Dec 09 by Andy Gillin

Winter Charity Contest Week 1 Wrap Up

Our Winter Charitable Donation Contest (click link to vote!), which highlights five of the finest street safety advocacy organizations in California, is off to a great start! Next…

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Aug 25 by Andy Gillin

Fatal San Francisco Muni Bus Accident Highlights Dangerous Left Turns

We’ve written a lot on this blog about the tragic result of San Francisco bus accidents. In the past, fatal Muni bus accidents have cost the city millions in lawsuit settlements, and most importantly, have claimed the lives of far too many San Francisco residents. Over the weekend, new city dweller Emily Dunn was struck and killed by a Muni bus in the city’s Castro District. The police report indicated that Dunn was struck 95% into the crosswalk by a Muni Bus making a left turn, an action that is commonly cited as unsafe.

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Aug 11 by Andy Gillin

Oakland Crosswalk Update Could Improve Pedestrian Safety

Here in the Bay Area, we’re lucky to live in or near cities that are well known for their walkability. The website WalkScore, for example, recently ranked the country’s most walkable cities, and listed San Francisco in second place, and Oakland in tenth. While this is certainly cause for celebration, it might not take safety into account, considering that it has been an awful year for San Francisco pedestrian safety, and that more than 550 pedestrians are killed each year in California alone. A new account by local blog Oakland North explains one reason why the East Bay city doesn’t live up to the walk hype: dangerous crosswalk signals.

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Aug 10 by Andy Gillin

San Francisco Hit-Run Accident Victim Ryan White’s Condition Improving

By now, you’ve likely heard the story about 9 year-old Ryan White, a Philadelphia tourist visiting San Francisco to see the Phillies play the Giants. After the game, White was hit by an alleged drunk driver in San Francisco. White suffered bone injuries to his pelvis, left leg, and ankle, as well as internal injuries and a serious brain condition. But it looks like White has turned a corner following this tragic car accident. On Tuesday morning, doctors downgraded his condition from critical to serious, following White’s first spoken words since the accident.

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Aug 01 by Andy Gillin

Pleasanton Adopts Microwave Technology to Reduce California Bike Accidents

When it comes to cities that put a priority on bike safety, you can’t do much better than California’s Alameda County, the East Bay bicycle mecca that includes Berkeley. But Alameda County is also home to one of California’s most unexpectedly innovative towns when it comes to bike safety technology: Pleasanton. In fact, Pleasanton is using microwave technology to sense when cyclists are near an intersection that will trigger the light to stop cars and allow the cyclist through safely.

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Jul 27 by Andy Gillin

Can Distracted Driving Reduce Car Accidents?

The short answer to the question above is a definitive “no.” With the rise of technology, distracted driving has become a serious problem on US roadways, contributing to nearly 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year, according to the NHTSA. To solve this problem, many have turned to dangerous distracted driving technologies that make it easier, not harder, to text and talk behind the wheel. Safety advocates and government officials have opposed this tactic, noting that it’s the conversation, not the device, which causes distractions. The best way to avoid distractions is to simply put down the phone while behind the wheel. But a new article by Keith Barry for Wired’s Autopia blog states that distractions might not be the worst thing.

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Jul 25 by Andy Gillin

List of Fatal San Francisco Pedestrian Accidents – 2011

The thought of being killed as a pedestrian in San Francisco is terrifying. Fatal pedestrian accidents happen far too often in the Bay Area, especially considering that San Francisco was recently ranked the second most walkable city by the website Walk Score. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee pedestrian safety in a busy city like San Francisco. Organizations like WalkSF have been incredible about raising awareness about pedestrian safety programs and lobbying the city to make serious improvements. But fatal accidents remain too common far in San Francisco, which has already mourned 9 pedestrians this year.

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Jul 21 by Andy Gillin

California Train Accident Ruling Disappoints Metrolink Victims

In September 2008, a train accident near Chatsworth California killed 25 passengers and injured more than 135. Since commuter Metrolink was so clearly at fault for this accident, observers have said the company could have been on the hook for nearly $400 million in damages if not for a 1997 law that limits the liability for train accidents at $200 million. While this is great for Metrolink, it leaves hundreds of wrongful death and catastrophic injury victims out of the funds they deserve. This week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Peter D. Lichtman Jr. concluded the case with a ruling that emphasizes the incredibly difficult task of allotting funds to victims that deserve much more.

