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Driving while tired is more dangerous than many think

Many Virginia drivers would have to admit that, at one time or another, they have gotten behind the wheel while they were tired. They may not have realized how serious of an issue driving while tired can be. This is one of the reasons why on March 15, 2019, an automotive manufacturer took advantage of World Sleep Day to emphasize the dangers associated with driving while tired.

The statistics show that as many as 1 in 5 road accidents can be linked back to a driver operating a vehicle while tired. To help drivers understand just how dangerous driving while tired can be, an automotive manufacturer made use of a 'Sleep Suit" as well as specialized goggles connected to a cell phone app.

4 important highway driving safety tips

When you take to the highway, it's important to alter your approach to the road. Not only are you traveling at a higher rate of speed, but you're also in close proximity to a variety of vehicles, including commercial trucks.

Here are four important highway driving safety tips to follow at all times:

  • Obey the speed limit: It's easy to exceed the speed limit on the highway, especially when there aren't many other vehicles on the road. However, the faster you drive the greater chance there is that you'll be part of an accident. Know the speed limit and obey it at all times.
  • Don't get too close to other vehicles: You'll often find yourself driving behind another vehicle. Even if the person is driving slower than the speed limit, don't get too close to them. A safe following distance is a must, as this gives you the time necessary to stop in the event of an emergency.
  • Watch for commercial trucks: Sharing the road with commercial trucks is a challenge, as these vehicles take up a lot of space. Furthermore, commercial truckers are not known to be the safest group of drivers. Maintain a safe distance, never drive in a trucker's blind spot for too long and watch for those who are driving distracted.
  • Take caution when passing: It's important to spend most of your time in the right lane, as this is the safest place on the highway. However, when you're stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, you'll want to pass it at some point. When doing so, use the left lane and take great caution. This means obeying the speed limit, using your turn signals and making sure you have space before moving back into the right lane.

How to keep eyes safe at work

Roughly 2,000 workers in Virginia and throughout the country experience an eye injury each day. These injuries can be caused by debris in the air or by rubbing an eye with an unclean hand, sleeve or other material. However, there are ways in which an individual can protect him or herself from such injuries. For instance, wearing goggles can prevent liquids or other items from getting into the eye itself. It can also prevent scratched corneas or similar injuries.

While it may be possible to treat some minor scratches or irritation, there could also be lingering effects. Therefore, it is recommended that a person get to an eye specialist as soon as possible. In many cases, those who go to an emergency room will find that medical staff there will get in touch with one. Going to the hospital is generally preferable to seeking advice from friends or colleagues.

Truck Safety Coalition wants trucks to use speed limiters

In Virginia, truck drivers cause frequent crashes. A safety coalition sponsored by Road Safe America and the Truck Safety Coalition wants Congress to pass new safety regulations. The coalition contends that heavy-duty trucks need to have automatic emergency braking (AEB) and speed limiters. Crash data regarding truck accidents support the coalition's case. The president of Road Safe America stated that the organization has been displeased with DOT during the past decade. He hopes that President Trump or Congress will pass the new legislation. He also stated that both political parties have been at a standstill since 2006.

The Road Safe America president mentioned that safety regulations need to change. He wants President Trump to question DOT about the situation. Road Safe America mentioned the fact that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) research shows that truck drivers should use speed limiters. Otherwise, drivers have a 200 percent greater chance of causing highway-related crashes. He also mentioned that drivers who use limiters are less likely to cause accidents.

Study links opiate prescriptions, fatal crashes

One study indicates that drivers in Virginia may have another thing to fear on the highways: the influence of prescription opiates. The nationwide opioid epidemic that has led to the widespread use of illegal opiates, as well as a severe public health threat from overdoses, could also be connected to fatal car crashes. Researchers at Columbia University found that drivers who were found to be at fault in fatal two-car collisions were almost twice as likely to have prescription opiates in their system as drivers who were not at fault for the crashes.

The researchers examined 1,321 fatal car accidents pulled from a federally maintained nationwide database. They found substances to be a significant concern, especially when it came to the performance of at-fault drivers. Alcohol was a major factor; 5,258 of the at-fault drivers had alcohol in their systems at the time of the crash. Even the not-at-fault drivers had often consumed some alcohol; 1,815 drivers found not responsible for the crashes tested positive for alcohol. In addition, 918 at-fault drivers had a positive test for prescription opiates, while 549 of the not-at-fault drivers did as well.

What truckers can do to reduce the number of accidents

People in Virginia might be surprised to learn that over the past three years, the number of large-truck-occupant fatalities has been increasing steadily according to the Chief Safety Officer of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety. He also points out that there has been a steady rise in both the percentage of fatal work zone crashes involving one large truck at the least and the rate of all fatal crashes involving one large truck over the same period.

Fortunately, truckers can do a lot to reduce the number of accidents that take place and make matters safer. For starters, truckers should always wear their seatbelts, which should come as no surprise seeing as 38 percent of all truck occupant fatalities involved someone not wearing their seatbelt. That being said, truckers have been using their seatbelts more and more over the past decade, with the rate of usage rising from 65 percent to 86 percent in under ten years.

Car accident injuries: Beware of these

When you get behind the wheel of your car, your safety and well-being should be your top priority. While this is no guarantee of preventing an accident, focusing 100 percent on driving -- and not engaging almost on "autopilot" in any of the plethora of distractions common to modern drivers -- gives you the best possible chance of reaching your destination without incident.

If you're involved in a car accident, you should immediately move to safety and check yourself for injuries. Also, if there are other people in your vehicle, check them for injuries as well. This is particularly true of small children and elderly individuals.

NTSB makes 2019-2020 recommendations

Every year, the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, releases its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. This year, the list contains 10 different items with the majority relating to truckers and the transportation industry. If implemented, these safety improvements could make a major impact on Virginia roadways.

The recommendations in the 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements include a focus on reducing distracted driving and impaired driving. The recommendations also take on reducing speeding fatalities and implementation of more advanced collision avoidance systems.

Speed limiting technology could save money and lives

Between 2009 and 2017, 35,882 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks, according to Road Safe America. One of the group's founders said that deaths could be prevented in Virginia and throughout the country via the use of speed limiting and automatic braking tools. States that have the highest number of fatalities between 2009 and 2016 also tend to have higher speed limits on their highways.

Generally speaking, a truck that weighs up to 80,000 pounds going at 70 miles per hour needs more time to stop than other vehicles. By keeping speed down, the truck could more easily stop in an emergency situation. According to the co-founder of Road Safety America, speed limiting technology is already built into most large trucks. Therefore, it would merely be a matter of choosing to use it.

Study shows changes in driver cellphone behavior

A new study based on Virginia drivers indicates that people are not talking on cellphones while behind the wheel as much as in the past. However, motorists may be using phones for other reasons, like texting, more than before. Experts say this is not good news because research has shown that operating a phone while driving dramatically increases the risk of accident and death.

The study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compared surveys conducted in 2014 and 2018 on drivers in four communities in Northern Virginia. The surveys were observational. While overall distracted driving was not shown to have increased, 2018 drivers were more likely to use their phones for other, more dangerous tasks.

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