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Long Beach California Personal Injury Blog

3 ways self-driving technology is making motorcycles safer

Some experts say that autonomous driving technology could be safer than human drivers. However, after Uber's fatal crash in March, others are saying that self-driving technology should aim lower. The motorcycle industry is taking up that invitation.

While most would be wary to give up the existential experience of riding to a completely self-driving motorcycle, integrated autonomous driving technology may be a different story. These three new developments change the game for motorcycle riding—improving a riders control, balance, awareness and overall safety.

International Roadcheck takes aim at truck driver fatigue

In early June, California law enforcement officers took part in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's annual International Roadcheck, which promotes road safety across North America. This year, the program took aim at truck driver fatigue.

Hours-of-service violations are a growing problem for U.S. truck drivers. In 2016, there were 70 fatal large truck crashes attributed to either fatigued driving or the driver falling asleep according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In 2017, there were 33,000 citations issued to truck drivers who exceeded their maximum daily driving limit of 14 hours. Hours-of-service violations were also the top reason truck drivers were pulled off the road during the 2017 International Roadcheck.

FMCSA: 2016 saw 3 percent rise in fatal truck crashes

Drivers in California who have been in a truck accident or had a near escape from one may be interested to know about a data drill-down report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Just published in May, it analyzes the number of fatal and non-fatal crashes in 2016 between large trucks and passenger vehicles. Data shows that fatal crashes rose 3 percent in that year.

The number of fatalities rose from 4,094 to 4,317, and the number of large trucks involved increased from 4,074 to 4,213. There were also 57 more large-truck occupant fatalities. At the same time, the truck involvement rate remained at 1.46. This means that 1.46 trucks were in fatal crashes for every 100 million miles traveled. In 2016, the number of registered trucks on the road grew from 11.2 to 11.5 million.

The dangers of drowsy driving

Most California drivers know that it's dangerous to drive while drunk. However, many people don't realize that driving while drowsy is often just as hazardous.

Around 60 percent of American drivers admit that they've driven while feeling sleepy. Worse, approximately one-third of drivers say they've dozed off while operating a vehicle. This type of behavior is just as likely to lead to a crash as drunk driving. For example, studies have found that 18 straight hours of sleep deprivation can make drivers feel like they have a blood-alcohol content level of .05. A full day without sleep can mimic a blood-alcohol content level of .10. The legal blood alcohol limit for operating a passenger vehicle in California is .08.

The most common truck accident injuries

Many drivers in California become anxious when sharing the road with commercial trucks. Collisions with trucks and passenger vehicles usually end in death with 97 percent of the fatalities being occupants of the passenger vehicles. When these accidents don't end in death, they often leave victims to deal with catastrophic injuries. Below are some of the most common injuries that victims incur.

Lacerations and puncture wounds can be caused by debris like flying glass. In serious cases, they lead to excessive blood loss and scarring with the latter even leading victims to develop psychological problems. Another form of mental trauma that truck accident victims develop is post-traumatic stress disorder. Its symptoms include recurring nightmares about the crash and anxiety that interferes with day-to-day activities.

What to do after a car accident

Getting into an accident on a California road can be a unsettling experience. After an accident occurs, it is a driver's legal responsibility to stop even if no apparent damage has been done. While it can be tempting to do so, drivers are not under an obligation to admit fault for the crash. Furthermore, no one should attempt to move a vehicle until police arrive unless not doing so creates a safety hazard.

Anyone involved in an accident should refrain from talking to other drivers. However, it is appropriate to issue a statement to police, talk to medical personnel or speak with an auto insurance agent. Ideally, an insurance claim will be filed at the scene of the accident, and the police may be able to provide more detailed information if necessary. Having the police talk with an insurance agent can be worthwhile if a driver is too injured or shaken to do so effectively.

Rideshare liability: 4 FAQs on who pays for injuries

The process of hiring a rideshare vehicle has become so simple. Get on the app, tell them where you want to go and before you know it, someone is ready to pick you up!

But what happens when you don’t get from Point A to Point B as seamlessly as you had hoped? If you’re injured in an accident while riding in a rideshare vehicle, what can you do?

New technologies warn distracted truck drivers, reduce crashes

California readers may be surprised to learn that car and truck accidents caused by distracted driving tend to be more severe than those caused by other factors, such as drunk driving. This is because while a drunk driver may at least attempt to brake or steer away from an impending collision, a distracted driver isn't even aware a collision is coming. As a result, he or she may slam into another car at full speed.

Because of the high costs associated with distracted driving crashes, trucking companies have started using technology that can identify when truck drivers are distracted or drowsy and alert them. In 2016, the fleet management software company Omnitracs added a module to its Driving Center tool that uses a truck driver's hours of service log to predict situations that may lead to distracted or drowsy driving. The company has identified over 1,000 variables within a service log that could impact the severity of a truck crash.

Software startup could benefit U.S. trucking industry

California motorists are likely aware of the challenges that commercial truck drivers face. The average trucker is on the road for 70 hours over the course of an eight-day workweek, so fatigue behind the wheel is a constant risk. Because of this, turnover rates tend to be high, sometimes exceeding 90 percent, and truckers are in short supply.

To provide truckers with tools and incentives for better, more efficient operations, an Oklahoma-based startup specializing in safety software is developing several smart devices for truckers. BlyncSync is the name of the startup, and its first initiative is to market special safety glasses that can measure truckers' blink rate and, therefore, their level of fatigue. Other devices currently under development include smart hard hats and watches that measure biometric data like heart rate.

Coalition aims to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2050

The roads may be safer for California drivers in the years ahead if the initiatives of a group called the Road to Zero Coalition are successful. The safety coalition aims to eliminate all deaths in motor vehicle accidents by 2050.

In 2016, there were 37,461 traffic-related fatalities, and 4,317 of those fatalities were in accidents that involved large trucks. The coalition's initiatives are expected to reduce trucking accidents along with other types of traffic accidents. Increasing the use of seat belts to 100 percent is one of those initiatives. Although seat belt usage is at 90 percent, half of the people who died in accidents were not wearing them. The coalition also wants to shift toward a culture that prizes safety and is less likely to engage in distracted driving, speeding and driving under the influence.

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