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Murrieta Personal Injury Law Blog

How and when to report car accidents in California

In the absolute best-case scenario, car accidents are inconvenient. If there are serious injuries to anyone involved, the first priority should be getting appropriate medical treatment for anyone hurt. With a minor fender bender or one-car accident, a motorist may be tempted to skip reporting altogether. The following are some guidelines for how and when to report a car accident.

If there are injuries involved, the authorities must be notified. In California, all accidents involving injury, death or damages over $1,000 must be reported to the DMV within 10 days of occurrence. If there is no injury and slight damage, the parties involved may choose not to call the police and deal with the matter privately as the damage could be less than the insurance deductible. It's important to note that what appears to be slight damage can turn expensive when estimates are gathered, so anyone involved should be mindful of any insurance deadlines outlined in the individual policy.

How to drive safely around large trucks

While 18-wheelers may seem intimidating, it's not too hard to stay safe around them. Drivers in California should consider the following tips the next time they find themselves sharing the road with a big rig. It all comes down to having patience and being aware of the dangers.

The most important thing is to never take chances. When trucks turn into their lane, drivers should not speed up to avoid getting stuck behind them as this may force the trucks to brake suddenly. Some trucks take twice as long to stop as ordinary vehicles. Drivers should give plenty of space when passing. They should never squeeze behind or beside trucks when making turns since trucks will swing wide to the opposite direction before turning.

Avoiding accidents by predicting pedestrian behavior

Thousands of pedestrians are killed or injured by motor vehicles each year in California and around the country, and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that children and senior citizens are especially vulnerable when they take to the roads on foot. However, remaining vigilant, observing speed limits and predicting the behavior of pedestrians can help motorists avoid accidents that can cause debilitating injuries and even death even when the speeds involved are not great.

Children often follow their impulses without thinking, and many are struck each year by motor vehicles after running into busy streets to greet their friends or chase after an errant ball. Road safety experts caution drivers to monitor their speeds carefully and remain watchful in areas like school zones, playgrounds and parks where children often play, and they remind them to never attempt to pass a school bus when its warning lights are flashing.

Can science help drivers avoid accidents?

California drivers spend many hours on the road, and many of them are involved in or witness accidents. While it is impossible to know every detail of the causes of an accident, studies are now analyzing information to provide help to drivers that might help them avoid some collisions.

A landmark study by the University of Michigan, which analyzed 6,950 accidents, is providing minute details about what happened in each auto accident. Similar naturalistic driving studies are providing additional information, by outfitting cars with sensors tracking driver movements, sonar, accelerometers and video cameras. Additionally, many drivers are also installing cameras in their own vehicles to record crashes they see and post them online.

Study finds decrease in traffic deaths at roundabouts

Whether motorists love or hate roundabouts at intersections, safety conscious California drivers will be glad they're in place. A report has found that fatal traffic accidents significantly decreased following the switch from traditional intersections.

The study by the Minnesota Department of Transportation of 144 roundabouts indicated an 86 percent decrease in deaths after they were installed. The study also found the number of minor fender benders increased, however. Most of the 104 single-land roundabouts and 40 multiple-lane roundabouts are in urban areas.

Long commuting times by truck drivers to be studied

Commercial truck drivers in California may consider commenting on a proposed survey by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The survey will pertain to excessive commuting or commuting that exceeds 150 consecutive minutes by truck drivers.

The focuses of the survey would be the frequency of excessive commuting in commercial motor vehicles and the how many commercial drivers take part in such commuting. The distances that are traveled, the different time zones that are crossed and how fatigue and safety are affected by the commuting will be addressed. The survey also will examine the commuting policies motor carriers have in place.

Truck drivers' arrests often overlooked by agencies

Drug arrests are frequent among commercial truck drivers; even more distressing is the fact that these arrests are often left unreported to the trucking companies. State agencies in California and across the nation often fail to communicate this information, meaning that some convicted drivers are still on the road with a clean record.

It is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that sets up drug testing guidelines for trucking companies while state agencies enforce them. The FMCSA does not track driver arrests; furthermore, there is no federal requirement that state agencies inform each other or the trucking company about an arrest.

Driving while texting versus under the influence of marijuana

Not having one's attention completely focused on the road can result in a fatal motor vehicle accident. According to a survey that was conducted for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, a majority of people in California and the rest of the nation consider driving while texting even more dangerous than driving while high on marijuana.

Ninety-one percent of the survey respondents thought that operating a vehicle while impaired by marijuana is dangerous while 87 percent of them believed that the people who engage in such behavior are a hazard to the other drivers and passengers on the road. Only 40 percent of the respondents reported that they think driving while high contributes to motor vehicle accidents.

Preparing for winter driving

The Federal Highway Administration states that 22 percent of all accidents are weather-related; that's nearly 1.3 million out of 5.7 million crashes every year. Many drivers in California have to face heavy snows, freezing rains, and floods in the winter, which means an increased risk for car crashes during this most dangerous of seasons.

Ice and black ice are the two major causes of winter crashes. Since the ground takes longer to warm up than air, ice may coat the roads even when freezing temperatures are past; even worse, black ice is harder to detect because of its wet, not icy, appearance. Ice makes steering and braking difficult because the tires don't get a good grip on the road.

Study links people with ADHD to higher risk of car accidents

Driving vehicles requires people to adopt safe behaviors and successfully combine cognitive, motor and visual skills. Among people in California diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, their tendency to be easily distracted has appeared to impact their driving abilities according to multiple studies. The defining characteristics of ADHD include impulsiveness, hyperactivity and difficulty paying attention.

Researchers who examined records for over 2.3 million people concluded that people who had been prescribed medicine to control ADHD experienced fewer car crashes than ADHD drivers without medication. The researchers then compared the data from ADHD patients to a control group. They found that ADHD medication lowered the risk of wrecks among male ADHD patients by 38 percent. For female ADHD drivers, the accident risk went down by 42 percent when they took medication.

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