Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP

Southern California Personal Injury & Business Lawyers

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Murrieta Personal Injury Law Blog

Trucking industry may benefit from stricter drug testing

The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security has compiled data on the pre-employment drug tests of commercial truck drivers in California and the rest of the U.S., finding that many truckers who are habitual drug users are being accepted. This data is based on a survey of 3.5 million CMV drivers. In all, 301,000 truck drivers on the road today would fail if subjected to a hair analysis.

Another problem is that employers cannot submit hair test failures to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database said to go into effect in 2020. Employers, then, will have no way of knowing that a potential employee has failed previous tests. The reason is that the DoT only recognizes urine analyses. The Department of Health and Human Services has yet to produce guidelines for hair analyses.

Commercial fleet and driver safety highlights

The behavior of commercial vehicle drivers in California and other states can have a big impact on how safe the roads are for other motorists and truck drivers. This is why a fleet management systems provider has reviewed driving behaviors of more than 6,000 of its fleet customers. It focused on small and midsize businesses with 2 to 200 trucks.

The management systems provider considered several different factors related to commercial trucks, including average speeding events per day and mile as well as fatalities per vehicle miles traveled. Based on these criteria, the safest area for fleet drivers is within the East Coast, even with the infamous I-95 corridor and other common "problem" areas. Virginia, Washington and New Hampshire are among the states that ranked as the safest places for commercial fleet operators. The most dangerous states were in the South and Midwest with Oklahoma and Texas topping the list.

Multiple factors complicate truck accident injury claims

A crash with a big rig on a California highway can produce serious injuries among passenger vehicle occupants. The sheer size and weight of commercial trucks increase the force of impact. Although truck accident victims might apply the same personal injury laws to collect damages as car accident victims, the cases possess greater complexity.

Identifying the responsible party in a truck accident might become difficult when drivers operate trucks owned by separate companies. The cargo could possibly belong to a third party, which adds another layer of complication. When ownership and responsibility lack clarity, the assignment of liability could become contentious.

Tesla's Navigate on Autopilot feature may be flawed

California motorists may be interested in a new safety report pertaining to Tesla's automated driving features. According to testers with Consumer Reports, Tesla's updated Navigate on Autopilot feature has serious issues. A test on Model 3 showed that the semi-autonomous Autopilot feature made several mistakes. For example, the system made illegal passes and cut off approaching automobiles.

The study indicates that human drivers perform better at changing lanes than the Navigate on Autopilot feature. Plus, the Autopilot feature was responsible for other possible risks. For instance, it often failed to leave enough room between cars. The feature is not fully capable of self-direction because drivers must get involved in order to prevent possible collisions. The Autopilot feature has already failed to prevent three fatal car collisions.

Without training, drivers may be confused by new car safety tech

Drivers in California and across the U.S. may be looking forward to the advent of self-driving cars. However, many people overestimate the abilities of current vehicle safety technology. The Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making has published a discussion between a professor of cognitive sciences and a NASA scientist on the way that drivers interact with car safety tech. It appears that a lack of training is creating confusion.

In particular, drivers do not understand the limitations of car safety tech, and not everyone will take the time to read through an owner's manual. Therefore, switching to a car with semi-automated technology, especially a rental car, will not always be smooth.

CVSA Operation Safe Driver Week coming in July

In July, law enforcement officers in California and across the U.S. will be participating in Operation Safe Driver Week. During the event, which is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, participating officers will target commercial and passenger vehicle drivers who are engaging in dangerous behaviors, including speeding.

According to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding played a role in 94% of all traffic accidents in 2015. In 2017, speeding played a role in 26% of all traffic-related fatalities. The CVSA also reports that speeding has been a factor in almost a third of all traffic deaths for over 20 years. The organization says that traffic tickets and warnings are a proven way to get drivers to slow down. This results in fewer accidents, injuries and deaths.

What teens should know about driving hazards

There will be about 3.6 million teens graduating from high school in the late spring and early summer of 2019. This means that there could soon be millions of California teenagers driving to and from parties and other graduation events. Parents are encouraged to talk to their sons and daughters about the hazards of driving while distracted or under the influence of drugs. Teens should also be warned about the dangers of driving while drowsy.

While a teenager might not be doing drugs or drinking alcohol themselves, they could be riding in a vehicle operated by someone who is. It's also important that young people understand how to avoid being a distraction while in the role of passenger. Ideally, they will refrain from doing anything that takes the driver's focus off of the road. Furthermore, they should assume the responsibility of answering calls or providing directions.

Online study: drivers distracted by memes, other social media

Phones, as most California residents know, are some of the most widespread sources of distraction among drivers. In an online study that involved nearly 2,000 U.S. drivers, 99% named phones as one of the top three distractions. Nearly half of the respondents also said that they make distracted driving their top concern behind the wheel.

However, those same respondents admitted to using their phones while driving, too. The study calculated the average time spent on their phones to be 13 minutes per day. Moreover, almost two in five respondents said they do not put down their phones at the sight of law enforcement.

Root Insurance: distractions a blind spot for many drivers

Distractions are a blind spot for many drivers in California. The problem is a nationwide one, and a new study from Root Insurance has shed some light on it. Of those surveyed, 47% said they make distractions a top concern when driving, and 99% placed phones among the top three distractions. Yet respondents themselves would use their phones behind the wheel, spending an average of 13 minutes a day on them.

Moreover, respondents tended to be critical of distracted driving when others engage in it. 89% said they would give a bad rating to an Uber or Lyft driver if he or she was texting while driving. 90% considered their driving better than that of Uber/Lyft drivers.

Driver fatigue responsible for many truck accidents

Truckers in California may be interested in research from the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, which found that a majority of truck accidents in North Dakota occurred in the state's oil region. This research was spurred by several high-profile accidents along the Highway 23 bypass. The main reason for this problem is thought to be driver fatigue from overwork. While data from the oil region is particularly troublesome, fatigue is a serious issue on roadways all over the country.

Due to the high rates of personal injuries and deaths on America's roadways due to truck accidents, safety advocates and federal agencies have focused on measures to solve the driver fatigue problem. In 2017, commercial truck drivers were ordered to keep an electronic logbook of how many hours they drove. According to federal regulations, drivers are only allowed to work 14 hours a day, and only 11 of those can be driving on the road.

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