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Danville Personal Injury Law Blog

Technology warns against truck driver fatigue

All drivers in Virginia have good reason to be concerned about truck driver fatigue. When exhausted drivers take the wheel of large commercial trucks, the results can be devastating and even deadly. Because semi trucks have such significant mass and weight, they can cause severe injuries to people in other vehicles in the event of a crash. In addition, the nature of truck driving can lead to exhaustion; drivers often work for long hours, moving over monotonous highways with unchanging scenery.

Because of the damage that can be caused by truck crashes, companies are working to find innovative solutions that can help to combat fatigue. One project was jointly designed by Pulsar Informatics and Trimble Technologies; it gathers different types of information to produce a red, yellow or green signal that indicates the fatigue risk posed by any given driver at a particular time. Pulsar's background is in evaluating fatigue among people in other professions where exhaustion can be dangerous: astronauts and airline pilots. It created an algorithm that includes a driver's hours of service, shifts and more to indicate which drivers could be at a greater risk of fatigue.

Leading workplace safety risks identified

Unfortunately, Virginia workplaces can all too often be hazardous for workers. In a recent presentation to the 2018 National Safety Council Congress, a deputy director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) presented a list of the top 10 safety violations that endanger workers on the job. A number of these most frequently cited violations rise to the top of the list year after year. This includes the No. 1 spot: inadequate fall protection.

Employers are responsible for providing suitable equipment to protect workers in case of a fall when working at heights, near unprotected edges or on sloping or steep roofs. However, 7,270 violations were issued this year for failing to do so. Similarly, the No. 10 spot on the list was held by a failure to provide safety equipment. Just over 1,530 employers were cited for failing to provide eye and face protection to workers dealing with flying objects, caustic gases or other dangerous substances.

Halloween a scary night on the roads

From trick-or-treating to parties, Halloween night can be an evening of fun for people of all ages in Virginia. However, Halloween night can also be a dangerous time on the roads, especially when drunk driving is involved. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween night is the worst night each year for drunk driving accidents. From 2012 to 2016, 44 percent of all traffic fatalities that night were linked to drunk drivers.

In addition, nearly half of those deaths were those of young people between 21 and 34, often traveling to or from Halloween parties and other celebrations. However, statistics also show that no pedestrians were killed in 2016, a positive indication that trick-or-treating children were largely spared the dangers of Halloween car crashes. At the same time, safety advocates urged steps that people can take to protect themselves and others.

Teens driving with teens may have more fatal crashes

Driving on Virginia roads can always present a danger, especially when inexperienced drivers are involved. For National Teen Driver Safety Week, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released new statistics about severe accidents and fatalities that involve teen drivers. According to the study, the fatality rate for people involved in a crash increased by 51 percent when teen drivers were carrying only other teens as passengers.

The study also found that fatality rates decreased 8 percent in crashes when teen drivers were accompanied by passengers age 35 or older. In 2016 alone, there were over one million auto accidents involving teen drivers across the country; many were severe, and 3,200 people lost their lives in these motor vehicle accidents.

Limo in fatal crash failed two New York safety inspections

The probe into the limousine crash that took the lives of 20 people on Saturday, October 6 continues to reveal concerning new information about the limo company prior to the accident. The investigation thus far paints a picture of a company owner whose negligence may have caused 20 people in New York to lose their lives.

The investigation uncovered two failed safety inspections that occurred the month before the crash. It was also determined that the limo's license plate was swapped out with another plate at some point, but the limo involved in the crash was the same vehicle that was repeatedly cited. The New York State Department of Transportation revealed that the limousine was cited in March 2018 for 'Brake Connections with Constrictions Under Vehicle" and 'Brakes out of Service." The report indicated that when the limo was reinspected six months later, these brake failures were never repaired.

Different ways leaves can serve as road hazards

Autumn is one of the most gorgeous times of the year for most Virginians. The weather is not too hot like summer, not too cold like winter and the way leaves change colors can be breathtaking.

However, those same leaves are some of the biggest driving obstacles during this time of year. They may seem small and harmless, but when you have so many of them together and they fall onto the street or your car, they can present a serious risk to you and the other motorists on the road.

Truck fatalities on the rise while overall death rates fall

Virginia drivers may be somewhat safer on the roads than they were in 2015 and 2016, but this may not necessarily hold true if they are in or sharing the road with semi trucks. On Oct. 3, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released figures from its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. After an increase in fatalities in 2015 and 2016, there was a decline in 2017, and this trend appears to be holding based on preliminary figures from the first half of 2018. However, fatalities involving larger vehicles are on the rise.

There was a 3 percent increase in deaths involving SUVs, an increase of nearly 6 percent for tractor-trailers and a surge of more than 18 percent for large straight truck deaths. Large straight trucks are vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds, so it includes both commercial and noncommercial vehicles such as dual-wheeled pickups.

AAA report shows drivers overestimate car safety features

Driver assistance systems can cut down on car crashes by 40 percent and crash fatalities by 30 percent, according to federal estimates. Yet they can backfire when drivers become too complacent with them. Virginia residents should know that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report about this trend that affects many drivers.

For instance, 80 percent of drivers with blind-spot monitoring overestimate its ability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. Twenty-five percent of drivers who utilize this system feel that they can change lanes without looking for oncoming vehicles first.

Crash avoidance technology could reduce truck accidents

Virginia drivers have been enjoying collision avoidance technology on their vehicles for years. Studies have shown these advanced safety systems reduce motor vehicle accidents and save lives. However, semis and other large trucks are not required to have these technologies, according to a report by The Kansas City Star.

Federal statistics show that large truck accidents killed over 4,300 people in 2016, which represents a 28 percent jump over 2009. To reduce truck crash fatalities, the National Transportation Safety Board has repeatedly asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate collision avoidance technologies on all heavy trucks. However, according to The Star, the NHTSA has failed to respond.

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.

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