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Anaheim Personal Injury Law Blog

Watch out for car crashes as daylight saving time ends

Drowsy driving is a major hazard on roads in California and across the country. Unfortunately, the problem becomes worse when daylight saving time ends each year, according to traffic safety advocates.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that over 6,400 Americans are killed and 50,000 are injured in drowsy driving car accidents each year. This occurs even though a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey found that 96% of U.S. drivers identify drowsy driving as a top roadway safety hazard. Studies show that setting clocks back an hour can increase fatigue-related crashes by interrupting the sleep patterns of drivers, making it harder to concentrate and stay alert behind the wheel.

How to take smart action after a car accident

Being involved in a car accident is invariably a stressful experience. There are many things that the affected person has to worry about. While financial and legal issues are significant, the health and safety of yourself and all others involved should always be the most important priority.

In the immediate aftermath of an accident, the actions that you take could have a huge impact on your ability to gain back financial damages in the long term. The following are the things that you should do after a car accident to maximize your chances of success in this endeavor.

Operation Safe Driver Week focuses on reducing crashes

Each year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance sponsors Operation Safe Driver Week to promote awareness among commercial and passenger car drivers regarding negative driver behavior. Although the CVSA is an organization that focuses on commercial vehicle safety, it recognizes that safety on California roadways and throughout the nation depends on all drivers, in all types of vehicles, adhering to the rules of the road.

According to the CVSA, 94% of all vehicle crashes involve some contribution of driver behavior. If, through the issuance of the 46,752 citations and 87,624 warnings made during this year's Operation safe Driver Week, accidents involving semi-trucks and tractor-trailers can be reduced, everyone wins. Speeding, including violation of the basic speed law and driving too fast for the road conditions, was the number one violation for which commercial drivers were cited. Others high on the list included failure to wear a seat belt, failure to obey a traffic control device, use of a handheld phone and improper lane change.

Avoid accidents by staying focused on the road

Those who are driving on California roadways should make sure that they keep their focus on the road at all times. In 2018, there were an estimated 40,000 traffic fatalities in America caused by accidents involving distracted or drunk drivers. Mechanical problems with a vehicle and aggressive driving can also play a role in an accident. Therefore, it is important that drivers have their cars inspected on a regular basis either on their own or with the help of a professional.

It is also important that drivers refrain from using their cellphones when they are in the car. This will allow them to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the steering wheel. Taking a hand off the wheel may make it harder to make a sharp turn or avoid an object in a vehicle's path.

More Americans engaging in road rage incidents

California motorists may have noticed several high-profile road rage incidents in the news lately, including the story of a Wisconsin woman who was shot dead while trying to teach her teen son to drive. Unfortunately, these incidents are not isolated.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal road rage accidents have spiked significantly. In 2006, there were only 80 deadly road rage incidents, but that number skyrocketed to 467 in 2015. Meanwhile, a nonprofit news agency reported that incidents involving drivers who threaten other drivers with a gun or fire a gun at other motorists jumped from 247 in 2014 to 620 in 2016. In addition, a survey from the American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety found that almost 80% of U.S. drivers admit to displaying anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel in the last 12 months. For instance, 51% admit they have tailgated on purpose, 47% admit to yelling at other motorists, 45% admit to honking their horn out of annoyance or anger, and 33% admit to making obscene gestures. Worse, 24% of those polled said they have tried to block another vehicle from making a lane change, 12% said they have purposely cut off other vehicles, 4% said they have left their vehicle to confront another motorist, and 3% have actually hit another driver on purpose.

Automakers seek ways to keep drivers engaged behind the wheel

Semi-autonomous vehicle technology meant to prevent accidents remains dependent on drivers paying attention. Technology, like Tesla's autopilot or automatic emergency brakes, relies on sensors, cameras and software to interpret traffic and take corrective actions. Although the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recognizes the potential of driver-assistive technology to reduce crash rates, the technology has not become completely dependable. To stop drivers in California from assuming a false sense of safety, automakers have built systems to monitor driver engagement.

General Motors Co. has installed in-cabin cameras in some vehicles. The cameras check to see if drivers are keeping their eyes on the road. Tesla has added steering wheel sensors to collect information about how drivers are holding the wheel. When drivers activate autopilot, a message on the dashboard of new Tesla vehicles reminds them that they are responsible for paying attention to traffic.

Early school start times lead to teen car accidents

Whether you are the parent of a teen driver or simply another driver who has to share the road with teenagers in California, you probably worry about their driving. No age group has higher crash rates. A big reason is that teens are young and inexperienced. They're naturally going to crash more often than experienced adults, and the statistics back it up year after year.

However, that does not mean we have to resign ourselves to an epidemic of teenage car accidents. There are steps that people can take to reduce the risks. According to some studies, one such step may be allowing teens to sleep in more and get to school later.

Brake Safety Week begins on Sept. 15

Truck drivers in California and around the country are more likely to be pulled over for safety inspections between Sept. 15 and Sept. 21 during the annual Brake Safety Week initiative organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The safety blitz is part of the ongoing North American Operation Airbrake Program being run by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in partnership with the CVSA.

Brake Safety Week is important because defective or poorly maintained tractor-trailer braking systems pose a serious threat to road users. Almost half of the out of service orders issued during the 2018 International Roadcheck safety initiative were for braking system problems, and six of the FMCSA's 20 most common truck and bus violations are brake-related.

NSC: police reports fail to capture all car crash factors

For three consecutive years, from 2016 to 2018, the number of roadway deaths in California and across the U.S. has exceeded 40,000. There are a number of factors that must be considered before the real reason for a crash can be determined. According to the National Safety Council, there are 23 such factors. Unfortunately, a recent NSC study found that no state captures all 23 of these factors in its police reports.

The NSC report is entitled "Undercounted Is Underinvested: How Incomplete Crash Reports Impact Efforts to Save Lives." The factors that any police report should be able to capture include levels of driver fatigue, texting, the use of hands-free devices and the use of drugs that can be identified on positive drug tests, such as marijuana. To date, no state has fields or codes for police to measure driver fatigue.

Distracted driving changing forms but still dangerous

A report released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that California drivers are not as likely to talk on their phones while behind the wheel as they once were. However, they are more likely to be using their phones in other distracting ways. The study compared data gathered during observational surveys in 2014 and 2018. Researchers watched drivers at stoplights or while driving by and noted how many were using their phones. They also gathered information on how the phones were being used.

Researchers found that distracted driving occurred at nearly the same over the two years that were examined. The types of distracted driving changed, however, as fewer motorists were observed talking on their phones and more drivers were observed using their phones to perform other tasks, such as texting or browsing the internet.

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