Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

Danville Personal Injury Law Blog

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Distracted driving is a problem that is here to stay

The results of a research study conducted online by auto insurance giant Progressive suggest that distracted driving in Virginia and across the country is a dangerous practice that is not likely to go away soon. The study was based on an online survey with a sample size of around 1,000 insured American drivers, and the majority believe that distracted driving behaviors such as texting and driving should be illegal. However, they also believe that this standard should not directly apply to them.

As can be expected, younger drivers are the most likely to express self confidence in their ability to operate a moving vehicle while checking mobile apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. A little over 60 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 to 34 years of age expressed this confidence; on the opposite end of driving age spectrum are drivers who are at least 55 years old and who do not trust their own abilities to text and drive.

Autumn driving can be hazardous

Virginia motorists know that the fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. However, it can also present special challenges and dangers for drivers.

One of the top reasons that autumn driving can be dangerous is the changing weather conditions. Rain, fog and frost are more common during fall months, which can lead to slippery road conditions and limited visibility. Falling leaves can also make streets slick and obscure road markings. Fall days are shorter, so drivers are forced to drive in the dark more often, which can lead to more car accidents. Meanwhile, children have returned to school, so there are more cars on the road and more pedestrians on the crosswalks. The autumn is also mating and migration season for deer, so the chances of encountering a deer while driving increase during the last months of the year.

SIF prevention programs may improve workplace safety

Increasingly, workplace safety experts are advocating an approach focusing on serious injury and fatality prevention rather than one that is based on responding to injuries. For example, in a Virginia workplace where one employee is injured in an accident and another nearly falls from a scaffold, only the former incident will generally be reported to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

Situations where an employee is nearly injured most often go unreported. According to a SIF prevention expert, the old paradigm in addressing workplace injuries is to treat all injuries equally and attempt to address common causes throughout the company. The new paradigm focuses on reported events that were or could have been fatal or life-altering. The expert said companies with strong SIF prevention systems are working to recognize and address precursors before incidents occur. It's based on the premise that workers going home safely doesn't necessarily indicate a safe working environment.

Collision avoidance technology can cut accident rates

Collision avoidance systems are cutting accidents and related injuries for Virginia drivers and passengers, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Technologies like lane departure warning systems or blind spot alerts can help to diminish the risk of collisions.

The IIHS, a research center connected to the car insurance industry, said that the systems are saving lives. The study analyzed over 5,000 2015 accidents, focusing on the types of crashes that these warning systems are meant to help drivers evade. The rate of sideswipe, head-on and single-vehicle crashes was 11 percent lower for cars with the warning system than for those without.

Exhaustion or fatigue can factor into commercial truck accidents

If you're like most people, you probably feel a bit nervous when you are driving directly next to, in front of or behind a massive commercial truck. There's good reason for that apprehension. Fatal semitruck and eighteen wheeler crashes have been on the rise in recent years, as have accidents with serious injuries. It only takes a second for a commercial truck to jackknife, blocking all traffic. If the vehicle doesn't have adequate underride guards, your vehicle could end up underneath the bigger vehicle. The result can be catastrophic.

Commercial truck drivers are required to undergo extra education compared to your average licensed driver. They get trained to handle these bigger vehicles, which take longer to stop, make wider turns and have massive blind spots that increase the risk of a collision. There are other factors that can also contribute to trucking accidents. Virginia sees a lot of commercial traffic, heading out from a variety of locations to the North and South. That means that there is a real risk of an accident with a commercial truck when you're on Virigina roads or freeways.

Safety resources for the composting industry

Virginia employees who work in composing operations can turn to a set of guidelines for safety called "Five to Stay Alive" that was released by the Solid Waste Association of North America. A dynamic work environment, heavy machinery and the physical nature of working in this industry means that safety precautions are important to prevent injury and death.

The executive director and CEO of SWANA said that with an increasing number of communities aiming to reduce food waste and yard waste, safety information and training is becoming more important than ever. The industry of recycling and solid waste collection is fifth in worker fatality rates. One specialist in the industry who helped work on the guidelines said that while supervisors and compost operators received a good deal of training on odor management, process control and composting, safety is just as critical. The executive director of the U.S. Composting Council agreed that regardless of the task, safety has to always be the first priority.

Repair method for water pipes presents dangers

Pipe workers in Virginia may be interested to know that research from Purdue University indicates that a commonly used method to fix water pipes can result in the release of dangerous chemicals into the air. With the cured-in-place pipe repair method, workers place a tube made of fabric and resin inside of a damaged pipe and use pressurized steam, hot water or ultraviolet light to cure it and make a new plastic pipe. Researchers say that a reassessment of the dangers the cured-in-place repair procedure presents to workers is needed.

Researchers conducted air test studies in California and Indiana at seven steam-cured cured-in-place pipe sites, which included five stormwater pipe facilities and two sanitary sewer facilities. The test results indicated that chemical clouds that were previously thought to be steam contain, among other types of organic compounds and vapors, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens. The findings of the tests challenge long-held beliefs about the safety of the technology.

Shocking device aims to keep drivers alert on the road

Drowsy driving can be one of the biggest yet most unexpected threats on Virginia roads. While the dangers of driving under the influence are widely known, the hazards of driving while sleepy are far less publicized. However, sleepy drivers who doze off on the road could cause up to 6,000 fatal car crashes each year on American roads.

Many drivers turn to energy drinks, endless cups of coffee and blasting the radio in order to stay awake. However, a product called Steer is meant to keep drivers awake with small electrical shocks and pulses delivered when it detects a driver dozing off.

Supervision and safety requirements are necessary for trenching

Virginia trench workers know that safety in the workplace is important. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has safety guidelines for most professions, including trench work. Despite the availability of these guidelines to workers and contractors, the frequency of trench-related incidents resulting in death rose by more than 200 percent in 2016.

Cases of fatal trench accidents have resulted in fines for negligent companies and contractors as well as prison sentences for on-site supervisors. In some cases, contractors have been prosecuted for safety violations and even for criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter. Negligence that results in death can be avoided if contractors choose to properly train workers, prioritize safety over financial restrictions and promote a culture of safety among project contributors. Contractors could also make a habit of refusing to work with companies that ignore safety practices.

Economic recovery accompanied by dangerous driving

As the economy improves, drivers in Virginia and across the United States are facing a more dangerous time on the roads. Driver deaths in collisions have escalated, with a healthier economy leading to more people driving more frequently and more dangerously.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that the rate of driver deaths for 2014 model year cars and other passenger vehicles is 30 per million. This is an increase from 28 per million for 2011 vehicles. These figures represent an overall look at all cars as the rates for individual cars and small trucks can vary widely.