The U.S. Department of Transportation is released an open data set that contains detailed, anonymized information about each of these tragic incidents. As the new data being released show, and as DOT reported earlier this summer, 2015 showed a marked increase in traffic fatalities nationwide.
7.2% more people died in traffic-related accidents in 2015 than in 2014. This unfortunate data point breaks a recent historical trend of fewer deaths occurring per year.
In response to the increase, DOT, NHTSA, and the White House issued a call to action to involve a wide range of stakeholders in helping determine the causes of the increase. NHTSA will share its Fatality Analysis Reporting System with safety partners, state and local officials, technologists, data scientists, and policy experts. And private sector partners using new data collection technologies will be offering access to unprecedented amounts of data and new visualizations tools.
According to NHTSA, job growth and low fuel prices were two factors that led to increased driving, including increased leisure driving and driving by young people. More driving can contribute to higher fatality rates. In 2015, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased 3.5% over 2014, the largest increase in nearly 25 years.
Pedestrian and pedalcyclist fatalities increased to a level not seen in 20 years. Motorcyclist deaths increased over 8%.
NHTSA also noted human factors continued to contribute to the majority of crashes. Almost half of passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts. Research shows almost one in three fatalities involved drunk drivers or speeding. One in 10 fatalities involved distraction
California Declares Pedestrian Safety Month
In answer to rapidly increasing numbers of pedestrians being killed and injured on California roadways, the California State Senate has passed a resolution declaring September as “California Pedestrian Safety Month.” The month also marks the beginning of a public awareness campaign aimed at both drivers and pedestrians alike to always be aware of each other and share the road responsibly.
The resolution was sponsored by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) and supported by the State Transportation Agency, Office of Traffic Safety, California Highway Patrol, Caltrans and Department of Motor Vehicles. It draws attention to the 813 pedestrians killed on California roadways in 2015 alone, accounting for nearly 25 percent of all roadways deaths in the state, up from 17 percent just ten years earlier.
“Safety while walking on our streets and sidewalks is everyone’s concern, whether you are a driver, cyclist or pedestrian,” said Senator Beall. “This resolution highlights the state’s recognition that each of us has to understand how serious this problem is and do our part to share the roads safely.”
The public education campaign, “Pedestrians Don’t Have Armor,” highlights the importance of pedestrian safety awareness, whether one is on foot or behind the wheel. At the center of the campaign are characters, clad in body armor made from car parts, that represent everyday pedestrians. These characters remind everyone that in real life, pedestrians don’t have armor and always lose when hit by a vehicle, no matter who is at fault.
Nevada Calls for Tech
The Nevada Center for Advanced Mobility (Nevada CAM) and its partners, including the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), are calling on technology solution providers to submit, via a Request for Information (RFI), creative approaches, technologies and products to improve pedestrian safety in southern Nevada, where pedestrian fatalities are rising as the community grows.s
The RFI seeks to go beyond traditional approaches and investigate new technology options to improve pedestrian safety. The technology needs to be at or beyond prototype development stage and ready for deployment. These solutions will take advantage of existing and future connected infrastructure, and new vehicle technologies.
RTC’s Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST) already has the technology to communicate with computer and internet-connected vehicles at traffic signals to provide helpful feedback not only to motorists, but to pedestrians’ smartphones.
Nevada CAM, a unique collaboration of state, regional and local entities, partnered specifically with the RTC, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), in this RFI to combat rising pedestrian fatalities. The region’s safety challenges include wide streets (up to seven lanes), flat roadways, speed limits of 45 mph or more, and fewer marked crosswalks due to long stretches of road between traffic signals.
Nevada CAM brings together industry, government and academia to develop and deploy policy standards and technology around advanced mobility, including electric, connected, autonomous vehicles and related infrastructure. Founding partners are the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and UNLV.
Nevada CAM is working with automakers and equipment vendors to test, pilot and deploy technology in Nevada. Technology innovators are attracted to the state because of solid public-private partnerships, its business friendly environment, and its common-sense approach to state government licensing and regulation. Nevada is the chosen location for technology frontrunners such as Tesla, Hyperloop One, Faraday Future and Local Motors, which, working with UNLV, will pilot its autonomous last-mile shuttle in southern Nevada this fall.
The RFI can be downloaded at nevadacam.org. Responses are due by 4 p.m. PST on September 28 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject line: “Technology Solutions for Enhanced Pedestrian Safety RFI Response.” The RFI is for planning purposes only.
MADD Mad About Alcohol Related Deaths
Meanwhile, MADD is calling for more alcohol interlock devices mandated for convicted drunk drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its annual report on traffic fatalities for 2015. Overall fatalities went up 7.2 percent. Alcohol deaths also went up, however for the first time ever drunk driving deaths are below 30 percent of all crashes at 29 percent. Drunk Driving fatalities increased by 3.2 percent, from 9,943 in 2014 to 10,265 in 2015.
As a nation, we must do more to prevent these 100% preventable tragedies. The states with strong interlock laws continue to perform better than the others. We are making progress with our keen focus on our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving and advocating for all offender ignition interlock laws. Since the Campaign was launched 10 years ago, the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes has dropped by 24 percent. MADD reported in today’s email blast.
However, in 2014, it took 53 minutes to lose a person to drunk driving. Last year, it only took 51 minutes.