Connecticut drivers experience changing weather conditions year-round. Although snow may be the weather condition that makes drivers the most cautious, rain can be dangerous too. A recent study reported by the American Meteorological Society compared light rain, moderate rain and heavy rain conditions as they relate to car crash risk. According to the findings, even light rain or a drizzle can increase the risk of a car crash by 27%.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that in 2017, there were 34,439 fatal crashes in Connecticut and the rest of the U.S. Of these, 4,079 involved at least one large truck or bus. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says that 72 percent of all fatalities in truck crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles.
Many Connecticut residents have to admit that from time to time, they drive while distracted. It could be that they are on their cellphone and answering phone calls, checking social media or responding to text messages. Many of these same individuals would admit that driving while distracted is dangerous. This disparity between what drivers know and what they do has an impact on how safe the roads are.
Many drivers in Connecticut and across the U.S. become distracted whenever they pass an emergency vehicle on the street. In a survey conducted by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 60 percent said they post on social media whenever they see such a vehicle. Just over 65 percent said they send an email about it. Seventy-one percent take photos or videos, and 80 percent slow down to get a better look.
Every year, vehicle inspectors in Connecticut and across the country focus on trucking safety as part of the Roadcheck inspection program. The 72-hour inspection blitz, which is organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, often focuses on different aspects of commercial vehicle maintenance and safety on the roads. These inspection blitzes aim to identify and address safety issues that could lead to dangerous or even deadly trucking accidents. The 2019 International Roadcheck will center on steering and suspension systems found in large trucks.
More than 300 U.S. road users are killed each year by underride accidents. This is when a passenger vehicle slides under a semi-tractor trailer. Road safety groups throughout Connecticut and the rest of the country have been calling for more comprehensive underride guard regulations for some time. Lawmakers from both chambers of Congress and both political parties have recently answered those calls by introducing bills that would mandate the installation of these possibly life-saving safety features on the fronts, sides and rears of trucks. The proposed legislation also updates the current rear underride guard standards.
People in Connecticut may be concerned about their risk when they get behind the wheel, especially as National Safety Council statistics indicate that fatal car accidents are on the rise. In 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, 40,200 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents, a 6 percent increase over the previous year. The prior year experienced a 7 percent increase from the year before. Just taking 2015 and 2016 into account, accident-related deaths jumped by 13 percent, the largest increase in half a century.
Many drivers in Connecticut, as elsewhere, believe that speeding is culturally acceptable and do not mind engaging in it themselves. By doing so, however, they increase their risk for a crash, especially a fatal one. Pedestrians and bicyclists are often the victims of speeding crashes. If they only slightly decreased their speed, they could lower both their crash risk and the severity of any crashes that do occur.
Distracted driving is a widespread issue in Connecticut as elsewhere. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently looked into two observational surveys from 2014 and 2018, finding that the rate of distracted driving has not changed considerably. However, it did find that the ways in which drivers are distracting themselves have changed.
On Jan. 15, a woman was seriously hurt in a motor vehicle accident involving a box truck in Connecticut. The crash occurred at around 10:30 a.m. in Winchester.