Category Archives: safety

Yet another cycling is dangerous story

With gas prices the way they are, stories about cycling in mainstream press abound. As I have pointed out before (see Media Bias) these stories for mass consumption generally paint a one-sided cycling-is-dangerous story. Despite my high hopes for the journalistic balance of the Wall Street Journal (news that is. I don’t expect balance in the editorial content), Rhonda Rundle’s story from August 1, 2008 fell into the same familiar pattern. The title, Risking Life and Limb, Riding a Bike to Work in L.A., should have been a give away Continue reading Yet another cycling is dangerous story

Arizona 2007 Traffic Fatalities Plummet

I just heard Michael Hegarty, spokesman for AZ GOHS and/or AZ GTSAC, on the radio reporting that 2007 traffic fatalities fell to 1066 — a 17% decrease from 2006.
This would be an enormous decrease. He seemed pretty nonchalant about it. A drop of this magnitude is unprecedented.

Bicyclist’s fatalities fell the most, 27%, which is good news of course. But I must caution that since there are very few this number fluctuates greatly from year-to-year. The number of bicyclist fatalities has varied from as low as 15 to as high as 36 over the past couple of decades, with no perceptible trend.

Anyway, overall this would be consistent with a large reported drop on state highways (as opposed to all roads). This data was announced back in January and comes out much sooner than the whole-state rollup.

Press accounts published June 6th papers were likewise muted: Arizona Republic and KOLD ran the AP account, East Valley Tribune, which carried this breakdown, sourced to the GTSAC, though I can’t find anything on their website:

TYPE 2006 2007 Change
Pedestrians 167 157 -6%
Motorcyclists 142 135 -5%
Bicyclists 29 21 -28%
Others 18
TOTALS 1288 1066 -17%

Associated Press – June 5, 2008 6:04 PM ET

PHOENIX (AP) – State officials say traffic accidents are claiming fewer lives in Arizona.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Council says 1,066 people were killed in traffic-related accidents in 2007. That’s down 17% from the 1,288 deaths in 2006.

The council also says the 2007 figure is the lowest since 2001 and that the state’s population has grown by more than 1 million since then.

The council credits driver education and law enforcement efforts for the reduction.

Arizona’s Teenage Driver Safety Act

Arizona is behind the curve on this, most other states have already done something similar years ago. Arizona’s previous graduated driver’s license was had no teeth.

According to AAA AZ, who supported the legislation: “Arizona is 1 of only 5 states that does not provide either nighttime driving restrictions or passenger limitations for new teenage drivers”, and “Studies of intermediate driving programs in individual states have reported reduction in fatal crash rates of novice drivers that ranged from 11% to 32%”
Chapter 206 HB2033 (48th legislature, 1st regular session, 2007 LAST YEAR, why did it take over a year to become effective??) Arizona’s Teenage Driver Safety Act goes into effect July 1. Here are its key points:

  • Establishes Graduated Driver License, where licensed drivers, ages 16-17, do not have full driving privileges until six months after licensing.
  • Increases supervised training requirement from 25 to 30 hours, of which 10 must be at night.
  • Prohibits driving from midnight to 5 a.m., for the first six months, with exemptions for job, religious or school activities or family emergencies.
  • Limits number of non-family teenage passengers to one, during first six months.
  • Establishes fines and extensions of restrictions for non-compliance.

Trauma nurse has message for teen drivers, AZ Republic, June 2, 2008

I’m thinking a year would have been a more reasonable time restriction.

AAA Arizona has a big transportation legislation roundup here.

AAA Report on cost of Automobile Crashes

How much of these costs are socialized? The report makes no attempt to quantify this, some of the stories correctly note that some of these costs filter through to many other things, such as health care/insurance.

Why doesn’t our press bother to cover this? The only localized story I could find was  KPNX-12 . Once again we have risen to near the top nationwide, sixth out of 85 not too shabby! This goes hand-in-hand with Arizona’s impressively high traffic fatality rate. Which is something else the press isn’t interested in.

…The report looked at 85 cities across the nation. Phoenix ranks sixth with the highest costs due to crashes. According to the study, it costs $1,368.00 extra per person in the Valley when there is a crash. The national average is $1,052.00 per person.

Crashes Cost EveryoneKPNX-12

Continue reading AAA Report on cost of Automobile Crashes