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Jul 21 by Andy Gillin

San Francisco & Oakland Ranked Walkable, But What About Pedestrian Accidents?

As a proud San Francisco resident, I’m excited when organizations or magazines rank the city as a great destination for anything and everything. That was my initial reaction when I saw this week that the website Walk Score ranked San Francisco as the country’s second most walkable city, and my former home, Oakland, as the country’s 10th most walkable. But as the writer for a Bay Area streets safety blog, it didn’t take long for this initial glee to turned to skepticism. I’m constantly reading about tragic pedestrian deaths on San Francisco streets – last week marked the city’s 8th already this year – and I know that even more pedestrian accidents go unreported. So while I’m glad to see that San Francisco is a walkable city on paper, the city must earn that reputation by getting serious about improving pedestrian safety.

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Jul 20 by Andy Gillin

Report: Volvo Technology Reduces Low Speed Car Accidents

How great would it be to drive to work without having to think about accidental low-speed car accidents? For years now, car companies have been researching collision avoidance systems, which use technology to alert the driver when a collision is possible. Volvo’s XC60 SUV forward collision warning system has received the most attention, and a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicated that the warning system could lead to a significant reduction in car accidents. But is this a new example of dangerous distracted driving technology?

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Jul 20 by Andy Gillin

Will Bike Lanes on Oak & Fell Reduce San Francisco Bicycle Accidents?

It’s no secret that biking on San Francisco’s Oak and Fell streets can be incredibly dangerous. In fact, the cross-town city arteries have proven dangerous for motorists as well, as emphasized by last week’s fatal big rig accident at the corner of Oak Street and Octavia Boulevard. To heal this problem, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency has developed a plan to make these streets safer for motorists and cyclists alike by adding cross-town bike lanes. But this comes with a catch that could derail the plan altogether: the proposed bike lanes would replace a full lane of moving traffic or parking spaces, which some San Francisco residents have deemed unfeasible.

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Jul 15 by Andy Gillin

Fatal San Francisco Big Rig Accident Raises Octavia Blvd Safety Questions

Yesterday morning, a big rig truck collided with a UCSF shuttle van, killing 52 year-old Dr. Kevin Mack and injuring three other passengers. The accident occurred on Octavia Boulevard, which has been considered an accident hotspot for the past half decade after the Central Freeway ramp opened in 2006. The police are investigating the details of this fatal accident, and city officials have vowed to take a closer look at Octavia’s safety record and potential safety improvements.

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Jul 14 by Andy Gillin

Prozac and Zoloft During Pregnancy Linked to Autism

A new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry indicates that mothers who were prescribed popular antidepressants during pregnancy are twice as likely as mothers who did not take the prescriptions to give birth to a child diagnosed with autism. The class of antidepressants in question are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which includes Zoloft, Prozac, Luvox, Celexa, Paxil, and their generic versions. Since medications pass through the placenta, the researchers believe that taking these antidepressants during pregnancy can impact the child’s brain development.

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Jul 14 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Driving Technology Not Enough to Reduce Car Accidents

Automaker Ford has rightfully been praised in recent weeks for supporting New York legislation to ban distracted driving. This week, the auto giant became the first of it’s industry to endorse a ban against texting and talking behind the wheel, but as Streetsblog points out, their endorsement allows a major loophole that could stand in the way of the campaign to eliminate distracted driving car accidents. Although the bill prohibits the use of handheld devices behind the wheel, it permits the use of auto technology to facilitate hands-free conversations, which can still be distracting and potentially dangerous.

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Jul 13 by Andy Gillin

PG&E Dodges Blame in San Bruno Pipeline Explosion Lawsuits

After flubbing their initial response to last September’s massive San Bruno pipeline explosion, utility Pacific Gas & Electric seemed to take responsibility for the accident, and even bought full-page ads in area newspapers proclaiming “We Apologize.” But in court filings this week, PG&E has backtracked, denying any blame for the deadly pipeline explosion and suggesting that other parties were at least partially responsible in order to dodge millions of dollars in damages from more than 100 lawsuits.

