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Costa Mesa California Personal Injury Law Blog

Dog-bite nightmares: When a familiar pet attacks

It's not easy to imagine that your dog would attack another person. In fact, you take pride in the training your pet has received. You made sure it respects the authority of the humans in the household and that it would be gentle with visitors.

The trouble with having pets is that they are sometimes unpredictable. Even if a person has put an animal through much training, there is a risk that they could lash out. Why? There are a few reasons.

The dangers of driving at night

Many California motorists will find themselves commuting in the dark now that daylight saving time has ended, so it's important that they know the risks involved with nighttime driving. The nighttime compromises depth perception, color identification and peripheral vision, and it can also be dangerous for those with diminished night vision. This is why one of the best safety tips is to simply slow down.

It's also important to always keep headlights and windshields clean, and headlights should be aimed correctly. Those who wear glasses may want to invest in anti-reflective lenses. Distracting activities like turning on the radio or talking with other passengers should be avoided if one is having trouble seeing the road.

Enjoy safe driving in the sun

When people in California take to the roads for their daily commute, they may not expect problems on a bright, sunny day. However, bright sunlight can cause serious vision issues for drivers, especially when the rising and setting sun coincide with rush hour traffic. The light is particularly bright at this time and may lead to excessive glare, blocking drivers' vision and leading to dangerous situations. In fact, the risk of a severe car accident rises by 16 percent during periods of particularly bright sunlight. There are some guidelines that drivers can keep in mind to reduce their risk on a sunny day.

First, the sun visors installed in a car or truck can provide some relief. The built-in visors can be adjusted to block the most intense streams of light. The standardized equipment is designed not to block a driver's vision. In addition, sunglasses help drivers avoid the worst of the sun's rays, and it can be helpful to store a pair in the car for emergencies.

Elder abuse approaches epidemic proportions

As the baby boomer generation ages, the population of people living in nursing homes in California and across the country continues to grow. Various levels of care are required by nursing home residents, which means the facilities must employ caretakers of different training and skills. Elder abuse can come in many forms, but a high percentage of incidents occur when minimal, basic care is not provided to a resident.

A recent congressional report issued after studying the care provided at thousands of nursing homes across the country, revealed that 30 percent of nursing homes had reports of some form of elder abuse. Malnutrition, bedsores and preventable accidents are considered forms of abuse as are more direct forms such as assault and battery. Experts also explain how abuse can come in non-verbal and psychological forms.

Safety data released for National Teen Safety Driver Week

According to new research out of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, when teen drivers only have one other teen passenger in their vehicle, the rate of crash fatality goes up by 51 percent. When older passengers aged 35 years or older were in the vehicle, fatalities decreased by 8 percent. In 2016, there were more than 1 million crashes involving teen drives, resulting in more than 3,000 fatalities.

In a public statement, the AAA stated that these statistics show why it is so important for teen drivers to get more training with adult passengers before being allowed to operate a vehicle on their own or with only same-aged friends. Teen drivers are not only at more risk to themselves and their passengers but to all other people using the road at the same time. Fatality rates rise 17 percent for pedestrians and cyclists in accidents involving unsupervised teens.

Tips for driving during congested traffic

Driving when there is a lot of traffic can be a nerve-wracking experience. You have to ensure that you are being safe if you are stuck in a traffic jam. While it might seem like this is a good time to take care of other tasks, it truly isn't.

Consider these tips if you are ever stuck in your vehicle due to congested highways:

