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AAA expects Americans to travel in numbers that are the highest in at least nine years this Labor Day weekend. 28.2 million travelers (84 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to go by motor vehicle, a 2.2 percent increase from the 27.6 million who drove a year ago, according to AAA.

Bryan E. Porter, associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University, works to prevent automobile crashes that kill one person every 12 minutes in the United States. Porter's research, programs and collaborations have increased safety belt use, reduced red light running, targeted tailgating and increased pedestrian safety.

He offers the following tips to survive the drive this Labor Day:

Slow down and stop at yellow lights when prudent: According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety researchers, more than half of urban crashes occur at intersections, and red light running accounts for approximately 22 percent of all urban crashes.

Don't tailgate. Allow at least two to three seconds between your car and the car in front of you. If someone is dangerously tailgating you, put your turn signal on and move to the next lane: Unfortunately, tailgating is the norm and approximately 70 percent of Interstate drivers, in particular, tailgate. Following too close accounts for a significant number of Interstate crashes--as high as 40 percent in some areas.

Buckle-up: By wearing a seatbelt, your fatality risk is reduced 45-60 percent and significant injury risk is reduced 50-65 percent.

Each of Porter's programs has involved creating community coalitions (made up of media, traffic engineers, law enforcement, and Department of Motor Vehicles officials) to work with Old Dominion researchers to increase safety.

The Virginia DMV has funded his research since 1997 and he received funding from DaimlerChysler in 1999 to conduct a nationwide survey of red-light running. Porter has published articles in leading traffic safety journals, including Accident Analysis and Prevention and the Journal of Safety Research. He is a member of the International Association of Applied Psychology's Traffic Psychology Division and is a board member of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running.

Porter specializes in the analysis of driver and passenger behavior, the identification of predictors and consequences of recklessness, and the development and evaluation of community-based programs to reduce risk-taking and increase public safety on the roadways.

This article was posted on: August 27, 2003

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