Help for Oklahoma
It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the following news from the tornado devastated areas of Oklahoma. We have been in touch with your fellow Sheriffs there and have learned that their staff was not spared by the tremendous power of this EF5 tornado. Many of the officers from the counties of Cleveland, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie County went to work on the morning of May 20, 2013 and came home to huge piles of debris where their houses has stood that morning. Fortunately, their families are safe but they are facing huge burdens emotionally and financially to rebuild their lives, while serving their communities!
The EF5 tornado impacted Moore, Oklahoma, and adjacent areas, killing at least 24 people, including 10 children, and injuring more than 353 others. Current search and rescue efforts are still ongoing. The tornado made contact in the counties affected for a total of approximately 50 minutes and for about 17 miles, reaching a diameter of 1.3 miles wide at its largest capacity. The specified counties affected were Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.
We have learned from Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association Executive Director, Ken McNair that:
- In Cleveland County, there are 12 employees of the sheriff’s office affected by the tornado with either some damage or complete devastation of their homes. Three of those have a total loss of their homes, other are missing walls and more.
- In Oklahoma County, there are ten employees of the sheriff’s office affected by the tornado with either some damage or complete devastation of their homes.We have four families with young children who's houses have been destroyed. We have one family who's horses were impacted and several others who can not move back into their homes.
- In Pottawatomie County, there are two employees of the sheriff’s office affected by the tornado with either some damage or complete devastation of their homes.
- In Lincoln County: No employees were affected by the tornado.
- In McClain County: No employees were affected by the tornado.
The NSA has activated our Disaster Relief Fund on the NSA website. If you will go to www.sheriffs.org/Disasterrelief, you can send a donation now! Then, I will personally make sure that a check goes out to the Oklahoma Counties to help their deputies get back on their feet.
The NSA Educational Foundation was formed to help Sheriffs and their Deputies at times like these. Our funds are limited but with your small donation, we can make a difference in the lives of these deputies! Please help today.
NHTSA Releases Guidelines to Minimize Distracted Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released distraction guidelines that encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk connected to electronic devices built into their vehicles.
A recent NHTSA study found that roughly 660,000 American drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices on roadways at any given moment.
The voluntary guidelines establish specific recommended criteria for electronic devices installed in vehicles at the time they are manufactured that require drivers to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road to use them.
The guidelines include recommendations to limit the time drivers must take their eyes off the road to perform any task to two seconds at a time and twelve seconds total.
The guidelines also recommend disabling several options unless the vehicle is in park, including manual text entry for text messaging and internet browsing; video phoning or conferencing; and display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages and social media content.
"Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation's roadways," said Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation secretary. "These guidelines recognize that today's drivers appreciate technology, while providing automakers with a way to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need. Combined with good laws, good enforcement and good education, these guidelines can save lives."
The recommendations outlined in the guidelines are consistent with the findings of a new NHTSA naturalistic driving study, which showed that visual-manual tasks associated with hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of a crash by three times.
The guidelines and research announced are part of Secretary LaHood’s “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving,” a comprehensive plan to work with federal, state and local partners, the automotive industry and safety community to address distraction.
National Transportation Safety Board urges lowering drunken driving threshold to 0.05
By Joan Lowy Associated Press
Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle
WASHINGTON – States should cut their threshold for drunken driving by nearly half – from 0.08 blood alcohol level to 0.5 – matching a standard that has substantially reduced highway deaths in other countries, a U.S. safety board recommends. That’s about one drink for a woman who weighs less than 120 pounds, two for a 160-pound man, studies show.
More than 100 countries have adopted an alcohol content standard of 0.05 or lower, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board. In Europe, the share of traffic deaths attributable to drunken driving was reduced by more than half within 10 years after the standard was lowered, the report said.
In Wichita, there was mixed reaction Tuesday to the idea of lowering the threshold.
NTSB officials said it wasn’t their intention to prevent drivers from having a glass of wine with dinner, but they acknowledged that under a threshold as low as 0.05, the safest thing for people who have one or two drinks is not to drive at all.
A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of 80-proof alcohol.
