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Murrieta Personal Injury Law Blog

New AI technology could prevent distracted driving crashes

California motorists may have heard that autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles can drive more safely than humans can. However, it is still important for people to keep their eyes on the road while operating them. This was proven in Arizona when an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian while its human driver was distracted.

Luckily, there is already technology available that can monitor a person's attention level while driving autonomous or regular cars. The technology uses artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze live video of a driver and detect when they become distracted. Experts say such software could have helped in the Uber accident, as the vehicle already had a driver-facing camera installed. If the camera had been programmed to analyze the driver's eye position, head pose and eye closure rate, it may have been able to alert the driver to his inattention before the fatal crash.

International Roadcheck now scheduled for June

Commercial truck and bus drivers in California should know that the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has scheduled its annual inspection spree for June 5 to June 7. This 72-hour event is called the International Roadcheck, and it takes place across North America. The CVSA conducts it to enforce compliance with driver and vehicle safety regulations.

This year, the inspectors will be conducting Level I inspections on most rigs, which cover both vehicle- and driver-related violations. The CVSA has also stated that its special focus for the 2018 International Roadcheck will be hours-of-service violations. Hours-of-service regulations have been in the spotlight ever since the U.S. Department of Transportation mandated in December 2017 that all commercial truckers install ELDs in their rigs. ELDs, or electronic logging devices, eliminate the need for paper logs and prevent truckers from falsifying their duty hours.

Distracted driving continues despite attitudes against it

A new survey finds that many drivers don't practice what they preach when it comes to distracted driving. California drivers may be interested in the results, which indicate that many people who say using cellphones while driving is a bad idea continue to do it anyway.

The survey was conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which released the results on March 29. The 2,613 respondents were drivers age 16 or older who reported that they had driven with the previous 30 days.

Common delayed car crash injury symptoms

Getting into a car accident is often a traumatic event. This is true even if it appears no one was injured in the crash. For example, mental anguish can afflict people who were not physically injured in an accident. Further, some physical injuries can take hours or days to show any symptoms, catching a California car crash victim off guard.

According to medical experts, there are several common symptoms people should look for after a car accident, including headaches. Headaches can indicate a neck injury or a concussion. They could even be a warning sign of a brain bleed. People should also look out for neck or shoulder pain after a crash, which can be a sign of whiplash. Another common delayed symptom is back pain, which could mean the accident caused damage to a person's back muscles, ligaments, nerves or vertebrae.

One-third of homeowner claims caused by dog bites

California residents are not alone in their love for man's best friend. There are over 78 million dogs in the United States. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of bites. There are roughly 4.5 million dog bites per year in America which means one in every 72 people is on the receiving end of a painful exchange. Most bites don't require medical attention but about 900,000 become infected and in 2016, there were 41 deaths directly attributable to canine attacks.

The laws regarding liability for biting dogs vary from state to state. Most jurisdictions have adopted a strict liability approach which means owners are financially responsible for any damages resulting from their pets' aggressive behavior unless there is a legal defense such as trespassing or taunting. Other states have 'one bite" laws which mean owners are only responsible for damages after they become aware a pet has a propensity for biting. Many 'one bite" states make exceptions to the rule for certain breeds that are classified as dangerous. Dog bites are responsible for one-third of all homeowner's claims and in 2016 insurance settlements related to bites totaled $530 million with an average payout of $37,000.

Study finds high rates of driver distraction despite disapproval

Even California drivers who disapprove of distracted driving might still be likely to engage in it themselves. A study by the insurance company Esurance found that more than 90 percent of participants said emailing, texting and browsing for apps while driving were all distracting behaviors, but more than 50 percent said they did them anyway. Longer commutes increased the likelihood that drivers would become distracted.

The survey also asked about advanced driver assistance systems. These include automatic braking, lane departure warning and systems that let drivers go hands free for several minutes. Around half said they drove better with ADAS installed, but around 10 percent felt it gave drivers a false sense of security. Some drivers also complained about complex user interfaces.

Staying informed about soft tissue damage

Drivers in California will want to stay informed about soft tissue injuries because they often follow in the wake of a collision. Whiplash is one well-known type of soft tissue injury, but it's hardly the only one.

The soft tissues include the body's muscles, ligaments and tendons, and they can be stretched through sudden movements. The shock of a collision is what often stretches them to the point of becoming strained, sprained or torn. Blunt trauma to the tissues results in contusions. Unlike hard tissue injuries, soft tissue injuries can't be easily diagnosed, and their symptoms don't always appear right after the accident.

Governors to pave the way for better road safety

California residents are probably aware that road safety is not what it could be, especially when compared to other developed countries. The number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. has been rising in recent years, with a 5.6 percent increase in 2016. That year, more than 37,000 road users were killed, and 39 states saw an increase in traffic deaths that year compared to 2015.

The National Governors Association has, for this reason, seen fit to emphasize the role of state governors in road safety improvements. Without governors, state agencies cannot collaborate with each other on road safety guidelines or strengthen existing policies. Governors, says the NGA, should provide strong leadership and communicate with the agencies, especially the highway safety offices.

Trade group petitions for hours of service reforms

Truck drivers in California and around the country are not permitted to remain behind the wheel after being on duty for 14 hours under current hours of service regulations. However, some trade groups say that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's rules actually encourage drowsy driving and place other road users in danger. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is one such group, and they have petitioned the FMCSA to allow drivers to reset their 14-hour clocks by taking breaks of up to three hours.

The OOIDA says that truck drivers may remain on the road even when they become dangerously tired under the current hours of service rules because they want to cover as much distance as possible before their 14 hours are up. The group also claims that the 14-hour rule prevents drivers from planning their journeys and breaking them up to avoid congested rush hours and inclement weather.

AAA reveals surprising frequency of drowsy driving

With more than a third of American adults getting less than seven hours of sleep a day, according to the CDC, it's no surprise that drowsy driving is an issue. What drivers in California, and elsewhere in the U.S., may not realize is that drowsy driving is currently an underreported issue. The most recent statistics show that drowsiness causes 1 to 2 percent of all crashes, but the percentage is arguably higher.

This is the claim of a study just published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In it, researchers monitored, via cameras and other equipment, the actions of more than 3,500 drivers for several months. They measured how long drivers closed their eyes because this PERCLOS measure, as it is called, indicates fatigue and lapses in attention. Researchers then studied the crash history of these drivers between October 2010 and December 2013.

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