According to recently released information from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the traffic fatality rate for the first quarter of 2022 increased to 1.27 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That is up from the rate of 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles in the first quarter of 2021. The 7% jump is the highest since 2002 and translates to nearly 10,000 deaths.
“The overall numbers are still moving in the wrong direction,” says Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator, in the report. “Now is the time for all states to double down on traffic safety. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, there are more resources than ever for research, interventions, and effective messaging and programs that can reverse the deadly trend and save lives.”
REASONS FOR INCREASE
Part of the ominous trend can likely be attributed to increased roadway volume. The year 2021 saw a massive spike in nationwide traffic volumes as the population began driving more after pandemic restrictions slowed and commuting patterns adjusted upward in response. In 2020, there were 228.2 million licensed drivers in the US. In 2021, that number increased to 232.8 million. In 2022, the licensed driver count is expected to land at 238.6 million.
That means 10 million more drivers on roadways over the relatively short span of 24 months. Many of those drivers face new types of traffic patterns, aging roadways, detours, and multiple levels of digital distractions from mobile phones and smart watches to satellite radio options. It’s clear that roadways aren’t trending upward in terms of safe environments in which to work. It’s also worth noting that over 8.3 million drivers in the United States are between 16 and 19, and are continually learning as they go in this new and intense driving environment.
Additionally, road construction and maintenance projects continue to rise in overall numbers and dollar expenditures, especially with a heightened focus on infrastructure improvements across the country. State and local expenditures on road projects were marked at $78 billion in 2011 and rose to around $100 billion in 2021. These additional road construction projects mean a “driver desensitization” can set in for motorists who lose patience with frequent construction zones and delays and begin to take chances with safety when navigating work zones.
HOPE ISN’T ENOUGH
As governments and citizen groups scramble to decrease the rising tide of fatalities with public service campaigns warning of the dangers of speeding and reckless driving, the onus, for now, falls on fleet operators to work toward a safer operating environment. Waiting for things to get better in terms of safer motorist behaviors isn’t an option.
“Public safety initiatives aren’t enough to make roads safer in the short term,” says Frank Li, general manager at Opti-Luxx in Hudsonville, Michigan. “We of course need to do everything we can to make sure road crews, citizens, and equipment are safe. Vehicle lighting is a big part of that overall effort. Safety on the road starts with being seen by other motorists.”
Fleets are turning to Opti-Luxx by rapidly growing numbers in 2022 to provide fast, affordable, and highly functional LED lighting. Products like the popular Pocono Class 1 LED Light Bar can be quickly brought online, along with multiple supplemental warning lights and markers.
“We know from research that providing a clear visual alert to motorists can save lives,” Li says. “For that reason, we strive to make sure the overall coverage, luminosity, and features of our LED installations provide a visual alert that is superior to other lighting configurations.”
KNOW YOUR ABC’S
Lighting can be a challenge to assess. After all, if there’s an installed light on your vehicle and it’s functioning, it’s easy to take a quick glance and then check lighting off the list of safety concerns. But pay attention the next time you’re driving on bustling roadways, and you’ll likely notice a significant problem. The visual competition you face to alert distracted motorists of your presence is daunting. Hobbyists, independent contractors, municipal vehicles, flashing commercial signs, and advertisements are all competing for your attention. The effect can increase the aforementioned driver desensitization, making your warning lights less noticeable.
What can set your fleet apart from the visual clutter so motorists’ attention is heightened? Opti-Luxx is guided by what the company calls, “The ABC’s of Warning Lighting”: All-over, Bright, and Changing.
Position lights in many vehicle positions for complete sightline coverage. This doesn’t mean a “random scattering” but instead a strategic set of coverage rooted in the best transportation research regarding motorist behaviors and applicable warning light LED color laws.
Make sure your lumens cut through all kinds of weather, time of day, and visual clutter challenges. LED warning lights should have lumens that fit your environment best.
Look for dynamic and/or variable flash patterns because not all road situations are the same. You should have the appropriate color and pattern at your fingertips for any given scenario.
If you follow these points, you’ll be on your way to making sure your fleet commands respect and stands out from the crowded, visually cluttered roadways.
Installation of LED lighting for any fleet should be straightforward, enough that managers will make the necessary safety investment.
“At Opti-Luxx, we know that all the best LED lighting in the world won’t make a difference if affordability is thrown out the window,” says John Lawrence, director of administration at Opti-Luxx. “We pride ourselves on providing the best LED lighting options with rugged reliability and a total cost of ownership value that is unmatched.”
Once the first step of finding the right features and affordability is set, Opti-Luxx suggests seeking the assistance of LED vehicle lighting experts to guide you through the ordering and delivery process.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Opti-Luxx is a full-service supplier of LED commercial vehicle lighting and offers customers the best in product development, application engineering, program management, launch support for new and existing products, and service after the sale. To get started making your fleet safer with the best and brightest LED lights, visit opti-luxx.com.