Driver behaviour Impaired driving
• Each year the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” impaired driving campaign is conducted in September and December with the involvement of thousands of law-enforcement agencies across the country. These enforcement crackdown periods are supported by national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” advertisement campaigns that run for about two weeks. The ads are designed to raise awareness and draw public attention to law-enforcement activities in every state. The advertisements convey the message that law-enforcement officers are vigilant in deterring drunk drivers. This law enforcement campaign is coupled with state programmes that address the underlying alcohol dependency problems. Special drunk driving courts that provide intensive interventions, as well as the use of ignition interlocks on the vehicles of offenders, are two examples. NHTSA provides a variety of technical resources to help States develop and expand the use of these special courts and ignition interlock programmes.
• Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). This technology could prevent a vehicle from being driven by a drunk driver. NHTSA and the automotive industry have partnered to advance the long-term research in this advanced technology and will now begin working on the legal, public policy and consumer acceptance issues to ensure that when the technology is ready for commercialisation, manufacturers that choose to offer the system as an option will find a marketplace with few or no impediments to consumer adoption. The goal is to develop a system that can accurately and reliably detect when a driver is above the legal alcohol limit. The automatic system would be enabled every time the car is started, but unobtrusive so it would not pose an inconvenience to the non-intoxicated driver.
• NHTSA released a new strategic plan that will serve as a roadmap to ensure the safety of the nation’s growing population of older drivers and passengers. Data show a 3 percent increase in the number of people age 65 and older who died in motor vehicle crashes and a 16 percent increase in the number of people age 65 and older injured from the previous year. The data also show that older adults are at greater risk of dying or sustaining serious injuries, even in low-severity crashes. To address these concerns, NHTSA is focusing on vehicle safety, improved data collection and driver behaviour.
• The Department of Transportation released a set of tools to help communities combat the rising number of pedestrian deaths that have occurred over the last two years. As part of the campaign, NHTSA is making USD 2 million in pedestrian safety grants available to cities with the highest rate of pedestrian deaths and, along with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is launching a one-stop shop website www.nhtsa.gov/everyoneisapedestrian with safety tips and resources for local leaders, city planners, parents and others involved in improving pedestrian safety.
• The Department and NHTSA continue to focus on distracted driving and its deadly consequences. There are several resources available to the public, communities, States and safety organisations, including a redesigned www.distraction.gov. In April 2014, the DOT announced the Department’s first-ever, national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown to combat distracted driving. The effort includes television, radio and digital advertisements using the phrase U Drive. U Text. U Pay. and coincides with a nationwide law enforcement crackdown in states with distracted driving bans. In addition, a social norming component, One Text or Call Could Wreck It All, was launched in late 2011 with a television ad and other supporting materials. All of the PSAs direct audiences to StopTextsStopWrecks.org, a new campaign website where teens and young adults can find facts about the impact of texting while driving, and tips for how to curb the behaviour. The website also has an area where individuals can post on Facebook and share their solutions to stop texting and driving.
Vehicles Passenger cars
• NHTSA announced the Significant and Seamless Initiative in November 2013 which included a top priority of forward collision avoidance and mitigation. The agency is reviewing dynamic brake systems and crash-imminent brake systems that coexist with forward collision warning systems. Forward collision systems utilise vehicle technologies to detect a crash threat and warn the driver to take action. These braking systems add automatic braking, dependent upon the driver’s reaction to the warning, and either apply additional braking or full braking as necessary to avoid or lessen the severity of a crash. NHTSA is developing objective test procedures and surrogate test vehicles for this effort, as well as analysing the effectiveness of the systems and the impact on crashes.
• NHTSA has been conducting research through cooperative agreements with automotive manufacturers in order to assess the feasibility of developing effective crash avoidance systems that utilise V2V communications. This research is funded by the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) programme, which is administered by the Research and Innovative Technologies Administration (RITA). FHWA, FTA and FMCSA also participate in the programme. A key aspect of the V2V programme is the Safety Pilot model Deployment, designed to support estimation of the effectiveness of V2V safety applications at reducing crashes and to show how real-world drivers will respond to these safety applications in their vehicles.
• NHTSA issued a final rule in April 2014, requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10 000 pounds by May 2018. This new rule enhances the safety of these vehicles by significantly reducing the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by backover accidents.
• NHTSA issued a final rule requiring lap and shoulder seatbelts for each passenger and driver seat on new motor coaches and other large buses. This new rule enhances the safety of these vehicles by significantly reducing the risk of fatalities and serious injuries in frontal crashes and the risk of occupant ejection in rollovers.
• Pedestrians – As part of NHTSA’s Significant and Seamless Initiative, one of the agency’s top priorities is forward collision avoidance and mitigation. This effort includes research into pedestrian collision avoidance and mitigation (PCAM) to include identification of pedestrian crash scenarios, assessment of technologies and development of objective test procedures for avoidance technologies. Additionally, NHTSA proposed that hybrid and electric vehicles meet minimum sound standards in order to help make all pedestrians more aware of the approaching vehicles.
• In January 2012, FHWA issued a “Guidance Memorandum on Promoting the Implementation of Proven Safety Countermeasures”. This guidance takes into consideration the latest safety research to advance a group of countermeasures that have shown great effectiveness in improving safety. Safety practitioners are encouraged to consider this set of countermeasures that are research-proven, but not widely applied on a national basis. Countermeasures are discussed in detail and fact sheets are provided for each to furnish detailed descriptions, related research studies, and evaluations of each countermeasure. Countermeasures include: roundabouts, corridor access management, backplates with retroreflective borders, longitudinal rumble strips and stripes on two-lane roads, enhanced delineation and friction for horizontal curves, safety edges, medians and pedestrian crossing islands in urban and suburban areas, pedestrian hybrid beacons, and road diet.
• The Highway Safety Improvement Plan (HSIP) includes a data-driven, strategic approach to improving highway safety and encourages the States to establish or improve their roadway safety data programme. Another major programme feature is a state-wide, coordinated strategic highway safety plan in each State that provides a comprehensive framework for establishing state-wide goals, objectives, and performance targets; and that integrates the four “E’s” – engineering, education, enforcement, and emergency medical services. The States will be guided by the plan and their data systems in using the HSIP and other funds to produce a program of projects and strategies to solve relevant safety challenges.
• The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) is a funding and authorisation bill to govern United States federal surface transportation spending. MAP-21 doubled the funds for FHWA safety programmes, provided a concentrated effort to maintain a data-driven decision making process to target available resources on the most pressing concerns, and improved collaboration and integration on multiple fronts – engineering, education, enforcement, and emergency medical services – to reduce highway fatalities and serious injuries. MAP-21 indicates a multi-billion dollar funding level for HSIP to strengthen the programme and provide states with better opportunity to focus and ultimately improve the highway safety programmes in their states.
Recent and on-going research
• Through the Significant and Seamless Initiative, NHTSA is actively involved in the development of safety systems for forward collision avoidance monitoring and mitigation, the improvement of seatbelt use through interlock systems, and ways to stop drunk driving through alcohol interlock systems.
• Additional vehicle research efforts are focusing on vehicle communications technologies to address a number of common crash scenarios. Current testing and pilot programs are currently underway.
• NHTSA continues to conduct research activities to understand driver behaviour through surveys, observation studies, simulation work in order to affect driver behaviour through vehicle changes and human behaviour changes. Such activities include but are not limited to distracted driving, speeding, belt usage, child safety seat usage, and helmet usage. The agency also conducts evaluations of campaigns and high visibility law enforcement activities to determine the effectiveness of such efforts.
Source: Road Safety Annual Report 2014