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Hernando Legal Blog

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.

Roundabouts: Harmful or helpful?

Traffic circles, otherwise known as “roundabouts,” are a common intersection alternative that has slowly caught on in the United States. However, Americans resist roundabouts. For many, driver’s education courses didn’t even include instruction on how to maneuver them.

When drivers don’t understand the rules of the road, there’s bound to be chaos. So, has the introduction of roundabouts in the United States been harmful or helpful?

AAA shows how overreliance on car safety tech is backfiring

According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, motorists are too trusting of their driver assistance systems. Mississippi residents who are worried about how self-driving cars will affect driving behavior will want to know more about this study as it raises questions about how people will adapt to the new technology.

For example, 80 percent of drivers do not understand the limitations of blind-spot monitoring, namely its ability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. Because of this overestimation, 20 percent of drivers fail to look for vehicles behind them when changing lanes.

Mobile workforce face major distracted driving risks

Distracted driving can be a major threat to Mississippi roads, and the demands of a modern connected workplace may be a significant contributor to the danger. According to research conducted by Motus, the rise in smartphone ownership has been accompanied by a growth in accident rates. In 2013, 55 percent of mobile workers owned a smartphone; by 2017, that figure had grown to 77 percent. At the same time, car accidents increased from 5.7 million per year to 6.4 million, an upswing of 12.3 percent. While texting while driving and other dangerous behaviors are often linked to casual phone users, the study noted the particular demands on mobile workers who must stay connected.

According to the study, mobile workers drive more than average. In fact, they take 49 percent more trips on the road than other types of workers. At the same time, they are subject to ever-present demands on their time transmitted via the smartphone. Therefore, the study said that each mobile worker travels around 1,200 miles while distracted.

Safety violations sideline thousands of trucks

Mississippi drivers might be justifiably concerned with the findings from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's 2018 blitz of commercial vehicle inspections across the United States and North America. According to numbers recently released, over 21 percent of commercial vehicles subjected to Level I inspections were taken out of service for major safety violations.

The CVSA is a consortium of regulatory and law enforcement agencies across North America. During the first week of June, the CVSA completed its annual 72-hour International Roadcheck. During the initiative, officials completed over 67,000 roadside inspections in an effort to improve the safety of public roadways where commuters and vacationing families drive side by side with massive transport trucks hauling freight. More than one in five trucks failed inspection, and over 2,600 commercial drivers were removed from the roadways for various improprieties.

NTSA petitions for anti-lock brakes on all new U.S. motorcycles

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all new motorcycles intended for road use in the U.S. be required to have anti-lock brakes. It voted unanimously to send this recommendation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcyclists in Mississippi will want to know the reasons given by the NTSB for this move.

During a public hearing, NTSB representatives said that there were 5,286 motorcyclist deaths in the U.S. in 2016. They believe that anti-lock brakes, which became the norm for all new passenger vehicles in the U.S. starting in 2000, can help save lives. These brakes pump multiple times a second to prevent the wheels from locking up and skidding, so motorcyclists can apply maximum pressure to the brakes without fearing that they will lose control.

Mississippi roads are the most dangerous in America

The roads in Mississippi are the most dangerous in the country, according to a recent study from the home security and safety company SafeWise. Researchers used data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to calculate the number of road deaths in each state per 100,000 residents, and Mississippi emerged in the unenviable first place with 23.1. Alabama, South Carolina, New Mexico and Wyoming are the next four most dangerous states. Meanwhile, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey are the safest, according to the study.

SafeWise conducted the study to draw attention to the issue of distracted driving, and the data suggests that states can greatly reduce highway fatalities by passing and strictly enforcing laws banning the use of electronic devices by drivers. Texting while driving is prohibited in Mississippi, but drivers in the Magnolia State can use hand-held cellphones without fear of being pulled over and ticketed.

Dangerous design of bridge responsible for accident frequency

Mississippians who regularly have to drive on the bridge on I-55 over the Coldwater River are often stuck in traffic jams because of car accidents. Accidents happen frequently on the bridge because of its design.

According to the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the issues with the bridge are that the barrier is concrete and doesn't leave room for any driver error. There isn't a grassy median or a shoulder on the bridge, so people are not able to get out of the way to avoid other drivers. A spokesperson for the highway patrol said that he slows down and looks carefully to see what is happening on bridges like the one on I-55 in order to avoid potential collisions.

Roundabouts reduce accident injuries at rural intersections

Rural highways in Mississippi might appear quiet and easy to navigate, but drivers running traffic lights or stop signs at rural intersections often produce serious accidents. Roundabouts have emerged as a safety strategy deployed by agencies seeking to reduce deaths and severe injuries.

The Department of Transportation in a different state has measured good results after adopting the roundabout strategy as part of its Vision Zero initiative. These initiatives draw transportation and law enforcement stakeholders together to reduce accidents and injuries. Roundabouts physically force drivers to slow down as they enter the circle. Traffic lights or stop signs cannot do this because they are dependent on drivers following the rules. Although roundabouts do not actually lower the number of accidents, they produce lower-speed crashes that generally only cause minor injuries.

Law Office of George B. Ready
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Hernando, MS 38632

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