Alcohol concentration levels as low as 0.01 have been associated with driving-related performance impairment, and levels as low as 0.05 have been associated with significantly increased risk of fatal crashes, the board said.
New approaches are needed to combat drunken driving, which claims the lives of about a third of the more than 30,000 people killed each year on U.S. highways – a level that has remained consistent for the past decade and a half, the board said.
“Our goal is to get to zero deaths, because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable,” NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said. “Alcohol-impaired deaths are not accidents, they are crimes. They can and should be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will.”
An alcohol concentration threshold of 0.05 is likely to meet strong resistance from states, said Jonathan Adkins, an official with the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices.
“It was very difficult to get 0.08 in most states, so lowering it again won’t be popular,” Adkins said. “The focus in the states is on high (blood alcohol content) offenders as well as repeat offenders. We expect industry will also be very vocal about keeping the limit at 0.08.”
Even safety groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and AAA declined Tuesday to endorse the NTSB’s call for a 0.05 threshold. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which sets national safety policy, stopped short of endorsing the board’s recommendation.
“NHTSA is always interested in reviewing new approaches that could reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road and will work with any state that chooses to implement a 0.05 BAC law to gather further information on that approach,” the safety administration said in a statement.
In Wichita, the head of the DUI Victim Center of Kansas supported a lower threshold. In an e-mail statement Tuesday, executive director Andrie Krahl wrote: “I agree that states should reduce the legal blood-alcohol threshold from 0.08 to 0.05, in order to increase accountability for those individuals willing to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and hopefully decrease the number of deaths and injuries resulting from vehicular crimes committed by impaired drivers.”
Krahl said the “only difference between a moderate drinker behind the wheel of a car … and a dangerous drunk driver is the impending accident.” Krahl added that “most drunk drivers don’t realize how impaired they are, and nobody knows their exact blood-alcohol level.”
Two Wichita defense lawyers who handle DUI cases questioned the wisdom of such a move.
“Is the state prepared to take on the expense associated with a great influx of DUI arrests as a result, and will it cause a hardship on the state when resources … in the criminal justice system are already strained?” said attorney David Leon. He predicted that, especially in larger counties like Sedgwick, such a lower threshold “could double, triple, quadruple DUI arrests.”
DUIs are already costly for motorists, Leon said, adding that a DUI can cause a motorist to pay thousands of dollars more over the years in higher insurance rates. Going to trial on a DUI charge can cost $1,500 to $7,500 in attorney fees, he said.
Another Wichita lawyer, John Stang, questioned whether a 0.05 mark would increase safety much. Other actions while driving, such as cellphone use, can be more risky than drinking and driving, Stang said. The current standard of 0.08 “has worked pretty good,” he said.
Stang noted that the law already allows someone with less than a 0.08 alcohol reading to be charged with DUI as long as it can be argued that the lower level of alcohol content still makes the person incapable of driving safely.
Leon said he has had some clients charged with driving under the influence with blood-alcohol levels as low as 0.05. A lower level can make it harder for the prosecutor to prove that alcohol affected a motorist’s driving, Leon said.
The national board recommended the NHTSA-established “incentive grants” designed to encourage states to adopt the lower threshold.
A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has estimated that 7,082 deaths would have been prevented in 2010 if all drivers on the road had blood alcohol content below 0.08 percent.
The lower threshold was one of nearly 20 recommendations made by the board, including that states adopt measures to ensure more widespread use of alcohol ignition interlock devices. Those require a driver to breathe into a tube, much like the breathalyzers police ask suspected drunken drivers to use.
The board has previously recommended states require all convicted drunken drivers install the interlock devices in their vehicles as a condition to resume driving. Currently, 17 states and two California counties require all convicted drivers use the devices.
However, only about a quarter of drivers ordered to use the devices actually end up doing so, the board said. Drivers use a variety of ways to evade using the devices, including claiming they won’t drive at all or don’t own a vehicle and therefore don’t need the devices, the board said.
The board recommended the safety administration develop a program to encourage states to ensure all convicted drivers actually use the devices. The board also recommended that all suspected drunken drivers whose licenses are confiscated by police be required to install interlocks as a condition of getting their licenses reinstated, even though they haven’t yet been convicted of a crime.
