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  1. #1
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Transportation Research Board Reports that US Lags Way Behind Other Nations in Safety

    A landmark, 186-page special report by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) published this week delivers a critique of U.S. traffic safety efforts and says that we have fallen way behind in saving lives relative to other nations. The report, Achieving Traffic Safety Goals in the United States: Lessons from Other Nations, was published by the National Academies Press and is available as a free PDF download.


    http://bikeportland.org/2010/11/17/r...c-deaths-42916

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    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    instead of simply building bike lanes to get cyclists out of the way or motorists, we really need to address the root causes of why traffic safety sucks in the US.

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    Interesting report. I found the reports suggestions for how to improve very enlightening. In particular the recommendations for additional federal funding and the creation of a new federal safety bureaucracy.

    Of interest is the claims that other first world countries have made greater degrees of improvements. Table 1-1 is revealing as to why that might be.

    table11..jpg

    Given that even the report admits that much of the changes made by these other countries rely on a different political environment that allows for more centralized control and a much lower regard for individual liberties I doubt such "improvements" are possible in the US and given how comparable the fatality rates are they don't seem needed.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    What is real interesting is the fact that more folks are killed on US roadways than the 5 other countries COMBINED!

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    Very, very Senior Member JPprivate's Avatar
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    In all fairness, one has to point out that all five countries combined have more or less the same population as the US. And of course, it all depends on the actual miles driven (not only population).

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    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    Given that even the report admits that much of the changes made by these other countries rely on a different political environment that allows for more centralized control and a much lower regard for individual liberties I doubt such "improvements" are possible in the US and given how comparable the fatality rates are they don't seem needed.
    ah, the 'Libertarian' approach to traffic safety. It seems that we already have that and that it's failed us miserably.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    What is real interesting is the fact that more folks are killed on US roadways than the 5 other countries COMBINED!
    Look at table 1-1 (I provided a copy in my earlier post). When the numbers are adjusted to give a rate based upon a 1,000,000 vehicle miles of travel there is very little difference between the countries in current safety levels. Much ado about nothing

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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    ah, the 'Libertarian' approach to traffic safety. It seems that we already have that and that it's failed us miserably.
    has nothing to do with "Libertarian" and everything to do with cost/benefit, though you seem to have chosen to overlook that.

    The other countries discussed showed much greater rates of improvement because they were so much worse than we were in the beginning. When the numbers were adjusted to account for vehicle miles traveled (similiar to adjusting for per capita) all of the countries had very similar death rates. And that is despite the simple fact that they enforce much more draconian measures to achieve their safety levels.

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    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Interesting, because when we rented a car to travel in Southern France in 2004-5, I did not see any draconian measures being enforced, in fact I saw no enforcement at all.

    I also saw motorists sharing the road with two wheelers, including scooters, motorcycles and bicycles, instead of driving aggressively around them.
    Last edited by randya; 11-17-10 at 03:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    Look at table 1-1 (I provided a copy in my earlier post). When the numbers are adjusted to give a rate based upon a 1,000,000 vehicle miles of travel there is very little difference between the countries in current safety levels. Much ado about nothing
    That's not a good stat. Over the last 60 years, we've encouraged people to live further away from their jobs. Consequently, we drive more miles and kill more people. A much better measure (because the table posted isn't good) is deaths per capita. A quick calc:

    chart..JPG

    We've done less the stem the blood letting then the other countries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCROUDS View Post
    That's not a good stat. Over the last 60 years, we've encouraged people to live further away from their jobs. Consequently, we drive more miles and kill more people. A much better measure (because the table posted isn't good) is deaths per capita. A quick calc:

    chart..JPG

    We've done less the stem the blood letting then the other countries.
    Comparing absolute quantities of deaths without adjusting for different population sizes and geographic layout is simply faulty analysis. The use of Vehicle Miles Traveled accomplishes both adjustments and allows for an apples to apples comparison, hence why it was included in the cited report. And on that basis there is little difference currently among the nations included in the study, though they were much worse than we were a few decades ago. The better title for the article would have been; "Other Industrialized Nations Catch up with US on Automobile safety...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    Interesting, because when we rented a car to travel in Southern France in 2004-5, I did not see any draconian measures being enforced, in fact I saw no enforcement at all.

