Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP

Southern California Personal Injury & Business Lawyers

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Murrieta Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

Radar analysis measures precipitation risk for car crashes

Researchers have used radar data to determine how precipitation can affect the risk for fatal highway crashes. California residents should know that the results of this study are more precise than those of previous studies, which would rely on police reports or field observations to determine if there was precipitation at the time of a crash.

The high-resolution data was culled from 130 weather radars across the continental United States after researchers had divided the area into 25 million quadrants and entered the location of 125,012 fatal car crashes that occurred between 2006 and 2011. This data accurately reveals the density of precipitation and its location down to a few hundred meters.

IIHS: new pickups less safe for passengers than for drivers

California residents who own a newer pickup truck should know that there may be a discrepancy between drivers-side safety and passengers-side safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began crash testing both sides in 2017, and after a round of crash tests involving 11 newer two-row pickups, it discovered that passengers are indeed at a higher risk for injuries or death than drivers.

The following is their ranking of the vehicles. At the bottom was the Toyota Tundra with "poor" performance. It struggled to maintain its structure in the crash tests. Unlike some of the other vehicles tested, the Tundra has not been recently overhauled; its last major redesign was in 2014, which may partly explain the results.

Legislators consider "textalyzer" to detect distracted driving

As an increasing number of severe and deadly car accidents are linked to distracted driving in California and across the country, lawmakers in one state are considering a technology that could show if a driver was using the phone during a crash. Most states already ban texting, emailing or surfing the internet while driving, but many drivers continue to engage in these dangerous practices. Nevada legislators are considering permitting police to use a so-called "textalyzer" to determine if a driver was using a phone before or during a collision.

Opponents have raised concerns about the technology's practicality and the potential for privacy violations. A similar proposal was introduced in New York's state legislature but failed in 2017 despite growing concerns over distracted driving dangers. Proponents of the bill argue that there is no mechanism to systematically hold distracted drivers accountable for collisions they cause, unlike drunk drivers. They also argue that the penalties currently applied to distracted drivers do little to discourage dangerous activity.

Distraction linked with high risk of highway work zone crashes

California drivers should know that the average text message takes five seconds to read. In those same five seconds, a vehicle going 55 mph will travel the length of a football field. This is just one illustration of the hazards of distracted driving. This form of negligence can raise the risk of a crash in a highway work zone.

A distracted driver is 29 times more likely to cause a construction zone highway crash, according to researchers at the University of Missouri. For their study, they relied on "naturalistic" driving data from the Transportation Research Board's SHRP 2 (Strategic Highway Research Program 2). What the SHRP 2 did was collect first-hand accounts of drivers' interactions with their vehicle, the roadway and the surrounding environment. The data covered more than 3,000 drivers traveling over 50 million miles between 2006 and 2015.

AAA warns against health risks of daylight saving time

Drivers in California should be aware of one health risk associated with daylight saving time: increased fatigue. Everyone should sleep at least seven hours, and losing one hour may lead to impairment behind the wheel. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that those who lose one to two hours of sleep in the previous 24 hours nearly double their car crash risk.

In fact, those who drive after sleeping only five hours in a 24-hour period will be as impaired as a legally drunk driver. AAA warns drivers that sleep is the only remedy for fatigue. Therefore, drivers should adjust their sleep schedules whenever daylight saving time rolls around.

Safety groups push for truck safety rules with crash data

Commercial trucks move many of the goods flowing into California ports throughout the country. To reduce truck accidents, traffic safety activists, such as Road Safe America and the Truck Safety Coalition, have renewed their efforts to obtain meaningful federal regulations. They have been presenting crash data to lawmakers in the hopes of gaining laws that require heavy-duty commercial trucks to use speed limiters and automatic emergency braking systems.

The president of Road Safe America said that the U.S. Department of Transportation had done nothing for 12 years and now safety advocates were turning to Congress and President Trump. If lawmakers do nothing, the president could tell the DOT to create regulations.

Study notes opioid link to fatal crashes

For many California residents, the opiate epidemic has led to a number of concerns, including the danger of fatal overdoses or the growing trend of addiction to illegal drugs. Prescription opioid use could also lead to other consequences, including a potential link to deadly car accidents. One study indicated that drivers found to be responsible for fatal two-car crashes were nearly two times as likely to have prescription opiates in their system at the time of the accident as the driver of the other vehicle.

Alcohol was an even more common substance involved in these car accidents. Researchers studied 18,321 two-car crashes garnered from a federal database of deadly accidents. Of these, 5,258 of the drivers found at fault had alcohol in their systems at the time, as dd 1,815 of the drivers found not at fault in the crashes. On the other hand, 918 at-fault drivers tested positive for prescription opiates, in comparison to 549 of the not-at-fault drivers. Researchers noted that opiate use was more common than in the past; 2 percent of drivers at fault for fatal crashes had positive opioid tests in 1993, in comparison to 7.1 percent in 2016.

Car accidents: the most frequent causes

California motorists would do well to know what are the most common causes of car accidents. It has been found that human error is behind most crashes, especially distracted driving. While smartphones and in-car infotainment systems are becoming frequent sources of distraction, even ordinary activities like eating, drinking or talking with passengers can produce inattention.

Drug use and the abuse of alcohol and prescription or over-the-counter medicines lead to many accidents. Another common factor involves medical episodes like seizures, stroke and heart attack. Though such episodes are uncontrollable, those with a preexisting condition are supposed to think of risk factors before heading out.

Animal bites may quickly lead to serious infections, tetanus

Each year, more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs and more than 400,000 people are bitten by cats across the country, and many of these incidents take place in California. Though cat bites account for fewer animal bites, they have a greater risk of being infected. Approximately 50 percent of cat bites will become infected while only 10 to 15 percent of dog bites result in infection. Experts believe this could be because cats have sharp teeth that cause deep punctures.

When an animal bite punctures the skin, bacteria that are in the animal's mouth or saliva, in the environment or on the victim's skin may enter the wound. Once inside the body, the bacteria can quickly multiply, causing inflammation and swelling. If an infected bite is not treated promptly, a condition called tetanus may develop. Tetanus is a bacterial disease that attacks the nervous system and causes muscles to become stiff and rigid.

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