A law went into effect in California on January 1, 2019, that requires that repeat drunk drivers and first-time DUI offenders who cause injuries have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. California is one of almost 30 states to have such a law on their books, but a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 11 proposed a far more sweeping regulation. If passed, the Abbas Stop Drunk Driving Act would require auto manufacturers to fit interlock devices on every new passenger vehicle sold in the United States.
The ongoing opioid epidemic in California and around the country is having a profound effect on road safety according to a study published in the online journal JAMA Network Open. After analyzing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports on 18,321 fatal two-vehicle accidents that took place over a period of more than 20 years, a pair of Columbia University researchers concluded that getting behind the wheel after taking drugs like fentanyl or hydrocodone doubles the chances of being involved in a deadly crash.
California drivers may be surprised to learn the impact that driving while distracted is having on accident rates. Recently, an insurance company that focuses on providing discount insurance for customers who do not use their phone while driving highlighted the results of a distracted driver study. According to the study, upward of 47% of drivers believe that distracted driving is one of the top concerns they have while on the road and view it as something that can impact road safety.
Many California motorist are wary about self-driving cars, and for good reason, as several serious accidents have been linked to them. In May 2016, a driver who had his Tesla Model S on Autopilot died when the vehicle collided with a truck. In March 2018, a self-driving Uber vehicle in Arizona struck and killed a pedestrian.
Texting while driving is banned in California and many other states across the country. Still, distracted driving continues to be a serious threat to roadway safety, taking thousands of lives and injuring many more people every year. As a result, legislators in one state are considering technology that could allow police to determine whether a driver was using his or her cellphone at the time of a crash. This would mark the first time a state has allowed this currently untested technology to be actively used by law enforcement to determine responsibility for a crash.
Drivers in California and around the country need to get enough sleep in order to safely operate their vehicles. Unfortunately, daylight saving time cuts into the sleep time of many drivers, making it more likely they could get into a crash, according to researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Although traffic deaths declined in California and throughout the country last year, they still topped 40,000 for the third straight year. This was according to the National Safety Council. It was also reported that serious injuries were up 1 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. Driver distraction is cited as a key reason why traffic fatalities are so common. Since 2008, infotainment systems and smartphones have grown in popularity.
In California, a recent study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety stated that more drivers are using their cellphones to read and send emails in lieu of talking. In addition, drivers are texting messages and performing other miscellaneous actions on their cellphones. Although the percentage of drivers using hand-held phones has declined, the number of distracted drivers has increased. According to the author of the study, people are becoming more distracted while driving their vehicles.
In California, car accident rates have surged over the past seven years. The trend has occurred across the U.S. Since 2011, accidents have increased by 30 percent. Experts attribute the rise in car accidents to several factors, including an improved economy, distracted driving and the legalization of marijuana in some states such as California.
For many, winter brings to mind memories of the holidays or cozy evenings by a fire. Unfortunately, another big part of winter is inclement weather. Sleet, snow, and ice are a major cause for vehicle accidents during winter months. Thankfully, there are many ways that California drivers can keep themselves safe during rough weather.