San Antonio Personal Injury Blog

Ignition interlock a factor in distracted driving crashes

Ignition interlock devices are being installed in more and more vehicles. Texas and 33 other states require these devices in the vehicles of DUI offenders. Over the past decade, this technology has prevented hundreds of thousands of attempts made by drunk drivers to start their vehicles. The way IIDs work is simple: They are in-car breathalyzers that only let the sober drive away.

Drivers must pass not only the initial breath test but also the "rolling retests" that the system requires at regular intervals while the car is in motion. This keeps drivers from tricking the system by having someone sober breathe into the handset. However, these retests have been a source of distraction for many drivers. A recent investigation looked into dozens of car crashes involving IID distraction.

AAA study finds drivers misunderstand safety systems

Some people in Texas might assume that automatic safety systems make driving safer. However, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, they could be making driving more dangerous. The problem is that they seem to lull people into a false sense of security.

The organization said the technology that helps people stay in their lanes, adaptive cruise control and other safety features can prevent accidents and save lives if used correctly. Unfortunately, many people do not seem to understand the systems. Technology can gently tug at the wheel if a driver is drifting into another lane or help keep a driver traveling at a safe distance from other vehicles. However, drivers still need to pay attention and must not let their hands leave the steering wheel.

Warehouse worker fatalities double between 2015 and 2017

Warehouse workers in Texas and around the country have some of the nation's most dangerous jobs. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that fatalities among warehouse workers doubled between 2015 and 2017, and injuries are now as common in warehouses and distribution centers as they are on farms. Most workplace safety experts blame these worrying trends on the deployment of autonomous warehouse machinery like driverless pickup trucks and robots and the breakneck pace that retailers like Amazon demand of their workers.

Amazon processes about 4,000 orders every minute, and the Portland-based online retail giant is just one of dozens of companies that have ramped up their warehouse and distribution operations in recent years. This has led to warehouse work becoming more repetitive and monotonous, which greatly increases accident risks. Consumers tend to be very price-sensitive when they shop online, and retailers seeking to protect their margins invest far more heavily in modernization than they do in safety.

Knowing what frustrates truck drivers may keep you safe

Being a safe driver should be everyone's goal. Of course, you have likely seen your fair share of people speeding, cutting off others, tailgating and carrying out numerous other dangerous actions while on Texas roads. Unfortunately, they are putting themselves and others at risk of serious car accidents.

You may have particular concerns that one day you will experience a crash with a tractor-trailer. Many travelers have this fear because it is not always easy to predict what truck drivers will do or to know whether they see your vehicle. However, you may want to remember that truck drivers are worried about the actions of those in smaller vehicles as well.

Five frequently reported causes of truck crashes

Texas residents probably become cautious when driving around trucks, and there is a good reason for this. In the event that a truck collides with a passenger vehicle, it's the occupants of the latter who receive the worst of it. Unfortunately, truckers, trucking companies and truck part manufacturers contribute to many truck accidents every year. Below are five of the most common factors in these accidents.

The first and most widely spread is driver error. Truckers can drive drowsy or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They may speed or be reckless in some other way. To be fair, though, the majority of truck collisions due to driver error, 81%, are the fault of passenger vehicle drivers. A second factor is inclement weather, which poses challenges for heavy trucks. Untrained truckers may easily skid or jackknife on rainy or snowy roads.

Fatalities rise as NHTSA fails to act on truck safety measures

Passenger cars share the roads in Texas with big rigs and other large trucks that have the potential to cause serious and sometimes fatal accidents. From 2009 to 2017, the federal government reported a 28% rise in truck accident fatalities. Forward crash avoidance technology could have likely prevented some of these tragedies. Since the 1990s, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopt regulations that require heavy trucks to have safety technology.

The NHTSA, however, has not proposed any regulations. Statements from the agency have not fully addressed why regulations have not emerged as new vehicle safety technology comes on the market. Automobile manufacturers have already committed to making forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking standard on passenger vehicles by 2022.

Study ranks states by rate of teenage drinking and driving

In Texas and the rest of the U.S., many teenagers drink alcohol and drive. According to the CDC, 3.1% of adults report driving after having too much to drink whereas 5.5% of teens report driving after drinking alcohol in any amount. In 1984, the National Minimum Legal Drinking Act set the minimum drinking age to 21.

Drunk driving is behind roughly one third of all driving fatalities in this country. The national average of DUI-related fatalities is 3.4 per 100,000 people. Some states are safer in this regard while others are not. Researchers at showed that fatality rates may be tied to the number of high school students who drink and drive by compiling a list of the 15 worst states regarding teen drinking and driving.

Red light fatalities just hit a 10-year high

No matter how safely you drive, there is not much you can do to avoid negligent and reckless drivers. That is why you always take important safety precautions, like wearing your seat belt and minimizing distractions from things like smart phones. Despite all of the safe driving habits that you and other drivers engage in, the number of red light fatalities is on the rise.

Drivers who run red lights are a big reason for the increase in deaths. It is apparent that more and more drivers are running red lights because related deaths recently hit the highest point in ten years. This means that even cautious drivers are at a higher risk than they were just a few years ago.

Sleep deprivation is increasing nationwide

A study has shown that the number of people who are not sleeping enough is on the rise in Texas and across the country. According to the study, the percentage of respondents who were sleeping seven hours or less each night rose from 30.9% in 2010 to 35.6% by 2018. The professions that were most likely to get too little sleep were military and police, health care assistance and materials transportation. These kinds of jobs often require longer shifts than other jobs.

The study did not specify how many respondents in the materials transportation category were long-haul truck drivers, but the prevalence of sleep-deprived workers grew in materials transportation overall to 41% in 2018 from 32% in 2010. According to the study's lead author, a professor of health science, insufficient sleep is tied to mental and physical health problems and people who are sleep deprived are more prone to injury.

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.

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