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Tips for avoiding car accidents

Many auto accidents in Louisiana are caused by human error, which makes them preventable. If drivers consider the following tips, they can drastically reduce their risks for a crash. The first is to avoid all distracting behaviors while on the road; this includes all cell phone use, eating, putting on makeup, reading, reaching into the backseat and adjusting the audio system. Having a large number of passengers can also lead drivers to engage in distracting conversations.

While it may seem obvious, drivers should make sure to obey traffic laws. Going below the speed limit and avoiding the fast lane can make drivers less prone to reckless behavior. Drivers should also use turn signals, obey all road signs and keep a safe distance from the vehicles in front. Being a defensive driver is also essential. This means watching out for swerving drivers, looking beyond cars in front and being aware of blind spots.

How to recognize and avoid drowsy driving

Drowsy driving is a greater problem than many Louisiana residents might think. In 2018, AAA reported that the number of crashes involving drowsy drivers is actually eight times higher than federal estimates indicate. In a poll from the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adults admitted to driving drowsy, and 37 percent admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.

Drowsiness leads to slower reaction times and impaired decision-making abilities. The National Sleep Foundation notes that the effects of drowsiness are similar to those of intoxication. Drivers awake for 18 consecutive hours are like those with a .05 blood alcohol level; after 24 hours, it's as if they have a .10 BAC. The legal limit is .08.

Study shows women more likely to be distracted drivers

Talking on the phone while driving can double the risk for an accident, and texting while driving will increase that risk by six times. Drivers in Louisiana are probably aware that distracted driving is becoming a major issue; they themselves may engage in it. Unfortunately, many people are not aware that phone use behind the wheel is dangerous.

The Society for Risk Analysis conducted a study of driver behaviors and were able to profile those drivers who were strongly inclined to drive distracted into four groups: drivers who are female, drivers who frequently use their phone for calling and texting, drivers with a negative view of road safety and uninhibited drivers. Regarding the first profile, researchers found that women are more likely to men to engage in distracted driving.

FMCSA proposed changes to truck carrier safety scoring system

Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a new report highlighting its plans to reform its struggling Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. The report was created in order to comply with a 2015 order from Congress to better identify the unsafe trucking companies operating on roads in Louisiana and across the United States.

The 10-page report outlines a number of proposed reforms. The most prominent one involves replacing the current CSA Safety Measurement System with an improved scoring system. The report also suggests increasing the quality of data in the scoring process. This improvement would allow carriers to better understand and improve their safety scores compared to the current scoring system.

Large truck accidents more dangerous for passenger cars

The people most at risk of injury in truck accidents on Louisiana roadways are those traveling in smaller vehicles like passenger cars. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicated that 69 percent of victims in accidents involving large trucks were occupants of passenger vehicles; only 16 percent of victims were occupants of trucks. Even in cases where the drivers of passenger cars are driving safely, they can still be forced into an accident if the driver of a large truck is not paying attention or is otherwise not utilizing a reasonable standard of care.

Among the most common causes of large truck crashes are weather conditions, the health of the driver, obstacles on the road, fatigue or drowsiness on the part of the driver, long driving hours, mechanical issues and driver distraction. Distraction includes such activities as eating and texting while driving. Accidents involving large trucks are more likely to cause fatalities than other crashes.

Driverless cars not to have grave impact on insurance

Louisiana residents may have heard of the dire predictions that are being made concerning driverless cars and the insurance industry. Back in 2016, a report from Morgan Stanley estimated that the industry would contract to about 20 percent of its current size by the year 2040. However, new research and the recent spate of accidents involving autonomous vehicles both suggest a more gradual and less drastic change.

A report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance states that insurers will face a shift in the type of insurance products it offers. While policies for the drivers of autonomous cars may not be necessary, they will be for manufacturers and technologies companies. Since the sensors, cameras and other autonomous tech is costly, accident costs will generally rise.

Researchers study differing levels of driver distraction

According to the US Department of Transportation, 37,150 people died on America's roads in 2017. This is a 10 percent increase of the fatality rates from 2014, and researchers across the nation believe that distracted driving is a major factor. Louisiana drivers should know about a recent AAA analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Utah. The results show that there are different levels of distraction depending on the type of technology used.

Infotainment systems, whether built into the vehicle or running off the user's smartphone, are meant to improve the driving experience. However, they have been found to demand high levels of attention from drivers. For the AAA study, researchers had 64 participants drive in five different vehicles and instructed them to use the manufacturer's system at certain points. At other points, participants were told to run Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Negligent maintenance can make truck brakes dangerous

Drivers in New Orleans can face a real threat from commercial trucks whose braking systems are not properly maintained. Due to the weight and mass of this type of vehicle, poorly maintained brakes can lead to devastating crashes and accompanying severe injuries. The risk posed by dangerous truck brakes to everyone else on the road is one reason the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is organizing a national Brake Safety Week between September 16-22, 2018. In 2017, the brake safety initiative had been cut back to one day, but in 2018, the safety alliance is returning to its previous annual one-week schedule.

During Brake Safety Week, truck inspectors enhance enforcement efforts to pull dangerous trucks off the road and require them to receive proper maintenance. Complete, Level I inspections are the standard during the safety week, with a particular focus on damaged or negligently maintained braking components. These include looking for missing brake parts, loose parts, leaks in air or hydraulic fluid, mismatched air chambers, defective conditions for rotors, damaged air reservoirs, missing brake system warning devices, worn linings, pads, drums and rotors and other brake issues.

Trucker fatigue the focus of 2018 International Roadcheck

The International Roadcheck is a three-day inspection spree conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Its purpose is to enforce safety guidelines for bus and commercial truck drivers. An annual event, the roadcheck took place this year from June 5 to 7 and focused on the issue of hours-of-service non-compliance. Drivers in Louisiana who get wary when sharing the road with truckers will want to know more about this unsafe trend.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, over 33,000 truckers were cited for violations of hours-of-service guidelines during last year's International Roadcheck. Many exceeded the 14-hour limit for a given work shift or neglected to take the minimum 8 hours of rest before beginning a shift. These violations are now easier to detect thanks to electronic logging devices. The U.S. DoT mandated the use of such devices on all commercial trucks in 2017.

How technology may play a role in minimizing driver distractions

For the better part of a decade, a growing number of car accidents in Louisiana and other states have been blamed on drivers distracted by technology. Ironically, it's technology that could play a role in blocking certain communications while driving that may help curb the problem. According to a National Safety Council survey, about half of the more than 2,000 drivers surveyed would leave such technologies in place to minimize distractions.

One company has developed what they hope will be a widely accepted and available solution that may minimize the risk of having an auto accident because of some type of tech-related distraction. The device, called Groove, is placed below the steering wheel where it links to a cloud server that tells the driver's mobile provider their customer is driving. The provider then blocks all incoming communications, including social media updates, texts and emails. It also blocks the driver from texting or posting while driving. When someone tries to contact a driver, they'll get a message notifying them that the recipient is driving.