Is driving on the left safer than driving on the right?

In all North American countries the law is literally one-sided:  ‘drive on the right.’  But in our corporate ‘defensive’ and ‘advanced’ driver training courses at Advanced Drivers of North America, we are very frequently asked which is safer — driving on the left or the right.

Drive-on-the-left traffic in Britain.
Far more people drive on the left in the world than many realise, and this is because India is one of the countries concerned. In this photograph from England, traffic is shown on the M6 motorway.  (Copyright image, 2014.)

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Factors Which Contribute to Road Crashes — a list of 78

It is a well-known fact that a mere handful of crash-types are the major killers on roads.  These include impaired driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving, speed, vulnerable road users, and so on.  However, although these are indeed the biggest issues, this is not the full story and it is regrettable that people aren’t made more aware of the many other factors and causes.

Only the causes of the crash are listed in the factors shown below. The types of vehicle, direction of travel, resultant damage, etc., are entered in a different part of the overall document.  Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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A Pilot’s Comparison of Safety in Planes Versus Cars

I’ve just had a great conversation, this evening, with a pilot who was at the next table to mine at dinner.

Our initial topic came from him and was about the safety comparison between air travel and driving, so I asked whether he was aware that for every person killed in commercial flights worldwide, each year, over 2,160 people are killed in road crashes.  Yes, a ratio of more than 2,000-to-1,  and even the number of people killed annually just on America’s roads is over 60-times greater than the total number of plane-crash fatalities worldwide.

Various Boeing jets in BBJ livery. (Wikimedia Commons.)

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The Latest Crash and Casualty Figures for the USA

Because of the complexity of the subject, the finalized crash and casualty statistics for 2017 have just been released by NHTSA.

An overhead sign on the approach to a crash scene.  (Copyright image, 2019.)

In that year, in the USA, there were an estimated 6,452,000 police-reported traffic crashes, in which 37,133 people were killed and approximately 2,746,000 people were injured.

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Roadside Safety for U.S. Law Enforcement Officers

One area of great concern to us at Road Safety USA is the welfare of state troopers and other emergency services personnel at traffic stops and highway incidents.  In the interests of full disclosure, the writer of this post is himself a retired traffic patrol police officer.

State police officer doing a traffic stop at night and nearly impossible to see until the last moment because he was not wearing a reflective jacket or vest.
A state trooper in significantly greater danger through the lack of reflective garments. As is so often the case, the flashing lights on the patrol vehicle were seriously dazzling, and the officer was effectively invisible until the last moments.  (Copyright image, 2017.)

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A ‘Ride-Along’ with Dekalb County Police Department, Georgia

The original “Three E’s” of road safety* are still perfectly valid, even though more categories have now been added, but one of the originals — Enforcement — is my own career background and is therefore of particular interest and importance to me.

At the crash scene.  Sedan and SUV patrol vehicles of the Dekalb County Police Department, which is on the east side of Atlanta, Georgia. (Copyright image, 2019.)

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The Big List — U.S. Road Crash Fatality Comparisons that will Stun You!

For many years, there has been a tendency to state that ‘x’ days of road fatalities are the same as a full Jumbo Jet airliner crashing, but no matter how effective the comparison is intended to be, this relies on both the teller and the listener knowing – for example – which size of Jumbo jet one is talking about; there are several different passenger-carrying capacities so even though it is a big plane the concept is a bit vague.

Memorial garden at the crash site of Colgan Air (Continental Connection) Flight 3407, which occured on February 12, 2009, with the loss of fifty lives.
The memorial garden in Clarence Center, NY, a location which — at the time of writing — is the site of the most recent passenger plane crash in the USA, which occurred more than ten years ago.  As a matter of perspective, however, the fifty people lost in that tragic, headline-news incident represent less than half of the people who are killed, on average, every single day of every year on America’s roads. (Copyright image, 2019.)

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