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Jul 06 by Andy Gillin

Biker Suffers Fatal Motorcycle Accident During Helmet Protest

The debate on mandatory motorcycle helmet laws is forever complicated by a familiar question: should individuals have the right to put themselves in grave danger? Many motorcycle advocacy organizations say yes, and have become outspoken opponents of motorcycle helmet laws that have passed in 20 states across the country, including California. At a protest involving more than 500 bikers in New York this week, the helmet debate hit a tragic point, when 55-year old Philip Contos, an opponent to the state’s helmet law, suffered a fatal head wound after flying over the handlebars of his motorcycle.

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Jul 01 by Andy Gillin

California Bike Passing Law Masters Major Milestone

As the number of cyclists throughout California continues to rise each year, the state has consistently taken incremental steps toward improving bicycle safety on city streets and highways. This week, bike safety advocates celebrated a major milestone for a law that would require motorists to allow three feet while passing cyclists in most cases, a key issue for the California Bicycle Coalition. Despite spirited opposition, the California Assembly Transportation Committee approved the bill by a vote of 8-5, sending it to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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Jun 27 by Andy Gillin

San Jose Traffic Sensors Could Improve Bike & Motorcycle Safety

We’ve all had moments where it feels like the traffic light will never change to green. Many intersections have sensors underneath the concrete that alert the traffic light when to let cars through. But what happens when your preferred mode of transportation isn’t heavy enough to trip the sensor? That’s the problem for bicycle and motorcycle riders who are too often stranded at intersections, unable to change the light. That could finally change, thanks to a pilot program in San Jose that could lead to more advanced traffic light technology that will sense the presence of a motorcycle, or even a bicycle.

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Jun 24 by Andy Gillin

Cars 2 Targets Distracted Driving (VIDEO)

As part of the new advertising campaign for this summer’s Pixar animated film Cars 2, Disney has released a public service announcement that warns about the dangers of distracted driving with the help of characters from the film. The short PSA is sponsored by the film studios and the Department of Transportation to spread the message that “only bad guys drive distracted,” and “one text or call could wreck it all.” The combined DOT and Cars 2 website provides additional information on distracted driving.

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Jun 22 by Andy Gillin

Court Shields Google Maps from Pedestrian Injury Lawsuits

We’ve all used Google Maps to find the best route to our desired location. What originally began as a resource for drivers has since expanded to include directions suggestions for pedestrians, bicyclists, and riders of public transportation. Of course, this raises a number of safety implications, since pedestrians and cyclists are always in more danger than motorists while navigating city streets. But if a pedestrian or cyclist is injured while following Google Maps directions, should they be able to sue the internet search mega conglomerate? A Utah district court ruled recently that Google is not liable since they did not owe the victim a duty, and since the company provides a valuable public service that is applied generally to all consumers.

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Jun 20 by Andy Gillin

Zimmer NexGen Knee Implant Recalls Spark Lawsuits Nationwide

When implant devices fail, it is often difficult to tell whether the implant manufacturer or the doctor who performed the implant surgery is at fault. That’s the case for a new set of recalls involving Zimmer’s NexGen knee implants. The New York Times reports, in fact, that this dilemma came to a head last year, when one of Zimmer’s high-paid consultants said that the complications were likely a result of NexGen’s design, not doctor errors. This debate will likely have a serious impact on potential lawsuits against the popular Zimmer NexGen knee implant model.

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Jun 14 by Andy Gillin

Safe & Affordable Cars for Teen Drivers

For many parents, the idea of buying your teen a new car is frightening. If your son or daughter’s new drivers license wasn’t enough, buying them their own car grants an unparalleled freedom that is at times difficult to monitor. That’s why many families draft a parent-teen safe driver contract to assure safe driving decisions even when you’re not in the car. But it’s also important to research the safest cars on the market, to assure that your teen driver will stay safe even if something unpredictable happens. Over the past year, Consumer Reports has done a great job of highlighting safe cars for teen drivers, with a special emphasis on affordability. Their new list goes even further.

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Jun 13 by Andy Gillin

Bike Helmet Safety Survey Results: Helmet Laws Should Cover Children

As the number of California cyclists continues to grow, the debate surrounding bike helmet laws is likely to come front and center. Last year, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his support for a statewide law requiring helmet use for cyclists of all ages. Studies have shown that nine out of ten of the 130 yearly bike accident deaths in California (and 700 nationwide) are due at least partially to the decision not to wear a helmet. But California’s bicycle community has not been receptive to helmet laws, and even greeted Villaraigosa’s announcement with boo’s. So last month, we thought we’d see what you thought with our bike helmet safety survey. Take a look at the results.

