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Anaheim Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

Most frequent errors that lead to car accidents

If drivers in California are careful and follow traffic laws, they can reduce their risk for an accident. In the U.S., car crashes kill thousands of people every year, and most of them are due to human error. The following are some of the most common errors that lead to accidents.

At the top is distracted driving. Smartphones, navigation systems and touchscreens are making drivers more distracted than ever, but in reality, any activity that takes one's eyes off the road is distracting. That includes eating, drinking and adjusting the air conditioning. A second common error is drunk driving. Alcohol intoxication impairs one's ability to focus and make good judgment calls, which endangers everyone on the road.

Secondary conditions are common with spinal cord injuries

For many people, thinking about a spinal cord injury will bring up only the thoughts related to the damage to the spinal cord. Some might not realize that there are many other impacts that this type of injury can have on your life.

Victims can suffer from mental health issues, including depression, when they are dealing with this. They might also have physical secondary conditions that can lead to serious health challenges or even death. It is imperative for anyone who is living with a spinal cord injury understand some of the conditions.

This is what causes a truck accident to occur

Truck accidents that occur in California or any other state tend to have a greater potential for injury or death. That's because tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds as opposed to passenger vehicles that weigh about 4,000 pounds. Poor weather conditions are among the common causes of large truck accidents. Roads that are covered in rain or snow can be harder to stop without skidding or sliding.

If a truck is not properly maintained, it can increase the chances of that vehicle being involved in an accident. Routine maintenance is critical because trucks may cover thousands of miles in a single day. This can lead to worn brake pads or other problems that drivers need to be aware of and check for prior to leaving for their next destination. However, some problems occur because of the negligence of an equipment manufacturer.

Motorcycle helmets should be chosen carefully

Helmets saved the lives of at least 1,870 motorcyclists around the country in 2017, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 750 riders who died would have survived if they had been wearing one. Virtually all media articles on motorcycle safety begin by urging riders to purchase a quality helmet and put it on every time they take to the roads, but finding head gear that is both comfortable and robust enough to provide protection in a crash can be difficult for some California riders.

While comfort is important, riders should avoid motorcycle helmets that are marketed as being lightweight and thin. Helmets that provide good protection are at least an inch thick and usually weigh about 3 pounds. Plastic buckles that can break in an accident are another sign of a poorly manufactured helmet. The NHTSA does not test or approve helmets sold in the United States, but it does maintain an online database of helmets that have been recalled due to safety concerns.

Lower extremities most at risk in motorcycle crashes

Motorcycle safety advocates say that riders in California should always wear all the necessary protective gear. However, research shows that certain areas of a rider's body are more vulnerable to injuries than others.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed medical records from 1,222,000 American motorcyclists who suffered non-fatal injuries between 2001 and 2008. They found that 30% of all injuries involved a rider's legs or feet and 22% involved a rider's head or neck. Meanwhile, injuries to the upper trunk region, meaning the chest, shoulders and back, and lower trunk region, meaning the hips and pelvis, were also common.

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