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New Orleans Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

Rollover crash in Jennings kills woman

A Jennings, Louisiana woman was killed after a wastewater truck rolled into her vehicle. State police responded to the crash on October 23.

The investigation revealed that the truck was traveling west on a curve when it crossed the center line into the eastbound lane. The driver of the truck attempted to regain control of the vehicle which caused it to roll into a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier driven by the woman.

Halloween safety tips for trick-or-treaters, parents and drivers

Halloween is one of the most dangerous days for traffic crashes. The National Highway Traffic Administration reports that holiday drunk driving fatalities reach their peak between 6 p.m. on Oct. 31 and 6 a.m. on Nov. 1. Drunk driving was to blame for 44 percent of the fatal traffic crashes that occurred during this 12-hour period from 2012 to 2016. Louisiana residents should therefore consider the following tips to ensure a safe All Hallows' Eve.

The northeast chapter of AAA advises those who are going to party to plan ahead. For example, it's important to designate a sober driver to take them home. They could also get home safely via public transportation or a ride-hailing service. These are options to consider even when one has a single alcoholic drink. If a friend becomes drunk, it's a good idea to take the keys and arrange for safer transportation.

How fleet managers can combat distracted driving

According to AAA, distracted driving has now become the single greatest threat on the road. In a survey conducted by the auto association, 88 percent of respondents said that they believe distracted driving is on the rise. Truck drivers and fleet managers in Louisiana will especially want to be aware of the dangers because they work in an industry full of pressures related to the "productivity culture."

There are visual, manual and cognitive distractions to watch out for. The first two categories are self-explanatory; however, the third can lead drivers to be inattentive even when their eyes are on the road.

Limo in fatal accident had safety citations

Some people in Louisiana might have heard about a deadly limousine accident in New York on Oct. 6. The accident killed two pedestrians, the driver and all 17 passengers in the vehicle when it ran a stop sign and hit a parked SUV.

In March, the State Department of Transportation cited the vehicle for brake failure. The vehicle was inspected again on Sept. 4 and failed, but an attorney for the company said the faults were minor ones such as a missing window latch or trouble with the windshield wipers. However, according to a DOT report from the second inspection, the vehicle had not corrected the issues noted in March. Furthermore, the driver's wife said he had complained about problems with some of the vehicles, including one that had the muffler fall off while he was driving it. The driver did not have a license that allowed him to drive a vehicle with more than 15 passengers.

Truck accident fatalities on the rise

Louisiana readers may have heard that there were fewer overall traffic fatalities in 2017 than there were in 2016. However, according to a new government report, there was an increase in the number of traffic deaths caused by large trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that traffic accident deaths dropped by 1.8 percent in 2017 with deaths involving passenger vehicles, vans, motorcycles, light pickup trucks and bicycles all decreasing from the previous year. In contrast, fatalities caused by tractor-trailer crashes spiked by 5.8 percent in 2017 while deaths caused by large straight trucks shot up 18.7 percent.

Researchers link factors to brain injury deaths

When someone in Louisiana sustains a serious brain injury, the road to recovery can be a difficult and unpredictable one. In some cases, patients unexpectedly lose their lives several months or years after sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In an effort to find out why this sometimes happens, researchers looked at factors associated with mortality among patients 16 and older a year or more after their initial injury. Researchers evaluated data from more than a thousand decedents with TBIs to identify factors likely linked to their deaths.

When compared with data from more than 10,000 control subjects, the individuals who died from brain injuries had a poorer performance on all key factors considered. These included physical, psychological, and social functioning as determined by the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) assessment tool, patient status, level of disability, and satisfaction with life. A measurement of participation in community and functioning at the societal level was also considered.

Activity may be better than rest following brain injuries

Normally, someone recovering from a brain injury in Louisiana is advised to rest. However, new research suggests it may be better for people to make an effort to get active again as soon as possible. The conventional approach to recovery following some types of brain injury is to give the brain time to heal naturally by resting. However, results from a study involving mice suggest this complex structure responds better to an appropriate level of stimulation as it can help repair damage caused by a stroke or some types of trauma.

The focus of the study on mice with brain injuries was the barrel cortex, a structure in rodents that's similar to the cerebral cortex in humans. It interprets signals from the animals' whiskers via the thalamus. The mice were placed in a dark box and trained to find an object with their whiskers. When they found it, they used a paw to dispense water as a reward. In addition, when researchers turned off the barrel-cortex cells with a laser light, the mice had difficulty performing the desired task.

HOS, brake violations among the findings of CVSA's roadcheck

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held its annual International Roadcheck from June 5 to 7. The results of that roadcheck are now out, so truckers in Louisiana may want to know what the most frequently cited violations were.

A total of 67,502 roadside inspections were conducted with 45,400 of them being Level I inspections. These inspections are the most comprehensive, covering both driver- and vehicle-related safety standards. The number of inspections was greater than last year, but fewer out-of-service orders were issued.

Reality-based drivers' ed and its effect on teen drivers

Louisiana parents concerned about giving car keys to their teenage children may take a page from the book of neighboring Texas. The Texas Reality Education for Drivers program is a drivers' education supplement aimed at teens who are unsafe drivers. Besides traditional elements like lectures, videos and discussions, the program incorporates more interactive and reality-based components. According to a Baylor University study, these components are especially helpful in raising risk awareness.

The study focused on 21 teens who participated in the one-day, six-hour RED program. Set in a hospital, the program includes guided tours through emergency rooms, intensive care units and morgues as well as talks with medical staffers who treat car crash victims.

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

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

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