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Jun 13 by Andy Gillin

Teen Driver Safety Week & Summer Safety

This week is the National Safety Council’s Teen Driver Safety Week, and it comes right in time for summer, the most dangerous set of months for teens behind the wheel. Last week, we published the California Teen Driver Summer Safety Resource, which included daunting statistics about summer driving for teenagers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, for example, that there are nearly twice as many car accidents between Memorial Day and Labor Day than the rest of the year combined. So to prevent car accidents this summer, pay attention to Teen Driver Safety Week and remember to drive safe.

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Jun 08 by Andy Gillin

DriveCam Technology Reduces San Francisco Muni Bus Accidents

It’s always fun to write about good news related to traffic safety in San Francisco. That pleasure comes this week as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency reports that in 2010, Muni bus accidents dropped 50 percent below the previous year. The improvement is attributed to a new camera installed in all Muni busses in November 2009 to record the cause of Muni accidents and monitor dangerous driving behavior of Muni operators. The 50 percent drop in bus accidents is an indication that the DriveCam will have a serious positive impact on San Francisco traffic safety.

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Jun 03 by Andy Gillin

California Judges Debate Social Media Use

Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends and family members. But as a professional development tool, the purpose of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is far less clear. So far, many lawyers and judges have opted to steer clear of the web when it comes to professional contacts, and the American Bar Association has even said that it plans to address the ethics of social media use for lawyers. Last week, the San Francisco Recorder tackled the subject in a profile of a number of Bay Area judges. Perhaps it wont come as a surprise that their opinions differed quite a bit.

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Jun 02 by Andy Gillin

Anti Distracted Driving Accident Campaign Targets Auto Technology

Everyone knows that distracted driving is dangerous. There’s simply no safety replacement for staying focused on the road at all times. But when it comes to improving road safety, people seem divided about whether technology should make texting and talking on the phone easier in order to let the driver’s eyes remain on the road, or whether technology should prevent distractions by blocking cell phone use before the driver’s attention wanders. This week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have provided their answer with an effort to eliminate distracting technology behind the wheel.

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Jun 01 by Andy Gillin

Contra Costa County Named Most Dangerous for Bay Area Bike Accidents

Since The Bay Citizen began publishing local news little more than a year ago, their Bike Accident Tracker app has been one of my favorite features. First, the app mapped San Francisco bicycle accidents and tracked the causes and conditions for each collision. This week, the Citizen has expanded its bike accident tracker to include all Bay Area bicycle accidents, and has found some surprising statistics. Though San Francisco reports far more bike accidents than Contra Costa County, for example, the suburban area (also the home of GJEL’s main office), is far more dangerous in terms of percentage of cyclists involved in bike accidents each year.

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May 31 by Andy Gillin

California Teen Drivers Face Daunting Summer Safety Statistics

We’re constantly reminded that teen drivers are the demographic most likely to cause car accidents. Scientific studies on teen brain development show that the brain doesn’t even reach full maturity until the mid-twenties, long after most teenagers receive their license. But during the summer months (May through August), teen drivers hit the road much more often, and are more likely to engage in dangerous driving practices. So before school lets out, take a look at the summer accident statistics for teen drivers, and consider using the vacation to boost driving skills and study for the license tests.

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May 27 by Andy Gillin

Would Automotive Black Boxes Clarify Car Accident Lawsuits?

There are certain procedures that car accident attorneys use to learn the full story of a collision. An investigator typically speaks to the drivers involved and eye witnesses, accident reconstruction experts depict the scene and how the accident took place, and the attorneys then begin settlement negotiations. While this procedure has proven effective, new high-tech automotive “black boxes” could change auto accident lawsuits by providing a snap shot into the seconds before an accident. The black boxes are modeled after technology already present in airplanes, but is much more controversial on the automotive level, as opponents claim they are unreliable, and an unnecessary infringement of personal freedom.

