highway crashes last month, more than double the number from February a year ago.

     A state Office of Highway Safety spokeswoman, Andrea Summers, said as many people died in the last month alone as did in the first two months combined of 2003.

Full article, from Terri Sanginiti, at the News Journal.

 

DSA Comment:  Using internationally recognized measures, Delaware's roads are slightly below the average safety level for the entire USA and as a result it does not compare very favorably to the highway safety standards in many other countries. Click here to view a state by state comparison, and here to see where the USA ranks, in the international road safety arena.

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March 6, 2004:   DENSO Has ESP   (Enhanced Safety Protection)

     "SENSING THE FUTURE: Moving to Enhanced Safety," is the title of a news conference to be held on March 8, at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Conference, Detroit.

     "Enhanced automotive safety technology is making extraordinary progress. More than just a warning alarm if a car gets too close to another vehicle, DENSO's cutting edge pre-collision system technology helps physically redirect the car to help avert a serious collision."

[Source: Press Release from DENSO]

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* March 5, 2004:   Major expressways were closed and transportation delayed or cancelled across South Korea yesterday in the wake of a record March snowfall.

     One weather-related death was reported in a five-car collision on the expressway connecting Seoul and Busan.

[Source: JoongAng Daily]

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March 5, 2004:   Yet another driver is killed while fixing a flat tire -- the third similar death in five weeks on the I-75 alone!

     The fatality prompted police traffic experts to urge drivers to use more caution when their cars break down on the highway.

     "You hear a lot of people say they don't want to ruin their rims, so they don't want to drive further off the roadway,'' said Officer Greg Toyeas of the Cincinnati Police Department's traffic unit.

     "You might ruin the rim, that's true,'' he said. "But you can buy a new rim. That's better than losing your life."

Full article, from The Enquirer (Ohio)

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March 5, 2004:   Americans driving to distraction

     Almost as soon as New Jersey Assemblyman Doug Fisher proposed a ban last spring on "distracted driving" — everything from eating a bagel to chatting on a cell phone while behind the wheel — the measure was ridiculed.

     Drive-time disc jockeys called the bill "DWE," for driving while eating, and "the ham-sandwich law."

     But it wasn't a laughing matter. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that up to 30% of the 3 million accidents a year may be attributable to distracted driving.

     "People consider it their basic right to do whatever they want in their car," Fisher says. "People are literally reading the newspaper as they drive down I-95."

     But Fisher says states will have to deal with the broader issue of distracted drivers. "There's carnage on the road because of this," he says.

Read the very illuminating full article, from USA Today.

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March 5, 2004:   In January, 2003, Martha Gay was driving home on a clear, moonlit when a Nissan Pathfinder made a left turn and hit the driver’s side of her car.

     It struck with such force that Gay's 1996 Volvo 850 was hurled airborne and landed with all four wheels on a sidewalk. The front airbag deployed, and the violence of the collision twisted the frame of the car, popped open the moon roof and cracked the windshield.

     Gay walked away from the wreck. "If I hadn’t been in a Volvo, I’d be dead," declares the 46-year-old, whose day job is president of a Philadelphia executive-search firm. "The car did exactly what it was supposed to do." A week later, she was back at the Volvo dealership to buy a new S60 sedan.

     That the 7-year-old Volvo protected Gay is a tribute to the carmaker’s reputation for safety. Its sedans and XC90 SUV consistently earn top marks in government and independent crash tests. And Volvo offers as standard equipment such safety features as side and head-protection airbags, anti-lock brakes, whiplash-protection seats and traction control, even on its low-end S40 sedan.

     In a new report, Kiplingers are recommending five particularly safe cars:

          -- Perhaps the biggest surprise of the bunch, the Mini Cooper

          -- the VW Passat 

          -- Mercedes Benz E-Class sedans

          -- the Ford Freestar mini-van

          -- the Volvo XC90 SUV

Read the full article and a summary of Kiplingers' report at MSN Money.

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  March 5, 2004:   In Oklahoma, the MMHC Auxiliary launch the 'WHALE' program for child safety.

