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Long Beach California Personal Injury Blog

Winter driving preparations and precautions

Even in California, winter weather conditions sometimes present challenges for drivers. Fortunately, there are safety features like traction control that are now standard on most vehicles on the market today. While such features can make it easier to navigate snowy, icy or wet surfaces, especially when trying to get up slick steep hills, some vehicle owners are not fully aware of what safety options are at their disposal. This is why the National Safety Council is making an effort to educate drivers.

The NSC also stresses the need for drivers to take additional steps to reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents during inclement weather. The non-profit public service organization further recommends that drivers take time to properly warm-up their vehicles on cold days. However, they warn against leaving a vehicle running in an enclosed space due to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Sharing the road with big rigs can be risky business

California drivers share space with thousands of commercial vehicles every day. Most of the freight transported across America makes at least part of its journey in the back of a large transport truck. Big trucks can weigh as much as forty tons and pose a major safety risk to vehicles and property in their path. While truckers are required to pass tests and have specialized training, motorists have no way of knowing whether a truck is driven by a highway veteran with decades of safe driving under their belt or a new hire fresh from an eight-week training course.

Understanding the dangers that go along with traveling adjacent to big trucks can help motivate passenger car drivers to make safer driving choices during their commutes. A fully loaded 80,000-pound tractor trailer traveling at highway speeds can require 600 feet to stop. If a driver is distracted or fatigued after eight hours on the road, reaction time can be slower. If roads are slick or tires are worn, stopping distance will be significantly longer than two football fields. For these reasons, it simply is not a good decision for an automobile driver to merge into the safety cushion that a trucker is trained to keep in front of his or her rig.

Potential factors in the 29-year high for trucking deaths

There were 4,761 people who died in large-truck crashes in 2017, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. This marks a 9 percent increase from the previous year as well as a startling 29-year high. Truckers and truck fleet owners in California and across the U.S. have spoken up on what they believe are some of the factors in this increase, and the first has to do with a federal guideline.

In particular, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all commercial truckers to take a 30-minute rest break after eight consecutive hours of driving. Some truckers say that by being forced to take the break, they wind up driving drowsy for part of their shifts. Others complain that the inflexibility of the rule leads many to race the clock. However, speeding is behind fewer truck crashes than it was three years ago.

Unsafe truck brakes threaten roadway safety

California motorists may be concerned to hear that brake violations are the most common safety issue found by inspectors examining commercial trucks. Because of the size and weight of semi trucks, they pose a particular danger to others on the road in case of a crash. Drivers and passengers in other vehicles are more likely to suffer severe injuries or even fatalities in case of a collision. Therefore, it's particularly important that trucks are able to put on the brakes in a dangerous situation.

In September, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducted its Brake Safety Week inspection blitz, looking for safety violations that affected trucks' braking systems. Almost 5,000 vehicles were ordered off the road due to brake violations, over 14 percent of all trucks randomly inspected as part of the program. Inspectors examined 35,080 commercial trucks during the inspection spree, ordering 4,955 out of service until they corrected brake issues, some of which could lead to serious truck crashes.

Car crashes can leave you vulnerable to theft

A car accident can be one of the worst moments of your life. Depending on the severity of the crash, many have dealt with permanent damage to their bodies along with the typical insurance problems you receive in these types of incidents. Additionally, hit-and-runs have been on the rise in California, so several victims are not able to receive immediate assistance or have even more hurdles to go through with their insurance companies.

Just when you think it could not possibly get any worse, criminals can take advantage of your incapacitated state and raid whatever they can in your vehicle. If it is a bad crash, you unfortunately may be powerless to stop it. While these are not common occurrences, it is important to be aware of the potential for this to happen so you can take immediate action after the crash.

Avoiding car accidents in the bright sunlight

The early mornings and late afternoons are a dangerous time for drivers. Those who drive directly in the sunlight may begin to suffer visual illusions, heightening their risk for a crash; in fact, bright sunshine increases the risk for a fatal car crash by 16 percent. With the following tips, drivers in California may better remain safe.

Wearing sunglasses is the first and perhaps most important step. These can reduce the amount of sun that reaches the eyes, and they even protect against harmful UV rays. Drivers should keep a pair in the vehicle. In addition, they should use the sun visors, which block sunlight on the front windshield and on the left and right side windows. All sun visors are designed so as not to impede drivers' visibility.

Fatigue, distracted driving and trucking accidents

Fatigue and distraction are major contributing factors for many trucking accidents in California. Nationwide, nearly 100,000 crashes are believed to be caused by fatigue alone each year. Trucking companies are taking measures to reduce the number of accidents caused by fatigue and distraction with new technology.

Fatigue is very common among truck drivers. Many drivers feel that it is normal for them to feel tired while working and underestimate the dangerous of driving in a fatigued state. According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 13 percent of fatal trucking accidents and 28 percent of single commercial vehicle accidents involve fatigue.

Teen drivers pose greater risk without adult passengers

New drivers may worry others on the road in California as teens rarely have a reputation for safe driving. Only some of that is due to recklessness, however. Teens are less experienced drivers who have had relatively little time on the road and may not be skilled at responding to quick-moving situations or emergencies. This is reflected in the findings of recent research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which was released in time for National Teen Driver Safety Week.

According to the study, teen drivers whose only passengers are other teens are likelier to be involved in fatal crashes. The fatality rate for all people involved in such an accident rose by 51 percent. On the other hand, when at least one person age 35 or older accompanied a teen driver, the fatality rates declined by 8 percent. In 2016, there were over 1 million car accidents across the country involving teen drivers, and they led to over 3,200 fatalities. In fact, people in other vehicles were actually more likely to die in an accident involving teen drivers.

Collision avoidance features can make trucks safer

Large trucks were involved in accidents that killed 4,300 people in 2016. That was a 28 percent increase from 2009, and it has led to calls to make these vehicles safer. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the accidents that led to the deaths could have been prevented or mitigated with collision avoidance technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that it is testing such technology, and it could make California highways safer.

Field testing on new automatic emergency braking technology should be completed within 24 months. It also says that it doesn't dispute claims from companies that currently use forward collision avoidance systems. Businesses that do use them on their trucks say that these systems can prevent over 70 percent of rear-end collisions. Lobbying groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) say that implementing automatic emergency braking and other features should be voluntary.

New frightening statistics for male bicyclists and big cities

With so much land to explore, California is one of the top destinations for bicyclists in the nation. It has all types of terrain ranging from mountains, forests and big cities that have a quality almost unrivaled to them by other states. With the state’s handheld ban on cell-phones, they should have little to worry about when it comes to cycling on the road.

However, recent reports are suggesting otherwise. Despite having the potential to be a cyclist’s paradise, the Golden State has been appearing in frequent studies as of late to be a dangerous area for riders. It is important for bicyclists to be aware of these studies so they can take more caution on the road and for the state to improve itself to be a more bicycle friendly location.

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