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How to drive safely in the winter

According to the U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration, 22 percent of all accidents are caused by the weather. Winter may be the most dangerous season for Louisiana drivers in terms of accidents caused by bad weather. Rain, ice and black ice can all make roads hazardous to drive on. Ice may exist on roadways even when the temperature is above freezing as road and other surfaces may warm slower than the air above it.

Black ice may be especially dangerous because it may appear to drivers as if the road is merely wet. However, it can still make it difficult for tires to get a good grip on the road, which may cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Those who are operating their vehicles in cool or cold weather are advised to slow down and increase their stopping distance.

Scientists develop blood test that detects concussions

Scientists have developed a new blood test that may be able to diagnose traumatic brain injuries and concussions within an hour of the initial injury. The test might help patients in Louisiana and elsewhere get early treatment and avoid further injury.

Many mild brain injuries go untreated because current diagnostic tools, such as CT scans, are not sensitive enough to detect them. This can leave concussion patients vulnerable to re-injury if they are not prescribed the rest and recuperation required for recovery. However, researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have discovered certain proteins that appear in the bloodstreams of people who suffer brain injuries. These proteins are released from injured brain cells, called astrocytes, and they appear in people with even mild concussions.

Nonfatal motorcycle crashes hurt legs and feet most often

Motorcyclists in Louisiana share the road with larger vehicles. Although safety gear somewhat mitigates their physical exposure to accidents, crashes often result in injured riders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributed 30 percent of these injuries to the legs and feet after studying the medical cases of 1,222,000 people involved in nonfatal motorcycle wrecks. Head and neck injuries accounted for the second most common type of injuries.

Another study conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine confirmed the prevalence of leg and foot injuries among motorcyclists. The association also examined the influence of helmet use on accident outcomes. After collecting police reports and hospital records about accidents across a four-year period, the researchers concluded that people wearing helmets experienced a greater number of minor injuries and a smaller amount of serious injuries compared to riders without helmets.

NHTSA calls for review of autonomous technology regulations

Road deaths in Louisiana and around the country have risen sharply despite significant advances in auto safety technology, but a growing number of road safety advocates believe that fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to eliminate human error and make fatal accidents largely a thing of the past. The potential safety dividends of a driverless future prompted several federal agencies to launch a Road to Zero campaign in October 2016 that hopes to eliminate road deaths entirely within three decades, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is one of the agencies involved in Road to Zero, is now actively looking for ways to clear the regulatory path for self-driving cars.

The NHTSA said in a report released on Oct. 27 that it plans to identify and address any unnecessary regulatory burdens faced by companies developing self-driving cars, and the agency says that it is particularly interested in rules that could delay the introduction of vehicles with no driver controls whatsoever. It believes that action needs to be taken soon because any needed regulatory changes could take years to finalize and implement.

Medical conditions raise crash rate for truck drivers

Virginia residents who drive trucks or share the road with them may be interested to know that truckers with health problems are more likely to be involved in accidents than healthy truck drivers. A study found that the more health problems a trucker has, the higher the chances are of having an accident.

Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine say that truck drivers with three or more medical conditions are two to four times more likely to be in an accident than healthier truck drivers. Truckers driving in poor health are not only an accident risk to themselves but also to occupants of other vehicles.

Car crash deaths at their highest since 2007

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,461 people were killed on America's roadways in 2016, which is the highest the number has been since 2007 when 41,259 people died. This has raised concern among residents of Louisiana and other states who believed that new safety technology would help in preventing fatalities.

With features like automatic emergency braking, rear-view cameras, lane departure warning systems and advanced air bags, cars are technically safer than ever. However, the root of the problem still lies in the choices that drivers make; the NHTSA claims that these choices are what cause 94 percent of serious crashes.

Sleep apnea bill may benefit truckers in Louisiana

In August of 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officially withdrew a bill meant to set up criteria for obstructive sleep apnea testing among truck operators. The FMCSA had been working on the bill throughout the previous year, taking up suggestions made by the Medical Advisory Board and setting up public meetings with trucking industry stakeholders. It was dropped at the pre-rule stage.

This has led Democrats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to file two separate bills demanding that the FMCSA institute a screening rule. The support of Democrats in both chambers of Congress had prompted the FMCSA's initial efforts.

Predicting outcomes for traumatic brain injuries

Louisiana residents may not be aware of just how damaging a traumatic brain injury can be. In some cases, a TBI can lead to impaired memory, personality changes and other symptoms well after the injury occurs. Even though there has been increased research into the lasting effects of TBIs, diagnostic knowledge and effective treatments are still limited.

After a person suffers a traumatic brain injury, he or she may undergo a series of computerized tomography scans that provide a score for the injuries. These CT scans allow doctors to visualize the damage that has been done so that they can predict the potential outcome for the patient. Doctors will also be able to determine what types of treatment might be most effective based on the score provided by the CT scan. However, there are four different primary scoring systems that could result in different treatment plans.

The size of a vehicle and its crashworthiness

Drivers in Louisiana should know that the size of a vehicle is a significant factor in the overall risk of fatality in an accident. Bigger vehicles, including SUVs and trucks, typically do better in crashes than smaller vehicles. This is particularly true in collisions that involve both small and large vehicles.

When the safety of a vehicle is assessed, the experts include the vehicle's weight and size as well as its structural strength and material as part of the testing criteria. These are all factors that contribute the crashworthiness of a vehicle.

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.