Courts usually require drivers to pay for the devices, which cost about $50 to $100 plus a monthly fee of $50 to operate, staff members said.
The board has previously called on the safety administration and the auto industry to step up their research into technology for use in all vehicles that can detect whether a driver has elevated blood alcohol without the driver breathing into a tube or taking any other action. Drivers with elevated levels would be unable to start their cars.
But the technology is still years away.
Studies show that more than 4 million people a year in the U.S. drive while intoxicated, but about half of the intoxicated drivers stopped by police escape detection, the NTSB report said. The board also recommended expanded use of passive alcohol devices by police. The devices are often contained in flashlights or are shaped to look like cellphones that officers wear on their shirt pockets or belts. If an officer points the flashlight at a driver or the cellphone-like device comes in close proximity to an intoxicated driver, the devices will alert police who may not have had any other reason to suspect drunken driving.
The use of the devices currently is very limited, the report said.
Dramatic progress was made in the 1980s through the mid-1990s after the minimum drinking age was raised to 21 and the legally-allowable maximum level of drivers’ blood alcohol content was lowered to 0.08, the report said. Today, drunken driving claims nearly 10,000 lives a year, down from 21,000 in 1982. At that time, alcohol-related fatalities accounted for 48 percent of highway deaths.
The board made its recommendations on the 25th anniversary of one of the nation’s deadliest drunken driving accidents in Carrollton, Ky. A drunk driver drove his pickup on the wrong side of a highway, collided with a bus and killed 27 people, 24 of them children. The children were part of a church youth group on their way home after spending the day at an amusement park.
Contributing: Tim Potter of The Eagle
Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/05/14/2803054/national-transportation-safety.html#storylink=cpy
In a sharp reversal, highway deaths rise
Road deaths in the U.S. rose 5.3 percent last year to 34,080, the first year-over-year increase in traffic fatalities since 2005, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The jump had been expected as more people are taking to the roadways as the economy improves. Preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration shows that vehicle miles traveled in 2012 increased by 9.1 billion miles — a 0.3 percent rise. The fatality rate — which is number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled — is projected to rise to 1.16 from 1.1.
Road deaths had steadily decreased each year since 2005, dropping by about 26 percent from 2005 to 2011, when 32,367 people died on the nation’s roads.
Crash fatalities were up for every quarter of 2012 compared with 2011, the NHTSA said.
“The news, while disheartening, is not surprising,” said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “With the improving economy and historically low levels of motor vehicle deaths in recent years, we expected deaths to increase. Highway deaths have been declining significantly in recent years.”
Harsha said her organization is concerned about increasing road deaths among motorcyclists. The group recently projected that about 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2012, which would be a 14.7 percent jump over the previous year — the biggest percentage increase ever.
“A comprehensive strategy is needed to keep motorcyclists safe,” she said. “Most crucial in this strategy are universal helmet laws, which 31 states currently lack.”
The region with the biggest percentage increase in road deaths was the Northeast — Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Traffic fatalities in the region jumped more than 15 percent.
US traffic deaths rise for first time since 2005 -- motorcycle rate a big contributor
By Michael Strong, The Detroit Bureau
For the first time in nearly a decade, the number of traffic deaths went up and a shift away from motorcycle helmet laws may be to blame, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and helmet advocacy groups.
An improving economy, which leads to more discretionary driving, also played a role in the increase, according to NHTSA officials. “With a rebounding economy that there’s increased discretionary driving, which is clearly always the leader in terms of dangerous driving scenarios,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said.
Last year was the first year that deaths rose since 2005 and it marked the highest number of people to die on U.S. roads since 2008. The total number of fatalities rose 5.3 percent to 34,080, according to the NHTSA estimate.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is projecting that approximately 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2012: a 9 percent increase from 2011. This would represent 14.7 percent of overall traffic fatalities, the highest percentage ever.
Motorcycle deaths are up for several reasons: unseasonably warm winter weather early last year drew more riders out; high gas prices have led to an increase in motorcycle sales and more riders; and states continue to overturn laws that required helmet use.
