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Highway Death Toll Warning Signs May Cause More Crashes, Not Less

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By Robert Preidt HealthDay Reporter
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 22, 2022 (HealthDay Information) — Displaying freeway loss of life tolls on roadside message boards in a bid to curb crashes may very well trigger extra accidents, a brand new examine suggests.

That is as a result of they distract drivers, the researchers mentioned.

At the least 27 states have used such messages. The brand new report targeted on Texas, the place officers determined to show freeway loss of life tolls one week of each month.

“Folks have restricted consideration,” mentioned examine co-author Joshua Madsen, an assistant professor within the Faculty of Administration on the College of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “When a driver’s cognitive load is already maxed out, including on an attention-grabbing, sobering reminder of freeway deaths [can] grow to be a harmful distraction.”

For the examine, Madsen and his workforce in contrast Texas crash information from January 2010 to July 2012, earlier than the marketing campaign, to August 2012 to December 2017 when it was underway. Additionally they checked out weekly variations every month in the course of the marketing campaign.

The investigators discovered that there have been 4.5% extra crashes alongside the ten kilometers (6.21 miles) of freeway the place loss of life numbers had been displayed throughout weeks once they had been proven than in message-free weeks.

The rise is corresponding to elevating the pace restrict 3 to five miles per hour or lowering freeway troopers by 6% to 14%, earlier analysis exhibits.

The findings, revealed April 21 within the journal Science , recommend that every yr street fatality messages prompted an added 2,600 crashes and 16 deaths in Texas.

That is as a result of this “in-your-face” messaging about street deaths briefly impacts drivers’ potential to reply to modifications in visitors circumstances, the examine authors mentioned in a college information launch.

The researchers additionally discovered that the extra crashes related to the messages elevated because the loss of life toll rose. The very best quantity occurred in January, when messages displayed the earlier yr’s complete variety of deaths.

The examine additionally confirmed that crashes elevated in areas the place drivers required higher focus, reminiscent of heavy visitors or driving previous a number of message boards.

In line with examine co-author Jonathan Corridor, “The messages additionally elevated the variety of multivehicle crashes, however not single-vehicle crashes.” Corridor is an assistant professor within the Faculty of International Affairs and Public Coverage on the College of Toronto in Canada.

“That is in step with drivers with elevated cognitive hundreds making smaller errors because of distraction, like drifting out of a lane, relatively than driving off the street,” Corridor added.

The researchers did discover a discount in crashes when the displayed loss of life tolls had been low and when messages had been proven in areas the place highways had been much less advanced.

General, the findings recommend that states ought to take into account different methods of elevating consciousness about street security, in accordance with Madsen.

“Distracted driving is harmful driving,” he mentioned. “Maybe these campaigns might be reimagined to succeed in drivers in a safer means, reminiscent of when they’re stopped at an intersection, in order that their consideration whereas driving stays targeted on the roads.”

Extra data

The U.S. Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration has sensible tricks to maintain you protected.

SOURCE: College of Minnesota, information launch, April 21, 2022

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