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Personal Injury And Criminal Defense Law Blog

NHTSA data shows increase in large truck fatalities

Overall, the roads throughout Wyoming and the rest of the country are becoming safer. However, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests fatalities involving large trucks are on the rise. According to NHTSA figures, vehicle traffic fatalities decreased by nearly 2 percent in 2017. Fatal collisions with larger vehicles, on the other hand, spiked by nearly 10 percent over the prior year.

While about 37,800 people were killed in vehicle crashes in 2016, this figure dropped to approximately 37,100 in 2017. The same year also saw fewer speeding-related, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. Less encouraging, however, is the fact that more than 4,700 people perished in large vehicle trucking accidents in 2017. This was nearly 400 more fatalities than the previous year. For the purposes of the report, "large vehicles" are defined as trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 10,000 pounds. Multi-vehicle crashes with large trucks involved also increased by almost 9 percent.

Always-connected mobile workers get into more crashes

Wyoming employers will want to make sure that their drivers are qualified for the position and that they exhibit safe, responsible behavior behind the wheel. This is because a report from Motus, the workforce management company, shows a clear correlation between auto accidents and smartphone ownership among the always-connected mobile workforce.

The 2018 Distracted Driving Report from Motus looked at data from 2013 to 2017. In that five-year period, the percentage of mobile workers with smartphones went up from 55 to 77, while the number of accidents they were involved in rose 12.3 percent from 5.7 million to 6.4 million.

Be wary, your insurance agent is not your friend

When you obtained your auto insurance policy here in Wyoming, your insurance agent probably made sure to be friendly, caring and compassionate. You more than likely received assurances from the agent that the company cares about you and your family. You are given the impression that the company will be there when needed -- in exchange for your monthly premiums.

When push comes to shove and you need to file a claim after an accident, don't be fooled by words of concern and friendly conversations. The insurance agent is actually doing what he or she can in order to keep from paying you what your claim is worth.

FMCSA proposes HOS rule changes, seeks input

In August 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed some changes to the hours-of-service rules for commercial truck drivers. Truckers and employers in Wyoming should know that the FMCSA is welcoming comments on these proposals. It is conducting public listening sessions at various locations as well.

The following is a brief summary of what those proposed changes are. First, the agency may change the 100 air-mile "short-haul" exemption from 14 to 12 on-duty hours. This will make the rule consistent with that of long-haul truckers. The FMCSA may also create an exception to the current 14-hour on-duty limit, namely, to allow truckers an extra two hours if they encounter bad driving conditions.

Distracted driving can take lives, cause injuries

Many people in Wyoming are all too familiar with the dangers of distracted driving. When drivers take their eyes and concentration away from the road, the results can be devastating, such as car accidents that cause serious injuries and even fatalities. Across the country, thousands of people are killed each year in accidents linked to distracted driving. In 2015 alone, 391,000 people were injured and 3,477 more lost their lives as a result of crashes caused by distracted drivers.

Perhaps the best-known cause of distracted driving is the rise of the smartphone. As people are accustomed to going everywhere with their connected devices, they may easily shift their attention to send a text or check their email. Even sending a text message can easily lead to a serious car accident as drivers can go the length of a football field without looking at the road. In order to reduce the risks of distraction, drivers can put their phones or tablets out of reach for the length of the drive.

The impact of drowsy driving on motor vehicle accidents

Most responsible drivers in Wyoming probably wouldn't get behind the wheel while intoxicated. However, this isn't the only type of impairment that can affect driving abilities. Being excessively sleepy can be just as dangerous, and it's not a rare occurrence. Half of all adult drivers in the United States confess that they regularly take to the road while feeling fatigued, according to the American Sleep Foundation. In addition, 20 percent of the motorists surveyed said that they had fallen asleep while driving within the past year. Such stats emphasis the impact of drowsiness on driving.

Drowsy driving has the potential to contribute to a car accident much like what can happen when people are driving while under the influence of alcohol. Driving when going for at least 20 hours without sleep is equal to driving with a blood-alcohol concentration) of .08 percent, the legal limit for DUI in most states. Some fatigued drivers experience short bursts of inattention referred to as "micro sleep." If driving on the highway, a driver could travel the length of a football field while experiencing a brief micro sleep instance of just four to five seconds.

How data and tech can prevent distracted driving in Wyoming

Distracted driving accidents are some of the most severe in terms of injuries to passengers and damage to vehicles. Furthermore, distracted driving burdens trucking companies and other fleets with the delays that arise when employees are pulled over or undergo roadside inspections. That's why various companies have developed new tech that can help detect when drivers are distracted.

Data analytics is one way that businesses like Omnitracs, a fleet management systems company, can identify adverse events and identify when drivers are at risk for an accident. In 2016, Omnitracs created a web-based Driving Center tool that can detect things like fatigue and distraction before making its predictions. Other tech companies like Zendrive use information from smartphones for similar purposes.

If you were hurt while staying in a hotel, who is to blame?

When you check into a hotel, you do so with the assumption that you will not be facing any unnecessary risks or issues that could compromise your safety. Hotels should be safe and clean, so in the event of a slip-and-fall or other type of accident, you may be unsure who is to blame or what you can do about it. If you were hurt while staying in a hotel, you may be a victim of circumstances beyond your control. 

You may be unsure of what caused your accident or what you can do to get necessary care and financial support. If you believe you could have grounds for a civil claim against the hotel due to the circumstances of your accident, you will find it helpful to seek an evaluation of your case. You may have a rightful claim to financial compensation.

Truckers and drowsy driving

Commercial truck drivers in Wyoming and the rest of the country should make sure that they are able to get enough sleep before getting on the road. Drowsy driving is believed to result in at least 100,000 motor vehicle accidents every year in the United States, and due to their substantial weight and size, the most dangerous vehicles that can be involved in these accidents are big rigs.

Commercial truckers have a higher risk than other drivers in this regard. Constant pressure from employers, rushing to meet tight deadlines and excessive hours on the road can all result in drowsing driving. Truckers who are on a tight schedule to deliver goods may not have the luxury of pulling off to the side of the road to rest until they are able to drive safely again. Instead, truckers feel compelled to remain on the road while they are drowsy, increasing the danger for occupants of other vehicles.

Brake Safety Week calls attention to brake violations

Truckers in Wyoming will want to know that the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has set its annual Brake Safety Week for September 16 to 22. This inspection spree is meant to ensure that truckers and all drivers of commercial motor vehicles are maintaining their brakes according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Improperly installed or maintained brakes can increase stopping distance and endanger public safety.

Previous CVSA inspection sprees show that brake-related violations are not uncommon. They made up the majority of violations during the 2017 International Roadcheck, for instance. During last year's brake inspection spree (which was held over a single day), 14 percent of CMVs that were stopped were placed out of service. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that where braking capacity was critical, trucks were 50 percent more likely to have bad brakes.

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