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Costa Mesa California Personal Injury Law Blog

Symposium addresses summertime distracted driving

California residents, especially those who are planning a road trip for the summer, may be interested in a symposium that the Travelers Institute held back in June. The Every Second Matters event was intended to raise the public's consciousness of distracted driving and show that it can be just as risky as driving drunk or without a seatbelt.

In particular, Travelers referred to a new TrueMotion study to show that the issue is most prevalent during the summer. Researchers with the smartphone telematics platform analyzed the behavior of more than 20,000 drivers based on data from its mobile app, TrueMotion Family. The data covered 8.4 million trips taken from January 2017 to May 2018. Not only did distracted driving increase in the summer, but the average time that drivers were distracted went up nearly 10 percent between June and August -- about 15 minutes for every hour driving.

Car electronics systems may be dangerously distracting

Motor vehicle accident deaths in California and around the country have risen sharply in recent years, and many road safety experts put the blame drivers who stare at their cellphones instead of watching the road ahead. The dangers of using cellphones or tablets while behind the wheel are well known and electronics manufacturers are developing systems designed to make their devices less distracting, but a study conducted by the American Automobile Association suggests that sophisticated vehicle navigation and entertainment systems could be just as dangerous.

Researchers from the University of Utah were tasked by the motorist advocacy group's Foundation for Traffic Safety to determine how distracting the electronic entertainment and navigation systems fitted to many modern vehicles are and the effectiveness of technology designed to make them safer. After 64 participants drove five vehicles, the researchers concluded that distraction remained a serious problem even when automobile electronic features were linked to smartphones by technology like Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

CVSA schedules Brake Safety Week for September

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will be holding two annual events as part of its Operation Airbrake program, and both will be of interest to commercial motor vehicle drivers in California. The first initiative is a one-day brake inspection spree that will take place at an unspecified date this year. It will remain unannounced, so truckers should make sure their brakes have been checked and are maintained according to the manufacturer's specifications.

The second initiative is Brake Safety Week, which has been scheduled for September 16-22. Throughout this period, inspectors across the nation will be stopping commercial trucks and buses at random and performing inspections of varying levels. The CVSA states that they will be primarily Level IV inspections.

What circumstances can lead to a commercial truck accident?

If you spend any amount of time behind the wheel of your vehicle, there you know that commercial trucks are everywhere.

It's your hope that everyone on the road will do whatever it takes to prevent an accident, but this doesn't always happen. There are a variety of circumstances that can result in a commercial truck accident, including the following:

  • Distracted driving. Common examples are when a trucker uses a cellphone when he or she needs to be paying attention to the road.
  • Drowsy driving. There are times when truckers are too tired to be on the road. However, instead of pulling over to rest, they continue to forge ahead to make better time.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is unfortunate, but it remains a problem throughout the country. In addition to drugs and alcohol, some prescription drugs can also cause a trucker to make poor decisions.
  • Reckless driving. Any form of reckless driving can cause an accident, such as if a trucker speeds or fails to use turn signals.
  • Lack of training. It's up to the trucking company to provide all drivers with the proper training in regard to safety and defensive driving. For one reason or another, this doesn't always happen.

Opioids and marijuana increasingly found in fatal car crashes

A new report found that an increasing number of drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents in California and across the United States had opioids, marijuana or a combination of both drugs in their system at the time of the accident.

The report, which was titled "Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States," was completed by the Governors Highway Safety Association. In 44 percent of the drivers that were killed in accidents in 2016, drugs were found in their system. This number is up from 28 percent in 2006. Among those fatally injured, 38 percent tested positive for marijuana, 16 percent were found to have opioids in their system and 4 percent had both marijuana and opioids in their system at the time of death.

Technology developers are working to reduce distracted driving

Accidents caused by distracted motorists are becoming worryingly common in California and around the country. Unfortunately, public information campaigns highlighting the dangers of texting while behind the wheel have done little to solve the problem. However, electronics manufacturers are developing technology that could prevent devices from being used while vehicles are in motion. A recent study from the National Safety Council suggests that most drivers would leave these safety features in place if they came standard in their vehicles.

Only 23 percent of the 2,400 motorists surveyed by the NSC said they would disable features that prevented them from using their cellphones while driving. Wireless service providers including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have introduced free apps that deactivate call and text alerts while notifying others that the phone's owner is driving. However, some of these apps still allow access to highly distracting social media platforms.

Protecting oneself after an auto accident

For many California drivers, the fastest way to ruin their day is for them to wind up in a car accident, especially one caused by someone else's dangerous behavior on the roadways. However, after a crash, it can be critical to take certain steps in order to protect oneself and help to receive critically important compensation. By being prepared in the case of a collision, drivers can collect important information that can help them present their case to insurers and potentially in the case of legal action.

It is always important for drivers to stop at the scene of an auto accident; in fact, it is a responsibility under the law, even if that driver is not at fault. Once the driver has stopped at the scene, the first step is to address emergency medical needs in the case of severe or obvious injuries. Even when there are no apparent injuries requiring urgent care, it can be very important for anyone in a crash to see their doctor as soon as possible. Not all injuries are externally visible, and it can be very important to have a record in case damage from the crash later becomes apparent.

Dangers of drowsy driving and drunk driving

California drivers should know that the dangers of drowsy driving and drunk driving are largely similar. This can be especially worrying when one considers how 60 percent of adults in the U.S. admit to driving drowsy at least once. Of those 60 percent, a third have even fallen asleep behind the wheel.

For comparison, a driver who has been awake for 18 consecutive hours will perform like a driver with a blood alcohol content of .05. At this level, both drivers may begin to lose focus of the road and impair their ability to make sound judgments. After 24 consecutive hours of wakefulness, driver performance becomes like that of a driver with .10 BAC. This is over the country's legal limit of .08.

Recent accidents put the safety of Tesla Autopilot into doubt

Many California residents are distrustful of self-driving cars. In the wake of so many recent accidents, this apprehension may be justifiable. In May, for example, a Utah driver of a Tesla Model S crashed into a fire truck even though the Autopilot program was engaged. The driver, who survived with a broken ankle, admitted that she was distracted by her phone at the time of the crash.

Though the auto industry has been claiming for a while that self-driving vehicles will reduce fatalities, developers have so far only tested their products in a regulatory vacuum. It's estimated that a self-driving car should be test-driven for 11 billion miles before researchers can say with confidence that it's safer than a human driver. Tesla has hardly reached this number with its Autopilot program.

Protect yourself from dog bites — and their aftermath

Many Californians treat their dogs as another member of the family. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, it's important to remember that our four-footed, furry friends are indeed canines and not humans.

As such, dogs have their own methods of communicating their feelings, needs and intentions. If you want to understand what your dog — or any dog — is trying to tell you, you need to learn a little about the way dogs communicate with each other and with humans.

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