“We’re seeing a really heightened number of motorcycle crashes and fatalities, which has really been driving the numbers in a lot of states,” Strickland said.
NHTSA said road deaths rose in all four quarters of 2012 and the fatality rate rose to 1.16 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, up from 1.10 in 2012 — and the highest fatality rate since 2008.
The rise follows a steady decline in road deaths since 2005, when 43,510 people died. Road deaths are down 26 percent since 2005. Road deaths in 2011 hit a 60-year-low, falling to 32,367.
“After years of historic lows, any small uptick is going to look like a strong contrast,” Strickland said.
However, the focus on motorcycle fatalities is hard to escape in May, which is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Proponents of mandatory helmet laws point to the fact that motorcycle traffic fatalities went up in 34 states and decreased in 16 states.
Right now only 19 states require them of all riders, down from 26 states that did so in 1997. Several states repealed mandatory helmet laws in recent years, including Michigan, Pennsylvania.
Campaigns to repeal the laws are underway in some of the remaining states, and no state has enacted a universal helmet requirement since Louisiana did so in 2004.
Every region of the country saw motorcycle fatality numbers rise last year, including jumps of 32 percent in Oregon, 29 percent in Indiana, 18 percent in Michigan and 8 percent in Pennsylvania.
However, opponents of mandatory helmet laws claim the rise in fatalities can't be attributed simply to riders not wearing helmets.
(Click here for more about the report on the rise in motorcycle fatalities.)
The Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE), a Pennsylvania-based organization that opposes helmet mandates, said fatality levels are influenced by several other factors, including an increase in motorcycle riding, alcohol impairment and road deterioration.
Charles Umbenhauer, ABATE’s lobbyist, said motorcycle registrations in his state increased from 286,531 to 404,409 last year. The fatality rate in the last full year of the state helmet mandate was 5.5 per 10,000 registrations, and 5.2 per 10,000 last year, the first year of the repeal.
“It’s common sense. If you put more motorcycles on the highway, you’re going to have more accidents and more fatalities,” he said.
Recent analysis indicates cell phone distracted driving crashes vastly under-reported
National Safety Council and Nationwide Insurance release new report on cell phone distracted driving crashes
Itasca, IL – Today, the National Safety Council released findings from a recent analysis of national statistics on fatal motor vehicle crashes, in a report entitled, “Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data,” funded in part by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The report reviewed 180 fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011, where evidence indicated driver cell phone use. Of these fatal crashes, in 2011 only 52% were coded in the national data as involving cell phone use.
“We believe the number of crashes involving cell phone use is much greater than what is being reported,” said Janet Froetscher president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Many factors, from drivers not admitting cell phone use, to a lack of consistency in crash reports being used to collect data at the scene, make it very challenging to determine an accurate number.”
Even when drivers admitted cell phone use during a fatal crash, the Council’s analysis found that in about one-half of these cases, the crash was not coded in Federal data (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System). In addition, there are an unknown number of cases in which cell phone use involvement in crashes is impossible to determine. One example would be a driver reading an email or text message on a phone who dies in a crash without any witnesses.
The report also brings up large differences in cell phone distraction fatal crashes reported by states. For instance, in 2011, Tennessee reported 93 fatal crashes that involved cell phone use, but New York, a state with a much larger population, reported only one. Texas reported 40, but its neighboring state Louisiana reported none.
“The public should be aware that cell phone-involved fatal crashes are not accurately being reported,” said Bill Windsor, associate vice president of consumer safety at Nationwide. “These statistics influence national prevention priorities, funding decisions, media attention, legislation and policy, even vehicle and roadway engineering. There are wide-ranging, negative ramifications to safety if a fatal crash factor is substantially under-reported, as appears to be the case of cell phone use in crashes.”
In 2012, highway fatalities increased for the first time in seven years. Based on risk and prevalence of cell phone use, as reported by research and NHTSA, the National Safety Council estimates 25% of all crashes involve cell phone use.
