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Avoid these driving distractions and stay safe

Drivers in Oklahoma who occasionally glance down at their cell phones may want to take notice of the startling statistics of distracted driving. In 2018, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation crash statistics found that 8,752 accidents across the state were caused by a distracted driver. Unfortunately, 35 people lost their lives in these accidents and thousands of others were severely injured.

Though cell phones get the majority of the blame for distracted driving, there are other surprising ways that drivers don't pay attention. Those who drive while they are sad or angry are 10 times more likely to crash. While driving to calm music may help improve focus in some drivers, turning up a favorite song loudly and singing along increases the risk of causing an accident.

Red-light cameras save lives but need more public support

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recorded more than 800 deaths from red-light running collisions in 2016. Of those fatalities, more than half were pedestrians, bicyclists and occupants in vehicles other than the offender. Residents of Oklahoma should know that installing traffic cameras has long been encouraged as a way for communities to reduce the number of red-light violations and crashes.

For instance, various IIHS studies have found that red-light cameras reduce the number of violations by around 40%. Large cities with cameras see 21% fewer red-light crash deaths than large cities without them. The IIHS discovered that between 2012 and 2018, when the number of communities with red-light cameras went down from 533 to 421, there was an increase of 17% in red-light running collisions.

Study finds hands-free cell phones still create risks

Oklahoma drivers who use a hands-free cell phone might be more likely to engage in other risky behavior as well. According to a study by the company Lytx, drivers often used their hands in these cases to engage in another distracting behavior in addition to talking on the phone, such as eating.

About nine fatalities per day happen in the United States because of distracted driving. It is the second-leading cause of deadly driver-caused truck accidents. However, many people do not realize that when they add a second distraction to the already-distracting activity of talking on a cell phone, even a hands-free one, their risk of having an accident goes up as well. The study also identified other unsafe behaviors that were correlated. For example, drivers who tended to not put on a seat belt were also more likely to follow the vehicle in front of them too closely and to eat while driving.

Too many Americans are driving drowsy, AASM survey finds

Drowsy driving is 100% preventable, and so it is an act of negligence when one engages in it. Every year in Oklahoma and across the U.S., drowsy driving leads to an average of 328,000 auto accidents, 6,400 of which are fatal. This is according to a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

As for just how many Americans are driving drowsy, one can get a good idea from the results of a survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. A total of 2,003 U.S. adults responded to the AASM's Sleep Prioritization Survey, and 45% admitted that they have had to struggle to stay awake behind the wheel. The trend is considered a public health concern.

AAA finds increased car accidents with automated safety devices

Progress toward fully automated vehicles, like any other technological innovation, relies upon stepping stones. In this case, the steps are the implementation of sensor technology in partially automated systems that provide safety assistance to drivers. But what happens when the safety system actually decreases safety? Research by industry groups found that some of the more popular safety devices relying on partial automation technology could be placing Oklahoma drivers at a higher risk of a car accident.

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety singled out two safety options for scrutiny. Lane-keeping assistance provides gentle redirection of the steering wheel based on sensor feedback. This helps inform the driver of the possible need for more corrective action to avoid car accidents. Adaptive cruise control adjusts vehicle speed using sensors that monitor the proximity of other vehicles in front of the car.

New cars may soon detect alcohol on drivers' breaths

Oklahoma residents may be wondering what is being done to curb drunk driving. The problem, it seems, is not a lack of awareness. Technological advances, though, have been made that are helping to prevent the intoxicated from operating their vehicle, and just recently, a bill was introduced in Congress that would require alcohol detection tech on all new cars by 2024.

Lawmakers were no doubt influenced by the success of systems like the ignition interlock device, a breathalyzer that connects to a car's ignition and prevents the car from starting if the driver's BAC exceeds the legal limit. Data from 11 ignition interlock manufacturers shows that the device has averted over three million attempts made by drunk drivers to start their car since 2006.

How truckers can prevent jackknifing

Jackknifing can occur not only in big rigs but also with cars towing trailers and boats. However, truckers in Oklahoma have to watch out the most. Though there is anti-jackknife technology out there, truckers should still make themselves familiar with the following tips for preventing such an accident.

It all starts with checking the rearview mirrors for any trailer swing. The lighter the load, the more important this is because light loads mean less traction on the road and raise the risk for "overbraking." Truckers should know that harsh braking can lead to a trailer jackknife while sudden acceleration can cause a tractor jackknife.

Study shows drivers using phones in riskier ways

Distracted driving rates may or may not be increasing in Oklahoma specifically, but there is no doubt that drivers are using their phones in riskier ways than before. This is according to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Researchers looked at two observational surveys that involved drivers in four Northern Virginia communities as they approached and stopped at red lights.

The surveys were conducted in 2014 and 2018. It turns out that while drivers in 2014 used their phones primarily to talk, drivers in 2018 were 57% likelier to use them for texting and other activities than talking. Since these activities completely take a driver's eyes off the road, it's not surprising that when someone operating a vehicle is using his or her phone, it increases the risk of a fatal car crash occurring by 66%.

Medical errors are one of the world's leading causes of death

A recent health care report suggests that about one in 10 hospital patients in Oklahoma and around the country are harmed because of a medical mistake of some kind. Roughly half of these errors are preventable, and almost a third of them result in the patient's death. These were just a few of the sobering discoveries that researchers from the World Health Organization made when they looked into the quality of health care available in 36 countries.

According to WHO's Patient Safety Fact File, medical errors are now one of the world's leading causes of death. The report reveals that about 2.6 million hospital patients die each year, and more than 130 million suffer harm because of unsafe treatment. In the United States, about 10% of all hospital deaths can be linked directly to some sort of diagnostic error.

Truck crash fatalities continue to rise

Truck crashes in Oklahoma and across the country continue to lead to deadly results. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, truckers are dying behind the wheel at the greatest level in 30 years. This also means that others on the road face an even greater threat, given that most injuries in commercial trucking crashes involve smaller passenger vehicles. In 2018, 885 drivers or passengers in large trucks lost their lives in collisions, the highest number since 1988, when 911 died.

In total, 4,678 people were killed in 2018 trucking accidents, a 1% increase from the 4,367 who lost their lives in crashes involving trucks one year before. This marked the fourth consecutive year of increasing numbers of fatal truck collisions. In particular, the NHTSA noted a 13% increase in the number of pedestrians killed in these crashes in 2018. Of course, these numbers point only to deaths, and many more people face catastrophic injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident involving a large truck. The size and weight of trucks mean that others involved in a collision are far more likely to be seriously injured.

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