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New Orleans Personal Injury Law Blog

Distracted driving puts emergency responders at risk

First responders in Louisiana and across the U.S. are under constant threat from distracted drivers, according to a recent survey released by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute. As a result, safety advocates are urging drivers to use more caution when driving past emergency scenes.

Federal statistics show that 37 people were killed in collisions with police cars, ambulances and fire trucks in 2013. Another 17,028 were injured. Over the first three months of 2019, 16 emergency responders were struck and killed by motor vehicles. According to the survey, 40% of emergency workers feel that the danger of being hit by passing vehicles is one of the risks of their job.

Study shows more truckers are being deprived of sleep

In Louisiana and throughout the country, more and more commercial truckers are getting poor sleep. A study from Ball State University researchers ranked the industries that have the highest percentage of sleep-deprived workers, and the transportation and material moving industry was in the top four.

The study involved some 150,000 adults. Overall, there has been a rise in sleep deprivation from 2010 to 2018. Whereas 30.9% of respondents said they experience poor sleep in 2010, 35.6% said the same in 2018. Half of respondents who were military members or police officers said they suffer from lack of sleep. This was followed by 45% of health care workers, 41% of truckers and 41% of those in production.

Parents share worries about teen driving

When educating teens about driving and staying safe while on the road, parents may need to consider what they tell children about being both a driver and a passenger. One study indicates that teens need to be aware of safety when driving with other teens, and Louisiana residents may wish to know more about this study.

In a survey of almost 900 parents with teens ages 14-18, around 60 percent of parents reported distracted driving when it came to a teen's friends. This meant that a teen told a parent about a friend who lost focus while driving. Parents were asked multiple questions about letting a teen ride with other teens without parental supervision.

Automatic braking can lead to fewer crashes

Advanced safety features in vehicles have likely made cars safer, according to a new study released by GM. It found that automatic braking has reduced rear collisions by 46% while other features have offered additional benefits to drivers. Fewer collisions mean that there are fewer traffic injuries and fatalities in Louisiana and on roads throughout the country. The study looked at 3.8 million vehicles from model years 2013 to 2017 to gather data and come to its conclusions.

Researchers were able to differentiate between cars that had advanced safety features and those that didn't. Equipping vehicles with features such as rear cameras and reverse automatic braking reduced minor accidents by 81%. Furthermore, providing vehicles with lane change alert technology reduced accidents by 26%. According to GM, these features can help create a world where there are zero accidents and roads that are less congested.

Auto accident statistics show red light deaths highest in decade

Louisiana drivers will be schooled in stopping at red lights from the time they learn to drive. It is one of the most basic requirements. Unfortunately, many accidents are due to drivers who do not adhere to this law. Recent research uncovered a worrying trend regarding red light violations, and drivers should be aware of it.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed data showing that drivers running red lights and causing a fatal auto accident reached its highest level in a decade. The latest statistics available were from 2017. In that year, there were 939 deaths because of a driver going through a red light. That is a 28% increase from 2012.

Drowsy driving more widespread than previously thought

Various government reports have revealed that 1% to 2% of all car crashes in Louisiana and across the U.S. involve drowsy driving. Yet AAA researchers, in a 2018 study, reported that the number is more like 9.5%. In fact, it may be higher because drowsy driving is not only increasingly common but also hard to detect. Police usually have to rely on drivers' testimony, and drivers may lie.

One reason why so many people drive while drowsy is that they do not recognize the danger. Many individuals understand that drinking or taking drugs affect driving ability, but this same belief does not extend to sleep deprivation. Yet fatigue can slow a person's reflexes and impair his or her concentration.

Traffic deaths reach 40,000 for third consecutive year

The National Safety Council has released its preliminary estimates on traffic injuries and fatalities in 2018, and it appears that for the third year in a row, fatalities have exceeded the 40,000 mark. Residents of Louisiana should know that 2018 saw a 1% decrease in both fatalities and injuries. Yet compared to 2015, the number of fatalities is up by 14%.

Some states saw a decline in crash deaths with Kansas, Maine, New Jersey and Rhode Island, seeing them drop by 9.4%. In Washington, D.C., and in states like Florida, Hawaii, Oregon and Pennsylvania, though, the numbers went up by 5.8%. The high number of fatalities may be due to increased instances of unsafe driving behaviors and a lack of any safety-minded culture.

Drowsy driving and its safety risks

In a AAA survey, almost one third of respondents admitted that they had driven at least once in the past month in such a drowsy condition that they could hardly keep their eyes open. Louisiana residents should be aware that there are several factors that are making drowsy driving almost unavoidable for many. Few areas in the nation have comprehensive public transport systems, for example.

However, there is another factor that drivers can prevent from being a serious safety risk both for themselves and for others: the use of prescription sleep aids. In a Consumer Reports survey of 1,767 U.S. adults, one in five drivers who take sleep aids said that they have headed out on the road within seven hours of taking them. This is in spite of the fact that the labels normally recommend users to sleep the first seven to eight hours.

CVSA's brake inspection spree to go from September 15 to 21

Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance holds a week-long inspection spree to enforce brake safety among CMVs, especially big rigs. This spree, called Brake Safety Week, has been scheduled to take place from September 15 to 21, so truckers in Louisiana will want to make sure they are meeting the federal requirements for regular truck maintenance.

A functioning brake system is essential to truck safety. Brake hoses and tubing, which are the special focus of the 2019 Brake Safety Week, are just some of the more important components. These should not leak, and they should be properly attached and flexible. Otherwise, truckers may find that it takes longer than usual for their vehicle to come to a stop. These are the issues that often contribute to rear-end collisions.

FMCSA expected to relax hours-of-service rules

Truck drivers in Louisiana and around the country are generally paid based on the number of miles they cover and not the amount of time they spend on the road. This compensation arrangement could prompt drivers to remain behind the wheel even after fatigue has set in, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has put hours-of-service regulations into place that strictly limit the length of their shifts. Groups lobbying on behalf of the logistics industry have long urged regulators to relax the rules, and recent media reports suggest that the Trump administration plans to do just that.

The FMCSA is widely expected to issue what is known as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will allow comments to be submitted about the current hours-of-service regulations. This is often done before rules are strengthened or relaxed. Comments about a 30-minute break that truck drivers are required to take after eight hours on the road are likely to be numerous.

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

Chip Forstall
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