1. DOT Grants To Improve Road Safety, Occupant Protection
  2. Emergency Vehicles: The Rules Of The Road for Motorists
  3. NHTSA for Graphic Ads on Safety
  4. Higher-Risk driver crackdown: New Program proposal targets repeat offenders
  5. Highway crashes remain leading cause of occupational fatalities
  6. Secretary Slater announces another year of progress for highway safety
  7. Safety in Airplanes
  8. Safety Tip for Parents Traveling on Airplanes with Young Children
  9. Sharing the Road with Emergency Vehicles
  10. Traffic Safety Pictures
  11. Trunk Entrapment

DOT Grants To Improve Road Safety, Occupant Protection

The Department of Transportation recently awarded $147.9 million in state and community highway safety formula grants to all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. territories, and to the Secretary of the Interior on behalf of the Indian Nations (see accompanying chart).

Funds will support highway safety improvements, provide start-up money for new programs, give new direction and support to existing safety programs, and fund evaluations to determine progress in improving safety in areas such as: occupant protection, alcohol and drug countermeasures, police traffic services, emergency medical services, traffic records, motorcycle safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, speed control, and roadway safety.

The grants are authorized under Section 402 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and are based on population and road mileage. At least 40 percent of the funds must be used for local and community projects. Current law authorizes $932.5 million over six years, fiscal years 1998-2004.

In a related action, DOT granted $47.3 million in funding to 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to increase safety belt use. 2001 will be the third year in which incentive grants have been awarded to states that have either obtained a state safety belt usage rate above the national average or have achieved a usage rate that is higher than the state had in previous years.

The amount of each state grant is based on savings in medical costs to the federal government from increased safety belt use. Award amounts range from $18,800 to $15.8 million.

State and Community Highway Safety Program Grants
State/Community Grant Amount State/Community Grant Amount
Alabama $2,568,003 N. Marianas $369,755
Alaska $739,510 Nebraska $1,507,049
American Samoa $369,755 Nevada $834,577
Arizona $2,050,079 New Hampshire $739,510
Arkansas $1,878,665 New Jersey $3,613,402
California $14,168,459 New Mexico $1,184,119
Colorado $2,168,526 New York $8,670,617
Connecticut $1,586,085 North Carolina $3,714,743
Delaware $739,510 North Dakota $1,051,563
District of Columbia $739,510 Ohio $5,663,912
Florida $6,550,002 Oklahoma $2,351,514
Georgia $3,782,279 Oregon $1,812,198
Guam $369,755 Pennsylvania $6,131,899
Illinois $6,109,178 South Carolina $2,068,145
Indiana $3,202,138 South Dakota $1,047,074
Iowa $2,198,022 Tennessee $2,861,150
Kansas $2,260,329 Texas $9,934,325
Kentucky $2,235,624 Tribal Nations $1,109,265
Louisiana $2,343,395 Utah $1,106,409
Maine $739,510 Vermont $739,510
Maryland $2,307,881 Virgin Islands $369,755
Massachusetts $2,877,939 Virginia $3,266,337
Michigan $5,051,671 Washington $2,793,554
Minnesota $3,050,206 West Virginia $1,909,431
Mississippi $1,755,122 Wisconsin $3,089,217
Missouri $3,283,458 Wyoming $739,510
Montana $967,169 Total $147,902,000

This document was last updated on February 25, 2001.

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Emergency Vehicles: The Rules Of The Road for Motorists

A review of 1997 statistics by the auto club of Southern California found that, in California alone, emergency vehicles were involved in 21 fatal and 1,839 injury traffic collisions. Motorists were at fault in 75 percent of fatal collisions and 63 percent of injury collisions.

Eight keys when meeting emergency vehicles:

  • If the emergency vehicle is close behind you, don't stop.
  • Put your right turn signal on to let the emergency vehicle know that you see it. Pull over to the right and stop. If you are in the center lane, move as far to the right as possible.
  • Don't block an intersection. If you are already in an intersection, proceed through, then move right.
  • If your vehicle is in the left turn lane, you may be directed by emergency personnel to make a U-turn or a sharp right turn in front of other traffic lanes and then pull to the right.
  • On freeways, always pull over to the right, not left or center median, if an emergency vehicle has its headlights on. If patrol cars are flashing their lights and cutting across lanes, they are trying to clear the way.
  • Don't play the radio so loudly that you can't hear approaching sirens. Consider driving with the driver-side window down one-quarter inch to make it easier to hear emergency vehicles.
  • Pay attention to what other vehicles are doing-they may have detected an emergency vehicle you can't yet see or hear.
  • It's illegal to follow emergency vehicles to see where they are headed.

