San Antonio Personal Injury Blog

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.

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.

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