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Southeast Oklahoma Personal Injury Law Blog

What truckers can do about the rise in large truck crash deaths

Truckers and their employers in Oklahoma should know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released some disturbing data during the 2019 Transportation Research Board's annual meeting. The organization found that the percentage of fatal crashes involving at least one large truck increased each year from 2015 to 2017. The percentage of large truck occupant fatalities rose during that same period.

In particular, the percentage of fatal large truck crashes that took place in work zones went up each of those three years. From 2016 to 2017, there also was an increase in the percentage and number of deadly large truck and/or bus crashes. Yet truckers can stem the tide of deaths through safe driving practices.

How speed limiters could reduce large truck crash deaths

According to federal data, large truck crash fatalities went up between 2009 and 2017. This came despite a corresponding decrease in miles traveled by commercial truckers. Oklahoma drivers have good reason to be wary around big rigs because many are not equipped with the safety technology that can help them prevent crashes.

The non-profit Road Safe America points out how most of the states that saw the highest increases in truck crash deaths have 70 mph speed limits. This is too fast for commercial trucks, according to safety advocates. If speed limiters are set at 65 mph, they can give truckers more time to avoid crashes and can reduce the severity of crashes.

Recalls of dangerous meat products up sharply

The number of recalls of poultry and food products has significantly increased since the Food Safety Modernization Act was passed in 2011. High-profile recalls of food items like eggs, romaine lettuce and beef have impacted consumers in Connecticut and all over the country. A report by the Public Interest Research Groups indicated that flaws in the food safety system may have contributed to a spike in the number of recalls.

The PIRG reported that the number of recalls overall has risen by 10 percent since 2013, and the number of recalls of the most dangerous poultry and meat products has jumped by 83 percent in that time. This increase in recalls of poultry and meat that could cause health problems includes those for E. coli in beef and salmonella in poultry. The report noted that is legal to sell meat that has tested positive for certain strains of salmonella. Some recalls could be avoided, according to the report, if the law was changed.

How ADHD could be a safety risk

Drivers in Oklahoma and throughout the country who have ADHD are less likely to get into a car accident if they are medicated. This is the main takeaway from a study published in JAMA Psychiatry that involved 2.3 million people. The study's lead author said that those with ADHD tend to have trouble paying attention, which could make them more likely to get into an accident. Previous studies have backed that assertion.

The study used insurance claims from 2005 to 2014 to identify 2.3 million American drivers who had ADHD. All of the drivers were over the age of 18 and had an average age of 32. Of these individuals, roughly 84 percent were given at least one prescription medication for the condition. Researchers found that males who were medicated were 38 percent less likely to get into a crash compared to those who had ADHD but were not medicated.

Drowsy driving: A common cause of commercial vehicle accidents

Every day, millions of people get behind the wheels of their cars and hit the roads. Some people do so to commute to and from work or school. Others are running errands. And of course, there are people who drive because they enjoy doing so.

Just the same, there are people who drive for a living. Truck drivers and bus drivers, for example, spend many hours on the road and are paid for their service.

Drunk driving deaths, and what's commonly involved in them

Drunk driving deaths account for about one-third of all traffic deaths. Oklahoma residents should know that this country's legal limit for blood alcohol concentration, 0.08 percent, is the highest in the world. Other countries, such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia, have a zero-tolerance policy. Regardless, it has been shown that a 0.08 BAC can slow down reaction times: a major factor in drunk driving crashes.

Drivers under 24 are at a high risk for drunk driving crashes. Compared to an older driver with the same BAC, a young driver still runs the higher risk because of inexperience behind the wheel. Youths also tend to travel in groups, which can create distractions in the vehicle. Others who are especially prone to drunk driving crashes are motorcyclists, those with a prior DUI conviction and those who mix alcohol with drugs or medications.

ZF presents strategy for development of external airbags

The ZF Group has found that external airbags can reduce the severity of occupants' injuries in a side collision by up to 40 percent. The car parts manufacturer has also developed a strategy for the development of this new safety technology. Residents of Oklahoma should know that external airbags are far from being perfected, much less implemented. ZF's data could, however, prompt other manufacturers to look into the safety tech.

External airbags are meant to inflate a split second before a side impact crash. Acting as an additional crumple zone, they can absorb some of the shock the way a pillow might.

Rear collision avoidance systems are proving effective.

Enhanced safety systems are becoming more popular on vehicles traveling Oklahoma roads. As technology evolves, these features will become more commonplace. In the near future, items such as lane departure warning, blind spot signals and rear camera vision may become standard equipment. Most systems have proven to reduce accidents.

One safety feature that is proving especially effective is the rear collision warning and prevention technology. One major car and truck manufacturer has recently produced statistics showing the difference the new collision avoidance system makes. It compared similar models for the years 2013 through 2015 and compared the vehicles with the rear collision prevention system with those that did not have it. There were 43 percent fewer accidents for those equipped with the safety system. In addition, there were 64 percent fewer injury accidents and more than a two-thirds drop in injuries to third parties.

Fighting truck driver fatigue with technology

Truck driver fatigue can pose a serious threat to roadway safety in Oklahoma. Because commercial trucks are so massive, a truck crash can be particularly devastating to the lives and well-being of passengers and drivers in other vehicles. Truck drivers are at risk of fatigue for many reasons; they often drive along monotonous highways for many hours at a time, often at night. Drivers who switch their shifts may be particularly vulnerable to fatigue, and when a truck driver dozes off behind the wheel, the result can be a catastrophic truck accident.

Various companies are working to reduce the risk of trucking accidents by developing technologies that can pinpoint risks of trucker fatigue before a crash. One project, initiated by Trimble Transportation and Pulsar Informatics, combines different types of data analysis to produce a red, yellow or green signal that indicates a particular driver's likelihood of fatigue. Pulsar's experience is in studying sleep patterns and fatigue for people in other professions for whom avoiding exhaustion is critical for safety, like airline pilots and astronauts. Using that information, Pulsar developed an algorithm that takes truck drivers' hours of service into account along with their shifts and other factors.

Do these things to safely handle a tire blowout

When you think about it, your tires are the only thing between the body of your vehicle and the road. This is why it's so important to keep a close eye on the condition of your tires.

A tire blowout, even at a slow rate of speed, is a scary situation. This can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, thus increasing the risk of an accident.

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