    All motorists should remember that emergency vehicles are exempted from certain rules of the road-they are allowed to cross red lights, exceed the speed limit, and use any lane if safe to do so.

This document was last updated on June 23, 1999.

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NHTSA for Graphic Ads on Safety

The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says he favors airing television commercials depicting graphic car crashes to bring home the message of vehicle safety. Dr. Ricardo Martinez, NHTSA chief, said his office would like to get commercials out by the end of this year or early next. They would be re-enactments similar to those shown in Australia, not crash footage, he said. " I love the concept, " said Martinez, who acknowledged the idea may face resistance from television stations reluctant to broadcast disturbing messages.

Martinez also said that fewer than 5,000 people have asked to de-activate their vehicle's air bags since a rule was passed late last year. The rule allows small people and certain other to request that a dealer de-activate the air bag. Martinez called for a minimal safety standard for cars and light trucks - sport-utility vehicles, pickups and mini-vans. " We believe strongly that all these vehicles, if used extensively in transportation of our children and families, should offer a minimum safety standard, " he said. Cars and light trucks meet most of the same safety mandates, such as side-impact requirements, but not all of them, he said. Martinez said NHTSA will be studying weight and safety issues as they relate to crashes between cars and heavier trucks. " We're concerned about the compatibility issues on that, " he said. But he added that data results will not be available before the end of the year.

Martinez said NHTSA is trying to focus public attention on the fact that driving distractions are becoming more of a concern. But he said the agency is not pushing for federal legislation that would regulate cellular phones or other devices it views as distractions. Martinez also said NHTSA would like to find a way to study rollover standards. And he urged the auto industry to work with crash investigators on vehicle design and view crash data as unbiased feedback.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune Transportation Section.

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Higher-Risk Driver Crackdown: New Program Proposal Targets Repeat Offenders

Few events are more tragic than the death of an innocent person in a crash caused by a convicted drunk driver. Why is such an individual driving drunk again? Why is such an individual driving at all? MADD has always fought for drunk driving sanctions to prevent recurrences of this high-risk behavior that kills thousands of people and injures more than a million others each year. Research continues to provide insights into the dangers of hardcore drunk drivers. Yet, we have made little progress over the last 20 years in controlling this menace.

The driver who killed the daughter of MADD's founder was convicted of drunk driving four times before and twice after that fatal crash. A repeat drunk driving offender killed 27 children and adults in the infamous 1988 Kentucky bus crash-the most deadly alcohol-related traffic crash in U.S. history. Sadly, these preventable, violent deaths are routinely covered in the back pages of major newspapers.

These higher-risk drivers often are repeat offenders-people who repeatedly drive after drinking, especially with a high blood alcohol content (BAC). They are resistant to changing their behavior. Most U.S. drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) have a .15 percent BAC or higher. A driver at .15 BAC is over 300 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. While an estimated 85 percent of drivers in alcohol related fatal crashes don't have prior drunk driving convictions, those who do pose a substantially greater risk of causing a drunk driving crash.

Why do drivers who've been arrested and convicted, lost their licenses, and maybe served jail time continue to drink and drive, and to kill innocent motorists? While some drinking drivers are problem drinkers, others are menaces because they have personality problems that include aggression, hostility, and thrill seeking. Alcohol, in conjunction with personality disorders, makes these drivers hard to change. According to one study of injured drinking drivers a year after their crashes, one-half reported that they had driven while impaired after leaving the hospital. Experiencing serious injury doesn't deter many hardcore drinking drivers.

Not all higher-risk drivers come to the attention of the authorities before they are involved in a crash. But because they drink frequently and heavily, many eventually are apprehended for drunk driving, often more than once. Still, state laws and the criminal justice system overall are failing significantly to ensure that repeat drunk driving offenders do not get on the road again under the influence. There is a lack of knowledge about how to apprehend these offenders and control their impaired driving.

