Update to Special Reports on Traffic Safety During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Fourth Quarter Data

Link: https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.gov/files/2021-06/Update_Traffic%20Safety%20During%20COVID-19_4thQtr-060121-web.pdf

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The NEMSIS data include metrics on crash severity. For people treated at the scenes of motor vehicle crashes, EMS professionals use an injury scoring system called the Revised Trauma Score (RTS) to determine the level of care needed to save the lives of the injured. Under
RTS, patients who present with a probability of survival of 36.1% or less are considered severely injured and are often transported to Level 1 or Level 2 trauma centers that provide higher levels of critical care to the most severely injured. Figure 4 shows the percentage of
patients in crashes whose probability of survival was in this range for 2019 and 2020. Beginning in Week 12 of 2020, the percentage of those injured with a probability of survival of 36.1% or less never dropped below 1%, suggesting an increase in the severity of crashes.

Publication Date: June 2021

Publication Site: NHTSA

Early Estimates of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rate by Sub-Categories in 2020

Link: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813118

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Total fatality rate per 100 million VMT [vehicle miles traveled] is broken down by roadway function class: rural versus urban interstate, arterial, local/collector/street. The results shown in Figure 2 indicate that the increased trend of the total fatality rate per 100 million VMT from March to December 2020, was mainly driven by the fatality rate per 100 million VMT on the rural local/collector/street, rural and urban arterial roadways.

Publication Date: May 2021

Publication Site: NHTSA

2020 Fatality Data Show Increased Traffic Fatalities During Pandemic

Link: https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/2020-fatality-data-show-increased-traffic-fatalities-during-pandemic

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Preliminary finding show that traffic fatalities rose in most major categories over 2019: 

Passenger vehicle occupants (23,395, up 5%)

Pedestrians (6,205, flat from 2019)

Motorcyclists (5,015, up 9%)

Pedalcyclists (people on bikes) (846, up 5%)

Crash factors and demographics reviewed by NHTSA that showed the largest increases in 2020 as compared to 2019 included: 

non-Hispanic Black people (up 23%); 

occupant ejection (up 20%);

unrestrained occupants of passenger vehicles (up 15%);

on urban interstates (up 15%);

on urban local/collector roads (up 12%);

in speeding-related crashes (up 11%);

on rural local/collector roads (up 11%); 

during nighttime (up 11%); 

during the weekend (up 9%); 

in rollover crashes (up 9%); 

in single-vehicle crashes (up 9%) and; 

in police-reported alcohol involvement crashes (up 9%).

There are a few categories that are projected to have decreases in fatalities in 2020. Fatalities in crashes involving a large truck (commercial or non-commercial use) are projected to decline marginally (down 2%).  Fatalities among older persons (65+ years of age) are projected to decline by about 9 percent.

Publication Date: 3 June 2021

Publication Site: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

We need to design distrust into AI systems to make them safer

Link: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/05/13/1024874/ai-ayanna-howard-trust-robots/

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Since that experiment, have you seen this phenomenon replicated in the real world?

Every time I see a Tesla accident. Especially the earlier ones. I was like, “Yep, there it is.” People are trusting these systems too much. And I remember after the very first one, what did they do? They were like, now you’re required to hold the steering wheel for something like five-second increments. If you don’t have your hand on the wheel, the system will deactivate.

But, you know, they never came and talked to me or my group, because that’s not going to work. And why that doesn’t work is because it’s very easy to game the system. If you’re looking at your cell phone and then you hear the beep, you just put your hand up, right? It’s subconscious. You’re still not paying attention. And it’s because you think the system’s okay and that you can still do whatever it was you were doing—reading a book, watching TV, or looking at your phone. So it doesn’t work because they did not increase the level of risk or uncertainty, or disbelief, or mistrust. They didn’t increase that enough for someone to re-engage.

Author(s): Karen Hao

Publication Date: 13 May 2021

Publication Site: MIT Tech Review

Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2020 Estimated to be Highest in 13 Years, Despite Dramatic Drops in Miles Driven

Link: https://www.nsc.org/newsroom/motor-vehicle-deaths-2020-estimated-to-be-highest

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For the first time since 2007, preliminary data from the National Safety Council show that as many as 42,060 people are estimated to have died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020. That marks an 8% increase over 2019 in a year where people drove significantly less frequently because of the pandemic. The preliminary estimated rate of death on the roads last year spiked 24% over the previous 12-month period, despite miles driven dropping 13%. The increase in the rate of death is the highest estimated year-over-year jump that NSC has calculated since 1924 – 96 years. It underscores the nation’s persistent failure to prioritize safety on the roads, which became emptier but far more deadly.  

An estimated 4.8 million additional roadway users were seriously injured in crashes in 2020, and the estimated cost to society was $474 billion. With the alarming picture painted by these data, NSC is urging President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to commit to zero roadway deaths by 2050 – a call NSC and more than 1,500 other organizations and individuals made in January in a letter to the new administration. 

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: National Safety Council

Deaths in Vehicle Crashes Up 38% in South Dakota in 2020

Link: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/midwest/2021/04/16/610222.htm

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The number of traffic crash fatalities in South Dakota rose to 141 last year — an increase of 38% over the previous year.

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety said in 2020, there were 132 crashes in which the fatalities occurred.

In 2019, 102 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, the lowest in state history since records have been kept beginning in 1947. The number of fatal crashes in 2019 was 88, also a record low.

Publication Date: 16 April 2021

Publication Site: Insurance Journal

Bricks Without Straw?

Link: https://www.rstreet.org/2021/03/30/bricks-without-straw/

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Credit analytics firm FICO posits that the reason for the correlation of credit history and claim probability is that “individuals who closely and cautiously monitor and manage their finances tend to also take better care of their cars and homes and are, generally, more diligent in their risk management habits.” Because such individuals are found across demographic classifications, the discrimination argument becomes hard to uphold.

