Man says no one in authority will listen to him
By Joe Southern
Brixey is convinced that all the studies the city cites as causes for accidents to justify the red light cameras and the cell phone ban are in error. He said the majority of crashes blamed on inattentive or impatient drivers are actually the result of intermittent anti-lock braking system (ABS) failures.
“Red light cameras are not going to stop the accidents,” he said. “It’s a farce.”
Brixey provided the Fort Bend Star with copies of numerous emails he has exchanged with various elected officials, broadcast news agencies and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) outlining his concerns that law enforcement and traffic safety officials have been overlooking or ignoring the problem of intermittent ABS failures.
Despite the lack of response from officials, the Quail Valley man maintains his lone ranger pursuit of blaming brakes and not drivers in many crashes. He has even created a website (www.fixautosa.com) to document his assertions. On the site he describes how his crusade began with a personal experience 10 years ago.
“I experienced ABS Brake failures on two different cars in a period of 10 months,” he wrote on the site. “With the obvious seriousness of this failure, I reported the failure to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). I experienced a significant firewall around NHTSA, trying to get their attention on this potentially fatal problem.
“With my insight into the failure of ABS systems, many reported accidents scream to me that the accident was caused by an ABS Brake failure. All these accidents were reported to be caused by other reasons. Most of the worst accidents were reported to be caused by alcohol, training the public to accept any accident to be caused by alcohol whether any proof was available or not.”
He said it doesn’t matter if a driver is drunk or distracted, if the brakes fail, it’s not the driver’s fault. He said the public has become conditioned by lawmakers and law enforcement to believe that driver error and not faulty brakes are to blame, allowing them to make more laws to crack down on drivers rather than pursue automakers.
Attempts to contact Sugar Land Police Chief Doug Brinkley for comment have been unsuccessful. The police department’s website, however, offers evidence that red light cameras do cut down on accidents at busy intersections. According to the website:
– The implementation of red light cameras in Sugar Land resulted in a 58 percent reduction in accidents at targeted intersections from 2009-2012.
– Approximately 70 percent of violators do not live in Sugar Land.
– In 2011 and 2012, cameras were removed at the following intersections after compliance levels improved by almost 60 percent: U.S. Highway 59 at Sugar Lakes Boulevard and two locations at U.S. Highway 59 and State Highway 6.
– Those who receive a red light ticket rarely receive a second ticket. Eighty nine percent of the license plates sent a violation notice never receive a second notice.
The city’s new cell phone ordinance goes into effect March 20 and requires that portable electronic devices can only be used in hands-free mode or if a call is being made because there is an emergency.
“We have demonized cell phone use,” Brixey said. “They’re trying to modify behavior but they haven’t modified what’s actually at fault.”
In a reply to one of Brixey’s emails, Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman reiterates that driver distraction is a serious problem.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 there were 3,267 fatalities and 27,000 injuries related to the use of mobile devices and driving. The Center for Disease Control states that distracted driving, caused by mobile devices, account for 1.6 million accidents a year,” Zimmerman wrote. “While these statistics are on a national level, in Sugar Land we have seen 232 accidents in 2015 and 224 in 2016 that were caused by distracted driving.
“This includes failing to drive in a single lane, driver inattention, distraction in the vehicle, and the use of a cell phone as causation factors. While we have not previously collected data that specifies the actual action causing distraction (cell phone, applying makeup, eating), we have begun gathering this information. Mobile device usage while driving has been added as a causation factor to accident reports due to the high number of incidents involving the use of mobile devices,” Zimmerman wrote.
Despite his research and persistence, Brixey continues to have his warnings fall on deaf ears.
“I estimate there are one to five fatalities every week in the Houston area due to failed ABS brakes,” he said in reply to Zimmerman.
“But our national crash data base has no crashes caused by failed ABS brake and every one refuses help to find the correct fault and greatly reduce crashes and deaths. NHTSA leads programs wanting to lower BAC (blood-alcohol content) and ‘distracted driver’ laws which have no effect on reducing failed ABS caused accidents. Sugar Land is following politically correct Pied Piper of NHTSA who remains clueless. Carnage one the roads continue,” Brixey wrote.