Tagdrunk driving

Survivor bias: Who walks away from automobile crashes?

This photo of a damaged car has little to do with this post. 

Then my friend Alex E. asked, “Is there a reason why?”

I can’t leave such a question hanging. I thought I read that somewhere, and it was probably in Tom Vanderbilt’s book, Traffic. What I found in there mostly referred to trucks (the semi-trailer type) because of their mass and how people not driving trucks behave around them on the road. The second part explained the statistics around who lives and dies in crashes involving a drunk driver.

Knowing that, and knowing the story I tweeted a link to, you’ll see that the event didn’t involve a truck and my relating them was perhaps unsuitable. It did involve drunk driving, but I may have misread the book text.

Here’s what Traffic says about trucks

“When trucks and cars collide, nearly nine of ten times it’s the truck driver who walks away alive.” Vanderbilt discusses how that is (page 247).

…we all likely have proof of the dangerous nature of trucks. We have seen cars crumpled on the roadside. We’ve heard news stories of truck drivers, wired on stimulants, forced to drive the deregulated trucking industry’s increasingly long shifts. We can easily recall being tailgated or cut off by some crazy trucker.

Just one thing complicates this image of trucks as the biggest hazard on the road today: In most cases, when cars and trucks collide, the car bears the greater share of what are called “contributory factors”.

Really? Car drivers caused crashes with trucks and then die from it?

Instead of relying on drivers’ accounts, he [Daniel Blower at Michigan Transport Research Institute] looked at “unmistakable” physical evidence. “In certain crash types like head-ons, the vehicle that crosses the center much more likely contributed to the crash than the vehicle that didn’t cross the center line”.

After examining more than five thousand fatal truck-car crashes, Blower found that in 70 percent of cases, the driver of the car had the sole contributing responsibility in the crash.

Basically, the car drivers in a car-truck crash caused the crash and ended up being the ones dying.

…the reason trucks are dangerous seems to have more to do with the action sof car drivers combined with the physcial characteristics of trucks and less to do with the actions of truck drivers. “The caricature that we have that the highways are thronged with fatigued, drug-addled truck drivers is, I think, just wrong”, Blower said.

“In a light vehicle, you are correct to be afraid of them, but its not because the drivers are disproportionately aggressive or bad drivers”, Blower said. “It’s because of physics, truck design, the different performance characteristics. You can make a mistake around a Geo Metro and live to tell about it. You make that same mistake around a truck and you could easily be dead.”

What Traffic says about drunk driving

Of the 11,000 drunk-driving fatalities studied by economists Steven D. Levitt and Jack Porter, 72% were the crash-causing drunk driver or their passengers, and 28% were the other drivers (most of whom were not drunk themselves) (page 251).

Carnage culture needs to change

Updated June 5, 2011, to add new names.

If you ever read the comments under articles about a bicycle crash on a Chicago newspaper website, you’ll find the most hateful and misspelled vitriol about how bikers are horrible people and need to get off the road.

But bicycling poses no threat to public safety. Doing it actually enhances public safety and health. A recent study found that even though bicyclists inhale more pollution than people walking or driving, their lung capacity and health was such that they could “deal with it” better than people walking or driving. And if more people rode bicycles, there’d be fewer on-road injuries.

These are the people who need to get off the road:

Carlos Estrada, 42, of the 3600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, Berwyn, Illinois

A west suburban man was arrested on suspicion of DUI early Wednesday [June 1, 2011] — hours before he was to be sentenced for another DUI and more than 25 years after his license was revoked.

“Mr. Estrada has not had a valid driver’s license since September of 1985 and has been arrested several times in the past for driving while license suspended or revoked,” [Riverside Police Tom Chief] Weitzel said.

Chicago Sun-Times

Sandra Uher, 54, of Elgin, Illinois

A 54-year-old Elgin woman faces a little extra trouble with the law now, after she showed up drunk to her trial for her sixth DUI charge. The judge revoked bail and sent Sandra Uher to Cermak Hospital, part of the Cook County Jail. She could see six to 30 years in prison.

Daily Herald, via Chicagoist

Ryan LeVin, 36

On parole in Illinois, “A ‘millionaire playboy’ who killed two British tourists in Florida [Craig Elford, 39, and Kenneth Watkinson, 48] when his $150,000 Porsche jumped the curb will not go to jail, despite the fact that he fled the scene and lied to police officers about who was behind the wheel during the accident. Instead, he will pay cash restitution to the victims’ family, settling a civil suit on the condition that he not go to prison.”

Ryan LeVin, 36, will spend two years under house arrest in his parents’ oceanside condominium. LeVin initially denied driving the speeding car and pinned the blame on a friend. Illinois will seek to have his parole revoked and sent back to prison.

1st paragraph from Boing Boing, 2nd paragraph from Chicago Tribune

Kazimierz Karasek, 59 of Prospect Heights, Illinois

The driver of a semi truck who injured three dozen commuters when he turned into the path of a Metra train Friday [May 13, 2011] had accumulated more than 50 traffic citations since 1986 but hadn’t lost his license.

None of the infractions, including a 2000 drunken-driving arrest, triggered the suspension of the commercial driver’s license of driver Kazimierz Karasek, who was killed in the fiery wreck in Mount Prospect.

Chicago Tribune – They also have a map of the crash at Northwest Highway and Mount Prospect Road showing the string of events.

One of Kazimierz Karasek’s citations including driving the wrong way on a divided highway! There are hundreds of other people driving cars and trucks without licenses, on suspended licenses, and without the required insurance. That’s in addition to the hundreds of people who were not required to take driver’s education (in Illinois, people 18 and older are not required to take a formal driver’s education course). I am saying there are many bad drivers and many with poor or no education on how to drive legally and safely.

Yet we continue to let the drivers we know to be terrible at driving continue to drive and harass our cities and citizens. Those who take surface trains are not immune.

A Union Pacific locomotive tows the UP-Northwest Metra train damaged by Kazimierz Karasek’s stupidity, his truck, and its cement slab cargo. Janelle has more crash photos.

Chicagoland is not the only place where we witness this carnage and traffic injustices. Streetsblog NYC today reports that an “unlicensed, speeding, hit-and-run driver who killed an elderly Staten Island couple in 2009 has been sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail.” Nice, right?

Will this couple make it across Western Avenue safely? Photo by Joshua Koonce. In related news, the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council will start the public planning process for the Chicago Pedestrian Plan. Find a list of meetings.

P.S.: Who still freaking drives around closed railroad gates?

© 2014 Steven Can Plan

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