Evidence mounts of distraction risks from digital billboards along roadways

By Paul Feldman, FairWarning 

A digital billboard in Sarasota. Photo: Scenic America

A digital billboard in Sarasota. Photo: Scenic America

Digital billboards clearly catch the eye of passing motorists. But what is also increasingly clear is that such distractions can heighten safety risks in heavy traffic and other complex driving conditions, a long-time roadway researcher says.

That conclusion by Jerry Wachtel, a traffic safety consultant and one-time Federal Highway Administration staffer, came from his recent review of billboard distraction studies conducted everywhere from Denmark to South Dakota. (more…)

Heavy-spending trucking industry pushes Congress to relax safety rules

By Brian Joseph, FairWarning trucking

Big rig crashes kill nearly 4,000 Americans each year and injure more than 85,000. Since 2009, fatalities involving large trucks have increased 17 percent. Injuries have gone up 28 percent.

Given these numbers, you might expect Congress to be agitating for tighter controls on big rigs. In fact, many members are pushing for the opposite – looser restrictions on the trucking industry and its drivers. (more…)

Collision course: With wary eye on big trucks, bike riders seek safe space on city streets

By Bridget Huber, FairWarning truckcycle

On a July afternoon in New Orleans last year, Philip Geeck was riding his bicycle in a marked bike lane on a busy street. Approaching an intersection, he came up alongside a tractor-trailer truck hauling a tank of chemicals. Geeck, 52, was at the 18-wheeler’s midpoint when suddenly, without signaling, the truck began to turn right, witnesses say.

Victor Pizarro was driving nearby and watched in horror as the scene unfolded. He saw a look of confusion on Geeck’s face as the trailer came toward him. Geeck, an experienced cyclist known to his friends as “Geric,” tried to get away from the truck but couldn’t make it. First his wheel went beneath the semi’s enormous rolling tires, then his foot, then his entire body was dragged under. “It just kind of sucked him in,” Pizarro said in an interview. (more…)

Federal highway agency takes a hit over safety report on electronic billboards

By Myron Levin, FairWarning

Photo: Scenic America

Photo: Scenic America

Why did the billboard cross the road?

It sounds like the opening line of a corny joke, but it’s actually a question raised by a baffling glitch in a Federal Highway Administration study on the safety of electronic billboards. Billboards that seem magically to have moved from one side of the highway to the other are part of a detailed critique by a former FHWA researcher, who says the federal report is so badly flawed that no one should rely on its conclusions. (more…)

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