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May 25 by Andy Gillin

San Francisco Pedestrian Accident Injury Highlights Urgent Need For Street Safety

Early this morning, Wednesday May 25, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle on the corner of Pierce Street and Lombard Street in San Francisco’s Marina District. San Francisco Police Department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said the 30-year-old driver did not see the pedestrian before the collision took place, but did not appear to be driving under the influence of alcohol. This tragic death follows a string of pedestrian accidents on Masonic Avenue that led to a $20 million plan to improve pedestrian safety on that street, and highlights the need for additional pedestrian safety plans throughout San Francisco.

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May 25 by Andy Gillin

California Motorcycle Events Stress Safe Summer Rides

Summer is a great season for motorcyclists. Having more daylight hours and better road conditions assures that motorcyclists can take long drives up the California coastline or through the state’s beautiful forest areas. To help with safety, the California Highway Patrol is hosting a series of motorcycle safety courses throughout the state. One of these motorcycle safety sessions will take place in San Jose on June 4th, and will include a live band, great food, and a vehicle demonstration. But that’s just the beginning of a summer packed with motorcycle events throughout California. Check out motorcycle events calendar for more.

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May 18 by Andy Gillin

Senior Drivers May Cause More Car Accidents

Taking away the keys from senior drivers is a difficult decision that often causes conflict between family members and friends. But scientists and safety advocates have repeatedly shown that as people age, they often lose the motor skills and mental capacity to remain alert behind the wheel. In this vein, a new report by the American Psychological Association has found that driving errors increase with age both for dangerous drivers and those with a previously impeccable record. So talk to your parent or friend senior driver about the dangers of driving after motor skills decline.

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May 17 by Andy Gillin

Infrastructure Spending Could Reduce California Car Accident Costs

California is broke, and with budgets stretched thin across the board, it’s difficult to make an effective argument for increasing spending, even if the result is increased safety on California streets to save lives. But a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that California is responsible for a full 10% of the nation’s car accident medical and work loss costs. With California car accidents costing far more than any other state, it’s clear that California could actually save money by spending money on infrastructure improvements to reduce accidents.

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May 16 by Andy Gillin

5 Great California Bicycle Safety Plans

There’s no doubt that National Bike Month has been a resounding success here in California. The extended May cycle-centric holiday has lead to major safety campaigns statewide. But the preparation for last week’s Bike to Work Day has been the month’s crowning achievement, as Streetsblog reports that the day of events was preceded by unprecedented growth in California bicycle infrastructure. This is a great start, and bike safety advocates are not likely to stop there. Below are five great ideas to improve bicycle safety laws and infrastructure moving forward.

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May 13 by Andy Gillin

National Youth Traffic Safety Month Prepares Teen Drivers for Summer Safety

As we’ve learned in past weeks, May is an important month for traffic safety nationwide. May marks National Bike Month, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and National Youth Traffic Safety Month. This mode of driver safety awareness comes at the perfect time, as teen car accident statistics spike during the summer months. As Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood points out on his blog, car accident deaths nearly double for drivers aged 15-19 during May, June, July and August. So do your part to reduce teen car accidents and pay attention to National Youth Traffic Safety Month.

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May 11 by Andy Gillin

Bike to Work Day Events in San Francisco, East Bay, San Jose & Contra Costa County

May is National Bike Month, which means that bicycle advocates and lawmakers throughout California are boosting efforts to increase bike ridership and improve bicycle safety. Thursday May 12 marks one of the month’s most celebrated events, Bike to Work Day, and cities across the state are gearing up for it with major events designed to help make roads bike friendly and encourage businesses to promote cycling. We’ve compiled a list of Bike to Work events in San Francisco, the East Bay, San Jose, and Contra Costa County.

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May 10 by Andy Gillin

San Francisco Pedestrian Accident Death Proves Need for Masonic Avenue Safety Plan

Last Friday, 61 year-old James Hudson was killed by a drunk driver while crossing San Francisco’s Masonic Avenue, one of the city’s busiest and most dangerous arteries. The suspect, 23 year-old Jose Jimenez, who was driving over 50 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone, is expected to be charged this week with vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol. Masonic Avenue is one of San Francisco’s most notorious pedestrian accident hot spots, and last week’s death indicates the city’s obligation to make significant steps to make it safer to reduce future deaths.