     The WHALE (We Have a Little Emergency) Program distributes potentially life-saving packets to anyone who transports infants and children in car seats. They are designed to communicate health information about child passengers to emergency medical personnel at the scene of accidents.

     The packets are vital especially in the critical minutes following a crash when adults in the vehicle may be incapacitated and unable to give information about child passengers.

     Rose Thompson, MMHC Auxiliary committee member, said. "Emergency personnel often have trouble obtaining emergency contact information and other vital information from a child. This little sticker will help alleviate many of these questions and at least give workers a good starting point when faced with an emergency situation."

Full article, from the Ardmoreite.

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March 5, 2004:   Be careful if you take that SUV off-road!

     The most popular sport-utility vehicles are the worst for true off-road driving, says a new ranking by Consumer Reports magazine.

     Two of the worst for going off-road -- the Ford Explorer and the Chevrolet TrailBlazer -- are the two best-selling SUVs in the USA. And the Ford Expedition -- judged worst, off-road, of any tested -- is the second-best-selling full-size SUV, behind Chevy Tahoe.

     The four-wheel-drive vehicles that handle tough off-roading best, not surprisingly, are those with specific equipment for off-roading, exceptional ground clearance, or both.

Full article, from USA Today.

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* March 5, 2004:   The fourth edition of the "Icaro Project", a road safety campaign of the state police in Italy, is aimed at making young people understand the importance of road rules, in order to avoid accidents

     The initiative is being held in collaboration with Ministers for Infrastructures and Education and has the endorsement of UNICEF. 

     Two convoys will travel to 29 Italian town, to reach a total audience of more than 10,000 young people. 

     One will target young children, using simple and amusing language. The second convoy, aimed at high school students, will address new rules on rider licensing for mopeds, and an interactive CD from the Training Centre of the Cesena police will be given to participants. High school students will also be encouraged to enter a contest for the creation of a commercial: "Us -- the young people -- the road we want."

[Source: news release from the Italian Prime Minister's office]

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March 5, 2004:   Tough new Belgian road safety laws that came into effect at the beginning of this week are already working, according to the Flemish newspaper Het Laatste Niews.

     Average speeds on Belgium's motorways dropped immediately. One of the new measures is a serious increase fines for speeding.

     Only time will now tell whether enforcement and the certainty of punishment will keep speeds down.

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March 5, 2004:   Pennsylvania State Police Program to Target Drunken Drivers -- increased efforts will focus on five counties in Southcentral Pennsylvania.

     "Operation CRISP," an acronym for Crash Reduction In Southcentral Pennsylvania, will feature increased patrol efforts to identify and arrest motorists driving under the influence in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, Lancaster and York counties.

     "The goal is to take drunken drivers off the road before they cause crashes," State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said. "This program has the potential to prevent injuries and save lives."

     As part of "Operation CRISP," five State Police stations will conduct roving DUI patrols every other weekend for a year. The dates will be staggered so that at least two of the stations will be operating the DUI patrols each weekend. In addition to the extra patrols, each of the five stations will conduct two sobriety checkpoints during the next 12 months. 

     The operation is funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. 

[Source: Pennsylvania State Police Department]

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  March 5, 2004:  A failure to upgrade the road is seen as the cause for crash and casualty rates going from bad to worse on the Princes Highway in New South Wales.

     The NRMA public policy manager, Alan Finlay, said that while the situation on the Princes Hwy was worsening, the crash rate on most highways was improving.

     "The Princes Hwy hasn't had the same advanced rate of upgrade as has the Pacific and Hume. The other thing that will make a road crash rate increase is if there's been a great increase in traffic volumes," he said.

     The Princes Hwy crash rate is 37 per 100 million vehicle kilometres travelled -- almost double the Hume Hwy which has 18.6.

     Mr Finlay said the benchmark crash rate should be about 17 or 18 per 100MVKT -- as it is on the Hume and Federal highways.

