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The dangers of drowsy driving

Safety advocates claim that drowsiness behind the wheel can triple the chances of a car crash. A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that in the U.S., there are 328,000 car crashes every year that involve drowsy driving. Roughly 109,000 of these result in injuries, and about 6,400 result in fatalities. California drivers will want to know about the dangers of drowsy driving, how to recognize them and ways to mitigate consequences.

Drowsiness is characterized by slow reaction times, impaired judgment and inattention. It can even lead to bursts of inattention called micro-sleep, which last from 4 to 5 seconds. All the while, drivers may not even be aware that they are sleepy. The signs of drowsiness include frequent yawning and blinking, trouble keeping one's head up, trouble remembering the last few exits and difficulty maintaining one's speed and lane position.

How data and new tech can prevent distracted driving

California residents may be aware that distracted driving has become something of an epidemic. Distracted driving accidents can be some of the most severe in terms of both injuries to occupants and damage to vehicles, usually because distracted drivers will crash without trying to slow down. These accidents also result in big delays for trucking companies and other fleets. Many employers are now finding ways to combat distracted driving.

For instance, the fleet management systems company Omnitracs has been using data analytics in transportation since 2004 to identify adverse events and predict at-risk situations among drivers. In 2016, it added an online Driving Center tool to help detect driver fatigue and distraction. The tool predicts accidents based only on a trucker's hours of service data. Over 1,000 variables are accounted for in its accident severity model.

CVSA announces Brake Safety Week dates

Beginning on Sept. 16, drivers in California and around America can expect to see semi-tractor trailers undergoing rigorous roadside safety inspections during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's annual Brake Safety Week initiative. Poorly maintained or inadequately repaired tractor-trailer braking systems pose a threat to all road users. That's why CVSA inspectors will be checking air and brake fluid lines for leaks, verifying that electronic warning systems are functioning and looking for worn or defective brake components during strict Level I inspections.

Lawmakers and advocacy groups are concerned about hydraulic braking systems, which are tasked with controlling vehicles weighing up to 40 tons, because safety violations are common. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations Large Truck Crash Causation Study, almost a third of the trucks involved in serious accidents between April 2001 and December 2003 would have failed a safety inspection because their brakes were defective or poorly maintained. Brake violations were even more common among trucks that had been involved in brake-critical accidents.

Hospital employees are at high risk for workplace injuries

Working in health care is more than just a job. If you're like the countless men and women who dedicate their lives to the care of others, you know that it is truly a calling. Unfortunately, it is also a dangerous calling. Hospital workers experience more workplace injuries than any other industry or sector. 

More than construction workers, electricians and other workers in dangerous fields, you are at risk for experiencing a work-related accident. If you have already been involved in one of these accidents and suffered an injury as a result, you understand just how debilitating and overwhelming the aftermath can be. 

Vehicle infotainment systems distract drivers

A study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safetyindicates that vehicle infotainment systems make driving more dangerous. Many vehicles in California and across the country have manufacturer-installed systems that draw the driver's attention away from the road, and it could have deadly consequences. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, an estimated 37,150 people were killed on American roadways during 2017, an increase of more than 10 percent over 2014.

Researchers from the University of Utah conducted the study, which involved 64 drivers and five different vehicles. During the experiments, drivers used the vehicles' built-in infotainment systems, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The latter two services interface the driver's smartphone with the vehicle's technology, allowing drivers to access things on their phones while behind the wheel.

Tips for avoiding pedestrian accidents

While the Federal Highway Administration continues to add medians and redesign roads in the effort to keep pedestrians safe, a lot depends on the individuals themselves. California residents should consider the following guidelines so that they can avoid collisions in the future.

The National Center for Statistics and Analysis says that 32 percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents take place between 8:00pm and 11:59pm. This is largely due to poor visibility; pedestrians and bicyclists should wear light-colored or reflective clothing and stay in well-lit areas around this time period.

Semi-truck accidents may cause serious injuries

Driving next to large trucks tends to make many California drivers feel unsettled. That's because truck drivers may be responsible for causing catastrophic accidents. In fact, close to 97 percent fatalities in crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles are suffered by the passenger vehicle occupants. When these motorists survive the collisions, they are often faced with serious injuries.

For example, back injuries causing permanent paralysis can occur if the vertebrae in the spine becomes crushed. If a person becomes paralyzed because of a truck accident, he or she may no longer have the ability to work and earn a salary. Plus, such a victim will likely incur high medical costs and expensive prescription medicines.

NHTSA lays down bicycle safety initiatives

In California, more and more people are biking on the streets either for fun, for exercise or as part of their commute. Bicyclists are given the same rights as drivers, but drivers' disregard of those rights, or negligence on the part of bicyclists, can lead to accidents. Bicyclist deaths made up 2.2 percent of all traffic deaths in 2016, and over 70 percent of these incidents took place in urban areas.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that defensive driving is key. Bicyclists should ride in the same direction as traffic, obey all traffic control signals and markers, look ahead for hazards like pebbles and potholes and always act on the assumption that other drivers don't see them. Distracting behavior like texting and listening to music should be avoided. Bicyclists should also stay visible and keep from riding on sidewalks.

Pedestrian deaths remain high according to GHSA report

Pedestrian deaths during the first six months of 2017 rose by 15.8 percent in California and the other six states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Road safety experts have generally blamed the recent surge in pedestrian deaths on cellphone use and distraction, but the GHSA figures suggest that marijuana consumption may also be playing a significant role. According to the GHSA, pedestrian deaths actually fell by 5.4 percent during the first six months of 2017 in states where the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal.

The GHSA report suggests that pedestrian deaths remain worryingly high. Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that the number of pedestrians killed on America's roads rose by 9.5 percent in 2015 and 9 percent in 2016, and the 2017 pedestrian death toll appears to be in line with these figures. The GHSA says that motor vehicle accidents killed 5,984 pedestrians in 2017. Figures from NHTSA are expected later in the year.

Does your loved one's death warrant a wrongful death claim?

After the sudden death of your loved one, your mind may not let you rest. You likely have much grief to handle, and on top of your emotional struggles, you may also be trying to come to terms with the fact that another person's negligence caused the fatal injuries that led to your family member's sudden passing.

Because it can certainly prove difficult to gain closure for such a situation, you may consider your options for ensuring that the person who caused the fatal car accident comes to justice. Though criminal charges may have stemmed from the incident, you may want to seek compensation of your own though civil legal action. If so, you could find it helpful to gain information on wrongful death claims.

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