Posts Tagged ‘Ashley Halsey III’

Pedestrian Deaths Soar in the Uneven Battles with Cars

April 2, 2017

The title of this post is identical to the title of an article written by Ashley Halsey III in the 30 March 2017 issue of the Washington Post.  Pedestrian deaths soared by 25% nationally between 2010 and 2015.  Pedestrians now account for 15% of all traffic deaths.  Preliminary data for 2016 indicate that a the number of pedestrian deaths increased by 11% over 2015, with 6,000 people being killed in collisions with vehicles.  A number of reasons for this increase were noted, but the one that caught HM’s eyes was the use of smartphones—both by drivers and people on foot.

The article includes engineering and safety measures that need to be undertaken to reduce pedestrian deaths.  HM applauds these efforts, but this post is devoted to the measures pedestrians need to take to protect themselves.

The first is to not use smartphones, both as drivers and pedestrians.   Many, many healthy memory posts have been written on the dangers of distracted driving.  The personal risks to smartphone use by pedestrians are even greater.  I’ve seen pedestrians walking, engrossed in their smartphones, who step into traffic without checking for oncoming vehicles.  The HM has almost hit several of these pedestrians.  Fortunately he did not.  But an accident with one of these pedestrians would have haunted him for the rest of his life even though he would not have been at fault.

There are a couple of reasons pedestrians might be so careless.  One is that they have never ever been hit by a vehicle, so they think vehicles are not going to hit them.  What they fail to realize is that drivers certainly do not want to hit drivers, but drivers need to be given sufficient time to respond to avoid a collision.

Pedestrians also seem to assume a symmetry between their perception of automobiles and the automobile drivers’ perception of them.  This problem is particularly acute at night.  Although it is easy for pedestrians to see cars with their blazing lights, pedestrians are small usually dressed in dark clothing, which can make them almost impossible to see.

When HM was in public schools there were posters that were prominently displayed, “Where white at night.”  What has happened to these signs?  They need to be resurrected and placed in many prominent places.  Today reflectors are more readily available, but why don’t pedestrians make more use of them?

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Sleep-deprived Drivers are as Dangerous as Drunk Drivers

December 9, 2016

This post is based on an article by Ashley Halsey III titled “Sleep-deprived drivers have plenty in common with drunk drivers, on page A2 of the 7 December 2016 edition of the Washington Post.  Her article is based on a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released 6 December.   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 35% of people get fewer than the needed seven hours of sleep, and 12% say that they sleep for five hours or less.

Previous research by the AAA Foundation found that 21% of fatal crashes involved a sleep-deprived driver.  This new report uses data from the National Motor Vehicle’s Crash Causation Survey to asses how much driving ability decreases based on the lack of sleep.  The executive director of the foundation, David Yang, says that the new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.  The report says that those who slept for less than 4 of the past 24 hours had an 11.5% higher risk of getting into a crash; drivers who slept 4-5 hours had a 4.3% higher risk; 5-7 hours had a 1.9% higher risk; and 6-7 hours had a 1.3% higher risk.  The following caveat is added to these results:  “The study may underestimate the risk of driving while sleep-deprived, because data on crashes that occurred between midnight and 6 a.m. were not available, and other studies have shown that the effects of sleep deprivation…are greatest during the morning hours.”

Tom Calcagni of AAA’s Mid-Atlantic Office said, “The crash risk associated with having slept less than 4 hours is comparable to the crash risk associated with a blood-alcohol content of roughly .12 to .15.  The legal limit is .08.

So add driving while being sleepy to the other activities you should not do while driving:  texting and talking on the phone regardless of whether your hands are free or not, and drunk driving.

