Gutierrez Martin Gutierrez Professor Erika Ceballos English 10 8 April 2019 Accident Prevention Driving has given people the ability to travel from one place to another in an efficient manner. Some would argue that without the invention of vehicles the world would be a total different place and be far less evolved in technology. Unfortunately, despite its great benefits its provided people, it still remains an extremely dangerous activity. Research shows that in 2017 California was in second place for the most amount of fatal crashes coming in at 3,602.
Although there have been great advancements in safety for drivers there is still plenty that could be done to protect drivers even more. Laws in California have been put in place to try and prevent dangerous driving behaviors but sometimes those aren’t always effective in truly reducing it. Preventing dangerous driving has to go above giving the drivers a ticket. To keep drivers safe we must implement different methods to stop dangerous driving and lower traffic accidents. For most age groups in California, driving is one of the leading causes of death. This has lead transportation planners and engineers to try coming up with solutions that could save lives. But sometimes the things put in place to protect us are hurting us even more. An example of this is how roads are designed. During the 1960s, a huge transportation movement began that focused on making drivers safer.
After continuous testing, researchers discovered that for most cars that accidentally drove off the road they would travel around thirty feet before they came to a stop safely. So transportation planners took this into consideration and began implementing it onto highways and freeways. Thirty feet from the highway and freeways they would remove any fixed objects like trees or rocks to prevent drivers from accidentally colliding with those when they drove off the road.
Although it sounds great on paper, they did not take into consideration the psychological effect it would have on drivers. In a video titled “A Flaw In Street Design May Be Costing Lives” Cheddar explains that by putting roads on huge wide open plains, this created an effect that made drivers feel like they were in a safe environment which in turn would make them go faster leading to them driving more dangerously (Cheddar, 2019). Another thing transportation planners and engineers decided to implement in California was wider lanes. Their thinking was that drivers are bound to make mistakes everyone once and a while and because of that we should allow them more room to correct those mistakes. They widened each lane so that drivers have space to serve if needed.
However again, a physiological effect happened on real drivers, the wider lanes provided a feeling of safety that made the driver act more recklessly. With this is mind, the solution could be simple to change roads to a safer atmosphere. We could do something called a road diet. A road diet is essentially removing lanes or changing how some streets work. Researchers found that on your typical 4 lane road with two lanes going and two lanes coming there was numerous point where crashes have a higher chance of happening. But when changing that same 3 road to a 3 lane road with only one lane going, one lane coming and one lane in the middle for drivers who want to make a left turn there were far fewer crash points (Vox, 2018). The same could be done in California and simply with some paint we could prevent future accidents from happening potentially saving hundreds of lives. When transportation planners and engineers first decided to put this “safety” measures in place they didn’t take into consideration how real driver would react to new wider roads.
Although it sounded good on paper it didn’t work and its important to think about the same exact thing with this new proposal of making the roads thinner. Would it really work? Would it have an unintended effect that goes against what were trying to fix? Studying other roads and driving behaviors researchers have said implementing road diets would definitely work. A study of 15 streets in Iowa that were changed with the road diet system saw almost 50% crash reduction (Vox, 2018). Alongside fewer crashes, having thinner lanes resulted in drivers traveling around 7 miles per hour slower compared to how they drove when they had wider lanes. Making the lanes wider for drivers is a step in the right direction of keeping people safe. However more must be implemented in California to ensure a better future for all drivers. Another thing that could be added to more cars on the road are safety features like lane departure warnings and automatic emergency braking. The more cars that are on the street with safety features like these the better off everyone is. Regulations should be put in place in California that require new cars to include these feature.
Although it may come at a price to the consumer the benefits that would come along far outway the negatives. Understanding truly how important these features are 4 could be important to getting regulations like these pushed forward. A study found that around 43 percent of traffic fatalities were caused by drivers making accidental lane changes. (Patrolia, 2003) These fatalities could have been easily prevented by the implementation of lane departure warning systems. Plenty of older cars would still be on the road however many of those cars do not have some safety feature that we would require new cars being built to have. It’s important to think of these drivers as well and for them more safety measures should be built directly into the roads. One substitute for the lane departure warning system that could be put in place in California are things called rumble strips. These strips are placed at the parallel to lanes and they create a loud noise for the driver when they are driven over. This would prevent drivers from dozing off and driving off the road. A problem with this however is that it would not alert drivers when they are driving into other lanes that are going in the same direction as them. They are commonly placed only before the median of the highway or freeway so drivers do not go against oncoming traffic.
