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Familiar roads pose hazards for drivers

Louisiana state law requires passenger vehicle occupants age 13 and over to fasten their seat belts at all times, and the results of studies conducted by road safety advocacy groups and government watchdogs suggest that drivers in the Pelican State would be wise to obey this law. Experts say that motorists who want to reduce their chances of being involved in an accident and wish to avoid serious injuries should remain alert and fasten their seat belts, and this advice may be particularly useful when they are taking short trips on familiar roads.

The human brain processes dizzying amounts of information and constantly prioritizes tasks according to their importance. Most motorists have realized with a start that they do not recall driving the last few miles, and this happens most often when the trip being taken is routine. In these situations, the brain sometimes delegates the driving duties to the subconscious mind, but this leaves motorists unprepared for unexpected emergencies such as a piece of debris in the roadway or a running child or animal.

Survey finds many drivers text behind the wheel

In an online August 2017 survey of about 1,000 drivers, Progressive Insurance found that most thought texting and driving was dangerous and should be prohibited despite many admitting to doing so themselves. Some Louisiana drivers may have been among the 83 percent who said that police should be able to pull drivers over for texting. However, around one-third of respondents reported being "somewhat" or "very" confident in their texting and driving ability.

Results regarding this confidence differed by age group and sex. In the 18-to-34 age group, 62 percent said they were somewhat or very confident while only 6 percent of drivers older than 54 said the same. However, around two-thirds of both 18-to-34 drivers and all drivers also believed texting was a common cause of accidents. Only 11 percent of women were very confident that they could text and drive safely while 21 percent of men thought they could.

Why fall driving can be so dangerous

The fall months may create unique dangers for Louisiana drivers. As school gets back in session, there will likely be more cars and buses on the road during the morning and afternoon hours. There may also be increased pedestrian traffic as some kids walk to school. Cooler morning temperatures may mean that drivers encounter fog on their morning commute. This may reduce visibility and increase the risk of an accident.

Leaves falling from the trees may turn the roads into a slippery mess. They may also make it harder to see road signs or other important markings on the roads themselves. As it is mating season for deer, they may be seen more frequently on or near roadways. To avoid getting into accidents, those who operate a motor vehicle should keep proper distance between their vehicles and those in front of them.

Collision avoidance system as a standard feature

Car manufacturers in Louisiana and around the country should pay close attention to a recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety regarding collision avoidance systems in cars. These systems gained legitimacy due to findings that reveal single-vehicle, side-swipe and head-on car crashes get reduced by 11 percent when drivers operate vehicles equipped with anti-collision systems. Moreover, injury-inducing car accidents get reduced by 21 percent when drivers operate vehicles equipped with anti-crash systems.

Despite these stats, only 6 percent of vehicles sold at this time have lane departure warning systems as a standard feature on basic models. Furthermore, only 11 percent of vehicles sold have blind spot alert systems as a standard feature on basic models.

Why autonomous vehicles may not be on the roads very soon

Many Louisiana motorists have been following the progress of self-driving cars and might believe that the nation's roadways will soon be filled with them. While it is true that some industry experts feel that way, there are several reasons why it might take much longer for the transformation to occur than is commonly believed.

In order for driverless vehicles to be offered to the public through mass production, new laws and regulations will first need to be instituted to govern them. Legislators and safety regulatory agencies will need to think about such things as how the roadways will be shared by autonomous cars and traditional vehicles. Liability issues and insurance rules for driverless cars will also need to be determined. In addition to the potential legal issues, there also must be significant technology involved in logistics and mapping. Finally, the public may not be as willing to purchase driverless vehicles as industry insiders might think because of the high initial cost and the preference that some people have for remaining in control of their vehicles.

Most Louisiana truck accidents are caused by car drivers

More than 5,000 road users are killed and a further 140,000 suffer injuries each year around the country in motor vehicle accidents involving large commercial vehicles according to figures compiled by a federal agency. Media outlets rarely cover major tractor-trailer crashes unless impaired, intoxicated or distracted truck drivers are involved, but the data suggests that it is passenger vehicle drivers who are most often at fault.

According to the data, about 70 percent of the accidents involving semi-tractor trailers each year are caused by car drivers, and human error is a factor in the vast majority of these crashes. Figures from 2015 reveal that about 29 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants who died in truck crashes lost their lives in front-end collisions, and a further 29 percent were killed when the vehicle they were traveling in struck the rear of a tractor-trailer.

How video can help with an accident investigation

There are many reasons why a Louisiana resident may be involved in a truck accident. In some cases, the driver of the truck may have been distracted, driving too fast for road conditions or making unsafe lane changes when the collision occurred. However, truck drivers are not always at fault when an accident takes place. In fact, car owners are responsible for the majority of collisions involving big rigs that occur in the United States.

If a camera captures the events just before and during an accident, it may be easier to determine who was at fault for causing it. Increasingly, cameras are being used by state agencies, and those who reconstruct accident scenes have used video taken by witnesses to help do their jobs effectively. While video may not be conclusive enough on its own, it is often cited as a useful tool in helping with an investigation.

Device may reduce the incidence of drowsy driving

Some Louisiana motorists may not realize how dangerous drowsy driving can be. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 6,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents each year are caused by this type of behavior. However, a company called Creative Mode has designed a device that alerts drivers as they are dozing off.

It works by measuring heart rate and sweat. When there are changes that indicate the person is falling asleep, the device first delivers a vibration and then a shock. The shock is harmless and painless, but developers say it stimulates hormones, including cortisol and serotonin, that help keep drivers awake until they can stop somewhere and rest.

DOT withdraws two proposed trucking rules

Louisiana motorists may not know that the U.S. Department of Transportation has withdrawn two proposed rules aimed at the trucking industry, according to the agency's biannual regulatory calendar update report. The withdrawals are reportedly due in part to the Trump administration's aversion to new federal regulations.

One of the proposed rules, issued last September, would have required the trucking industry to use speed limiters on its trucks. However, the DOT moved it from the active list to a long-term list, stalling its implementation for the foreseeable future. The move isn't a surprise, as support for the regulation has dropped within the trucking industry over the last 12 months and President Trump has indicated a desire to scale back on the enactment of new federal regulations.

FMCSA releases sobering fatal truck accident data

Fatal accidents involving buses and semi-tractor trailers are becoming a worryingly common occurrence in Louisiana and around the country according to figures from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency's Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report reveals that the number of large commercial trucks and buses involved in deadly crashes increased by 8 percent to 4,311 in 2015. The number of fatal accidents buses and large trucks were involved in for each 100 million miles driven also increased by 8 percent from 1.34 in 2014 to 1.45 in 2015 according to the report.

The FMCSA report is the latest in a series of accident fatality studies to concern road safety advocates. The National Safety Council reported in February 2016 that road deaths in the United States surged by 7 percent in 2015, and this increase was largely put down to increased levels of vehicle traffic. However, the number of buses and semi-tractor trailers on the nation's roads remained virtually unchanged according to the FMCSA. The distance covered by buses in 2015 increased by 1.4 percent according to the agency, and the miles traveled by large trucks rose by only 0.3 percent.