     "The Hume Hwy between Sydney and the Victorian border is now by and large dual carriageway. Likewise the Federal Hwy between Goulburn and Canberra is all dual carriageway. What that shows is for roads that have been upgraded to dual carriageway standard, that's the sort of crash rate that we would expect -- that or better," he said.

     "That's not to say that dual carriageway is the answer to everything because in some cases they can't be justified. Road straightening, more overtaking lanes, dividing barriers and wider shoulders would be a good start, particularly for the area south of Jervis Bay where dual carriageway was unrealistic," Mr Finlay added.

Full article, by Chantal Rumble, at the Illawarra Mercury.

[Glossary: a "dual carriageway" -- Australia, UK, and others -- is a "divided highway" to Americans.]

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  March 5, 2004:  Clearer police pursuit rules in New Zealand put road safety first.

     Police officers will have to comply with to strict new rules for chasing criminals from today after two high-profile cases in which innocent victims were killed in crashes.

     New guidelines on police pursuits gives police supervisors the ultimate power to call off any chase, and once this has happened officers are under instruction to immediately switch off their lights and siren, slow down, stop on the side of the road and tell the communications centre where they are.

     Another of the new rules makes it clear that the "abandon pursuit" command applied to all police cars, and not just individual vehicles.

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ALL  March 5, 2004:  The Driving Challenge of a Lifetime -- and it's for a good cause, too!

     After driving mostly south for 104 days, the Drive Around the World LONGITUDE Expedition team is on their way back from the end of the world, "el fin del mundo."

     From their starting point in Sunnyvale, Calif., to their latest landmark, the world's southernmost city of Ushuaia, Argentina, the team covered 13,500 miles in their four 2003 Certified Pre-Owned Land Rover Discovery vehicles -- completing more than one-third the distance of their planned drive-a-thon around the globe intended to raise awareness and funding for Parkinson's research

     While they may have come to the end of the world, it is not the end of the road for the team. After a short few days in Ushuaia, the team drove north to Buenos Aires, where they put all four vehicles on an ocean liner for a six-week sail to Australia. From Australia, the team will head up through Indonesia and 12 countries in Asia, ending their northbound journey on Siberia's Kamchatka Peninsula before heading home through Alaska and Canada.   www.drivearoundtheworld.com 

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  March 4, 2004:   After the perennial top concern over cost reduction, safety is rated as the number one challenge among automotive engineers to stay competitive in the design of the next generation of motor vehicles, according to the 10th annual DuPont sponsored survey of those planning to attend the 2004 SAE* World Congress and Exposition, next week.  Full press release here (including the prioritization of safety features).

(*Society of Automotive Engineers)

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March 4, 2004:   Automobile Brands Americans Love Most

     The list of “America’s top 20 Most-Loved Automobile Brands” was released today. John P. Hoeppner, president of NameQuest, commented, “General Motors has 40% of brands in the top ten with #1 Chevrolet rated highest among contenders for value and trust. Robert Lutz is obviously making an impact at GM, especially with the formerly stodgy Cadillac brand ranked #4."

     Among imported makes, consumers rated #2 Mercedes-Benz highest in perceived quality and Korean import Kia the lowest in perceived quality. Kia (#27) finished last overall among all auto brands.

See the full list here.

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March 3, 2004:   North Dakota had 18 traffic deaths in the first two months of this year, but in the same period last year the figure was only eight. Winter conditions are being blamed for this significant increase.

DSA Comment:  North Dakota has a death rate only marginally higher than the average for the whole of the USA, when measured on "deaths per 100,000 population basis," but 26 other states have worse death rates, including 11 where the situation is more dangerous than in the worst of 30 countries on an international road accident database. Click here to view the rates for all US states.

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March 3, 2004:    In the English Midlands, West Mercia Constabulary is challenging motorists to become more 'streetwise' in a major new driver training initiative, believed to be the first of its kind in Britain. The force has teamed up with the Institute of Advanced Motorists and locally-based car manufacturer MG Rover Group to raise the standard of driving through free skills training for motorists. Read the full article here.