    I also saw motorists sharing the road with two wheelers, including scooters, motorcycles and bicycles, instead of driving aggressively around them.
    Then perhaps you should read the report you posted the link for. They mentioned several draconian measures; first, all of the countries other than the US have a centralized governmental control of legislation and enforcement. Something that is thankfully no possible under the US system. Secondly all of the countries other than the US have instituted programs that allow for random screening of drivers for sobriety tests--something the 4th amendment of the Constitution would disallow.

    About the only recommendation in the report that makes sense is the basic one of strict enforcement of existing traffic regulations...

    Oh, and the report is not about sharing the road, it is about highway safety. The report and its data had little to say about whether cycling was safer or not in the studied countries. No need to muddy the waters with preconceptions...

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    Interesting, because when we rented a car to travel in Southern France in 2004-5, I did not see any draconian measures being enforced, in fact I saw no enforcement at all.

    I also saw motorists sharing the road with two wheelers, including scooters, motorcycles and bicycles, instead of driving aggressively around them.
    And lots and lots of roundabouts... I was there in 2007 or 2008. I also thought the road quality was better.

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    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    I also saw motorists sharing the road with two wheelers, including scooters, motorcycles and bicycles, instead of driving aggressively around them.
    Here in Austin, TX, from what I can see in my everyday rides, "motorists sharing the road with two wheelers" is the norm, and "driving aggressively around them" is the rare exception. Here, the vast majority of motorists either treat me as another vehicle, or (fewer) as a drunk (?) who they don't know what I'm going to do -- so they yield and give lots of space, just in case. I prefer the former to the latter, but neither is a problem.

    (Though to be fair, I don't see a motorist who floors their throttle to pass as "being aggressive", even if it might be startling -- instead, I see it as a motorist who wisely realizes that passing is risky, and it's best gotten over quickly.)

    Actual aggressive drivers are extremely rare -- I see (or notice?) them far more often when I drive than when I ride.

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    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Rural and low-density suburban residents not only travel farther by car per capita, but they have more severe crashes, due to higher speeds and head-on collision hazards on two-lane roads.

    If Americans migrate toward a more urban, location-efficient lifestyle, the crash fatality rates per capita will likely decline for the US. Now, I'm not suggesting that public policy should force Americans to live in cities, but I think there is already a migration under way among young people, in part due to lower cost of transportation (especially where car ownership is avoided), and in part due to fewer jobs in rural areas. If urban areas are made desirable to live in, and zoning restrictions that favored low-density development and land use separation are adjusted, the market may support a movement toward shorter, slower daily trips.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    Here in Austin, TX, from what I can see in my everyday rides, "motorists sharing the road with two wheelers" is the norm, and "driving aggressively around them" is the rare exception. Here, the vast majority of motorists either treat me as another vehicle, or (fewer) as a drunk (?) who they don't know what I'm going to do -- so they yield and give lots of space, just in case. I prefer the former to the latter, but neither is a problem.

    (Though to be fair, I don't see a motorist who floors their throttle to pass as "being aggressive", even if it might be startling -- instead, I see it as a motorist who wisely realizes that passing is risky, and it's best gotten over quickly.)

    Actual aggressive drivers are extremely rare -- I see (or notice?) them far more often when I drive than when I ride.
    Take a look around the outskirts of Austin... where the "Share the Road" signs are indicated to watch for motorcyclists... who apparently were getting the short end of the straw at some point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    ah, the 'Libertarian' approach to traffic safety. It seems that we already have that and that it's failed us miserably.
    Eh, not really. There are far too many victim-less crimes against the state in traffic codes for them to be called libertarian. Get rid of laws forbidding stuff like running stop signs, speeding or driving drunk without actually hitting someone or violating their right of way and it would be closer to a libertarian system. Given one's chances of being caught violating most traffic laws, the results might be similar. Or one could take the more anarchist approach. All roads could be sold or leased to private entities who would be responsible for enforcing safety measures on their roads. That would be interesting.
    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    Secondly all of the countries other than the US have instituted programs that allow for random screening of drivers for sobriety tests--something the 4th amendment of the Constitution would disallow.
    Been through a sobriety checkpoint lately?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zizka View Post
    Been through a sobriety checkpoint lately?
    No, I have never encountered one. The key though, is that in the US, with a few restrictions, you can refuse to take a sobriety test. Not the case with the other countries discussed in the report.

