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Anaheim Personal Injury Law Blog

Opioid use is becoming a thorny road safety issue

The ongoing opioid epidemic in California and around the country is having a profound effect on road safety according to a study published in the online journal JAMA Network Open. After analyzing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports on 18,321 fatal two-vehicle accidents that took place over a period of more than 20 years, a pair of Columbia University researchers concluded that getting behind the wheel after taking drugs like fentanyl or hydrocodone doubles the chances of being involved in a deadly crash.

When the issue of opioid impairment among drivers was studied in the 1990s, researchers found that only about 1% of the motorists killed each year in motor vehicle accidents were under the influence of these addictive drugs. The latest study suggests that this figure has since risen dramatically. Lawmakers and road safety advocates do not expect the situation to improve in the near future as more than 200 million opioid prescriptions are written every year by doctors in the United States.

The serious impact of driving while distracted

California drivers may be surprised to learn the impact that driving while distracted is having on accident rates. Recently, an insurance company that focuses on providing discount insurance for customers who do not use their phone while driving highlighted the results of a distracted driver study. According to the study, upward of 47% of drivers believe that distracted driving is one of the top concerns they have while on the road and view it as something that can impact road safety.

The challenge is that for most people, using their mobile phone while they are driving is second nature. The distractions that drivers have are constantly increasing. This increases the need for insurance companies and others to find ways to focus drivers' attention on the road as opposed to their mobile devices.

Testing of self-driving cars is far from sufficient

Many California motorist are wary about self-driving cars, and for good reason, as several serious accidents have been linked to them. In May 2016, a driver who had his Tesla Model S on Autopilot died when the vehicle collided with a truck. In March 2018, a self-driving Uber vehicle in Arizona struck and killed a pedestrian.

Unfortunately, it appears that several automakers are rushing to introduce these vehicles to the public, neglecting safety in the process. This is the conclusion of a Rand Corporation report, which goes on to say that autonomous vehicles may need to be test driven for millions or billions of miles before they can be deemed reliable enough to prevent crashes.

State legislature could adopt 'textalyzer' technology

Texting while driving is banned in California and many other states across the country. Still, distracted driving continues to be a serious threat to roadway safety, taking thousands of lives and injuring many more people every year. As a result, legislators in one state are considering technology that could allow police to determine whether a driver was using his or her cellphone at the time of a crash. This would mark the first time a state has allowed this currently untested technology to be actively used by law enforcement to determine responsibility for a crash.

Nevada legislators are proposing use of the "textalyzer" machine, a device that could be attached to a mobile phone. It would produce a report indicating whether a driver was opening a messenger app, scrolling through a message or otherwise using a phone during or immediately before a motor vehicle collision. New York legislators proposed a similar measure in 2017, but it failed before being adopted. While the device's manufacturer says that it only examines use and not personal content, privacy advocates have raised concerns that police could use the device to access personal information without a warrant.

Do I need uninsured motorist insurance in California?

Making sure that you are meeting the minimum requirements for car insurance is very important. If you fall short of your state's requirements, you are technically breaking the law. While many consider meeting their state's minimum requirement sufficient, others want to make sure that they are protected financially under any circumstances.

The California Department of Insurance (CDI) reported in 2004 that 14.43 percent of drivers were on the road with no car insurance. This makes the chance of becoming involved in an accident with an uninsured driver reasonably high. As a result, many drivers in California wonder whether it would be worthwhile to take out uninsured driver insurance.

Daylight saving time increases car accident risk

Drivers in California and around the country need to get enough sleep in order to safely operate their vehicles. Unfortunately, daylight saving time cuts into the sleep time of many drivers, making it more likely they could get into a crash, according to researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

AAA says that people need at least seven hours of sleep every 24 hours to be safe drivers, and research shows that missing just two hours of sleep can double the risk of getting into an accident. Further, the organization also reports that people who get five hours of sleep have a crash risk similar to that of drunk drivers. Meanwhile, the National Sleep Foundation has determined that drivers who get less than two hours of sleep in a 24-hour period are "unfit" to get behind the wheel.

Traffic deaths stay above 40,000

Although traffic deaths declined in California and throughout the country last year, they still topped 40,000 for the third straight year. This was according to the National Safety Council. It was also reported that serious injuries were up 1 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. Driver distraction is cited as a key reason why traffic fatalities are so common. Since 2008, infotainment systems and smartphones have grown in popularity.

If there is a silver lining, advanced safety features may be able to help drivers stay safe while on the road. For example, emergency braking systems are available in some vehicles, and pedestrian detection systems are being developed. However, pedestrian detection systems are not available in a large enough number of vehicles to have any statistically significant impact on traffic fatality rates. Even if a car does have such features, they may not be equally effective across all makes and models.

Tips to stay safe on a motorcycle

According to 2016 crash data, motorcycle riders around the country were 28 times more likely to die in an accident compared to other vehicles. Therefore, it is important that riders understand basic safety rules and tactics that they can employ to reduce the chances of an accident occurring. It is also critical that anyone who wishes to ride a motorcycle is properly licensed before riding on a California road or highway.

Rider education courses as well as a skills test may be part of the licensing process in a given state. However, even if a rider education course is not required, it is generally advisable to participate in one anyway. After obtaining a license, it is a good idea to spend time practicing in a variety of different conditions. This can help a person get a better idea of how a bike handles when roads are cold, wet or slippery.

Distracted driving poses serious threats on USA highways

In California, a recent study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety stated that more drivers are using their cellphones to read and send emails in lieu of talking. In addition, drivers are texting messages and performing other miscellaneous actions on their cellphones. Although the percentage of drivers using hand-held phones has declined, the number of distracted drivers has increased. According to the author of the study, people are becoming more distracted while driving their vehicles.

A large percentage of distracted drivers manipulate their cellphones. Recent state laws regarding talking on cellphones while driving have not deterred drivers from using their phones in other ways. The author of the study, who is also employed by the Highway Loss Date Institute as a senior research scientist, mentioned that cellphone usage while driving poses dangers to society. Kidd added that a distracted driver using their cellphone is apt to cause a fatal car accident.

Do I really need a personal injury attorney?

A motor vehicle accident can alter your life in many ways, as it can result in serious injuries with long-reaching financial implications. For this reason, you need to know exactly which steps to take if you find yourself in this position.

It's easy to believe you can work closely with your insurance agent to receive all the compensation you deserve, but taking this approach is a mistake. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they often throw out lowball offers to see if an accident victim bites.

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