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May 06 by Andy Gillin

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month Targets Motorcycle Accident Injuries

We’ve been writing a lot about National Bike Month. The cycle-centric holiday, hosted by the League of American Cyclists, has placed a large emphasis on increasing ridership and teaching safe cycling behavior to children. And here in California, Sacramento has launched a major monthly program to reduce bicycle accidents. But May isn’t only National Bike Month, it’s also Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Boosting motorcycle safety is essential, especially considering that motorcycle deaths make up a disproportionate 13.2% of all traffic deaths nationwide. So in addition to watching out for bicycle safety this month, stay aware of motorcyclists, and as always, share the road for everyone.

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May 05 by Andy Gillin

California Bike to Work Day Benefits San Francisco’s Market Street

San Francisco is getting serious about reducing bicycle accidents. The upsurge in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in past months has lead the city’s Municipal Transportation Authority to improve safety measures, particularly for bicyclists. Last month, for example, San Francisco began installing bicycle-only “green boxes” on high-traffic streets throughout the city. Now, as National Bike Month heats up, the MTA is rushing to install additional green boxes in time for next Thursday’s Bike to Work Day.

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May 04 by Andy Gillin

National Bike Month Supporters Get Serious on Sacramento Bicycle Accidents

Both here in California and nationwide, residents and lawmakers are boosting bicycle safety awareness during May, National Bike Month. Many of these initiatives take aim at helping children learn safe bicycle behavior, but others also focus on getting adults back on their bicycles, and re-learning practices that can reduce serious bicycle injuries. On Monday, Sacramento officials and bike advocates teamed up with the Mercy San Juan Medical Center to promote May is Bike Month and reduce California bicycle accidents.

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May 03 by Andy Gillin

National Bike Month Focuses on Reducing Youth Bicycle Accidents

As National Bike Month rolls around, we’re reminded that too many cyclists currently on the road maintain bad habits on city streets. Many adult cyclists don’t wear helmets, obey traffic signs, or use reflective gear at night. Some states have bicycle safety laws that require appropriate bicycle safety behavior for children and teenagers. But as Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood writes on his blog this week, National Bike Month should encourage smart bicycle safety from the top down. If you have children, be a good “Roll Model” during May as National Bike Month.

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Apr 28 by Andy Gillin

Parents: Congress Considers Sidewalk Safety Bill For School Zones

There’s no question about it: when it comes to reducing car accidents, pedestrian accidents, or bicycle accidents, states and local governments have been proposing the most interesting plans to save lives and prevent injuries. But so far, when the federal government gets involved, safety measures that often look like “no-brainers” on the local level get muddled by political ideology and Washington groupthink. This has already been the case for a federal distracted driving law and a federal teen drivers license law currently languishing in Congress. The next safety policy to be doomed by Washington policy is the Safe Routes to School program.

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Apr 27 by Andy Gillin

Video: Distracted Driving Technology Confuses Test Driver

In the midst of the “Facebook revolution,” Americans are awed by any problem that can be solved by technology. That’s why many car companies and safety advocates have turned to technology to reduce distracted driving. But these high-tech control systems aren’t always slam dunks. New York Times Personal Technology Editor Sam Grobart tested some popular options for a video last week before the New York International Auto Show, and came up with some mixed results, suggesting that distracted driving technologies could make driving even more confusing.

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Apr 26 by Andy Gillin

Reducing California Pedestrian Accidents Saves Lives (And Money!)

For some reason, the fact that nearly 650 people are killed in pedestrian accidents each year in California alone, has not prompted state lawmakers to get serious about cutting down on pedestrian accidents. As fatal pedestrian accidents continue to pile up, the city has had a difficult time coming up with funds for safe streets programs, due to its already tight budget. But a new Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee report has found that the 800+ San Francisco pedestrian crashes each year leave the city with a $76 million injury bill, suggesting that making the streets safer for pedestrians would not only save lives, but also save San Francisco a bundle in cash.

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Apr 25 by Andy Gillin

Ray LaHood to Expand Auto Safety Laws After Distracted Driving Awareness Month

As Distracted Driving Awareness Month comes to a close this week, it’s helpful to look back at what lawmakers and safety advocates have accomplished over the past few years, when distracted driving was really on the rise. While most states hadn’t even considered distracted driving laws five years ago, about 7 now ban the use of handheld cell phones, and more than 30 states prohibit texting while driving. Fortunately, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood isn’t only thinking about distracted driving during April every year. He’s laid out a forward-looking plan that promises to get even more comprehensive as the year progresses.