  • Keep your attention on the traffic around you. Playing games on your phone or eating can take your mind away from driving and may contribute to a crash.
  • Don't get too close to the vehicle in front of you. Leaving a three-second distance between vehicles is a good idea since it gives you time to stop if that vehicle does so suddenly.
  • Make sure you use your blinkers if you are going to merge or change lanes. This gives other drivers a chance to plan their reaction.
  • Pick a lane and stay there. The chance of you actually getting to your destination much faster by weaving in and out of lanes is slim. Aggressive driving can lead to crashes so it is best to remain in one lane.
  • Remember that blind spots exist for semitrucks and other vehicles, including your own. Checking these before you make moves and staying out of other vehicles' blind spots can help to keep everyone safe.
  • Avoid abrupt stops. Slamming on your brakes can lead to being rear ended. In order to stop appropriately, you have to watch what's going on ahead of you so that you can react accordingly.
  • Plan your route carefully. Try to avoid roads that have construction or that might have heavy traffic. You should also make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Rushing will only increase the chance that you will drive unsafely.
  • Have patience. Not all drivers are going to drive safely in traffic jams. Sometimes, this is because they simply don't know what to do. Try to be patient. Aggression and road rage can cause serious problems.

Inappropriate sedation common in nursing homes, study finds

According to a report from Human Rights Watch, nursing homes in California and across the country often use powerful drugs to control residents' behaviors. The practice of using antipsychotic drugs on nursing home residents with dementia continues despite rules prohibiting the use of drugs as "chemical restraints." This abusive practice has continued, despite research linking the use of antipsychotics in elderly people with dementia to a sharp escalation in fatalities.

The report said that nursing home residents with dementia are subject to various types of abuse, including excessive medication not backed by an appropriate diagnosis. Each week, over 179,000 people, mostly those living with dementia, are given these drugs without a relevant diagnosis and often without informed consent from either the patients themselves or their families. The powerful medications serve as a form of sedation and can make the workplace easier for nursing home workers. These facilities are often understaffed without sufficient support for elderly people with high needs. In addition, even expressions of pain or distress in people with dementia can be read as disruptive behavior. Therefore, this behavior is met with sedation instead of treatment.

Traffic fatalities down overall, truck deaths rise

Overall, drivers in California may be safer on the roads than they were in 2015 and 2016. Those years saw a surge in traffic fatalities after a downward trend, but in 2017, traffic fatalities dropped nearly 2 percent. Fatalities also appear to be down in the first half of 2018 based on preliminary numbers. However, accidents are up among SUVs and larger trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released figures on deadly motor vehicle accidents from its Fatality Analysis Reporting System on Oct. 3. SUV fatalities were up 3 percent while tractor-trailer deaths went up 6 percent and large straight truck deaths went up almost 19 percent. The truck category includes trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds, so not all of them are regulated commercial vehicles. However, a better economy means more commercial vehicles on the road, so that could be one reason for the deaths. Seat belt use could be another reason. There was a 16 percent increase of people not wearing seat belts who were killed in large truck deaths compared to the previous year.

Studies finds drivers do not understand safety feature limits

Many California drivers whose cars have safety features may misunderstand how those features work and the extent to which they can offer protection. The AAA Foundation for traffic safety conducted a study and found that drivers in general may not be prepared to operate partially automated vehicles because of this lack of understanding.

For example, around one-quarter of drivers were so overreliant on blind spot monitoring that they did not check for other vehicles when they changed lanes. Almost 80 percent overestimated the system's ability to detect vehicles, pedestrians or bicycles that were approaching quickly or simply did not understand the limitations of the system. Over 40 percent of drivers were confused about the automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning. They did not understand that the braking system acted while the warning system merely warned without taking action. The study also found that almost 30 percent of drivers with adaptive cruise control, which increases or decreases speed as needed, said they did other things while the system was engaged.

Motus's distracted driving report focuses on mobile workforce

In California, as in other states, the mobile workforce is becoming more and more at risk for auto accidents. The 2018 Distracted Driving Report from vehicle management and reimbursement platform Motus has shed light on this topic. The most important of its findings is a link between smartphone ownership and auto accident rates among mobile workers.

From 2013 to 2017, the number of car crashes that mobile workers were involved in rose from 5.7 million to 6.4 million: a 12.3 percent increase. In that same five-year period, the number of mobile workers with smartphones went up from 55 to 77 percent. Smartphone use, along with eating, adjusting the radio and using navigation systems, is a major source of distracted driving.

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