Southeast Oklahoma Personal Injury Law Blog

Teen drivers become more dangerous after obtaining licenses

Most teen drivers in Oklahoma are excited about the idea of being behind the wheel on their own after they get their full license. However, a joint study by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and Virginia Tech University suggests first-time drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash or accident during their first few months as a new driver. Using special equipment and software, researchers evaluated nearly a hundred teens from the period when they first received their learner's permit to a year after they got their license.

The study showed that teens are eight times more likely to be involved with car accidents or near-miss collisions during their first three months of driving without adult supervision. This is in comparison to the previous three months, when teens were required to have an adult in the vehicle. Specifically, unsupervised teen drivers are more likely to accelerate quickly, brake abruptly or overextend on turns. These risky behaviors did eventually decrease, although the instances of crashes did not.

Study looks at people most likely to use phones and drive

Some motorists in Oklahoma might be more likely to use their cell phones while driving. A study recently published by the Society for Risk Analysis found that women and people who were negative about safety were more apt to use their phones while driving. A group the study identified as "highly disinhibited" was also more likely to do so.

People who talk on their cell phones while driving are twice as likely to be in a motor vehicle accident than those who do not, and people who text and drive are six times more likely. It is estimated that in the United States, cell phone usage has been responsible for about 25 percent of all motor vehicle accidents.

Studies look at distracted driving dangers

Some Oklahoma drivers may be distracted by the infotainment systems included in their cars. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that these systems require a high attention level from drivers. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which run off smartphones, were slightly less distracting overall but still took the driver's attention away from the road.

With traffic fatalities high, distracted driving is a serious issue. In 2017, there was a small decline of less than 1 percent in traffic fatalities compared to the previous year, but there were still 37,150 deaths. Furthermore, since 2014, this is an increase of 10 percent. It is not yet certain what role distracted driving and smartphones have in these deaths, but some experts believe it is a significant one.

CVSA's Brake Safety Week to begin Sept. 16

Semi-tractor trailers undergoing roadside inspections are likely to be a common sight in Oklahoma and around the country during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Brake Safety Week. The nonprofit group of state and federal safety officials and industry representatives shortened their annual brake safety blitz to a single day in 2017, but the nation's commercial vehicle drivers can expect a full week of enhanced scrutiny this year.

Beginning on Sept. 16, law enforcement will be looking out for tractor-trailers that appear to have been maintained poorly and commercial vehicle inspectors will be checking brake system components for defective parts and signs of excessive wear. According to the CVSA, most of the safety checks conducted during Brake Safety Week will be rigorous Level I inspections. Inspectors will pay particular attention to hoses and lines as even small leaks can allow air or brake fluid to escape and dangerously compromise truck and bus braking systems.

NHSTA looking into why tire recall was never performed

A major tire manufacturer may have unnecessarily postponed a safety call for 20 years despite dozens of deaths allegedly caused by a defect in one of its tires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, is finally looking into the matter. RV owners in Oklahoma should keep themselves apprised of developments.

The manufacturer, Goodyear, had evidence that one of its recreational vehicle model tires could fail under highway conditions. There was evidence that tread separation could occur when the tire heated up as in prolonged highway driving.

Deadly truck accidents continue to rise

Many drivers in Oklahoma find driving beside large trucks to be a stressful experience simply because of the size and mass of these large vehicles. However, they can pose a significant danger on the roads, especially because they are so much larger than the cars, bicycles or pedestrians with which they share the roads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released 2016 statistics showing that the number of fatalities from truck crashes continues to rise across the country, with a 3 percent rise in accident deaths between 2015 and 2016.

The rising number of truck accident fatalities is not new. While deaths in truck crashes declined by 34 percent between 2005 and 2009, most of those gains have since been eliminated. Between 2009 and 2016, deaths from these crashes have risen by 28 percent. While there are more deaths, there are also more total accidents; the number of trucks involved in these fatal incidents rose by 3 percent in 2016. In 2015, there were 4,074 trucks or buses involved in deadly collisions; that number grew to 4,213 one year later.

Bus crash injuries: How to stay safer when you ride

You never had a reason to use a bus before, but you've decided to start using public transportation more often. It saves gas and means you don't even have to own a vehicle if you prefer not to. It's a good alternative to having a car if you are on a great bus route in your city.

There are some things you should know about bus safety, though, because you are putting your life into another driver's hands. Although buses are generally safe, it's a good idea to know ways to keep yourself and other passengers safe while on board.

Seat belt use found to reduce the severity of liver injuries

Road safety advocates in Oklahoma and around the country have long called for stricter seat belt laws, and the results of a study published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health could add weight to their arguments. A team of researchers studied traffic accident figures from the National Trauma Data Bank gathered between 2010 and 2015, and they discovered that passenger vehicle occupants who fastened their seat belts were far less likely to suffer fatal liver injuries in a crash.

This is an important discovery because the liver and spleen are the organs most often injured in car accidents. While a ruptured spleen can be removed, the liver performs vital life functions and must be left in place. The researchers found that using seat belts did not prevent liver injuries, but it did make them less severe. Car accident victims with severe liver injuries died 15 percent of the time according to the study, but this figure fell to just 8 percent among vehicle occupants who suffered less severe liver injuries.

What to expect from a trucking accident settlement

Oklahoma drivers that have been injured in an accident caused by a commercial truck may have a case for monetary damages. In some instances, a trucker's insurance company will acknowledge the truck driver was at fault and negotiate a settlement with the injured driver. The settlement process may not be intuitive for the injured driver, however.

A settlement is an agreement between the two parties to forgo a trial. Typically, the responsible trucking company will agree to make a monetary payment to the driver in exchange for dismissing the lawsuit. These settlements can be negotiated directly between the parties or through other avenues such as mediation.

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