To learn more about this issue, visit http://distracteddriving.nsc.org, view the cell phone crash data whitepaper and infographic on this study, or read about safety tips to help avoid driving while distracted.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides customers a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, pet, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and specialty health services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com
Nationwide, On Your Side, and the Nationwide frame mark, and are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
About the National Safety Council
Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, nsc.org, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.
Underage Drinking—A Deadly Behavior
The research is clear, underage drinking is deadly.
- In the United States in 2011, 1,059 15-20 year-old drivers were in alcohol-related fatal traffic crashes.
- A New Zealand study found that lowering the drinking age to 18 increased car crashes among their youth by 12% for 18-19 year old males and 14% among 15-17 year old males.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that the U.S. minimum drinking age laws have saved 28,765 lives since 1975.
The lives saved happened because the teens were not drinking.
The research is just as clear that underage drinking also has unseen consequences. Numerous studies have shown the brain of a person under 21 is still developing. There are important changes occurring in our brains while we are adolescents. Alcohol retards those changes, and has both short term and long-term effects. This includes damaging a teen’s:
- learning capabilities
- decision–making process, and
- ability to reason
Yet, despite all evidence to the contrary, teens still think their driving improves after drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana. So what can be done to change these dangerously wrong beliefs?
The Guiding Hand of Parents
It all starts at home. Parents are a critical factor. 80 percent of teens report that their parents are a leading factor in their decision to drink or not to drink. The guidance provided by parents can help keep teens alcohol- and drug-free, and that guidance has to start early and continue until they are 21. Allowing a teen to drink alcohol at home is not guidance. The research demonstrates that early introduction to alcohol is a primary risk factor for problem drinking during adolescence. Learning about the harms when teens drink and how to discuss it with their teens is guidance. Providing an environment of open discourse is guidance. Setting limits and not allowing underage drinking in the home or anywhere else while the child is under the age of 21 is guidance. Guidance is taking the time to learn, to talk, and to provide a great role model.
There are a number of online resources that give parents the information and tools they need to provide that guidance. These include: NIDA For Teens; Stop Alcohol Abuse; MADD’s PowerTalk 21; and The Century Council’s – Parent’s Corner
Parental action alone will not change our overall societal perception that underage drinking is a rite of passage. It will take a comprehensive approach involving parents, teachers, law enforcement, criminal justice officials, public officials, and others to make that kind of change. But like so many beliefs and behaviors learned in our early years, what happens at home does make a difference.
Find out more by clicking here. http://trafficsafetyguy.com/
Distracted driving deaths underreported making problem appear smaller, study says
The Evening News, Mike McKee/Associated Press
Seventeen-year-old Kelsey Raffaele’s last words were over a cell phone to a friend: “I’m going to crash!” The car she was driving had clipped a snow bank and spun into oncoming traffic, where it was t-boned by an SUV. She died at a hospital without regaining consciousness. Police chalked the accident up to mistakes made by a novice driver, unaware that she had been on the phone at the time.
WASHINGTON — Seventeen-year-old Kelsey Raffaele’s last words were over a cellphone to a friend: “I’m going to crash!” The car she was driving had clipped a snow bank and spun into oncoming traffic, where it was T-boned by an SUV. She died at a hospital without regaining consciousness.
Police chalked the accident up to mistakes made by a novice driver, unaware that she had been on the phone at the time. Her phone was found later in the back seat, and the possibility that distracted driving might have been a cause is missing from statistics kept by police and the federal agency that compiles crash data.
Crash deaths in cases where drivers were on the phone are seriously underreported, according to a recent analysis of state and federal data by the National Safety Council, an advocacy group. The underreporting makes the problem of distracted driving appear less significant than it actually is, and impedes efforts to win passage of tougher laws, the council says.
The group reviewed 180 fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011 in which there was strong evidence that the driver had been using a cellphone, in a study paid for in part by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
Of the 2011 crashes, only half were coded in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s accident database as involving cellphone use, the study found. That was still better than previous years: Only 8 percent of the 2009 crashes examined were coded as involving cellphones, and 35 percent in 2010.
Even when drivers admitted to authorities that they were using a phone during an accident in which someone was killed, about half the cases weren’t recorded that way in the database, the council said.
