San Antonio Personal Injury Blog

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.

Autopilot feature may introduce additional roadway risks

Texas motorists may be excited about the potential of automation to offer greater safety and security on the road. However, current versions of autonomous technologies are still in development and designed to assist human drivers rather than taking over the process of operating the vehicle. Some car accidents have been linked to drivers who relied on self-driving technologies and failed to pay attention to the road ahead. Innovative electric car manufacturer Tesla has been a leading developer of these systems, with its Autopilot featured on many models.

However, Consumer Reports has warned about some aspects of the Autopilot system, especially its April 2019 update. The magazine tested Navigate on Autopilot, which is supposed to automatically change lanes on highways to find the best way ahead without input from the human driver. This is an optional function that can be enabled or disabled by the human driver. The magazine's testers warned that the feature, intended to improve safety, could actually lead to dangerous car accidents. Testers said that the feature would cut off other cars and pass in ways that were illegal under state laws, leading to potentially risky situations. Drivers could stop the lane changes by cancelling them on the car's touchscreen before the car moved.

Teens transitioning from permit to license raise car crash risk

The transition from having a learner's permit and adult supervision to having a license and no supervision can be a bumpy one for many teenagers in Texas. A study from Virginia Tech University and the National Institutes for Health measured car crash risk among 90 teen participants from the time they obtained their permit to their first full year of possessing a license.

It turns out that their first three months with a license were much more risky than their last three months with a permit. Teens became eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss. Using dash cams on participants' cars and special software that recorded speed and braking, researchers found that newly licensed teens would engage more in risky behaviors like harsh braking, fast acceleration and sharp turns.

Online study relates most common phone distractions for drivers

Drivers in Texas may want to know about an online study from the market research firm Wakefield Research, which addressed the growing and dangerous trend of distracted driving. Nearly 2,000 U.S. drivers responded to the study.

First, it was clear that most drivers acknowledge the danger. Almost half said that distracted driving is their top concern on the road, and 99% recognized that phones are among the top three distractions. Respondents were also critical of others who drive distracted with 89% saying they would give a bad rating to any Uber or Lyft driver who texted behind the wheel. About 90% called their driving better than that of ride-hailing drivers.

Fatal accidents decrease, except those involving trucks

Texas drivers are no strangers to big rigs. In fact, your daily commute may take you along a route where many truckers travel, and you may have experienced more than a few hairy moments sharing the road with tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles.

The latest data regarding traffic fatalities shows a steady decline over recent years. However, that may be of little comfort to you if you have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an accident with a truck. Despite the overall decline in traffic accidents, crashes involving big rigs continue to occur at alarming rates.

Car company plans to use technology to tackle drunk driving

Texas drivers sharing the road with impaired or distracted drivers could soon be safer thanks to new technology being implemented by a Swedish car manufacturer. The company announced plans to tackle drunk driving by installing a camera and sensor system in its vehicles sometime in the early 2020s. It's a move being made by the same company that already plans to restrict speed limits in its vehicles for the 2020 model year to around 112 miles per hour.

The company said its in-car cameras and sensors will monitor drivers for signs of drunk driving or distraction. The system will also intervene when necessary. Actions taken if an impaired or distracted driver fails to pay attention to warning signals could include limiting the vehicle's speed limit or parking it in a safe location.

Signs of a spinal cord injury may appear immediately or gradually

Car crashes can cause many different kinds of injuries. However, one of the most severe types of injury crashes can cause are spinal cord injuries (SCIs). For people younger than 65 years old, car crashes are the leading cause of SCIs, and every year, roughly 11,000 people receive SCIs in the United States, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

If you are involved in a car crash, you should always schedule a medical examination as soon as possible to help identify any possible injury right away. However, you should also be aware of the signs that could indicate you have a SCI because this type of injury often requires special treatment.

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