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Danville Personal Injury Law Blog

How interactive elements could boost teens' driver education

There are probably many parents in Virginia who are wondering how they can help their teenage children improve their driving skills. Or perhaps one of their teens has been referred to a driver's risk education program by a court or school administrator. They will want to know about a Baylor University study that considers one such program in Texas; the results have a wide-ranging application.

Researchers focused on a supplemental drivers' risk education program called the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program, which includes various interactive and reality-based elements. Set over a single day in a hospital, the program gives participants a tour of emergency rooms, an ICU and a morgue and allows them to converse with health care staffers who have treated car crash victims.

Safety tips for using your GPS

The days of memorizing directions and studying maps have passed. Now, most people use a GPS application on their smartphone to navigate the roads.

However, taking your eyes off of the road can be dangerous. Virginia lawmakers have proposed bills that would eliminate hand-held cellphones. Yet, these bills usually provide exceptions to GPS use. If you regularly rely on your GPS to get from point A to point B, follow these safety tips to avoid an accident.

FMCSA proposes HOS rule changes, seeks input

Virginia residents who work in the trucking industry may know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently published a notice of proposed changes to the hours-of-service regulations. These rules determine how long truckers can drive, when they should take breaks and so on. They play an important role in preventing drowsy driving and other dangers.

The FMCSA's proposed revisions address four areas. First, the agency may extend the 100 air-mile short-haul exemption from 12 on-duty hours to 14. It may allow two hours on top of the 14-hour on-duty max limit to drivers who face adverse driving conditions. Its current rule requiring a 30-minute break after eight successive hours of duty may also be revised. Furthermore, truckers with sleeper berth compartments may be allowed to split up their mandatory 10 hours of off-duty rest.

Officials search for cause of construction accident that killed 2

A deadly scaffolding collapse at an out-of-state construction site for a hotel resort serves as a reminder to workers in Virginia of workplace hazards. Two men, ages 34 and 46, perished at the scene of the accident on Aug. 29 after a scaffold collapsed beneath them during the pouring of concrete. The fatal incident shocked workers. One iron welder told reporters that federal safety inspectors had been at the site every day and that he did not know what could have gone wrong.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently participating in the investigation led by the local sheriff's department. A law enforcement spokeswoman said that the agency had started a death investigation and wanted to confirm that the collapse was an accident.

Avoiding behind the wheel distractions

Distracted driving claimed almost 3,500 lives around the country in 2015 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but many road safety advocates say that government accident statistics greatly underrepresent the problem and the true death toll is actually much higher. The recent surge in distracted driving accidents and deaths is often blamed on cellphone use, but eating, talking to passengers, adjusting entertainment systems and lighting a cigarette can be just as dangerous for Virginia motorists and their passengers.

Glancing away from the road ahead for just a few moments can be deadly as cars moving at highway speeds cover about 100 yards every five seconds. Downloading applications that disable smartphone features while vehicles are in motion can prevent both potentially deadly car accidents and tickets for violating laws banning the use of electronic devices while behind the wheel. Drivers should also program their navigation systems before setting off or after pulling over.

Traffic circles can reduce car accident injuries

Many Virginia drivers know of specific intersections that are frequently the site of serious traffic accidents, especially in some of the more rural areas of the state. Because they receive lower traffic density than urban areas, some rural intersections may be marked by only a stop sign. At the same time, however, they may have high speed limits with cars legally traveling at up to 55 mph. This means that despite the low traffic density, when an accident does happen, it can be severe or even deadly. The problem is exacerbated at night, in bad weather or when visibility is obstructed due to bushes, trees and vegetation.

Some cities are taking initiative in an attempt to reduce the number of car accidents, injuries and fatalities at these key intersections. Traffic lights can be installed, as they are shown to reduce accident rates successfully. At the same time, however, while they reduce the number of crashes, those that continue to happen can remain severe. Another approach involves the construction of roundabouts or traffic circles. While there is a smaller reduction in overall accident numbers associated with roundabouts, there is a sharp drop in the severity of crashes.

Truck driver drowsiness could be deadly

Drowsiness is a symptom that affects us all. You could be a student dozing off in class, a commuter yawning on the highway or a nurse starting another 14-hour shift. According to the American Sleep Association, drowsiness during the day can decrease quality of life. However, drowsiness in truck drivers may result in much deadlier consequences.

Best practices for handling hazardous materials

When Virginia workers handle chemicals or other dangerous materials, they could face an increased risk of getting hurt. Therefore, it is important to have a safety plan in place that can protect employees while handling such materials. Workers can help themselves by following safety protocols and completing a task as they have been trained to do. They can also help themselves by not handling any container that is not labeled or is not clearly labeled.

Individuals who are handling hazardous substances should wear personal protective equipment. Prior to using such equipment, it should be checked for any defects that may reduce its effectiveness. Old or worn items should be discarded and replaced immediately. Work areas should be cleaned at least once per shift, and they should be cleaned only with tools designed specifically for that purpose.

Five steps to keep workers safe around machinery

Virginia residents who work around machinery, whether heavy duty or smaller and easier to operate, know that there are hazards involved. Improper use of machinery, in addition to poor maintenance and a lack of protective guarding, can raise the risk for an injury. Employees and employers alike should consider the five safety tips below to prevent any machinery-related incidents.

Machine guarding is essential as it can prevent caught in/between injuries, eye injuries and burn injuries from rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of machine protection include barrier guards, light curtains and two-hand operating devices. Second, employees must make sure to wear the proper personal protective equipment, or PPE. This can include helmets, ear protection, goggles, respirators and gloves depending on the nature of the work. Employers should conduct a hazard assessment to determine what PPE to get.

The role of data and tech in combating distracted driving

Distracted driving is becoming more and more common with the increasing use of smartphones and other mobile devices. Accidents with distracted drivers can be especially severe in terms of both injuries and vehicle damage. Furthermore, they can leave trucking companies throughout Virginia and the rest of America with delays and insurance claims to deal with. However, new technology may prove to be the solution to this trend.

For example, Omnitracs has been using data analysis in the transportation industry since 2004. In 2016, the fleet management systems company added a module to its Driving Center tool that can detect signs of distraction or fatigue in drivers and even predict dangerous situations. Zendrive, a firm specializing in data analysis, has been identifying at-risk drivers for fleet owners and insurers using only smartphone data.

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