San Antonio Personal Injury Blog

Vehicle advanced safety technologies reduce crashes

Advanced safety technologies make new vehicles in Texas and around the country significantly less likely to become involved in a crash, according to a study released by General Motors. The study was conducted with the help of researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

For the study, researchers took VIN numbers from 3.8 million GM vehicles manufactured between 2013 and 2017 and cross-referenced them with police-reported collision data from 10 states. The VIN numbers allowed them to tell which vehicles had advanced safety systems and which ones didn't. They found that automatic emergency braking systems decreased rear-end crashes by 46% and reverse automatic braking systems decreased back-out accidents by 81%. They also found that active lane control systems with lane departure warnings decreased lane-change accidents by 20% and blind-spot monitors and lane-change alerts decreased collisions by 26%. In addition, the researchers found that the more automated a safety system was, the more it reduced crashes and fatalities.

How peer passengers distract teen drivers

According to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, teen drivers increase their risk for a car crash by 44% when they drive with just one teen passenger. This should give not only teens in Texas but also their parents pause. The National Safety Council states that teen drivers should not have any passengers in their car for at least the first six months after obtaining their license. If they can hold off for a year, this would be ideal.

The NSC points out the fact that peer passengers can be distracting to teens. The distractions that come with picking someone up for a date night or picking up friends to go see a movie, go shopping or attend a big event can be too much for teens to handle. Even as they drive to school with a friend, teen drivers cannot help but be pulled into conversations to a dangerous degree.

Driver distraction is a universal problem

All Texas motorists should have a strong interest in maintaining safe driving conditions. One consistent crash risk that has dramatically increased as a source of concern in recent years is driver distraction. This can be defined as any activity that causes drivers to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel or their attention off the task of driving.

There are many different types of occurrences within a vehicle that can be distracting to the driver. Passengers, especially young children, GPS systems, music players and eating are just some examples. It probably comes as no surprise, however, that phone use tops the list as the No. 1 driver distraction. What may be surprising is what a recent insurance company study revealed about motorists' perceptions about distracted driving.

Drunk driving issues many people overlook

The next time you get behind the wheel of a car to drive, will you be able to tell if there's a drunk driver near you? The answer might be yes if, for example, you notice a car weaving left and right in its lane. Of course, that is also often a sign of distracted driving, as well. Drunk drivers often exhibit certain behaviors that may alert you to potential danger and help you avoid collision.

Then again, even you notice suspicious driving behavior nearby, there's no guarantee you'll be able to swiftly and safely react to avert disaster. Drunk drivers are menaces to Texas roadways. Surviving a drunk driving accident often means you will need weeks or months to recover. The type of support network you set up from the start may greatly influence the fullness of your recovery.

Ways to avoid distracted driving

Thousands of people die every year in Texas and across the U.S. in car crashes involving a distracted driver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 3,166 fatalities in 2017 alone. Drivers should understand that anything that takes their eyes off the road constitutes a distraction: using the phone, adjusting the radio, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, etc. The following are some ways to prevent distracted driving.

First is to limit the number of passengers in the car, thus keeping conversation to a minimum. On the other hand, drivers may benefit from having a passenger to help with using the navigation system or radio or with checking on traffic. Next, drivers should maintain a no-eating policy with themselves, family and friends.

Passing of H.R. 3773 will mean mandatory AEB on trucks

Truck drivers in Texas are probably familiar with the safety feature called automatic emergency braking, which can apply the brakes in the face of a collision. One system costs about $500 but can save countless lives. Some safety experts have pushed for mandatory AEB use on commercial vehicles, and a newly proposed bill is advancing the same cause.

On July 16, three congresspeople introduced the Safe Roads Act of 2019, also known as H.R. 3773, in the House of Representatives. If passed, it would require AEB installation for all new commercial motor vehicles and the use of it whenever these vehicles are in operation. The Secretary of Transportation would be the one to establish the standards on installation and use.

Federal agency considering changes to truck driver rules

The Department of Transportation is in the process of loosening the rules that restrict the number of hours truck drivers in Texas and across the country can be on the road. Interest groups and trucking companies have lobbied for more flexible regulations for a long time, and some say the move to relax regulations is evidence of the lobbyists' influence on the Trump administration. Highway safety advocate groups say the changes would weaken the regulations and lead to truckers driving longer and longer days.

Government data indicates that the number of fatal large truck accidents is already increasing. In 2017, there were 4,657 large truck crash fatalities, which represented a 10% increase over the previous year. Sixty of the truck drivers involved were said to have been fatigued or asleep at the time of the crash, although the National Transportation Safety Board said driver fatigue is likely to have been underreported.

Sometimes, the only justice comes from a wrongful death claim

Losing a loved one is never easy, but when it happens suddenly and violently due to the recklessness or negligence of someone else, the shock and grief is often overwhelming. Depending on the circumstances, justice may not come through the criminal justice system.

If you find yourself in this position, you could search for the justice and closure you need through a Texas civil court. Like others before you, filing a wrongful death claim is about more than just money -- it's about holding the party or parties legally responsible for the death of your loved one responsible for your loss.

NHTSA: 2018 sees slight improvement in crash death numbers

For decades, the number of roadway fatalities had been going down. When the number spiked in 2015 and 2016, many thought that a new trend had begun, linking it to the proliferation of smartphones and other distracting technology, among other factors. In 2017, there was a 2% dip from the previous year with 37,133 fatalities in Texas and across the U.S.

Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its preliminary report on 2018 and found that this year, too, saw a slight decline: There were 36,750 people who died in motor vehicle crashes, about 1% less than in 2017. While this does not dispel the concern about distracted driving, it is still good news. One expert, contrasting the years 2009 and 2016, said that drivers in 2016 are overall safer than they were prior to 2009.

Texas among worst five states for trucking safety

Drivers in Texas may be particularly worried about the threat of a truck accident. The size and weight of big rigs mean that any collision involving these vehicles is far more likely to be deadly or devastating for the occupants of smaller passenger cars. One study conducted by a fleet management firm looked for trucking safety issues that most commonly affect truckers. It examined 6,200 trucks between 2015 and 2017, taking note of a range of incidents from fatal collisions to speeding on the roadway and compared the results across states and regions.

Despite the heavy traffic on I-95, the nation's Northeast Corridor had some of the safest roads. Truckers in Vermont, Virginia and Connecticut were far less likely to speed than those in the Dakotas or Montana, for example. Unfortunately, the study pointed to worrying news for Texas drivers. Texas was the fifth most dangerous state in the country for trucking accidents and dangerous truck driver practices, including excessive speeding. Speed is an even greater concern for large trucks because of the sheer weight of the vehicle; a high-speed crash involving an 18-wheeler can be devastating.

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