Although it would not have all the same benefits as “in car” safety systems likes lane departure systems it would still be extremely helpful and add another layer of protection for older cars that still do not have these features. Furthermore a study implementation of rumble strips on the side of freeways and highways reduced accidents by 55 percent. (Patrolia, 2003) Another things that could be added to make highways and freeways safer for drivers are things called crash attenuators. The purpose of these are to reduce the 5 impact drivers may face when colliding with a fixed object like walls or support pillars. Another purpose these things have is protecting the standing object they surround. These are very similar to concrete safety barriers however these are filled with sand as a way of dispersing the impact felt by the driver and the standing object. Another bonus of crash attenuators is they’re extremely cheap to manufacture. Because the container is made of plastic and those containers are then filled with sand they can remain there all year long without much maintenance required.
The next step in making the roads safer is understanding who needs assistance when it comes to driving. What is meant by this is figuring out what age groups and what genders are responsible for the most amount of crashes and why. Starting off with gender, researchers at Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute(HLDI) found that for the past 42 years men have been in fatal car accidents around two times more than women have (IIHS, HLDI, 1975-2017). This is because men are found to have driving behaviors more dangerous than women. Men are less likely to be wearing their seatbelt while driving, furthermore they are also more likely to be speeding or under the influence of something while driving. Because of this California should require men to have more time behind the wheel as well as more education about the dangers of driving before they get their license.
As for gender IIHS found that “people between the ages of 16-19 are three times more likely to crash then anyone over 20”(IIHS, 2017). This is because people in the age group of 16-19 year olds are still fairly new to the driving environment and have far less experience to anyone over 20. This lack of experience has made them extremely dangerous on the 6 road and has resulted in 2,433 death as well as 292,742 injuries related crashes(CDC, 2016). Even though they account for a large number of crashes we simply can’t just increase the age in which its legal to drive. The would just push the problem back to another age group because the problem revolves around the lack of experience between new drivers. So the solution for this problem could be very similar to the one stated in the last paragraph. Teen drivers should be require more time behind the wheel with a professional driving instructor to give them more experience while driving. Having a driving instructor will give new drivers someone who can help them be safer drivers for themselves and those around them. Something that affects drivers from all ages however is distractions due to cell phone usage. The National Safety Council reported,”…cell phone use while driving has lead to 1.6 million crashes each year”.
As well as stating that,” 1 out of 4 accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.” This statistics show us that people truly are addicted to using their cell phone while driving and despite this being illegal and understanding the dangers of texting while driving, people continue to use their cell phones regardless. A way California could fix this problem is updating the software in phone so that they are no longer usable at a certain speed. Some cars already have this type of software in them, for example many cars do not let you turn on your bluetooth and connect to the car while the car is in drive. The same could be done to the phone which would not allow it to turn on while the car is driving. The final suggestion that California could implement and/or expand on is checkpoints while driving and more law enforcement in the area. Laws have been put in 7 place to protect drivers like speeding limits, not allowing people to drive above a certain blood alcohol level, and texting while driving but people still do not follow these laws putting themselves and other drivers on the road in danger.
Without anyone to enforce these laws, these laws have no power behind them. To enforce these laws, California should add checkpoints on popular streets or areas that commonly have traffic accidents. This would hopefully make drivers more cautious of breaking the law. If they have a strong feeling of being caught breaking the law they are less likely to do it. This goes as well for more officers patrolling in California, the more law enforcement, the less likely drivers would be to break laws as well as making them more focused while driving because they feel like their being watched. In conclusions, California is in deep need for a major rework of the roads as well as reeducating the drivers that are already on the road. Driving no longer has to be as dangerous as it used to be with the things we understand now. There is plenty that could be done to protect drivers but there has to be more action behind the research and statics that have been present to all these years.
Everyone who shares the roadway is responsible for making it safe for themselves as well as others. No change can be done alone but with the help of each driver and city council a safer driving environment in California is possible. By drivers staying aware of laws and getting the driving education they need they could become safer driver for themselves and those around them. And with the city reworking the road with the information we know now about what makes some road safe and other dangers that can as well be a safer environment for drivers. The city also need to enforce the laws and regulations we have 8 now for drivers while also introducing new ones like the example stated above about making cars have safety features that would benefit everyone around them. With more cops on the road and everyone doing their part people will feel safe driving on public roads once again. Since the beginning of the 20th century, as the automobile and truck have offered ever higher levels of mobility, vehicle ownership per head of population has increased. Road needs have been strongly influenced by this popularity and also by the mass movement of people to cities and thence to suburban fringes—a trend that has led to increasing travel needs and road congestion and to low-density cities, which are difficult to service by public transport. Often the building of new roads to ?alleviate? such problems has encouraged further ?urban sprawl? and yet more road travel.
Long-term solutions require the provision of ?alternatives? to car and truck transport, controls over land use, and the proper pricing of road travel. To this end, road managers must be concerned not merely with lines on maps but also with the number, type, speed, and loading of individual vehicles, the safety, comfort, and convenience of the traveling public, and the health and welfare of bystanders and adjoining property owners.
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