Signs highlighting traffic deaths may not reduce crashes

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Signs highlighting traffic deaths may not reduce crashes

Sometimes it takes a scare tactic to wake the public up to a problem facing them, such as dangerous driving practices. For example, if you drive on the interstate in California, you have likely seen electric traffic signs highlighting the number of traffic fatalities so far this year. While they are meant to send a strong message urging motorists to drive safely, they may not actually reduce the number of traffic fatalities they warn against.

Do electric traffic warning signs reduce crashes?

One study, published in Science magazine, examined motor vehicle accidents that took place on roads with electric warning signs from 2010 to 2017. The study compared motor vehicle accidents in the weeks when traffic death statistics were shown on these signs to traffic deaths that took place that happened on other weeks. The study reports that the number of motor vehicle accidents went up 1.35% in the 10 kilometers past the electric warning signs of roads studied.

Distracted driving and traffic signs

The researchers in the aforementioned study hypothesize that electric signs displaying traffic fatality statistics are so attention-grabbing that they take a motorist’s attention off the road, leading to motor vehicle accidents. So, they actually increase the crash danger on highways due to distracted driving.

Distracted driving is a major issue leading to traffic crashes. A motorist can be distracted in three ways.

There are visual distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the road. A flashy or shocking sign or billboard could be a visual distraction.

There are manual distractions that take a driver’s hands off the steering wheel. Eating while driving or tuning the radio are two examples of manual distractions.

Finally, there are cognitive distractions that take a driver’s mind off the task of driving. Chatting with passengers or daydreaming are two examples of cognitive distractions. And, as many of you are already aware, cellphone use while driving encompasses all three of these distractions.

Ultimately, all motorists in Sacramento must drive defensively to avoid causing a motor vehicle accident. Negligent driving is dangerous driving, leading to many serious traffic crashes each year. Avoiding distracted driving is one way motorists can keep our roads safe for all.