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Hernando Legal Blog

Crash-reduction technology attracts interest of trucking industry

Drivers and other professionals working within the trucking industry in Mississippi have increasing access to trucks equipped with safety technology. Systems installed that monitor truck and driver performance and analyze the data have shown a promising ability to reduce crash rates for trucking companies. A representative from a trucking company that had deployed a video monitoring system reported a significant decrease in accidents or near accidents as well as a rise in safety scores.

Video monitoring collects images that managers can view later with drivers during coaching sessions. Drivers get to review what happened and gain insights about avoiding future problems.

Studies say front automatic braking systems work

According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, automatic braking technology might work even better than expected. The study used data about vehicles manufactured by GM between 2013 and 2015. Mississippi drivers might be interested in the results of the study as automatic braking becomes more common statewide and is set to be standard equipment everywhere. The study found that vehicles with forward collision alert and front automatic braking systems were involved in 43 percent fewer rear-end collision car wrecks than vehicles that lacked the systems.

Additionally, vehicles with the automatic braking systems were involved in 64 percent fewer rear-end collisions that caused injuries and 68 percent fewer with third-party injuries. The study used data about vehicles that had safety systems available as options for the 2013-2015 model year. These included small and large sedans, crossovers and SUVs manufactured by Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac.

Why the holidays cause more car wrecks

Though holidays are meant to be celebratory, in some ways, they’re just plain work. Preparing meals, buying gifts and spending extended time with family can be draining. The last thing you need to deal with during this busy period is a car accident.

And yet, holidays consistently show higher rates of car accidents and resulting fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). So, what is it about the holidays that wreaks havoc on the roads?

Drivers who sleep less than seven hours at high risk for crashes

Drowsy driving is to blame for an estimated 7 percent of all motor vehicle crashes throughout Mississippi and the rest of the U.S. It's also behind 16 percent of all fatal crashes. Though experts recommend at least seven hours of sleep each night, many Americans fail to get that much. The U.S. Department of Transportation and other agencies state that one in three adult drivers sleeps less than seven hours each night.

The risk for a crash increases the fewer hours that one sleeps. A recent study published in the SLEEP journal has been able to measure that risk. To arrive at their conclusion, researchers used a previous study from the U.S. DOT that went over 5,470 crashes. The data included in-depth investigations and even interviews from the drivers involved in some of those crashes.

Sunlight can be a danger on the roads

When people in Mississippi get behind the wheel for their morning or evening commute, they may face a surprising danger: the rising or setting sun. People do not often think of the sun as a problem for drivers, but extremely bright sunlight can make it difficult to see. The excessive sun glare associated with those times of day can block drivers' visibility, leading to traffic snarls and even dangerous crashes. Serious car accidents are 16 percent more common in bright sunlight than in average weather. However, drivers can follow certain guidelines to help make driving in bright sunlight safer for themselves and others on the road.

The built-in sun visors in most passenger cars and trucks can help to fight off the worst sun glare. They can be adjusted to block light coming through the front windshield or the side windows, and they are designed not to block a driver's visibility. In addition, keeping a pair of sunglasses in the car can be a great backup. Sunglasses help filter out the most extreme glare from the sun while protecting driver's eyes.

More states banning handheld devices while driving

Like most states, Mississippi bans texting while driving. Evidence indicates that the American public supports a crackdown on distracted driving due to phone use and that passing laws regulating cellphone use while behind the wheel reduces accidents.

Insurance companies tracking this behavior have reported significant drops in distraction. In the first month after a law was passed in Georgia that banned the use of handheld devices while behind the wheel, there was a reduction of 22 percent in using apps and texting. Through September 2018, there was a 14 percent drop in traffic fatalities in the state. In Rhode Island and Oregon, where similar laws against handheld devices were passed, distracted driving declined 19 percent in the first month. Drivers are also influenced by lower insurance rates if they do not use their phones while behind the wheel.

Motorcyclists: Beware of distracted drivers

Distracted driving is dangerous for everyone involved, especially as there are many ways that a driver can distract themselves while they are behind the wheel.

Nearly half of a million drivers use their phones while driving, which proves extremely dangerous, but texting is not the only distraction drivers are vulnerable to. Eating, changing the radio station, other passengers, reaching to grab something off the floor and daydreaming are all types of distractions.

Fatal crashes are more likely when teens drive teens

Many Mississippi motorists worry about the safety of teen drivers carrying other groups of teen passengers. These drivers have a reputation for being careless, reckless or distracted. Some teens say that they are judged unfairly and assumed to be irresponsible because of their age. However, there may be more to the concern about teen drivers than simple stereotyping. According to a study released for National Teen Driver Safety Week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, when teen drivers carry other teens, the fatality rate for everyone involved rises sharply.

These kinds of teen car accidents are 51 percent more likely to lead to fatal passenger injuries. Interestingly, the most affected people can be drivers and passengers in other cars. Occupants of other vehicles have a 56 percent greater fatality risk when a crash involves multiple teens. The teen drivers themselves have a 45 percent higher risk of dying in such a crash. Having an adult in the car changes the equation. If at least one passenger is 35 or older, the fatality rate goes down by 8 percent.

Advocates push for crash avoidance tech on commercial trucks

According to federal data, there were 4,300 people killed in collisions with tractor-trailers and other large trucks in 2016. This was a 28 percent increase from the fatality rate in 2009. Using these findings, which have gained the attention of several members of Congress, safety advocates are pushing for crash avoidance technology on all commercial trucks. Truck fleet owners in Mississippi and across the U.S. should take note.

According to trucking companies that have incorporated crash avoidance tech, this feature can prevent more than seven out of 10 rear-end collisions. If an accident does occur, the technology can mitigate the severity of injuries and vehicle damage. At the moment, however, only a small percentage of large trucks use it.

NHTSA discovers rise in large truck crash deaths in 2017

Every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is able to identify fatal motor vehicle crash trends based on the data collected by its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Its report on 2017 has come out, and Mississippi drivers may be surprised by the data.

The total number of traffic fatalities went down from 37,806 to 37,133 with passenger vehicle, motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths seeing a 1.4, 3.1 and 1.7 percent decrease respectively. Speeding-related deaths declined by 5.6 percent. There also were 8.1 percent fewer fatalities among bicyclists.

Law Office of George B. Ready
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Hernando, MS 38632

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