Distracted driving has long been a concern of traffic safety advocates and transportation professionals, and the pandemic has potentially made things worse. Reports by data and insurance companies suggest distracted driving contributed to the dramatic recent surge in traffic deaths. Fortunately, a growing body of research shows how road design and the built environment can help make crashes involving distracted drivers less serious.
States can target key transportation issues with federal infrastructure funds
The much-anticipated Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was finally signed by President Biden on Monday, and state DOTs are preparing for what will amount to around 50 percent more transportation spending than originally planned for over the next five years. The act includes an additional $110 billion for roads and bridges, $11 billion for safety, $39 billion for public transit, and $66 billion for freight and passenger rail (a five-fold increase).
Small investments can go a long way towards safer, inclusive streets
There is a growing public clamor for better access by people to the places where they live, work, and spend their recreational time. However, a majority of transportation investments are spent on moving people through places, typically by driving.
Perception and psychology may explain why drivers speed when volume is low
Changed travel behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced congestion and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), even while traffic deaths continue to rise. Evidence shows that open roads, speeding, and other dangerous driving behaviors go hand-in-hand. But what is it about people that leads them to speed and drive dangerously in the first place?
Speed limit standards are an essential step toward safer streets
New considerations for setting speed limits have the potential to shift the practice away from the historic norm of service to drivers, and toward the safety and accommodation of all users.
Major roads undercut safety benefits of highly accessible places
In working with transportation agencies across the U.S., our team often faces questions about the role of safety in accessibility analysis. While we know the safety and comfort of streets clearly impacts access for people on foot or bicycle, the effects of accessibility on overall safety haven’t been clear. Fortunately, leading experts in both accessibility and traffic safety recently teamed up to answer this question.
New study finds AV tech less likely to detect darker-skinned pedestrians
A recent study found that the leading automated detection systems are less accurate in detecting pedestrians with darker skin tones. On average, the study found that detection was five points less accurate for dark-skinned pedestrians than for light-skinned ones.
Is bigger better?
New analysis of FARS data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety points to crashes being more survivable for drivers of large SUVs than for drivers of smaller cars. While driver death is one measure of safety, there are a number of other criteria that offer a richer story of SUV safety, such as their contribution to emissions and increased dangers to those not inside the vehicle.
Windshield bias among transportation professionals shifts safety burden onto pedestrians
Transportation professionals who spend more time behind the wheel tend to believe distracted walking plays an overstated role in pedestrian deaths, according to a new Rutgers study. This belief can steer professionals toward trying to correct pedestrian behavior, rather than focusing on the change that would reduce pedestrian deaths most: lowering vehicle speeds.
What states and cities can do to mitigate speeding during the pandemic
Traffic volumes have plummeted since the pandemic. While that has led to fewer crashes overall in some states and cities, a growing number report large increases in speeding citations. In California, the number of tickets issued for driving above 100 miles per hour is 87 percent higher than this time last year. Similar reports have emerged across the country. Besides enforcement, what can states and cities do to reduce dangerous driving?