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New Orleans Personal Injury Law Blog

Ridesharing industry marked by high risk for drowsy driving

Louisiana residents who drive for extended periods could become drowsy on the road. This is the issue facing many drivers in the ridesharing industry. Unfortunately, low fare and salary incentives compel many to work past their safety limit, thus endangering themselves and others. Early mornings and nights are the times when sleepiness tends to peak.

Another problem is that many ridesharing drivers, being independent contractors, are not screened for medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, which can affect their alertness behind the wheel. These are just some of the issues brought to the public attention in a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The AASM calls for collaborative efforts between ridesharing companies, law enforcement, government officials and medical experts to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes.

Escaped lion leaves zoo enclosure, kills intern

Louisiana residents may have heard that on December 30, 2018, a lion escaped from a locked space at the Conservators Center located in Burlington, North Carolina, and killed a 22-year-old intern. The intern, a graduate of Indiana University, had been employed at the zoo for approximately two weeks when she was killed.

The fatal event occurred around 11:30 a.m. E.T. during a routine cleaning of the animal enclosure. A husbandry team was carrying out the cleaning under the supervision of a trained animal keeper. It is not yet known how the lion left the space in which it was enclosed. The Conservators Center is currently investigating the incident and will remain closed until further notice. Sheriff's deputies shot and killed the lion.

Seat belts could help avoid severe liver injuries

Car accidents may carry severe consequences for people in Louisiana who are seriously injured as a result of a crash. Seat belts and other technologies can, in many cases, help to reduce the severity of these injuries although they may be unable to prevent catastrophic effects. Researchers have noted that wearing a seat belt may not stop liver injuries from occurring as a result of a crash, but it could help reduce the severity of the harm done.

When people suffer a liver injury in a motor vehicle accident, the severity of the injury can make a major difference in outcomes. One study of over 50,000 people with these injuries found that those with severe damage were two times as likely to lose their lives as a result than those with milder or more moderate damage. Fifteen percent of the patients had severe liver injuries, and 15 percent of them died as a result; only 8 percent of people with moderate damage lost their lives. The researchers also noted that people who wore seat belts were less likely to suffer severe liver injuries, especially when airbags were also in use. This effect was not seen with airbags alone, however.

What to do to avoid road rage

At some point, an individual may share a Louisiana highway with someone who is aggressive or driving in a dangerous manner. Those who are aggressive on the highways are said to be experiencing road rage. While an individual may use coping strategies to stay calm behind the wheel, he or she can't control what another person does. However, there are steps a person can take in an effort to defuse a potentially dangerous situation.

One way to avoid a conflict is to switch lanes if there is an open one available. If another lane isn't immediately available, use the turn signal to indicate that a lane change will occur as soon as possible. In the event that a driver is on a road with a single lane, it may be a good idea to pull over to the shoulder and let the other driver pass.

New report finds traffic deaths increasing worldwide

Drivers in Louisiana and across the U.S. are protected by strong road safety laws that help reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths. However, according to a new report by the World Health Organization, some countries do not offer such strong protections for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

The 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety, which was released on Dec. 7, says that 1.35 million people worldwide died in traffic accidents in 2016. That number represents an all-time high and moves traffic-related deaths above of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as the eighth leading cause of death worldwide. Worse, traffic accidents are now the top reason of death for those between the ages of 5 and 29 around the world.

How external airbags can reduce crash injurys

External airbags are an emerging technology that many Louisiana residents may be interested to hear about. While some car part manufacturers are developing external airbags, it should be kept in mind that they are far from being perfected, much less being implemented on vehicles. Still, they may become a reality in the future.

The ZF Group is a manufacturer that is clear about the benefits of external airbags. Its data shows that the airbags can reduce the severity of accident injuries by as much as 40 percent. External airbags are meant to provide an additional crumple zone in the case of T-bones and other side collisions, absorbing some of the impact.

Tips for safer winter travel

Louisiana motorists who are concerned about winter driving should keep several safety tips in mind. Checking the weather prior to travel, readying a car and being prepared for a stranded event are all ways that winter driving hazards can be mitigated.

One thing Louisiana residents should remember is that traction control comes with many new vehicles. This safety feature makes winter driving much safer by keeping a vehicle stable if it passes over a slippery surface. Traction control also kicks in when a vehicle is stopped and suddenly accelerates or when a vehicle is going up a slippery hill.

Automated braking prevents more accidents than first thought

A study by renowned highway safety experts indicates that automatic emergency brakes may be even more beneficial than originally thought. The study, which reviewed vehicle accident data in General Motors vehicles, indicates that automatic emergency braking systems are especially helpful in preventing rear-end collisions. The addition of automatic emergency brakes might end up saving lives on Louisiana highways.

The study was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS. The IIHS study reviewed GM vehicles from model years 2013-2015. It compared records from GM indicating whether those vehicles had automatic emergency brakes to police car accident reports. The study then correlated the relationship between rear-end collisions and vehicles with automatic braking compared to vehicles without an automatic braking system.

HOS rule among the possible factors in fatal truck crash increase

In Louisiana and across the U.S., more people are being killed in large-truck crashes. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported a 9 percent increase in them in 2017 with a total of 4,761 being killed, about 1,300 of them being truckers. This is despite the fact that motor vehicle crashes in general went down 2 percent the same year.

Some are blaming an unpopular rule established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, namely that commercial truckers must take a 30-minute rest break after eight consecutive hours of driving. The thrust of the argument is that many truckers would rather drive straight through for all 11 hours of their shift and that the rule gives rise to cases of speeding and drowsy driving.

The risks of nighttime driving

Now that Daylight Saving Time has ended for the year, Louisiana readers will spend more time driving in the dark. Unfortunately, the National Safety Council reports that the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater once the sun goes down.

One of the reasons nighttime driving can be riskier is that a driver's vision is diminished in the dark. Normal headlights only illuminate 250 feet of roadway in front of a vehicle, and high-beam headlights only illuminate 500 feet. In addition, a driver's depth perception, peripheral vision and color recognition all decrease in the dark. In order to enhance nighttime vision, traffic safety experts recommend that drivers make sure their headlights are clean and properly aimed. Drivers should also dim the dashboard lights and clean the windshield to reduce glare. Vision decreases as people age, so older drivers should make sure they have annual vision exams, minimize distractions and reduce their speed. They may also benefit from taking a refresher driving course.

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The Law Offices of W.A. “Chip” Forstall, Jr.

The Law Offices of W.A. “Chip” Forstall, Jr.
320 North Carrollton Avenue
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New Orleans, LA 70119

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