Most people don’t like them. Privacy advocates abhor them. But, really– how many things can you name that save lives AND generate revenues for cash-strapped local and state governments? Red-light cameras are one such item.
A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that red-light cameras saved 159 lives over a four-year period in the 14 large U.S. cities where the study took place. The scientists claimed that more than 800 traffic fatalities would have been prevented during the course of the study if the cameras had been deployed in all large U.S. cities.
The scientists compared fatal car crash rates in U.S. cities with populations of at least 200,000 for two four-year periods: 1992 to 1996 and 2004 to 2008. They excluded cities that had already deployed red-light cameras in the earlier period, and cities that instituted cameras during the later period.
In the 14 cities that used red-light cameras during 2004 to 2008, the rate of fatal red-light running crashes was 35 percent lower than in 1992 to 1996. The crash rate did drop in cities that never deployed camera programs, but only by 14 percent.
Based on these data, the scientists determined that the rate of fatal red-light running crashes was 24 percent lower in cities with cameras in 2004 to 2008 than it would have been had they not deployed the cameras. In fact, the benefits of red-light cameras were actually larger than this. The rate of all fatal crashes at intersections with signals (not just red light running crashes) dropped by 14 percent in cities that deployed red-light cameras, whereas it increased by 2 percent in other cities. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*
Drunk driving continues to be a serious problem. In 2009 for example, alcohol was a factor in more than 10,000 highway deaths. The same year, a stunning 10 percent of respondents to a survey of U.S. adults said they had operated an automobile while drunk during the previous year. Nearly 6 percent said they had done it more than once.
So how would you feel about a car that can instantly detect whether a driver is drunk and prevent that person from starting the car? You better make up your mind quickly, because scientists are close to perfecting this technology.
“We’re five to seven years away from being able to integrate this into cars,” Robert Strassburger, the VP for safety at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) told the Washington Post. The AAM, an automotive trade group, is on the development team for the new technology which is being spearheaded by the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The anticipated sensing device will look nothing like the breathalyzer machines currently used by police in the field. Instead it will be comprised of tiny, passive, touch-sensitive sensors that are permanently affixed to a key fob or a starter button. The sensors can determine blood alcohol levels in seconds. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*
While some car manufacturers already offer systems which can alert drivers who are dozing off, the feature is rare, and tends to be quite expensive when offered.
Now, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology have developed the Eyetracker, which provides this functionality at a lower cost and can be installed in any car. The Eyetracker’s cameras track the driver’s eyes, and the system will sound an alert if it determines that the driver is falling asleep. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*
New England Patriots NFL quarterback Tom Brady was on his way to practice when he crashed into a minivan which allegedly ran a red light. His Audi S8 car T-boned the other vehicle a few blocks from his home. A relieved New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft noted after the accident:
“[Tom] arched and prepared himself and we’re just lucky with the glass and angles. We have a lot to be thankful for. It was really a miracle…We’re very, very lucky. Patriot Nation is lucky he had his seatbelt on.”
Was it simply luck or good car design and mechanical engineering? Crumple zones and the passenger cage of a car when built for maximum safety decrease injury. Yet, unfortunately, there is significant variability among safety in cars. Brady walked away from the accident for a variety of reasons.
As a future hall of fame quarterback, Brady has lightning fast reflexes when analyzing defensive blitzes and options when throwing the football. Quickly bracing himself for impact may have helped. Wearing a seatbelt definitely helped. What may have helped the most was the type of car he drove. Read more »
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