However, there is new promise in recent evaluations of state efforts including vehicle impoundment and forfeiture, license plate impoundment and tagging, and alcohol safety interlocks. These measures, combined with other effective tactics including license suspension and treatment programs, provide a growing array of tools for managing hardcore drinking drivers. It now appears possible to develop a comprehensive plan for controlling such drivers when they come to the attention of the local authorities, and also a system of laws and programs that can greatly reduce the risks posed by this dangerous group.

Embracing this research, MADD has developed a practical program for all 50 states. MADD's Higher Risk Driver Program calls for:

1. Restricting vehicle operation by these offenders by suspending their licenses for substantial periods, impounding or immobilizing their vehicles and requiring alcohol ignition interlock devices on their vehicles to prevent them from starting if the offenders have been drinking.
2. Requiring these offenders to make restitution to the community and drunk driving crash victims through fines and mandatory incarceration or community service and financial restitution to crash victims.
3. Promoting recovery programs for offenders with alcohol abuse problems through mandatory alcohol assessment and treatment, intensive probation and attendance at victim impact panels.

Although most of the remedies in MADD's plan are not new, they typically have been implemented on a piecemeal basis, producing a system full of loopholes. MADD's comprehensive approach should reduce the crashes by these high-risk drivers.

This document was last updated on May 30, 1999.

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Highway Crashes Remain Leading Cause of Occupational Fatalities

Despite an increase in employment, the number of fatal work injuries in 1999 was 6,023, nearly the same number as the previous year, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Highway crashes continued as the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities in 1999. Highway fatalities increased slightly over 1998 and reached the highest level since the BLS fatality census began in 1992. Slightly over two-fifths of the 1,491 people killed were truck drivers.

The number of workers who were killed in non-highway crashes and overturnings or those struck by a vehicle off-highway decreased in 1999. The number killed in air, water, and rail vehicle incidents stayed about the same from 1998 to 1999.

Occupations with large numbers of fatal injuries included truck driver, construction tradesman, and farm worker. Fatal injuries to truck drivers were at their highest level in the eight-year period.

Those who suffered fatal injuries most often were men, the self-employed, and older workers. This is due to the differences in the industries and occupations of these worker groups. Highway-related incidents were the leading cause of job-related fatalities among both men and women.

The states with the largest number of employees had the highest number of work-related fatalities. Four of the largest states - California, Texas, Florida, and New York - accounted for 2 percent of all work-related fatalities in the United States.

Highway/Motor Vehicle Crashes Lead List

In all four regions of the United States - the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West - highway-motor vehicle incidents were the leading cause of occupational fatalities.

About 44 percent of the fatal occupational highway incidents as well as almost half of the work-related homicides occurred in the South, which has 35 percent of total employment.

The census "provides the most complete count of fatal work injuries available," according to BLS. It uses diverse federal and state data sources to identify, verify, and profile work injuries.

For more information, contact BLS, (202) 691-6175; website http://stats.bls.gov/oshhome.htm.

This document was last updated on February 25, 2001.

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Secretary Slater Announces Another Year of Progress for Highway Safety

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced that alcohol-related traffic fatalities dropped again to a new historical low and represented a smaller percentage of the total traffic fatalities, 38 percent in 1999 compared to 39 percent in 1998. Secretary Slater said that later today President Clinton will send a letter to Congress strongly urging them to adopt .08 blood alcohol content as the law of the land. Secretary Slater made the announcement with Members of Congress and the transportation industry in a salute to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for 20 years of accomplishment in helping to reduce alcohol-related crashes and fatalities.

"America's highways are safer than ever and I am encouraged by the progress we've made," Secretary Slater said. "These encouraging statistics reflect continuing, steady improvement in highway safety under the leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, for whom safety is the highest transportation priority."

Secretary Slater also said that seat belt use has reached an all time high of 71 percent nationwide this year, another steady improvement on an upward trend from the 5 8 percent measured in the first national seat belt use survey completed in 1994.

In announcing results of a new seat belt survey and the 1999 Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) assessment, Secretary Slater also said that President Clinton's goal of reducing fatalities among children five and under by 15 percent, set in 1997, was met in 1999, one year ahead of the President's target date. Fatalities in this group decreased to 555 in 1999 from 652 in 1996.

The 1999 FARS assessment by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that, while population, total registered vehicles, and miles traveled all increased in 1999, the fatality rate remained virtually unchanged from 1998. The fatality rate per I 00 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.6 in both 1998 and 1999. Total fatalities in 1999 were 41,611 compared to 41,501 in 1998. The total number of persons injured in crashes increased slightly from an estimated 3.19 million in 1998 to 3.24 million in 1999.