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    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Take a look around the outskirts of Austin... where the "Share the Road" signs are indicated to watch for motorcyclists... who apparently were getting the short end of the straw at some point.
    I live in the outskirts of Austin. I've seen the signs. They don't change my experience, which is generally positive or neutral.

    Maybe somewhere else everybody hates cyclists and acts aggressively towards them ... or maybe it's just certain cyclists -- but here, me, from what I can see such actions are very rare.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    No, I have never encountered one. The key though, is that in the US, with a few restrictions, you can refuse to take a sobriety test. Not the case with the other countries discussed in the report.
    Many states have "implied consent" laws, which means you are deemed to have already consented to a field sobriety test through the privilege of driving on the roads or obtaining a license. Regardless, you may still be able to refuse a field sobriety test. If you do refuse, you'll most likely be arrested and taken to jail, where the police officer will ultimately conduct a chemical test – your choice of blood, breath or urine – which can not be refused.

    I wanted to quote actual law, but at the moment, the CA web site is down...

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    I live in the outskirts of Austin. I've seen the signs. They don't change my experience, which is generally positive or neutral.

    Maybe somewhere else everybody hates cyclists and acts aggressively towards them ... or maybe it's just certain cyclists -- but here, me, from what I can see such actions are very rare.
    Hey, those signs went up for some reason...

  22. #22
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    Look at table 1-1 (I provided a copy in my earlier post). When the numbers are adjusted to give a rate based upon a 1,000,000 vehicle miles of travel there is very little difference between the countries in current safety levels. Much ado about nothing
    Yes, in addition to that little 'oversight' you'll notice that all the countries cited happen to be either densely populated european style states, where people are forced onto trains and buses with outrageous gas taxes; or sparsely populated places. To me it proves the exact OPPOSITE of what they want you to believe. All the trains, bicycles, buses and trolleys don't make a dent in the per-mile death figures.

    roughstuff
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  23. #23
    Senior Member hotbike's Avatar
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    I have a theory that the decrease in deaths, that we see in this chart, is due to safety improvements in cars.
    Here are a few:
    Radial Tires
    Rack & Pinion Steering
    Air Bags
    Disk Brakes
    Day Time Running Lights

    None of these things are mandated in the United States. A redneck can keep driving his 1972 Pontiac, which has none of these features.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11629987@N02/sets/72157639939606343/

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Many states have "implied consent" laws, which means you are deemed to have already consented to a field sobriety test through the privilege of driving on the roads or obtaining a license. Regardless, you may still be able to refuse a field sobriety test. If you do refuse, you'll most likely be arrested and taken to jail, where the police officer will ultimately conduct a chemical test your choice of blood, breath or urine which can not be refused.

    I wanted to quote actual law, but at the moment, the CA web site is down...
    There is sufficient case law that says you can refuse the test, even in the implied state laws. The consequence is simply the loss of your drivers license, though even that is not a guarantee. You can challenge the loss in court and from a recent article I read you stand a very good chance of either reducing the length of time you loose the license or not loose it at all. Seems that most legislators take this option.

  25. #25
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    Then perhaps you should read the report you posted the link for. They mentioned several draconian measures; first, all of the countries other than the US have a centralized governmental control of legislation and enforcement. Something that is thankfully no possible under the US system. Secondly all of the countries other than the US have instituted programs that allow for random screening of drivers for sobriety tests--something the 4th amendment of the Constitution would disallow.
    neither of those things sound 'draconian' to me, nor does strict liability for motorists.

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