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Apr 21 by Andy Gillin

Drop in Motorcycle Accident Deaths Looks Optimistic

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is clearly doing something right. Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation boasted a major drop in car accident deaths in 2010, the lowest number in more than 60 years. And this week, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that in 2010, motorcycle accident deaths dropped 2% to 4,376, the second straight decline. This is further proof that initiatives on the part of lawmakers and safety advocates to make the roads safer have been successful and should continue. But the GHSA warns that the drop in deaths could overshadow some of the report’s more troubling findings.

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Apr 20 by Andy Gillin

California Distracted Driving Editorial Misses the Point: Just Put Down the Phone

No one ever said the law was simple. That’s a tense subject for Silicon Valley Mercury News columnist Gary Richards, who penned an editorial yesterday on California’s “confusing” distracted driving laws. At issue are loopholes that can hold drivers accountable for minor infractions while letting them off the hook for seriously dangerous behavior. While it’s important to point out the inconsistencies in California distracted driving laws that could limit their effectiveness, the editorial misses the point of distracted driving danger: instead of agonizing over these laws, just shut the phone down while you’re driving. That way, you won’t get a ticket, and you won’t get into a serious car accident.

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Apr 19 by Andy Gillin

Police Cite Obstacles to Reducing Distracted Driving Car Accidents

When it comes to distracted driving, laws have come a long way in a short time. Just two years ago, states were just starting to ban handheld devices, and few more had restricted texting while driving. Now, most states ban texting, and seven have launched strong handheld phone laws. But in many cases, police officers continue having difficulty enforcing these laws, even in states with the best laws against distracted driving. Last week, reporters from Consumer Reports rode along with police officers from Syracuse, NY, which has teemed up with the DOT to boost its campaign against distracted driving. Despite some obstacles, their report emphasized the potential for better future enforcement.

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Apr 18 by Andy Gillin

5 Great Cell Phone Apps to Prevent Distracted Driving

With the rise of distracted driving, cell phones are often cited as villains that facilitate dangerous driving practices. But while distracting phone calls, text messages, and games are certainly a large part of the problem, a few tech companies have put significant resources toward developing smart phone applications that will actually make it easier to drive without distractions. Of course, this isn’t always the result. Earlier this month, for example, we listed the top five most dangerous distracted driving technologies. This week, in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’re focusing on the good innovations that could lead to a generation of safer cell phones and less distracted drivers. Take a look, and leave your thoughts in the comments section, or on our Facebook page.

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Apr 13 by Andy Gillin

San Francisco Pedestrian Accident Highlights Urgent Need For Action Plan

Jogging across San Francisco’s busy Masonic Avenue Monday, a pedestrian was blindsided by driver going 30 miles per hour, sending the jogger flying through the air and later to the hospital with a severely broken leg. SFWeekly correspondent Matt Smith writes that he and his daughter also would have been hit if they had passed the intersection on their tandem bicycle two seconds earlier. The terrifying collision shows that pedestrian accidents are far too common here in San Francisco and that the city must implement a plan to increase street safety and reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

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Apr 08 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Driving Highlights Major Problems with San Francisco Muni Bus Accidents

What would you do if your bus driver was texting while driving? If you’re anything like San Francisco resident Shawn Higgins, who saw a bus driver texting on the 24 Divisadero bus, you’d try to stop it. Though Higgins was backed by other riders, her confrontation did not go over well with the driver, who “took out her iPhone and started recording us. On the bus. And saying ‘I’m going to show you. I’ll never pick you up again a—hole.'” In past years, San Francisco bus drivers have repeatedly been caught acting irresponsibly, highlighting the importance of reforming the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency’s policy toward its staff.