 

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  March 3, 2004:    The first Bentley Continental GT for North America has been sold for $400,000 at Sir Elton John's 12th Annual Academy Awards® viewing party to raise funds for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

 

All photographs courtesy of Bentley

 

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March 3, 2004:    Police in Yotsukaido, Japan, have questioned a prefectural police lieutenant whom they suspect of drunk driving.

     A car driven by the officer, 50, veered into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into another car at about 10:55 p.m. Monday, the police said. Nobody was hurt.

     According to Yotsukaido Police Station, the officer had drunk three bottles of beer with colleagues at a restaurant in Chiba after work at about 6:30 p.m. Monday.

[Source:  The Daily Yomiuri]

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March 3, 2004:    Nissan believes the end could be in sight for conventional cars in the compact sector of the market

     They say that if the market share of the traditional, five-door hatchback is indeed numbered, its place might well be taken by striking crossover vehicles designed to live a dual life... vehicles like the Nissan Qashqai.

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March 2, 2004:   Senators must leave behind the arcane argument that enforcing seat belt law is a violation of personal freedoms.

     There is no personal "freedom" to die on the highway and run up insurance costs for everyone else. There is no personal "freedom" to drink and drive. There is no personal "freedom" to speed through a school zone. Society has said anyone making those personal choices will be severely punished. Society has said that through responsible laws written and approved by responsible legislators.

      South Carolina's Senate will soon have another chance to save lives and millions of dollars by forcing more use of seat belts, and the state needs the Senate to act responsibly. This law is a no-brainer. The Senate should pass it and quickly move on to real challenges.

Full article, from the Island Packet.

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March 2, 2004:   Troopers have cited hundreds of motorists for driving aggressively during a two-day crackdown on Florida's highways.

     The Florida Highway Patrol saturated roadways for a 48-hour period, issuing nearly 10,000 citations across the state for a range of traffic violations.

     Among the citations issued, troopers earmarked 663 specific incidents of aggressive driving.

Read the full article, from the Miami Herald.

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March 2, 2004:   In Israel, the traffic police aren't targeting the most dangerous violations.

     Statistics show, for example, that 7,538 accidents with injuries that occurred in 2003 -- 40 percent of all such accidents that year -- were caused by not heeding traffic lights and signs, or by not yielding the right of way. However, only 13 percent of the citations issued by the police were for these infractions. In contrast, some 27 percent of citations issued in 2003 were for speeding, although speeding was the cause of only 7 percent of accidents, or some 1,300 accidents, according to police traffic department statistics for the year.

     Police say that enforcement is crucial to the fight against traffic accidents, in the belief that if drivers are caught in a violation, suitable penalties will prevent recidivism. But according to transportation expert Dr. Moshe Becker, enforcement policies focus on infractions whose perpetrators are easy to catch.

Full article, by Anat Georgi, at Haaretz.

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March 2, 2004:   LEDs may be used for a new type of headlight.

     Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, have been around for a long time but technological advances in recent years have paved the way for a new generation of high-powered LED headlamps that will change auto styling and possibly improve safety.

Full story, from Ralph Vartabedian at the LA Times.

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  March 2, 2004:   Why are so many innocent people still being injured and killed by drunk drivers? Why don't people who drink and get behind the wheel get it?

     Here's a life-saving questionnaire...

Read the full article and check out the questionnaire, by Laurie Mustard, of the Winnipeg Sun

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  March 2, 2004:   Canada’s first retail BioDiesel fueling pump earlier today in Unionville, Ontario.

     Diesel car owners, and bus and trucking fleets in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) now have a convenient local source of BioDiesel, a renewable vegetable oil-based fuel that can increase diesel engine life while dramatically reducing emissions.

     Thousands of fleet vehicles have driven millions of kilometers using BioDiesel in Canada. It is a fuel that can be used in place of petroleum diesel in any diesel engine, generator, pump or heater, with few or no engine modifications. 

