Charleston Personal Injury Law Blog

Late model pickups leave passengers vulnerable to injury

West Virginia passengers riding in newer model pickup trucks are more likely to be injured or killed in crashes than drivers, according to a recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In fact, researchers found that most 2018 two-row pickups included in the study had difficulty maintaining their structure when struck on the front-right corner.

Researchers found that 2018 Toyota Tundras offered the least protection to front-seat passengers in a front-right collision, which earned it a "poor" rating. Meanwhile, five other 2018 models, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, GMC Sierra 1500 and Nissan Frontier, only earned "marginal" ratings for their crash performance. Two other 2018 pickups, the Honda Ridgeline and the Toyota Tacoma, earned "acceptable" ratings. The only three pickups to earn "good" ratings were the 2018 Ford F-150, 2018 Ram 1500 and 2018 Nissan Titan. All but two of the pickups in the study received "good" scores for their driver's side protection. The Tundra and the Frontier were given "marginal" ratings.

Some trucking groups want safety tech, younger truckers

Accidents involving large trucks are often more severe than other accidents on West Virginia highways because of the size of big rigs relative to other vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that it will be working with different representatives from the trucking industry to provide education about the benefits of safety technologies, including lane departure warning systems and automatic emergency braking. The administrator of the FMCSA also announced a pilot program that will put younger drivers behind the wheel of large trucks.

The program allows drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 to drive big rigs on interstate routes if they have a background in military transportation. Outside of the pilot program, people under the age of 21 are restricted from driving from state to state, though they might be qualified to operate on intrastate routes. The American Trucking Association has advocated allowing 18- to 20-year-olds to drive semi-trucks even without a military transportation background if they complete 400 training hours.

Avoiding car crashes in West Virginia in five steps

With 2018 seeing an estimated 40,000 fatalities and 4.5 million injuries due to car crashes, it's more important than ever for drivers to be safe on the road. There are five tips that some experts will give as a start, and they are summarized below.

First, drivers should keep at least one hand on the steering wheel. While this may sound like common sense, it's not for a lot of drivers. In addition, drivers should be clear as to when they should have both hands on the wheel. This would be necessary when, for instance, making sharp turns. Second, drivers should avoid all hands-on phone use. Hands-free phone use is acceptable as long as drivers keep their eyes on the road, but they should understand that even this can cause a cognitive distraction.

Studies look at factors that optimize TBI rehabilitation

TBI stands for traumatic brain injury and is a major cause of disability and death in West Virginia and across the U.S. The Ohio State University College of Medicine has published the results of four studies, all of which have to do with rehabilitative care for TBI patients. The studies found that several factors affect the results of TBI in-patient rehabilitation.

For example, greater patient engagement and family involvement seems to impact patients more positively. The former, in fact, may be more important than the actual length of the treatment. When family members are involved, therapists can gain insight on the sort of real-life activities that are engaged in at home.

Our rural roads are among the most dangerous in America

West Virginia is a beautiful state, no question. Scenic mountains are part of the appeal, with stunning views appreciated by residents and visitors alike.

Regrettably, the many rural roads, along with the dangerous driving behaviors of the motorists who frequent them, make the number of traffic fatalities in West Virginia higher than the national average.

Fast MRI may effectively identify TBIs in children

West Virginia parents should know that young children with a suspected traumatic brain injury are very often diagnosed by means of a CT scan. However, such exposure to ionizing radiation can lead to problems in children, who are, after all, still growing and sensitive to radiation. One study, the results of which have been published in Pediatrics, has tested the effectiveness of fast MRIs as an alternative.

Fast MRIs are motion-tolerant MRI sequences that take five minutes or less to conduct (compared to the 30 to 60 minutes that regular MRIs take) and require no sedation. Starting with 299 potential study participants, all of them children under the age of 6, researchers managed to complete the fast MRI on 223 children. These children had had a CT scan performed on them beforehand.

Autumn can bring roadway risks

The autumn can present many driving dangers on the roads in West Virginia. The season is known for family holidays, sports and the changing leaves, but it can also be a time for unpredictable weather and unexpected difficulties during a daily commute. Traffic on the road in the fall often increases as children go back to school and students go back to college. Cars, buses and pedestrians may fill the road before the beginning and after the end of the school day, and drivers may need to pay extra care for children potentially running out into the street.

The changing weather that autumn is known for can also present lots of road hazards. Rain becomes more common in the fall, especially when the first rain comes after a dry season. Water may accumulate atop oil and dust, creating a slippery surface that can pose a threat to fast-driving cars. Drivers should take care to use their headlights and keep a safe following distance from other traffic during wet weather. In addition, people may wake up in the morning to find frost on their cars. Frost isn't limited to car windows, however. It can also be found in icy spots on bridges, overpasses and shady roads.

Study: truckers among the most sleep-deprived workers

Ball State University released a study involving more than 150,000 working adults that traced the rise of sleep deprivation in several industries. West Virginia residents should know that lack of sleep mostly plagues industries where 24-hour shift work is common. It is no surprise that commercial truckers have been frequently affected.

Sleep deprivation was most prevalent among the police and military members at 50% followed by healthcare workers at 45%, those in the transport and material moving industry at 41% and those in production at 41%. Overall, there was an increase from 30.9% of respondents reporting lack of sleep in 2010 to 35.6% of respondents reporting it in 2018.

Night driving requires safety adjustments

According to a recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, roughly 168 million drivers claim they have driven while drowsy during the previous year. Even worse, 103 million drivers say they have fallen asleep while behind the wheel. Driving conditions in West Virginia can change based on the weather or road conditions, and driving at night can bring hazards that are not present during the daytime. The glare that comes from approaching headlights, for example, can cause drivers to lose track of the road.

Drivers may be affected by the glare of approaching headlights when they are still as far as 3,000 feet away. In such a situation, it can be a good idea to reduce speed and look toward the right side of the road, rather than toward the approaching headlights. For drivers in dark-colored vehicles, putting reflective tape on the car can offer more visibility to other drivers at night.

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