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Sleep apnea screening criteria for truckers will not change

California truck drivers will not be subject to a new set of screening criteria for sleep apnea. On August 4, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a notice that it would withdraw an initiative that dealt with these screening requirements. The agency had worked on the rule throughout 2016 in an effort to standardize criteria for sleep apnea screening. There were several meetings and listening sessions held throughout the country, and the agency also sought input from industry organizations.

Recommendations were for drivers with a BMI of at least 33 and risk factors such as being older than 42 or drivers with a BMI of at least 40 to be screened for sleep apnea. However, up to 40 percent of drivers may have been required to undergo the screening at significant cost to themselves. Ultimately, the FMCSA said that it was unable to collect enough data to make the change.

Obscure factors that may cause truck accidents

California residents may believe that bog rig drivers are often careless while behind the wheel. While some may not be the best drivers in the country, many accidents between large trucks and passenger vehicles are caused by the operator of the smaller vehicle. Distracted driving and other forms of human error are likely to blame. However, there are other factors that may come into play when large trucks and smaller vehicles collide.

The most likely time for an accident between a large truck and a passenger vehicle is between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. This is when drivers are theoretically at their most alert, and it goes against the misconception that most accidents involving large trucks take place at night. Larger trucks are most likely to be involved in accidents on Thursday or Friday because drivers are fatigued toward the end of the week.

New device combats drowsy driving with shock

California residents might not know that drowsy driving kills up to 6,000 people every year. Though fatigued driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, not as much focus is given to this topic. One group thinks they have found a way to prevent drowsy driving.

A Kickstarter campaign has seen early success when it comes to creating a wearable device that shocks drivers who start to doze off. The device is called Steer and was created by a group called Creative Mode. Steer utilizes biometric sensors that measure sweat secretion and heart rate. If either indicator differs too much from a baseline reading, Steer vibrates around a driver's wrist. If readings continue to shift, the device delivers a shock next.

Correlation between fatalities and higher speed limits

As California works towards a goal of zero fatalities from car accidents, one study is highlighting an issue that might be preventing this. Despite the increases in safety features in vehicles as well as programs that encourage safe driving, the study points towards the increasing speed limits throughout the nation as a cause for fatalities.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study looked at data from 41 states from 1993 to 2013 and found that the increase in speed limits had resulted in 33,000 additional deaths. The death rate from traffic accidents in general during the same period saw a decrease, but the study found that the number itself was higher than it would have been due to the increasing speed limit.

Increases in fatal truck accidents

Residents of California may be concerned with the increasing trend of fatal truck accidents since 2009. There are a variety of reasons for these troublesome trends, and they mean more people are likely to be involved in a truck accident. Lawsuits for commercial trucking accidents work differently than normal vehicle accident lawsuits.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is one of the government agencies primarily responsible for the oversight and regulation of commercial trucking. The agency routinely collects and analyzes crash and other important data related to the industry and shares this information with the public. One important part of the data involved trends in fatal trucking accidents. While trucking accidents overall have decreased from their peak in 2005, they have increased steadily since 2009.

IIHS safety ratings show not all large sedans created equal

Crash testing results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety could help people in California select a vehicle with truly reliable protection in an accident. In the category of large sedans, the nonprofit institute calculated that the Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and the Toyota Avalon buffered occupants from the impact of crashes to a higher degree than other models. These three cars earned the designation Top Safety Pick Plus.

A vice president for IIHS explained that the safety designation for large sedans meant more than a similar safety rating for smaller vehicles. Large cars provide a premium of protection to drivers and passengers because their size insulates people better from crushing forces, he said.

Lawmakers call for national autonomous vehicle standards

California's Department of Motor Vehicles signaled its intention to allow self-driving cars onto the state's roads by proposing autonomous vehicle testing and deployment guidelines in March 2017, but road safety advocates and many lawmakers believe that this is an issue that should be regulated at the federal level. They worry that a patchwork of state laws is creating an inconsistent regulatory landscape and could allow unproven and possibly unsafe technology onto the roads.

Measures are being considered in both the Senate and the House that would place restrictions on autonomous vehicle development, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is mulling a proposal that would compel car makers to obtain certification for their self-driving systems before testing them on public roads. Groups like the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety are strong proponents of nationwide autonomous vehicle standards and have urged lawmakers to act sooner rather than later.

Steps to take following a car accident

As many California drivers know, a car accident can occur in the blink of an eye with little or no warning. Even though dealing with a crash that was caused by another person can feel overwhelming, there are certain steps that should be taken.

Immediately following the accident, those who have been injured should seek medical attention. A driver who is too injured to be moved from the wreck should be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. If the driver is able to move the wreck out of the way, this step should be taken to help prevent a traffic jam or another car accident. Depending on the severity of the accident, the authorities may need to be called. Police also will file a police report with information about the accident, which could be helpful when dealing with insurance. Unless severely injured, a person should not leave the scene of an accident without collecting important information, including the other driver's name, telephone number and insurer.

Supreme Court denies hearing on trucker case

The refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a class-action case presented by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association allows a lower court ruling to stand. At issue was the extent of driver violations shared by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration through the Pre-Employment Screening Program. With the lawsuit's claims of privacy violation dismissed, truck drivers in California can expect any infractions, including minor ones, to be available to truck companies screening potential employees.

A group of truck drivers with the support of the OOIDA had insisted that the FMCSA "intentionally and willfully" exceeded the scope of their mission in disclosing violations about individual truckers that could impact their ability to find work. They argued that the pre-employment screening reports should only contain information about serious safety violations instead of issues such as weight violations, speeding of only 10 mph or less over the limit, failing to adhere to hours rules and inaccurate logs. They based their lawsuit on the 1974 Privacy Act.

New truck driver training standard

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has approved a rule dealing the training of commercial driver license applicants in California and around the country. The rules met with support from trade groups who helped create them. They became effective on June 5, but there is a compliance window of close to three years. Commercial driver's license applicants who receive them on or after Feb. 7, 2020 will be subject to the rule.

The FMCSA rule establishes a mandatory training curriculum. It includes classroom instruction as well as behind the wheel training. Those providing training must be certified by the FMCSA and will then be listed on the agency's rolls. This also applies to trucking companies that have their own training facilities.

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