June, 2006
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

It’s confirmed: Cell Phone Use While Driving Can be Dangerous


NHTSA, Virginia TechTransportation Institute Release Findings of Breakthrough Research on Real-World Driver Behavior, Distraction and Crash Factors

Driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes, according to a landmark research report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia TechTransportation Institute (VTTI).

Nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. Primary causes of driver inattention are distracting activities, such as cell phone use, and drowsiness.

“This important research illustrates the potentially dire consequences that can occur while driving distracted or drowsy. It’s crucial that drivers always be alert when on the road,” said Jacqueline Glassman, acting administrator of NHTSA.

The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study tracked the behavior of the drivers of 100 vehicles equipped with video and sensor devices for more than one year. During that time, the vehicles were driven nearly 2,000,000 miles, yielding 42,300 hours of data.

The 241 drivers of the vehicles were involved in 82 crashes, 761 near crashes, and 8,295 critical incidents.

A follow-up analysis to the 100-Car Study also has been released.
Focused on the types of driver inattention and their associated risk, key findings include:

• Drowsiness is a significant problem that increases a driver’s risk of a crash or near-crash by at least a factor of four. But drowsy driving may be significantly underreported in police crash

• The most common distraction for drivers is the use of cell phones. However, the number of crashes and near-crashes attributable to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening. Dialing is more dangerous, but occurs less often than talking or listening.

• Reaching for a moving object increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by 9 times; looking at an external object by 3.7 times; reading by 3 times; applying makeup by 3 times; dialing a hand-held device (typically a cell phone) by almost 3 times; and talking or listening on a hand-held device by 1.3 times.

• Drivers who engage frequently in distracting activities are more likely to be involved in an inattention-related crash or near-crash. However, drivers often are unable to predict when it is safe to look away from the road to multi-task because the situation can change abruptly, leaving the driver no time to react even when looking away from the forward roadway for only a brief time.

The background and results of both studies are available on NHTSA’s Web site under Research and Development at
www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/departments/ nrd-13/newDriverDistraction.html.

Survey confirms people get nervous buying and selling homes

A survey by RealEstate.com has confirmed what home inspectors already knew. Buying a home can leave people feeling a bit unnerved, even more so when they are “bridging”––simultaneously selling onehome and buying another. The process can send even the savviest of homeowners into a whirlwind of exhilarating highs and frustrating lows.

RealEstate.com recently surveyed 550 bridging homeowners (who had completed the process within the past five years) to better understand their unique challenges.
Nearly half of the respondents (42 percent) agree that the uncertainty of knowing how quickly their home would sell was difficult or more difficult than expected, and considered that time the most significant emotional low in the process. Nearly 70 percent felt “worried” (69.6 percent) and “hesitant” (67.3 percent) during the selling and buying process.

Both worried sellers and hesitant buyers often appreciate the objectivity brought to the process by the skilled ASHI home inspector conducting a professional

For more information on the survey findings, please visit www.realestate.com/customer-service/PressReleaseDtl.asp?PRID=272.

Energy issues

The Journal of Light Construction recently chose energy advice as the topic for its Reader monthly survey. It asked readers about their clients, “Is there any noticeable increase in their interest in the energy loss of the buildings you work on?” Energy audits or inspections weren’t even listed as an ancillary service in ASHI’s 2005 Business Operations Study. But if consumers want energy advice, home inspectors soon will be looking for ways to provide it either by educating themselves in the process or arranging to subcontract the service to those already qualified to conduct audits.

To learn what ancillary services currently are being offered by home inspectors and much more, purchase The 2005 Home Inspection Business Operations Study through the ASHI Store (www.ashi.org), russelld@ashi.org or 847-954-3185.