Secretary Slater credited the continuing hard work and support of the public-private partnerships for another year of progress. The USDOT is a partner with the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign, a coalition of government, auto manufacturers, insurance companies, safety organizations, and professional associations who, in turn, work with state and local governments, law enforcement, health professionals, teachers and others to increase seat belt and child safety seat use.

The FARS for 1999 also indicates that:

  • Seat belts and child safety seats clearly save lives. Fifty-seven percent of passenger car and light truck occupants killed in 1999 were unbelted.
  • Seat belt use increased in all categories compared to the previous 1999 NOPUS study.
  • Seat belt use increased in all geographic regions of the country. The largest increases were in the Midwest, which was up more than 8 percentage points.
  • Seat belt use increased among occupants in all classes of vehicles: passenger cars, pickups, vans and SUVs.
  • Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have primary seat belt laws; they averaged 77 percent seat belt use, while states without primary laws averaged 63 percent. This substantial difference shows dramatically the benefits of primary belt use laws.

Other recent seat belt use surveys have recorded dramatic increases in some states with new primary laws or highly visible law enforcement or both. Examples include:

  • Michigan, which recorded seat belt use at 84 percent, an increase of nearly 14 percentage points in less than six months after the passage of its primary law.
  • New York, where the State Police reported seat belt use at 86 percent, up 5 percent over a similar 1999 study, as a result of highly visible, state-wide enforcement of a primary law.

NHTSA collects crash statistics from the 50 states and the District of Columbia to produce the annual FARS assessment. The final report will be available later this year.

This document was last updated on February 25, 2001.

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Safety in Airplanes

Airlines require luggage and carry-on items to be secured on flights. Adults must use safety belts, and infants and young children should be properly restrained as well. Any child under 40 pounds should be restrained in a child safety seat while flying. Turbulence during flights is common and can be dangerous.

  • When you make your reservations, tell the airline that you are traveling with a child. Buy a ticket for your child. Most airlines offer half-price tickets for children age 2 and under.
  • Make sure your child/infant safety seat is certified for use on aircraft and that the width does not exceed 16 inches
  • Retrain children over 40 pounds in safety belts throughout the flight.
  • Plan activities during the flight in 10-minute segments That is the approximate length of the average child's attention span. Plan extra activities to cover delays and time on the ground.

Whether traveling on the road or in the air, it is important to keep children safe. Following these simple guidelines can help ensure a pleasant and safe family trip.

To make sure children are properly secured, parents and caregivers can get a free copy of the SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP SM brochure by calling (800) 441-1888

Source: National SAFE KIDS Campaign, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 1000, Washington D.C. 20004-1707

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From the National SAFE KIDS Campaign

Safety Tip for Parents Traveling on Airplanes with Young Children

General Safety Tips on Planes
  • Keep kids and adults buckled up at all times.
  • Restrain children 40 pounds and under (birth to about age 4) in car seats.
  • Restrain adults and children over 40 pounds (about ages 4 and older) in safety belts.
Planning in Advance
  • Ask airline personnel if your child under age 2 qualifies for a 50% discounted seat.
  • Avoid the busiest days and times to fly.
  • Bring car se0ats for all children 40 pounds and under.
  • Check your seat to make sure that it carries the FAA certification.
  • Never use booster seats on planes. Check them with baggage.
At the Airport
  • Remind airline personnel that you're traveling with a young child who needs to be in a car seat.
  • Preboard to allow enough time to install your car seat.
On the Plane
  • Place car seats in window seats; never in exit row seats.
  • Raise the armrest if your car seat exceeds 16 inches in width to get the right fit.
  • Make sure to install the seat correctly:
    - Thread the safety belt through the car seat so it's secured to the airplane seat.
    - Make sure the harness straps are snug around the child.
  • Never allow your child to wander the aisles.

National SAFE KIDS Campaign
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20004-1707
(202) 662-0600

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Sharing the Road With Emergency Vehicles

Fire engines en route to a house fire. An ambulance transporting a hear-attack victim to the hospital. Police en route to stop a crime in progress. Everyday, drivers share the road with emergency vehicles and personnel engaged in public service and protecting human life. Though most drivers claim they know how to respond to the presence of an emergency vehicle (there's a question on most states' driver certification tests), few properly yield to an oncoming emergency vehicle.

