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Overdrive Staff | January 01, 2012

It was introduced for 2010 as part of a broader effort by the agency to refine its data collection to get better information about the role of distraction in crashes. The new measure is designed to focus more narrowly on crashes in which a driver was most likely to have been distracted.

While NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System previously recorded a broad range of potential distractions, such as careless driving and a cell phone present in the vehicle, the new measure focuses on distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement, such as distraction by dialing a phone or texting and distraction by an outside person or event. NHTSA’s refined methodology shows an estimated 3,092 fatalities in distraction-affected crashes in 2010.

While the explicit change in methodology means the new measure cannot be compared to the 5,474 “distraction-related” fatalities reported in 2009, other NHTSA data indicates that driver distraction continues to be a significant problem.

The agency’s nationwide survey of drivers shows that in 2009 and 2010, 5 percent of drivers could be seen talking on handheld phones.

More than three-quarters of drivers report they are willing to answer calls on all, most or some trips, a new NHTSA survey shows.

— Staff reports



SHORT HAULS

CLASS 8 truck orders in November fell 27 percent from October to about 20,400 units, ACT Research Co. said. FTR Associates said this was the first decrease in over a year.

The orders were “substantially below expectations,” said Eric Starks, FTR president, noting that November is in “typically the strong order period of the year.”

MARCUS BEAM was named the Truckload Carriers Association 2011 Highway Angel of the Year. On Aug. 8 on I-40 in North Carolina, Beam safely rescued a 6-month-old infant and a toddler from an overturned car. He is a driver for Epes Transport System of Greensboro, N.C.

LOS ANGELES PORTS on Jan. 1 will hit the final phase of the ports’ Clean Trucks Program. Beginning Jan. 1, both ports no longer will assess a Clean Truck fee on trucks with an engine year of 2006 and older, which will be banned from port marine terminals. Port officials say 98 percent of container moves at the facility are done by rigs with model year 2007 and newer engines.



HIGHWAY HAPPENINGS

MICHIGAN. The state Department of Transportation will keep open 76 of the state’s 81 rest areas this winter. Only five rest areas will be closed through April 2. Three of the closed rest areas are on I-75 and two are on U.S. 31.

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