The safety administration’s database shows more than 32,000 traffic deaths overall in 2011, the latest year for which complete data are available. But only 385 are listed as involving phones.
“We believe the number of crashes involving cellphone use is much greater than what is being reported,” said Janet Foetscher, the safety council’s president and CEO. “Many factors, from drivers not admitting cellphone use to a lack of consistency in crash reports being used to collect data at the scene, make it very challenging to determine an accurate number.”
The safety administration’s database is the bible of traffic crash statistics, but it depends on accident information gathered by states from police reports.
“Most people assume unknowingly that if it is federal data, it must be accurate,” said John Ulczycki, the council’s vice president.
The council’s analysis found large variations among states in the reporting of phone-involved fatal crashes.
Tennessee, for example, reported far more fatal crashes involving cellphone use than any other state — 93 in 2011 and 71 in 2010. California, the nation’s most populous state, reported only 22 fatal crashing involving cellphones each of those years. New York, which has three times as many people as Tennessee, reported only one cellphone-involved fatal crash in 2011 and 10 in 2010.
One reason for the underreporting is that unless a driver, passenger or witness tells police a cellphone was being used, officers who respond to crash scenes may have no reason to investigate that possibility. Police are usually required to get a subpoena in order to obtain cellphone records.
“Can you imagine going through a subpoena process just to check a box on a form when you already have someone for running a red light and causing a fatality?” said David Teater, the council’s senior director of transportation initiatives.
Even when such records are obtained, they must align with the precise moment of the crash — a moment that isn’t always known.
NHTSA has acknowledged weaknesses in its distracted driving data and says it’s been working with states and police to strengthen reporting of accidents involving distracted driving. So far, 35 states have told the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety agencies, that they have adopted model accident reporting forms that include a box for officers to check whether cellphone use was involved.
Reluctance to admit the behavior, lack of witnesses, and in some cases the death of the driver all make it hard to collect full information, the agency says. “That’s why we’re working with states and law-enforcement agencies to add more precise categories to police reports,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement.
Kelsey Raffaele’s mother, Bonnie, began lobbying the Michigan state legislature for tougher restrictions on cellphone use by novice drivers a year after her daughter’s death in January 2010. She said some legislators told her the problem wasn’t that big, pointing to the federal data.
“Every time I testified I would tell them Kelsey’s crash was not reported as cellphone use, and she’s just one of thousands of other crashes that are not on the books ... as being cell-phone (related),” said Raffaele, of Sault Ste. Marie. “I would tell them, ‘The statistics are much higher than you think they are.’ ”
Raffaele eventually won the changes she sought.
State laws are a patchwork. Ten states and the District of Columbia require hands-free phones if a driver is going to make calls. No state bans all cellphone use for all drivers, but 36 states and D.C. ban all cellphone use by novice drivers. Currently, 39 states and D.C. ban text messaging for all drivers. An additional 6 states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates accidents, has urged states to ban all drivers from texting, emailing or chatting on a cellphone behind the wheel except in emergencies, saying the practices are simply too dangerous to be allowed.
It may not be possible to ever get complete reporting of cellphone involvement as long as reliance on driver admission is a factor, the safety council said.
Instead, the council is urging NHTSA to study whether it’s feasible to develop a way to estimate cellphone-distracted crashes. The government already makes national estimates on drunken-driving accidents where data are lacking.
NSC is now accepting nominations for its Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award
Additional information about the award and the application process can be found at nsc.org/teenaward. The deadline to submit nominations is Wednesday, June 26th.
NSC is now accepting nominations for its prestigious Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to reducing the number of crashes, injuries and deaths involving teen drivers. Anyone who would like to nominate an individual or organization can do so by filling out the nomination form.
The Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award recognizes those who have taken actions such as:
- Advocacy in communities, states or nationwide
- Leading efforts to adopt safe teen driving practices
- Promoting legislation based on the proven principles of Graduated Driver Licensing
- Changing behaviors to reduce teen crashes using proven, strategic methods
Winners will be announced in September.
Please help us salute those who go above and beyond to protect our young drivers and make our roads safer for everyone. Visit nsc.org/teenaward for more information.