Many people despise daylight savings time when clocks are set ahead one-hour and we lose a precious hour of sleep. The early onset of darkness in the late afternoon is lamented as well. Psychologists and other mental health specialists have long argued that the practice is outdated and results in increased rates of depression, bi-polar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. Now, the conclusions of a traffic study published in Current Biology delivers even more bad news on the effects of the ‘spring ahead,’ and ‘fall back’ routine.
A recently released study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicated that 15% of alcohol-related driving deaths involve drivers who tested below the legal driving limit of 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol content). Drivers with a BAC of 0.08% and above are legally presumed to be under the influence and can have their driver’s licenses suspended as well as face criminal penalties. The study also found that 55% of fatalities in accidents where drivers tested below the legal limit were passengers, suggesting that we have underestimated the effects of even lower levels of blood alcohol on driving behavior.
While our roads and highways have experienced a dramatic decrease in traffic since our state began the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, and commuting to work receded into a distant memory, we are nevertheless seeing a dramatic increase in pedestrian accidents and deaths. This would seem counter-intuitive since fewer cars and people on the streets would naturally appear to result in substantially fewer encounters between people and cars. But data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation showed that we had 28 pedestrian fatalities in April, one more than in April 2019. This is despite up to a 50% reduction in traffic on major highways.
Most Massachusetts motorists are probably unaware that their vehicle, if manufactured in 2013 to the present, has a black box, similar to those found in airplanes. Called an Event Data Recorder (EDR), these devices can offer valuable information in an accident investigation. However, they can and do, like just about any app found on your smartphone, gather certain private data that is often sold to marketers or others.
This past January two young men in their early 20s who were on their way to an early morning shift for work were killed when their sedan apparently drifted into the opposite lane of traffic and was struck head-on by a pickup truck. Both vehicles sustained heavy front-end damage and the sedan, which ended up in the woods, had a smashed windshield. The pickup truck driver had non-life-threatening injuries.
Two rollover accidents involving tractor-trailers occurred recently on I-291 in Springfield and I-91 with the truckdriver in the first accident suffering serious injuries. State transportation authorities expressed concern about the rising incidences of such accidents, especially in western Massachusetts.
A 21-year old woman was recently identified and arrested for having struck and seriously injured a female pedestrian on Chandler Street in Worcester, Massachusetts on the evening of January 14, 2020 before fleeing the scene. The accident occurred after another motorist from the opposite direction had stopped to allow the pedestrian to cross. Police had been advised to look for a female driving a red car.
In case you missed it, red light cameras may be coming to Massachusetts. Haven’t many folks tried to beat a light, knowing that there are several seconds between the time the light turns red and crossing traffic gets a green light? Now, however, if a bill passes in the state senate, you should think twice about doing that again. Last reports are, though, that the bill is stalled and tabled for the time being.
Unlike the trend in the rest of the state, Peabody, Massachusetts has been experiencing fewer car accidents in the past several years. In 2019, the city had 979 motor vehicle accidents, its lowest number since 2010. These accidents involve cars, motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Drunk driving in Massachusetts and throughout the nation remains a major factor in roadway accidents and account for about 28% of highway fatalities each year. Despite decades of public and media safety campaigns, increased enforcement efforts, and stricter civil and criminal penalties, people continue to drink and drive. One measure to curtail drunk driving that has appeared to be effective has been the installation of interlock ignition devices (IID) on cars driven by individuals convicted of drunk driving. However, there are reportedly unforeseen dangers in how these devices are being used. Read more