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 News) -- Showing road decease tolls connected roadside connection boards successful a bid to curb crashes whitethorn really origin much accidents, a caller survey suggests.

That's due to the fact that they distract drivers, the researchers said.

At slightest 27 states person utilized specified messages. The caller study focused connected Texas, wherever officials decided to show road decease tolls 1 week of each month.

"People person constricted attention," said survey co-author Joshua Madsen, an adjunct prof successful the School of Management astatine the University of Minnesota successful Minneapolis. "When a driver's cognitive load is already maxed out, adding connected an attention-grabbing, sobering reminder of road deaths [can] go a unsafe distraction."

For the study, Madsen and his squad compared Texas clang information from January 2010 to July 2012, earlier the campaign, to August 2012 to December 2017 erstwhile it was underway. They besides looked astatine play differences each period during the campaign.

The investigators recovered that determination were 4.5% much crashes on the 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) of road wherever decease numbers were displayed during weeks erstwhile they were shown than successful message-free weeks.

The summation is comparable to raising the velocity bounds 3 to 5 miles per hr oregon reducing road troopers by 6% to 14%, erstwhile probe shows.

The findings, published April 21 successful the diary Science , suggest that each twelvemonth roadworthy fatality messages caused an added 2,600 crashes and 16 deaths successful Texas.

That's due to the fact that this "in-your-face" messaging astir roadworthy deaths temporarily affects drivers' quality to respond to changes successful postulation conditions, the survey authors said successful a assemblage quality release.

The researchers besides recovered that the further crashes associated with the messages accrued arsenic the decease toll rose. The highest fig occurred successful January, erstwhile messages displayed the erstwhile year's full fig of deaths.

The survey besides showed that crashes accrued successful areas wherever drivers required greater focus, specified arsenic dense postulation oregon driving past aggregate connection boards.

According to survey co-author Jonathan Hall, "The messages besides accrued the fig of multivehicle crashes, but not single-vehicle crashes." Hall is an adjunct prof successful the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy astatine the University of Toronto successful Canada.

"This is successful enactment with drivers with accrued cognitive loads making smaller errors owed to distraction, similar drifting retired of a lane, alternatively than driving disconnected the road," Hall added.

The researchers did find a simplification successful crashes erstwhile the displayed decease tolls were debased and erstwhile messages were shown successful areas wherever highways were little complex.

Overall, the findings suggest that states should see different ways of raising consciousness astir roadworthy safety, according to Madsen.

"Distracted driving is unsafe driving," helium said. "Perhaps these campaigns tin beryllium reimagined to scope drivers successful a safer way, specified arsenic erstwhile they are stopped astatine an intersection, truthful that their attraction portion driving remains focused connected the roads."

More information

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has applicable tips to support you safe.

SOURCE: University of Minnesota, quality release, April 21, 2022