FRIDAY, April 22, 2022 (HealthDay Information) — Displaying freeway dying 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 very least 27 states have used such messages. The brand new report centered on Texas, the place officers determined to show freeway dying tolls one week of each month.
“Individuals 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] turn into a harmful distraction.”
For the examine, Madsen and his crew 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. In addition they checked out weekly variations every month throughout 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 dying numbers had been displayed throughout weeks after they had been proven than in message-free weeks.
The rise is similar 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 induced an added 2,600 crashes and 16 deaths in Texas.
That is as a result of this “in-your-face” messaging about street deaths quickly impacts drivers’ capacity to reply to modifications in visitors situations, the examine authors mentioned in a college information launch.
The researchers additionally discovered that the extra crashes related to the messages elevated because the dying 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, comparable to heavy visitors or driving previous a number of message boards.
In accordance 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 World Affairs and Public Coverage on the College of Toronto in Canada.
“That is in keeping with drivers with elevated cognitive masses making smaller errors as a consequence of distraction, like drifting out of a lane, reasonably than driving off the street,” Corridor added.
The researchers did discover a discount in crashes when the displayed dying tolls had been low and when messages had been proven in areas the place highways had been much less complicated.
General, the findings recommend that states ought to think about different methods of elevating consciousness about street security, based on Madsen.
“Distracted driving is harmful driving,” he mentioned. “Maybe these campaigns will be reimagined to achieve drivers in a safer approach, comparable to when they’re stopped at an intersection, in order that their consideration whereas driving stays centered on the roads.”
The U.S. Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration has sensible tricks to hold you secure.
SOURCE: College of Minnesota, information launch, April 21, 2022