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Personal Injury And Criminal Defense Law Blog

Winter driving: how to stay safe

When winter comes in Wyoming, it brings with it snow and ice, so drivers will want to make the appropriate preparations. One of the first steps is to get a mechanic to check the vehicle's components, including the battery, ignition, brakes and wiring. The mechanic could also check for worn or underinflated tires and ensure the right antifreeze level.

If their vehicle contains new safety technologies, drivers should know what their function is. Many drivers don't, which has led the National Safety Council and the University of Iowa to start an educational campaign called My Car Does What? At the very least, drivers should be familiar with traction control and anti-lock braking.

Rise in truck crash deaths may be due to conflict with HOS rules

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that large-truck fatalities in the U.S. went up 9 percent from 4,369 in 2016 to 4,761 in 2017. About 1,300 of these were truckers while the rest were occupants of the other vehicle. Truckers and truck fleet owners in Wyoming should know that some are attributing this increase to conflicts with current hours-of-service rules.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires commercial truckers to take a 30-minute rest break after eight consecutive hours of driving. In all, truckers are allowed 14 hours of service but 11 hours of driving time. Some truckers complain that the 30-minute break only increases their fatigue and that they would be better off driving 11 hours straight.

The damages you should fight for after a car accident

The aftermath of a car accident is complex, confusing and overwhelming. In the midst of this difficult time, you may have to make the decision about moving forward with a civil claim or accepting a settlement offer from the insurance company. It is in your interests to know what you have a right to claim and how much your case is worth.

The value of your case and the types of damages you should seek depend largely upon the individual circumstances of your accident. The types of injuries you experienced and the amount of damage to your personal property can play a role as well. As you consider your post-accident options, it is beneficial to also consider how the accident could affect your future needs.

Improving visibility for drivers in bright sun

As the days get shorter in Wyoming after the change back to standard time, the sun is lower in the sky earlier in the day and can cause problems for drivers. Afternoon rush hour is one of the most dangerous times for driving, especially on days when the sun is bright. Though driving in bright sun is sometimes unavoidable, experts have tips for drivers to improve visibility and reduce the risk of crash.

Sunglasses improve vision when facing the sun as well as protecting the eyes from harmful UV rays. A good pair of sunglasses can be dedicated for driving by having them kept in the car so there's no risk of ever being without them when they're needed. Using the car's visor along with sunglasses can offer double protection. A correctly positioned visor can block the blinding rays of the sun without interfering with a driver's visibility of the road.

Inexperienced teen drivers more likely to cause fatal accidents

When teens in Wyoming get their driver's licenses, their excitement to hit the open road could end in death. Research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that teen drivers without adult supervision and transporting only other teens produced fatal accidents 51 percent more often than other drivers. When researchers filtered data to look for speeding or night-time crashes, the death rates were even higher.

People occupying vehicles hit by teen drivers fared the worst. Their fatality rate was 56 percent higher. The teen drivers themselves died 45 percent more often compared to other types of accidents. Vehicles operated by teens accompanied by other teens also caused a heightened rate of deaths among pedestrians and bicyclists.

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.

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