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Apr 07 by Andy Gillin

Parents Rate Safest Cars for Teen Drivers

The discussion of what car to buy a new teenage driver is always touchy. Teens want something that looks cool and isn’t too slow, while parents want something affordable that won’t tempt dangerous driving behavior. But above all, parents hope to buy their teenager a car that is as safe as anything else on the road. Last month, Consumer Reports highlighted 8 of the safest cars for teens that wouldn’t break the bank. This week, the Wall Street Journal released its list of safest vehicles for teen drivers. Take a look, and share your teen driver stories in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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Apr 06 by Andy Gillin

Texas & North Dakota Join California to Reduce Distracted Driving Car Accidents

Since it’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’ve been writing a lot about efforts to curb distracted driving here in California. Statewide, 225 local police agencies have teamed up with the California Highway Patrol to establish safety zones and declare a “zero-tolerance policy” for distracted drivers. But while California is generally considered a leader in safe driving laws, the trend has caught on, and a number of states nationwide have boosted their driver safety laws right in time for Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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Apr 05 by Andy Gillin

California Distracted Driving Awareness Month Stresses Enforcement

Though 2010 marked the first annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month, California did not participate in an official capacity. So this year, California is making an impact with a statewide crackdown on distracted driving. About 225 local police agencies will team up with the California Highway Patrol to implement 103 CHP Area Commands and a “zero-tolerance policy” against offenders. A first-time offence carries a $20 fine, but with additional charges, the economic damage can reach over $200. So during Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April, remember to be safe and avoid distracted driving, or your wallet could regret it.

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Apr 04 by Andy Gillin

DOT Boasts Drop in Car Accident Deaths

Based on preliminary data, the Department of Transportation estimated last week that 32,788 people were killed in car accidents in 2010, the lowest number in more than 60 years. The death toll remains way too high, but it’s particularly impressive considering that the number of miles driven last year increased by 21 billion and over the past five years alone, traffic deaths have dropped 25 percent. Praising DOT initiatives, one NBC reporter said the drop was likely due to “safer better cars, DUI enforcement, even the roads we drive on.”

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Apr 01 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Driving Awareness Month Ignites Driver Safety Debate

As April and Distracted Driving Awareness Month rolls around, you can expect safety advocates and lawmakers to discuss the many dangers of distracted driving. But despite reports that distracted driving kills nearly 6,000 people and injures about 500,000 each year, some have said the impact of distracted driving on highway safety has been exaggerated. So in addition to information about technological solutions to car distractions and a star-studded awareness campaign, expect Distracted Driving Awareness Month to reignite the debate about whether or not we need to eliminate the dangerous practice.

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Mar 31 by Andy Gillin

San Francisco MTA Continues Plan to Reduce California Bicycle Accidents

So far, 2011 has been a great year for San Francisco pedestrian safety and bicycle safety. Facing troubling pedestrian and bicycle accident statistics, city lawmakers have enacted programs that promise to greatly benefit the city’s cyclists and pedestrians. Most recently, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency has installed green “Bike Boxes” on both directions of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue to make non-motorist safety more of a priority.

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Mar 31 by Andy Gillin

California Boosts Driver Safety Laws For Distracted Driving Awareness Month

For years, the California Highway Patrol has done a fantastic job keeping our roads safe from dangerous drivers and reducing vehicle injuries and fatalities. That job has grown more difficult with the rise of technology and distracted driving, but the CHP will team up with 225 local California police agencies to establish 103 California Highway Patrol Area Commands and enact a “zero-tolerance policy” to combat distracted driving through April; the country’s second annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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Mar 29 by Andy Gillin

States Boost Safety Laws Before Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is distracted driving awareness month, which means that safety advocates and lawmakers will put the issue front and center, trying to find a solution to eliminating distracted driving, which the federal government says is responsible for 6,000 deaths and 500,000 car accident injuries each year. More than 30 states now have some sort of law against distracted driving, so you can expect the remaining states to catch some negative attention this month. North Dakota seems to have missed this scrutiny, as its Senate passed two major anti-distraction bills right in time for Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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Mar 28 by Andy Gillin

PG&E Fined “Chump Change” Following San Bruno Pipeline Explosion

The California Public Utilities Commission fined PG&E $6 million last week for September’s devastating pipeline explosion, which many consumer advocates and San Bruno representatives call a major win for the California utilities company. The CPUC had initially threatened to fine PG&E $1 million per day (after the March 15 deadline) for concealing important records related to last fall’s pipeline explosion, but later cut the penalty significantly, saying PG&E had shown appropriate remorse. The fine could end up as low as $3 million if PG&E discloses the documents in question by August.

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