Seat belts remain a driver’s most important protection
Using the 2006 fatal crash data recently released by the United States Department of Transportation, Farmers Insurance has completed a study to determine the most influential factors in drivers’ mortality rates in multi-vehicle accidents.
“Once again, we find strong statistical evidence that seat belts remain the most important protection for the driver,” notes Kevin Mabe, economist at Farmers, who completed the study. “We found that when a driver used a seat belt, the odds of a fatality dropped nearly 70 percent compared to a driver who did not.” Earlier this year, Mabe released a study on 2005 accident data and concluded similar results.
The analysis incorporates a logistic econometric model with 41 variables, accounting for factors such as road and traffic conditions at the time of the fatal accident, location and time, accident events, vehicle spe- cifics, driver demographics and safety features. “Controlling for these additional external factors allows us to more precisely isolate the degree to which safety belts save lives,” Mabe explains.
Several other factors showed significance in decreasing the odds of a driver’s death. For example, rear-end collisions proved less deadly than head-on or T-bone collisions. Larger vehicles, such as trucks, SUVs and vans, appeared to protect the driver better than a typical automobile. Dry roads, in contrast with wet roads, decreased the odds of a fatality by more than 10 percent.
Other factors increased danger on the roads. “Nighttime and winter driving tended to produce more deadly accidents, and drivers should continue to exercise additional caution,” Mabe notes. Certain accident events, such as rollovers, ejections and vehicle fires, greatly reduce the survivability in an accident. Motor- cycle accidents showed remarkably increased mortality rates compared to other vehicles.
“Not all factors proved predictive,” Mabe explains. “Driver height and weight appeared to have little influence on the outcome of the accident. However, age plays an important part. Older drivers, as well as young, new drivers, have an increased risk.” The model also showed little evidence of differences between regions of the U.S.
“A driver’s three-second choice to ‘buckle up’ will more than double his or her chances to survive a severe accident,” Mabe concludes.
Switching gears, Atlas Van Lines’ annual King of the Road van operator survey revealed that Subway, satellite radio and Kenworth top the drivers’ list of “favorites.”
Survery results included these nuggets:
• Tractors made by Kenworth were voted the best by owner-operators for the sixth consecutive year.
• Satellite radio is taking the trucking world by storm. In 2004, only 7 percent of Atlas owner-operators subscribed; today, 53 percent do so.
• What’s an owner-operator’s favorite quick meal on the road? Subway, which nabbed the top spot for the third year in a row.