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First responder study reveals distracted driving dangers

Road safety experts say that a worrying rise in distracted driving in Wyoming and around the country is being caused by cellphone use, and the finger of blame is generally pointed at motorists who use these devices to send text messages or access social media platforms while behind the wheel. However, the results of a driver poll released on March 3 by the Emergency Responder Safety Institute and the National Safety Council highlights another smartphone danger.

More than 70 percent of the 2,001 respondents said that they slow down to take photographs or shoot video of accident scenes to post on social media, and one in 10 admitted that they either struck or almost struck an emergency worker while doing so. The results of the ERSI and NSC poll were released to coincide with the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Taking steps to minimize fatalities involving large trucks

Drivers in Wyoming might be surprised when they learn just how many fatal accidents there are involving large trucks. It's estimated that in 2017, more than 4,100 people died in these types of accidents. This represents a 28 percent increase over the number of similar accidents that took place in 2009.

When the numbers are broken down, around 68 percent of these fatalities involved occupants of cars or other types of passenger vehicles. Fourteen percent of these accidents involved pedestrians or individuals on bicycles or motorcycles. These are numbers that should catch the attention of anyone who is concerned about the safety of the highways.

Losing 2 hours of sleep is as dangerous as drunk driving

Losing just one or two hours of sleep can make drivers in Wyoming and around the country almost twice as likely to crash according to the American Automobile Association. Researchers from the Florida-based nonprofit group's Foundation for Traffic Safety say that driving after sleeping for five hours or less impairs motorists as much as having a blood alcohol concentration higher than the .08 percent legal limit. According to the AAA, drivers need at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep to operate a car, pickup truck, or SUV safely.

The issue of drowsy driving frustrates road safety organizations because polls reveal that people are aware of the dangers but routinely choose to ignore them. About 95 percent of motorists consider driving while fatigued irresponsible and unacceptable, but almost a third of them also admit to driving while dangerously drowsy at least once in the past month.

Texting is not the only dangerous form of distracted driving

Wyoming readers know that distracted driving is a problem, and it is one of the most serious public safety concerns facing motorists across the country. Drivers are dealing with more distractions than ever before, and many choose to look at their phones or engage in dangerous behaviors, even if they are aware of the risks. Distracted drivers are significantly more likely to cause an accident and endanger themselves and others.

When you think about distracted driving, you probably think about using your phone while operating a vehicle. Texting is the most common type of distracted behaviors drivers tend to engage in, but it is not the only one. There are many things that can distract, and they are all dangerous, for the driver and everyone else on the road.

Steps to take immediately after a car accident

Being in a car accident can be an upsetting experience, but it can be important to take steps to document what has happened before anything changes or people begin to forget how it occurred. The first step for people in Wyoming should be remaining calm and determining whether anyone needs emergency care.

If no one needs care or if it is being given, the person should begin documenting the accident. This includes photographs and witness accounts as well as the person's own account. Witnesses and other people involved in the accident may have versions that differ, but all accounts should simply be recorded neutrally. When taking photos, special attention should be paid to property damage and any skid marks. Cars should not be moved until after law enforcement arrives if it is possible.

Common causes of car accidents

When Wyoming drivers get into car accidents, police investigators study the crash scene to determine who caused the collision. This is critical information because the at-fault driver could be issued a ticket or sued by injured parties. Meanwhile, insurance companies use the information to determine whether or not to make a settlement offer.

There are several common causes of car accidents, and many of them have to do with human error. After all, a driver is in control of the vehicle and must pay attention and adapt to driving conditions in order to prevent crashes. That's why distracted driving is such a danger. If drivers are looking at a cellphone or playing with the vehicle's GPS system, they aren't paying attention to the road and could cause an accident. Other types of crashes commonly caused by human error include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to properly maintain a vehicle, speeding, reckless driving and driving too fast for weather conditions.

Exploring incarceration alternatives for certain offenders

Incarceration rates in Wyoming and other states have been steadily declining following a peak in 2009. Since this time, many municipalities and jurisdictions have been offering alternative sentences for low-level offenses. There have also been reforms with certain police procedures, and some minor offenses have been decriminalized. Such efforts have resulted in a noticeable reduction in incarceration rates in the United States. In 2018, the FIRST STEP Act, which reduces sentences for non-violent offenses, was signed into law.

While supporters of lessening sentence severity for some drug crimes and other non-violent offenses welcome the FIRST STEP Act, they note that it only applies to a fraction of federal inmates. This is why there is a push to encourage additional state and local reform to reduce the incarceration population, which is estimated to include more than 2 million men and women.

Semi-truck may be cause of Florida chain-reaction crash

Drivers in Wyoming will want to know about a chain-reaction accident that occurred in Florida because it shows how dangerous semi-trucks can be. While Florida Highway Patrol has only produced a preliminary accident report, they believe that the cause of the accident lies with the 59-year-old driver of a semi-truck. Apparently, the truck, as it was going north on I-75 near Gainesville, moved left from the right lane and collided with a 2007 Honda sedan.

The two vehicles then moved through the median guardrail, causing collisions on both the north and southbound lanes. The truck hit a 2006 Chevrolet passenger van whose 12 occupants were traveling to Disney World. The van was flipped over, and an uncertain number of occupants were ejected. Police are unsure if they or anyone else wore a seatbelt.

When symptoms arise days or weeks after a Wyoming car accident

If a car accident tainted the end of your 2018 year or beginning of 2019, you may still be struggling emotionally to overcome the trauma you experienced. Depending on the events that led to the collision, such as whether it may have been unavoidable (as in a blown tire or extremely inclement weather and road conditions) or could have been prevented were it not for another driver's negligence, you may be able to enjoy a swift and full recovery or could be in for a long, arduous process.

If your injuries were moderate to severe, your life may never be the same as it was moments before the crash. Many Wyoming accident victims suffer partial or full disabilities that prompt changes in all aspects of their lives, including family life and the workplace. You may be among those who thought they were okay in the immediate aftermath of a crash only to develop symptoms later. In any case, the type of support you have may be a key factor toward your ability to recover.

FMCSA measures dump truck, concrete delivery truck crash rates

Many truckers in Wyoming and across the U.S. are getting into accidents through their own negligence. Experts say there is a multi-industry problem with poor habits such as distracted driving, drowsy driving and speeding. Many truckers feel urged to drive negligently because of the by-the-load incentives that they receive.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released a report on the increasing rate of crashes involving dump trucks and ready-mix concrete delivery trucks. In 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 8,206 dump truck accidents so severe that the vehicle had to be towed away. There were 838 such crashes among the concrete delivery trucks. These constitute a 9 and 9.6 percent increase, respectively, from 2015.

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