If insurers find that credit scores have bearing on accident propensity, insurers should be allowed to use them. Preventing insurers from deploying basic tools required to generate appropriate risk-adjusted prices leads to mispricing of risk, harming insurance buyers as well as insurers. What is more, such deprivation leads to unintended negative consequences—an unfair socialization of risk, leaving customers either overcharged or undercharged. Executive fiat prohibiting insurers from accessing the tools of their trade is tantamount to Pharaoh ordering the Israelites of old to make bricks without straw. Bad business, bad policy.

Author(s): Jerry Theodorou

Publication Date: 30 March 2021

Publication Site: R Street

Preliminary Semiannual Estimates

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The National Safety Council (NSC) estimate of total motor-vehicle deaths for 2020 is 42,060, up 8% from 39,107 in 2019. The estimated annual population death rate is 12.8 deaths per 100,000 population, up from 11.9 in 2019. The estimated mileage death rate is 1.49 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up 24% from 1.20 in 2019. Estimated vehicle miles traveled for 2020 indicate over a 13% decrease compared to 2019, from 3,260 billion to 2,830 billion.

medically consulted injury is an injury serious enough that a medical professional was consulted. Based on the current medically consulted injury-to-death ratio of 114:1, and rounded to the nearest thousand, the estimated number of nonfatal medically consulted injuries resulting from crashes during in 2020 was 4,795,000.

The estimated cost of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage in 2020 was $474.4 billion.

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: National Safety Council

Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2020 Estimated to be Highest in 13 Years, Despite Dramatic Drops in Miles Driven

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/motor-vehicle-deaths-in-2020-estimated-to-be-highest-in-13-years-despite-dramatic-drops-in-miles-driven-301240410.html

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For the first time since 2007, preliminary data from the National Safety Council show that as many as 42,060 people are estimated to have died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020. That marks an 8% increase over 2019 in a year where people drove significantly less frequently because of the pandemic. The preliminary estimated rate of death on the roads last year spiked 24% over the previous 12-month period, despite miles driven dropping 13%. The increase in the rate of death is the highest estimated year-over-year jump that NSC has calculated since 1924 – 96 years. It underscores the nation’s persistent failure to prioritize safety on the roads, which became emptier but far more deadly.  

Author(s): National Safety Council

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: PR Newswire

More people died on Illinois roads last year than since 2007. Is the pandemic to blame?

Link: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-illinois-more-traffic-deaths-pandemic-20210212-4ybopm6pvbelpeorspd3cxm7gy-htmlstory.html#new_tab

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Nearly 160 more people died on Illinois roads last year than in 2019, making 2020 the deadliest year for Illinois drivers in 13 years, a surge officials say may have been fed by drivers speeding on roads left open by motorists who stayed home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 1,166 people died in motor vehicle crashes in Illinois in 2020, a nearly 16% increase over 2019, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. That’s a provisional number, said IDOT spokesperson Guy Tridgell, since it takes the state agency 12-18 months to finalize annual data.

Illinois traffic fatalities haven’t been that high since 2007, when 1,248 people died, according to recent and historic state data. Deaths include drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Author(s): LESLIE BONILLA

Publication Date: 12 February 2021

Publication Site: Chicago Tribune

Study finds smaller cars may be why crashes injure women more

Link: https://nypost.com/2021/02/11/study-smaller-cars-may-be-why-crashes-injure-women-more/

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The smaller, lighter vehicles that women more often drive and the types of crashes they get into, may explain why they are much more likely to suffer a serious injury in a collision than men, a new study published Thursday found.

Researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group supported by auto insurers, looked into whether there was some sort of gender bias in the research into vehicle crashes or whether body type had anything to do with the injuries.

Author(s): Associated Press

Publication Date: 11 February 2021

Publication Site: NY Pose

Update to Special Reports on Traffic Safety During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Third Quarter Data

Link: https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/traffic_safety_during_covid19_01062021_0.pdf

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To a large extent, the risky traffic safety behaviors observed in Q2 continued in Q3. Frequency of triptaking continued to be lower, and a greater percentage of people stayed home in Q3 2020 compared to Q\3 2019. Ejection rates remained elevated compared to the same period a year earlier. New data on seat belt use among seriously injured drivers and passengers suggests that the belt use rate among those in serious crashes decreased in the early phases of the public health emergency at the study sites, but that rate may now be rebounding. The data also suggested that alcohol- and other drug-positive drivers and passengers who were seriously or fatally injured were much less likely to wear a seat belt than their counterparts who tested negative for all the drugs included in the study.

Speed data from the NPMRDS shows higher speeds in urban roadways across roadway types in Q3 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Further, the greater speed dispersion in rural areas observed in Q2 continued in Q3 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Regarding alcohol and other drug prevalence among seriously and fatally injured drivers at the five trauma center study sites, more than 29% in the most recent period (July 19 to September 30) had measurable alcohol in their systems, with over 26% testing positive for the presence of cannabinoids and over 13% positive for opioids. In the same period, the percentage of drivers testing positive for at least one category of drugs remained above 60%, with nearly 25% testing positive for multiple
categories of drugs. These observed increases in alcohol and other drug prevalence relative to before the public health emergency are consistent with the reported data that showed increases in marijuana and alcohol sales and consumption during the public health emergency. Overall, these data sets continue to have great potential to improve our understanding of the prevalence of drugs and alcohol among different types of seriously and fatally injured road users, as well as how prevalence may be changing over time during the public health emergency.

Author(s): Office of Behavioral Safety Research

Publication Date: January 2021

Publication Site: NHTSA