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Danville Personal Injury Law Blog

Truck driver fatigue poses risk for crashes

Truck accidents can be devastating to others on the roads in Virginia. The size and weight of these massive commercial vehicles can slam into smaller passenger trucks and cars, causing serious damage and catastrophic injuries. One of the major contributors to severe truck accidents is truck driver fatigue. Drowsy driving can be extremely dangerous, with some studies showing levels of impairment can approach what's associated with drunk driving. However, the nature of truck driving could lead to people taking the wheel while exhausted. Drivers operate over lengthy, monotonous routes, driving alone and often at night.

One attempt to limit truck driver fatigue has focused on restricting the number of hours a driver can work. Commercial truckers can drive for only 11 hours out of a 14-hour workday, and they must track their hours in an electronic logbook. Unfortunately, some truck drivers and even trucking companies fail to follow those federal regulations. Many drivers feel pressured to meet unrealistic delivery goals that cannot be accomplished within a standard driving schedule. At the same time, even drivers who are following hours of service rules can still find themselves fatigued.

Why employers should embrace new standard

It is not uncommon for companies to see OSHA standards as little more than a collection of rules that they must comply with. Employers in Virginia and elsewhere who buy into the NFPA 70E standard may benefit in a variety of ways. It is intended to help prevent electrical injuries on the job while also helping to get work done in a timely manner. This is because it emphasizes the benefits of thinking about hazards before starting a job.

It also requires employers to create a plan before beginning a task. This means that there is less of a chance that a job will be interrupted because a worker doesn't have the proper tools or protective gear. It may also minimize the chances of forgetting a key drawing or realizing in the middle of a task that the ladder isn't tall enough to do a job safely.

Technology may stop impaired driving

In 2017, there were 10,874 deaths caused by traffic accidents involving drunk drivers in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Volvo is going to try to make Virginia roads safer by using technology to reduce the chances that a person will drive while influenced by alcohol. The technology is expected to be included in vehicles produced early in the next decade.

Volvo says that a vehicle could be compelled to slow down or park itself in a safe place if it detects an intoxicated or distracted driver. A camera would look for signs of distraction or impairment. Potential symptoms include a lack of input on a steering wheel or a driver with his or her eyes closed. Sensors would also be on the lookout for slower reaction times or excessive swerving.

How is a spinal cord injury treated?

A spinal cord injury requires immediate medical attention and treatment, as the sooner it's received the greater chance you have of making a full recovery.

Treatment of a spinal cord injury depends largely on the type and extent of the injury. For example, there's a big difference between a bruised spinal cord and a fracture.

NSC survey: driver distraction affects safety of first responders

Many drivers in Virginia, as elsewhere, become distracted when they pass an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Even worse, many will take photos or videos of the vehicles regardless of whether the vehicles are making a routine traffic stop or responding to a car crash or a fire. All of this compromises the safety of those first responders who get out of the vehicles to help others.

In time for Distracted Driving Awareness Month (April), the National Safety Council has released the results of a survey it conducted together with the Emergency Responder Safety Institute. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they take photos or videos when they see emergency vehicles, while 66 percent said they send emails about it and 60 percent said they post about it on social media: all while behind the wheel.

Weather Channel faces lawsuit after crash with storm chasers

The Weather Channel airs a program called "Storm Wranglers" with which Virginia residents may be familiar. The two stars of that show were in a crash back in March of 2017 as they were chasing a tornado in Texas. What allegedly happened was that they ran a stop sign and collided with a jeep that was driving away from the tornado. The storm-chasing duo and the driver of the jeep, a 25-year-old storm spotter, died upon impact.

The chase was being streamed live on the network's Facebook page right up until the accident, when the broadcast ended. The storm-chasing pair had long been known for engaging in reckless behavior behind the wheel, and the show would often feature them speeding, driving down the wrong side of the street, going off-road and into ditches and traveling through hail storms.

Agricultural workers risk injury due to equipment vibrations

Agricultural workers in Virginia and across the country could be at risk of serious occupational injuries due to the equipment used on farms. One study funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that machine operators were often exposed to potentially harmful levels of vibration after less than a full day of work. The study examined 55 farm workers using 112 pieces of equipment, including combines, tractors, forklifts, all-terrain vehicles and skid loaders. Researchers at the University of Iowa used sensors on the vehicles' seats and floors to measure vibrations and how well the seats could protect workers.

The researchers found that almost 30 percent of equipment reached an "action level" set by the European Union within two hours of operation. This level indicates when the risk of health impacts increases. At the same time, 56 percent of the machinery only met the action level after eight hours of use, the end of a full workday. While the European Union has mandated limits to workers' exposure to full-body vibrations, OSHA does not yet enforce similar standards in the United States.

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.

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