The importance of sleep to health in general should not be underestimated.  Our brains are very active while we sleep, consolidating memories and cleaning up junk in the brain.  By failing to get enough sleep we are effectively damaging our brains.  This damage might eventually lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Distracted Driving Increasing Pedestrian Deaths

March 17, 2016

An article in the March 8, 2016 Washington Post by Ashley Halsey III is titled “Pedestrian deaths jump, report says.”  The subtitle is “There are more drivers and more walkers, and both are distracted.”  The report is from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA).  The report estimates that the number of pedestrian fatalities jumped by 10% last year, a year-to-year increase that comes after a 19% increase from 2009 to 2014.  This projected 10% increase would bring pedestrian deaths to their highest total since 1996, when 5,449 pedestrians were killed.

Driver deaths are decreasing due to better designed cars.  There are a variety of reasons for the increased pedestrian deaths, but distracted driving is either at the top or near the top of the list.  A number that is not given is the number of pedestrian deaths caused by pedestrians being on their phones.  This is a matter of smartphones making their users dumb and dead.  I’ve seen pedestrians so engrossed in their smartphones that they step directly into traffic without looking.  One of my abiding fears is that I’ll run into one of these people.  The fact that the pedestrian was responsible  would not prevent me from my personal trauma.

Another factor bearing on pedestrian deaths is walking at night.  I see two problems here.  One is that many pedestrians seem to think that there is a symmetry between what they see and what the driver sees, but the cars are big and illuminated and the pedestrian is small and in the dark.  This problem is further exacerbated by dark clothing.  When I was in school there were posters telling us to wear white after dark. Whatever became of those posters, in particular, and wearing light clothes, in particular.

To see more posts on the problems of distracted driving enter “Strayer”  in the search block of the healthy memory blog.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cell Phone Distraction

September 21, 2015

I was surprised to read an article by Krystal D’Costa titled “We’ve Modified Our Behavior So We Can Walk and Talk”  in the online  August 5 Scientific American  Mind and Brain.  I don’t object to the title of the article.  Undoubtedly we have modified our behavior as the result of cell and smartphone technology.  However, I do object to some conclusions in the article.  The basic conclusion she comes to is that we’ve adapted and there are no problems.  As you shall read below, there are problems.  Please let me disabuse you of her Panglossian conclusion.

There have been many, many posts on the healthy memory blog, regarding the risks of driving while either talking or texting on a cell phone.  On May 27th, an article in the Washington Post by Ashley Halsey III summarized the result of a report from the National Safety Council.  Between 2000 and 2011 more than 11,000 people were injured while walking and talking on their cell phones.  Most of these people were women younger than 40.  Nearly 80 percent of injuries were the results of falls, and 9% of those who suffered injuries simply walked into something with enough force to hurt themselves.

Although 42% of the injured were younger than 30, these injuries were not exclusively a young person’s affliction.  20% of the injuries happened to individuals 71 years or older.

The council reported that 26% of all traffic accidents were attributable to drivers’  talking on their cell phones, while 5% of drivers involved in accidents were writing or reading text messages.  Please do not conclude from these statistics that texting is safer than talking on a cell phone.  I believe that the correct conclusion is that fortunately there are many fewer people who are foolish enough to text while driving.  It should be alarming that there are drivers foolish enough to do this.

Other research by Dr. Lee Hadlington of De Montfort University in Leicester, England and reported in the Huffington Post found that frequent users of mobile technology are more likely to experience cognitive failures, such as forgetting one’s wallet, missing an appointment, or bumping into someone in the street.  This research involved 210 British mobile phone users between the ages of 18 and 65.  Their average weekly Internet use was about 25 hours.  The participants answered questions about the amount of time they spend using the internet and mobile devices, and about their behaviors related to perception, motor function, and memory.  There was a significant correlation between the amount of time an individual spends using the internet or a mobile phone and their likelihood of experiencing cognitive failures in their rail lives.  These failures included memory error, physical blunders and daydreaming while others are talking.

The statistic I wanted to find, but could not, was the number of walkers distracted by their cell phones who were hit by cars.  I know there had to be some such cases.  I have seen people walking, distracted with their cells phones, who step out into the street or cross the street neglecting to look for traffic.  I do fear hitting one of these individuals who step in front of my car before I have time enough to stop.
© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.