Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP

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Murrieta Personal Injury Law Blog

Drowsy driving and how to avoid it

Almost one third of respondents to a AAA study admitted that at least once in the past month, they drove in such a drowsy condition that they had trouble keeping their eyes open. Drowsy driving, California residents should know, can be almost as bad as drunk driving in terms of its effects. The National Sleep Foundation says that being awake for 24 hours straight can be like having a BAC of .10.

Not sleeping for a minimum of seven hours each night, as the CDC recommends, is the number one cause of drowsiness. Other times, though, people will take prescription sleep aids and go out on the road after getting less than the seven to eight hours of sleep that the labels recommend. Antidepressants, antihistamines, muscle relaxers and anxiety drugs also cause drowsiness, so those who take them may want their doctor to reschedule dosages to avoid conflicts with their commute.

Police accident reports gather incomplete data

Road deaths in California and around the country topped 40,000 for the third consecutive year in 2018, but a report released by the National Safety Council reveals that the government agencies and nonprofit organizations tasked with improving road safety are not being provided with complete data. After examining police accident reports from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the NSC discovered that all the information lawmakers and advocates need to reduce traffic fatalities was not being collected anywhere in the United States.

While the crash reports in all states have fields for police to record intoxication, none collect data about fatigue levels, and 32 states do not gather information about the drugs drivers were impaired by when they crashed. Distraction is often cited as one of the primary reasons for the recent worrying rise in road deaths, but 26 states do not collect data about texting after an accident, and only 18 provide police officers with a field to record hands-free cellphone use.

Trump administration may make truck safety rules more flexible

Truckers and truck fleet owners in California are divided on the current push to relax federal truck safety rules. Support for more relaxed regulations began to build up in December 2017 when the federal government mandated the use of electronic logging devices on all large commercial trucks. The need to count hours and minutes and the rigid enforcement of hours-of-service guidelines are, for some, the unhappy result of this mandate.

Hours-of-service regulations limit truckers' driving time to 11 hours and require truckers to take a minimum half-hour break after eight consecutive hours on the road. In addition, truckers must stop 14 hours after their shift begins regardless of how much downtime they experienced. It is in these areas that many truckers would like to see more flexibility.

Injured California women die underrepresented in crash-tests.

Seat belts fit men and women differently. Men and women are not just different heights and weights. Men tend to gain weight in the abdominal area and women gain weight around their waists and thighs. The most frequent complaint about automotive seat belts is that they irritate drivers' necks. The seatbelt belongs over the driver's hips and under the driver's stomach. The driver sits safely at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel. Women tend to be more vulnerable than men during head-on collisions because they suffer injuries from airbags and the steering wheel.

Car accidents injure or kill 50 to 73% more California women than men annually. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), decades of research and human factors engineering goes into the creation and calibration of each male or female crash dummy. Female crash dummies are five feet tall, and they weigh 110 pounds. Becky Mueller, IIHS senior research engineer, reports that it will take at least 10 years of real accident and injury data to create more accurate crash-dummies. IIHS is waiting patiently for real accident victims' data to be collected.

California the third-worst state for senior-involved car crashes

Seniors can be unsafe behind the wheel, so it's not surprising that they contribute to many auto accidents. A study from The Senior List has ranked the 10 worst states when it comes to crashes involving seniors as well as the 10 safest states. Unfortunately, California is the third-worst state, surpassed only by Florida and Texas. After California comes Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

As for the safest states, the top five are New Hampshire, South Dakota, Delaware, Hawaii and North Dakota. While population has a lot to do with the rankings, there are some outliers. For example, Tennessee is not among the most populous states, but it had the eighth highest number of accidents involving seniors.

Most car accidents are preventable

California residents spend a great deal of time on the state's freeways and local roads. Although driving is second nature for many adults, it's also the single most dangerous activity they engage in. There are thousands of fatal automobile accidents every year in the U.S. To stay safe, it's important that drivers understand the most common causes of car accidents.

Although universally used, the term "car accident" can be somewhat misleading. Accident implies an event that may have occurred due to unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances. While some vehicle crashes are in fact the result of occurrences that could not have been prevented by the drivers involved, insurance analysts report the majority of incidents involving injury and/or property damage on the nation's roadways are caused by the negligent driving.

Drivers may want to avoid some California roads

According to the America's Safe Drivers Report 2019, Los Angeles is one of the most dangerous places for a person to drive. The report, which was issued by Allstate, found that the 405 Freeway was among the most dangerous roads in the city. Los Angeles landed at No. 6 overall on the list.

However, LA wasn't the only California city to be included in the top 15 most dangerous for drivers. Oakland, San Francisco and Glendale all made the cut as well. Highway 880 was considered the most dangerous in Oakland, and it was also considered the most dangerous in Hayward, which was number 15 on the list. Highway 101 was the most dangerous in San Francisco. Other cities to make the most dangerous list included Baltimore, Providence and Philadelphia. Baltimore was named the most dangerous city to drive in overall.

A few common problems lead to truck crashes

Accidents involving large trucks are likely to be more severe than other traffic crashes. While the average passenger vehicle in California weighs around 4,000 pounds, a semi truck could weigh as much as 20 times more. The most common reasons behind truck crashes are driver error, equipment failure and poor truck maintenance.

Truck drivers are required to have special licenses, and they have a heightened responsibility to use care and drive safely. However, some drivers make mistakes. For example, many drive while tired, distracted or intoxicated. Despite all these potential issues, statistics indicate that most semi truck accidents are the result of an error by a passenger vehicle driver.

NHTSA estimates 1% decline in roadway fatalities in 2018

After seeing a record jump in 2015 and 2016, the number of roadway fatalities in California and the rest of the U.S. has been gradually declining. If the estimates of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are accurate, 2018 will be the second year in a row to see a decrease, however slight it might seem.

The years 2015 and 2016 were the worst in terms of traffic fatalities since at least the 1960s, prompting many to suggest that a new era in driving had begun. There are grounds for such concerns: More drivers are, for example, letting smartphones and in-vehicle technology distract them from the road. But 2017 saw a 2% decline in traffic fatalities with 37,133 dying in motor vehicle crashes. In 2018, that number went down about 1% to 36,750.

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.

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