Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

Danville Personal Injury Law Blog

Distracted commercial truckers can cause catastrophic crashes

Distracted driving has become a major cultural issue. With the rise of smartphones, more and more people feel tempted to text, check social media or livestream while driving. It's dangerous enough when people in passenger vehicles drive distracted. When commercial drivers do it, everyone on the road is in increased danger.

Commercial drivers have to control their massive vehicles carefully. Even little mistakes can have major consequences on the road. Distraction may prevent them from responding to sudden changes in traffic in time. That, in turn, likely contributes to the increasing number of fatal crashes involving commercial trucks each year.

Study reveals main causes of trucking accidents

With more than 15 million commercial trucks traveling annually throughout Virginia and the rest of the country, these vehicles are a constant presence as well as an occasional hazard for other drivers. In the past decade, big rig accident rates have increased by 20 percent, and many of these accidents are caused by the truckers. A recent study called the Large Truck Crash Causation Study shows the many ways that truckers can cause accidents.

Researchers from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studied the data behind 120,000 fatal truck crushes recorded over a 33-month time span. They determined that truckers were to blame for 68,000 of those accidents. They then classified the accident causes into four categories: decisions, recognition, nonperformance and performance.

Former OSHA head urges strong enforcement of safety rules

The most effective thing the government can do to help protect workers in Virginia and across the country is to strictly enforce regulations, said the former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. He stated that voluntary employer programs tend to have only limited benefits for workplace safety, because the companies involved in these programs often start out with some of the safest workplaces in the country.

On the other hand, some workplaces and industries experience extremely high rates of workplace injuries. He argued that strong standards for protection, clear regulations and meaningful enforcement are necessary to protect workers, especially those who face the highest levels of danger on the job. These kinds of universal standards affect numerous employers at the same time, as they create a rule that can work to stop injuries across an industry. On the other hand, voluntary programs bring in employers already concerned about safety and focus only on individual employers rather than affecting an entire industry.

States can take action to reduce car accidents

The growing rate of roadway deaths due to motor vehicle accidents is a major issue both for everyday drivers and state officials in Virginia. In response to this public concern, the National Governors Association issued a report that seeks to provide guidance and best practices. The idea is to encourage governors to take statewide action that will help reduce the risk of injuries and deaths caused by car accidents.

In particular, the report emphasizes the importance of coordinated action and planning across various state agencies, from law enforcement to motor vehicle licensing to public health and regulatory departments. A state governor with a strong commitment to addressing and improving highway safety can take a leadership position in developing systems and structures that promote coordination and information sharing between state agencies.

Proposed change in truck driving hours of service rule

Truck drivers in Virginia and around the country may be able to take advantage of a change in an hours of service rule if a proposal by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is implemented. Currently, truck drivers are on a 14-hour clock that requires them to take a half hour of rest during the first eight hours. The proposal will allow drivers to stop the clock for up to three hours for a rest break, but they would not be required to take the 30-minute break.

According to the OOIDA, this would improve highway safety. The organization says the rules as presently written are inflexible and do not account for the fact that individual drivers will have varying capabilities. It also says the rules are needlessly complex. There is a requirement that drivers take 10 hours off consecutively prior to the next shift, and that would remain unchanged under the proposal from OOIDA.

Follow these tips to get your motorcycle ready for spring

With spring right around the corner, you are probably eager to get back on your motorcycle to take in the Virginia landscape. However, before you set out on your first post-winter ride, there are some things you need to do to get your motorcycle ready for the road.

If you took the time to winterize your bike by adding fuel stabilizer and putting your battery on a trickle charger — or removing it altogether — you should be able to crank it up with ease. Even if the engine fires right up, it doesn't mean that you should climb aboard and set off on a day-long Sunday ride. Before leaving your driveway, use the following as a guide to checklist to ensure your bike is road-ready.

AAA researchers study frequency of drowsy driving

In Virginia and the rest of the U.S., drowsy driving is a common factor in accidents. Government statistics show that 1 to 2 percent of all accidents involve drowsy driving, but the number may actually be higher since there is no way for officers to measure drowsiness and no way for some drivers themselves to recognize that they're drowsy.

A new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that drowsiness can be a factor in nearly 10 percent of accidents. Researchers monitored more than 3,500 drivers across the nation over a four-year period, recording their actions days at a time through in-vehicle cameras. The study is the first of its kind, say the authors, to use the PERCLOS alertness measure, where drowsiness is measured by how long drivers keep their eyes closed.

Allstate monitors phone usage by its insured drivers

Virginia motorists know they shouldn't text and drive or use hand-held cell phones when they are behind the wheel. Not paying attention to the road has been proven to cause car accidents. An increase in their auto insurance premiums could just be the incentive for them to avoid distracted driving.

At least one insurance company is monitoring the use of in-car smartphones by its customers. The technology tracks movement of the smartphone as well as indicates if the phone is unlocked and apps are being used. This could result in insurance premiums being raised for those who use phones while driving and reduced for those who don't.

Using pumps can help protect worker safety

Workers in Virginia who use electronic gas detectors in order to ensure a job safe environment often utilize pumps with those devices. The choice to use a monitor with or without a pump can have major implications for workplace safety and avoiding dangerous incidents. Using a gas monitor with a pump can help to increase safety for tasks involving the measurement or detection of combustible or toxic gases in the atmosphere. This is because a pump can help workers collect air from the environment in one place and assess it with the monitor in an area that is already known to be safe.

Therefore, using a pump can help to avoid exposing workers to flammable environments or contaminated air. When an employee uses a monitor in a safe location, they can decide that new areas are safe for moving forward without risking dangerous exposure. In some types of enclosed spaces, a pump is quite helpful to protect worker safety and define a clear path ahead.

NTSB brings attention to speeding and rise of traffic fatalities

Virginia has not been immune to the rising death rate on the nation's roads. Federal regulators and safety advocates have speculated that smartphone use and higher volumes of traffic are reducing safety, but a study from the National Transportation Safety Board points the finger of blame at speeding.

The study analyzed crash data collected from 2005 to 2014. The researchers concluded that speeding killed a similar number of people as drunk driving. They identified speeding as the primary cause of 112,580 deaths during that period, or roughly 31 percent of traffic fatalities. The actions of drunk drivers ended the lives of 112,948 people.

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