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Long Beach California Personal Injury Blog

Truck driving fatalities and their causes

Fatal accidents involving large truck drivers have risen nationwide since 2009. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, nearly 4,500 fatalities occurred in accidents involving large trucks in 2016. In 2009, the fatality figure was approximately 3,500. Because of the increase, people in California and elsewhere are looking into the causes of these crashes.

Most of the common causes of fatalities relate to operator negligence in one form or another, with driver error being the most common. Though driver error as a cause of a fatality is less for truckers than passenger vehicle drivers, the percentage remains high. In this category, driver error can include texting while driving, operating under the influence or driving while fatigued. Complete elimination of this type of conduct may not occur but it can be greatly reduced.

The dangers of Southern California’s rural roads

It is no secret the California has some of the most dangerous roads in the country. Thanks to the state’s larger population and size, there are significantly more motor vehicle injuries and fatalities here than the rest of the United States.

The Orange County Register recently showcased some studies highlighting Southern California’s deadliest highways. One of the maps that displays the different areas of California notes that urban highways tend to be much safer than highways seen on rural roads. As a citizen of this state, you should be aware of the various hazards that occur while driving in rural environments that could lead to a serious accident.

Teens with new license more likely to crash

Some California parents may want to supervise teenage drivers a bit longer than they originally planned. According to a study, a teen's risk of crashing significantly increases as soon as he or she graduates from a learner's permit to a full driver's license. The study was conducted by researchers from Virginia Tech University and the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers found that newly-licensed teens are eight times more likely to crash or nearly crash during the first three months of being a fully licensed driver, compared to the last three months of driving on their learner's permit. This is because they can drive alone with their driver's license, but they must be accompanied by an adult with their learner's permit.

Common risks associated with motor vehicle crashes

Motor vehicle accidents contribute to more than 2 million injuries each year according to the CDC. In order to avoid being another statistic, drivers in California are encouraged to consider the common risks associated with motor vehicle crashes. These include texting while behind the wheel and being distracted or drowsy while driving. Ongoing research into these risk factors has improved the understanding of the true impact of distractions on accidents and injuries.

Associated with about 20 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents, drowsy driving can affect the cognitive and visual resources needed for optimal driving abilities. Some research suggests that drivers who get four to five hours of sleep per night are more than five times as likely to be involved in a crash than those who rest for seven hours or more. Frequent blinking, nodding off while at traffic lights and slower reaction times are among the signs suggesting that it's time for drivers to pull over or let someone else drive.

FMCSA announces revised safety program parameters

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Compliance, Safety and Accountability program is designed to identify unsafe trucking companies in California and around the country, but trade groups say that the data used by the government watchdog is unreliable and the safety scores assigned to truck operators are misleading. Congress took action in 2015 by including a provision requiring the FMCSA to revise the CSA program in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, and a report published on July 4 reveals how the agency plans to comply with this requirement.

The FMCSA report comes less than a week after the agency announced that it was scrapping a series of reforms proposed in 2015. The FMCSA is now adopting an approach based on item response theory that is supported by the National Academies of Science. Item response theory is generally considered more reliable by the scientific community when a large amount of data is involved and several variables must be accounted for.

What to watch out for if you’re sharing the road with a truck

There is a high risk of injury when an accident occurs involving large commercial trucks. For that reason, truck drivers know that handling their vehicle properly is imperative to their own safety and the safety of others. However, there are certain things that are outside of a truck driver’s control.

If you are sharing the road with a truck driver, watch out for these potential hazards:

Study ranks safest, most dangerous states for commercial trucking

California commercial truck drivers are the third most dangerous in the country, according to data from Verizon Connect. The ranking is based on safety factors such as braking, cornering and acceleration.

Verizon Connect, a fleet management systems provider, analyzed the behaviors of more than 6,200 commercial truck driving clients from Oct. 2015 through Sept. 2017. The study included a range of vehicles, from light vans and pickups to tractor-trailers, and it considered factors like fatalities per vehicle miles driven, average speeding incidents per mile and average speeding incidents per day. The study found that states along the East Coast tend to have the least deaths and speeding incidents in the nation. Rhode Island was the safest state, followed by Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New York. Meanwhile, the most dangerous state was Montana, followed by Wyoming, South Dakota, Kentucky and Mississippi.

Travelers: distracted driving is rife during the summer

Most California motorists are aware that distracted driving is widespread, especially with new technologies stealing away people's attention. What they may not know is that it becomes an even greater issue during the summertime. During its newly launched Every Second Matters™ event, which took place on June 15 on Capitol Hill, the Travelers Institute brought this up and urged safe driving for all.

Travelers referred to some recent data from a TrueMotion study. The smartphone telematics platform analyzed sensor data from its free mobile app, called TrueMotion Family, in the effort to determine when drivers were distracted. The analysis involved more than 20,000 drivers and their trips taken between January 2017 and May 2018. Researchers concluded that distraction was the most rife in June, July and August.

The future of auto insurance may not be so bleak

As California motorists transition into using driverless cars, it may not necessarily mean the end of the auto insurance industry. Instead, the industry will likely develop new products and otherwise adapt to new driving and vehicle ownership trends. While one survey speculated that car insurance companies could lose up to 80 percent of their business by 2040, recent autonomous technology accidents have shown that there will still likely be a need for coverage.

This is because people are more likely to transition to driverless cars as opposed to adopt them suddenly. For now, autonomous tech may only be used on highways or to park properly. This means that individual policies remain necessary for every other moment the human driver is operating. Even if minor accidents occur, they could be more expensive because the car's sophisticated components are more expensive to repair.

Safety campaigns to focus on brake systems

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will be conducting brake inspections for over the road trucks and large busses in the upcoming months. While one inspection event will be held September 16-22, the other will be held on an unannounced day. The inspections will be conducted nationwide, including the areas surrounding Long Beach.

The CVSA is a nonprofit organization consisting of members from state and local governments, private carriers, insurers and others within the trucking industry. It works in cooperation with the USDOT and NHSTA. The goal of the alliance is to make trucks operating on the nation's highways safer. Since its inception in 1998, more than 3.4 million trucks have been inspected.

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