     Using BioDiesel helps to reduce waste and support Canadian agriculture because it is a fully renewable fuel, made from local-crop vegetable oils and used cooking greases. BioDiesel also produces much lower emissions than regular diesel fuels and using it improves local air quality and contributes to the reduction of smog and acid rain by significantly reducing the toxic emissions associated with petroleum diesel fuel.
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Source: PR Web]

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March 1, 2004:   Spring Showers Bring Driving Safety Hazards.

     BETHESDA, Md. -- Worn out tires and windshield wiper blades are symptoms of neglected vehicle maintenance that put drivers and passengers at serious risk during the typically rainy months of spring.

     Thin tire treads create hazardous driving conditions when water builds up on the roadway, according to the Car Care Council. Deep tread accommodates accumulated water; thin tread does not. Thin tread causes the tire to hydroplane -- ride up on a film of water, losing contact with the pavement, similar to driving on ice.

     The simplest way to check tire tread depth is with a penny. Insert the penny into the grooves of the tread. If you are able to see all of Lincoln's head, the tire needs replacement.

     Rainy weather also affects driver visibility. Because 90 percent of driving decisions depend on good vision, a clean windshield is imperative. Streaking and smearing impair vision and are caused by worn windshield blades. 

     "Replacing worn wiper blades is easy and inexpensive," said Rich White of the Car Care Council. "Why put it off until there's a downpour and your blades are chattering and smearing the windshield?"

     The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" campaign, educating consumers about the benefits of regular vehicle maintenance and repair. For more information visit www.carcare.org 

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  March 1, 2004:    Royal Award for an Initiative to Stop Child Deaths.

     Every year, in Britain, around 40 children between the ages of 0 and 11 years die while travelling in cars, about 500 are seriously injured and up to 9,000 are slightly injured, yet the proper use of child car restraints would prevent many of these deaths and injuries.

     Now RoSPA’s website has been recognised with Britain’s top road safety award.  Read the full article here.

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*  March 1, 2004:   Never mind your head; here's a ticket!

     In Taiwan, a 13-year-old cyclist has been ticketed for a traffic offense despite the fact that his mistake and the resultant collision put him in hospital for a day, for the head injury he suffered.

     Even a minor pedaling a bike had to be fined, if he made a wrong turn on a narrow rural road, according to a Chiayi traffic police chief.

     The sixth grader at an elementary school in Hsikou near Chiayi received head and knee injuries when his bicycle was hit by a speeding car.

Full article, from the China Post - Taiwan Edition.

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  March 1, 2004:   In Singapore, about 140 people were fined daily for speeding in the first 9 months of last year.

     This represented a 50 per cent increase in the number of tickets issued compared to the previous year.

     In contrast, fewer motorists have dashed through the red traffic light in the first 9 months of last year but, even so, over 12,000 offenders -- about 44 daily -- were fined for not stopping for the green man.

     250 traffic surveillance cameras have now been established, island-wide.

[Source: Channel News Asia]

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*  March 1, 2004:   Ten people burn to death due to a fuel fire on a passenger bus in Tajikistan.

     It is reported that the passenger bus accidentally caught fire because of fuel leakage. The fire spread quickly, and only three passengers and the driver managed to escape. Criminal proceedings have been instituted.

[Source: ITAR-TASS]

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  March 1, 2004:   If you are lucky enough to own a road rocket, there's a new tire available.

     The Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tire is already factory-fitted on the Porsche Carrera GT, 996 GT2 & GT3, Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR, BMW Alpina Z8, Bugatti Veyron, Chrysler Crossfire, Audi RS6 and TT, but it is now going on sale at authorized Michelin dealers in the United States and Canada on March 1, 2004, and in Mexico on April 5, 2004. It will be available in 59 sizes, beginning with 33 at introduction and the remainder to be introduced throughout 2004.

     Most notably, the new Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tire features a four-groove tread pattern. Reminiscent of the looks of a Formula One tire, the new Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tread footprint is designed to create a larger and more stable contact patch compared to the previous generation Michelin Pilot Sport tire.

[Source: Michelin www.michelinman.com