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4 common distractions while driving

Cars are such a big part of our every day life that we often do not recognize how dangerous they can be. Driving to work in the morning probably does not feel like a life-or-death situation, but thousands of people suffer injuries or lose their lives in car accidents every year. You may not think it could happen to you, but anyone who drives regularly is susceptible to a serious accident.

Driving while distracted only increases your odds of involvement in a serious car accident. Familiarizing yourself with common distractions you may face on a regular basis and how to avoid them could help keep yourself and everyone you share the road with safer.

How to avoid driving while distracted

Anything that takes a driver's focus away from the road can be considered a distraction. Ideally, those who are driving in Mississippi or other states will limit the number of passengers that they have in their vehicles. Those who do have passengers should request that they change the radio station or get directions on behalf of the driver while the car is moving. If a driver is tired, a passenger will ideally offer to take control of the vehicle.

Those who are riding by themselves should pull over and take a nap if they feel fatigued. Drinking coffee or soda may also help a person wake up while on the way to work or school. Ideally, a driver will not use his or her cellphone while driving. The phone should either be off or put in a location where a driver won't be tempted to reach for it.

Poor car crash test data linked to women's higher risk for injury

Drivers in Mississippi may be surprised to hear that women run a higher risk than men of being seriously hurt or killed in a car crash. Much has been written about this trend since as far back as 2011, and there seem to be at least two reasons behind it.

One has to do with the standard restraining device not giving women the maximum protection. This is on account of women's short stature, their seating posture and other factors. Seat belts simply have not been designed with women in mind. Secondly, this failure to take women's differences into account can be seen in the crash testing that car manufacturers perform.

Study determines what states see most senior car crashes

A study from The Senior List has determined what states have the highest number of car accidents involving drivers aged 65 or older. While Mississippi was neither in the top 10 nor the bottom 10, residents should understand the conclusions made in this study because they touch on a significant trend. Nearly 42 million licensed drivers in the U.S. are seniors, a more than 30% increase from 2009 and a 60% jump from 1999.

While the past decade has seen an overall decline in traffic deaths, including bicyclist and pedestrian deaths, this did not preclude an increase in traffic deaths among senior citizens. The Senior List found that the worst states for senior car accidents are Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and North Carolina. The safest states are New Hampshire, South Dakota, Delaware, Hawaii and North Dakota.

Avoid these common reasons behind car accidents

In 2017, 690 people lost their lives in fatal car accidents while driving in Mississippi. Though most traffic collisions are minor, the number of major crashes that result in severe injuries or death continues to increase. Avoiding the most common causes of roadway accidents can help keep everyone safe.

Distracted driving is becoming a bigger problem among motorists. Many states are trying to prevent phone-related distracted driving by passing laws that prohibit the use of handheld devices. No matter the local laws, all drivers should use a phone holder for GPS maps and use hands-free devices to talk while operating a vehicle.

DOT said to be mulling revisons to hours of service rules

Road users in Mississippi and around the country are protected against fatigued truck drivers by hours of service regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The rules place strict limits on how long truck drivers can remain on the road before ending their shifts or taking a break, but it now appears that they will soon be relaxed by the Department of Transportation.

Logistics industry lobbying groups have been harsh critics of the regulations. Organizations like the American Trucking Association say that hours of service rules limit the amount truck drivers earn while providing few road safety benefits, and they have spent years lobbying Congress to revise them. Supporters of the regulations point out that 83% of fatal commercial vehicle accidents take place between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

Most common factors in large truck accidents

Besides driver error, there are four common causes of large truck accidents in Mississippi. It is important to know what they are because truck crashes usually end in severe injuries or death for those who are in passenger vehicles. The average car weighs about 4,000 pounds while the average big rig weighs 80,000 pounds.

The first of those four causes is a failure to maintain the truck. Truckers have a duty to inspect their vehicles before the start of every shift. They must also fill out a vehicle maintenance report. Trucking companies and maintenance crews have responsibilities in this regard, too. Many accidents are the result of seemingly insignificant issues like worn brake pads and cracks in the windshield.

NHTSA estimates slight drop in road deaths in 2018

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there was a 1% decrease in fatal roadway crashes from 2017 to 2018: from 37,133 fatalities to 36,750, to be specific. While it is not a dramatic decrease, it is better than the increase that occurred in 2015. Mississippi residents may remember that that year saw the first spike in fatalities since the 1960s.

People have been wondering ever since if new technology and the potential distraction they are to drivers may be behind this trend. This may be true. Another factor in the rise is urbanization with more and more people moving to urban areas. This affects not only drivers but also bicyclists and pedestrians.

What motorcyclists can do to avoid accidents

Motorcycle accidents in Mississippi can be severe, even deadly. Motorcyclists, though they may own a top-quality motorcycle with great handling and powerful brakes, can get into accidents through their own carelessness, so they will want to consider the following safety tips. Some of these are linked to concrete scenarios.

For example, a car turns left in front of a motorcyclist. Motorcyclists must be able to scan the road for warning signs. There may be a gap in traffic near an intersection, through which someone might cut in front of the motorcyclist. Even a driver waiting at a light to make a turn can be a threat. Motorcyclists should observe the vehicle's tires to determine what movement the driver will make and take note of what is behind them and beside them.

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Law Office of George B. Ready
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