Sirens and lights signal that an emergency vehicle is requesting the right of way. In such instances, it is a driver's legal responsibility to immediately yield the right of way to an authorized emergency vehicle. In most states, the law requires that drivers do this by pulling as far to the right as safely possible, while bringing their vehicle to a complete stop. Drivers may proceed again once certain all emergency vehicles are past.

Some estimates show that up to 60 percent of drivers do not properly yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. There are drivers who move right but don't slow down, or slow down without moving right, and there are even those who choose to ignore the emergency vehicle completely. Failure to yield can create potentially dangerous situations and cost emergency personnel precious moments required to arrive at their destination.

Tips for sharing the road with Emergency Vehicles:

  • When an emergency vehicle is approaching from behind, carefully move your vehicle as far to the right as possible and come to a complete stop.
  • If there is no room to the right - DO NOT PULL INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC - emergency vehicles make every effort to pass on the left.
  • At an intersection, stop before the line, do not block the intersection.
  • Never proceed through a red light to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle.
  • Emergency vehicles may stop several times as they proceed through an intersection. Do not pull forward until the emergency vehicle has completely cleared the intersection.
  • If the emergency vehicle is coming from the opposite direction, pull to the right and, when possible, make eye contact with the driver.
  • Emergency vehicles often travel in tandem. Be sure all emergency vehicles have passed before proceeding.

This document was last updated on May 20, 1999.

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Traffic Safety Pictures

Need some art in your newsletter to go with that story about older driver safety? Looking for a photo of an enraged driver for that road rage article? Seach no further - the AAA Foundation is adding a collection of traffic safety pictures toits web site. This photo library will allow visitors to view and download photos in all of the trafficsafety areas covered by the Foundation.

Categories will include older driver safety; teen and new driver safety; aggressive driving; highway signs and markings; vehicle safety; impaired driving, skating, bicycle safety, and school bus safety. The pictures are being gathered from Foundation videos, field work, and ongoing safety-related studies. There will also be photos of Foundation staff.

Thumbnail images will allow visitors to view a number of related pictures simultaneously and enlarge only those photos that may be of interest. This system cuts down considerably on time waiting for photos to download. Visit the Foundationís web site at http://www.aaafts.org and click on the photo library icon.

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Trunk Entrapment

The temperatures inside a trunk exposed to summer heat can reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Last summer, 11 children age six and younger died from hyperthermia after unintentionally locking themselves in the trunks of unattended vehicles. An expert panel appointed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) convened in November, 1998, to investigate the problem and recommend solutions. The panel included experts from a variety of fields, including: automotive and toy industries; health and medicine; and, law enforcement and safety advocates. ENA is represented on the panel by EN CARE Director Janet Lassman, RN, BS. The panel has met several times and released its recommendations at a news conference in Washington, DC on June 8, 1999.

The recommendations are as follows:

  • New cars should be equipped with internal trunk release mechanisms by 2001. These devices should be voluntarily installed by manufacturers and mandated by NTHSA;
  • A national data collection system should be created to measure the frequency and consequence of trunk entrapment;
  • Education about preventing trunk entrapment should be accessible to the public, for instance, by incorporating prevention messages in vehicle owner manuals, or distributing warning labels;
  • Automobile manufacturers should develop and promote trunk safety retrofit kits in as many vehicle models as possible; and,
  • The Society of Automotive Engineers should develop a recommended practice for the design and performance of trunk safety features.

With implementation of these recommendations, the NHTSA-appointed panel hopes to realize its goal of preventing more deaths and injuries due to trunk entrapments.

What Can Health Care Providers Do?

  • Remind people, especially parents and guardians, to keep their vehicles, locked, windows closed, and keys out of a childís reach;
  • Encourage parents not to allow children to play in or around vehicles. To children, the inside of a trunk can look like a good play area or an attractive hiding place;
  • Explain why parents need to supervise young children closely when they are around cars, and tell them to be especially careful when loading and unloading the trunk;
  • Tell parents not to leave children unattended in a vehicle for any length of time, under any circumstances; and,
  • Gather as much information as you can for your hospital by calling EN CARE: (703) 370-4050 or sending an E-mail: encare@aol.com.

This document was posted on January 7, 2000.

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