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Charleston Personal Injury Law Blog

Studies show drivers are often overconfident

Research shows that most drivers tend to overestimate their driving abilities. This is true of drivers all over the world, but it is especially true of those in West Virginia and around the country.

The phenomenon of driver overconfidence was first discovered during a classic study conducted in the 1960s. For the study, researchers asked two groups of American motorists to rate their driving skills on a 9-point scale. The first group of drivers was interviewed while in the hospital after crashing their car. Police reports indicate that more than two-thirds of these drivers were to blame for their crashes. Meanwhile, the second group of drivers was interviewed because their demographics matched the first group of drivers and because they had excellent driving records. Researchers found that both groups rated their driving skills highly.

Report says accident rates linked to phone use

A report released by Motus, a vehicle management platform, indicates that the rate of car accidents has increased significantly alongside the rate of smartphone use. In its 2018 Distracted Driving Report, the company says smartphone ownership grew to 77 percent in 2017 from just 55 percent in 2013. During that same period, the number of car crashes in West Virginia and across the country rose to 6.4 million from 5.7 million. That represents a 12.3 percent increase.

The report drew on Motus' data from the world's largest retained pool of drivers. On average, these mobile workers take 49 percent more vehicle trips than any other workforce category. The report makes an estimate that mobile workers are typically distracted for 1,200 miles of travel each year.

Activity could be critical to succesful brain injury treatment

Brain injuries are a major concern to people in West Virginia and elsewhere; these types of injuries may have significant impact on a victim's life, and recovery can often be lengthy or difficult. According to one new Columbia University study involving mice, it may be more effective for people with brain injuries to become active again as soon as possible rather than resting for a lengthy period of time. The study results could indicate the potential for treatment regimens that center on promoting activity in order to achieve faster or more complete recovery after brain injury.

While many have seen long rest periods as a way to help the brain recover from trauma, researchers say that brain engagement immediately after the injury could be more helpful to recovery. Mice with an injury to the cortex were more able to re-learn tasks when returned immediately to the task than when made to wait three days.

Results of the CVSA's International Roadcheck

From June 5 to 7, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held its annual International Roadcheck. Taking place across North America, the spree resulted in 67,502 commercial truck and bus drivers being stopped and inspected for vehicle- and driver-related compliance. Truck drivers in West Virginia may be interested to know what the results were.

A total of 11,897 vehicles and 2,664 drivers were put out of service during the three-day event. 43.7 percent of driver out-of-service violations were related to hours-of-service compliance: the major focus of this year's road check. However, less than 2 percent of drivers were ordered out of service for HOS violations.

Supermarkets turn to tech to reduce trips, slips and falls

Falls are the top cause of injury-related insurance claims for supermarkets in West Virginia and across the U.S. As a result, many local and national chains are turning to technology to ensure customers remain safe and upright while visiting their stores.

to insurance experts, all kinds of hazards can cause supermarket customers to slip, trip or fall, including spills, floor mats and discarded coupons or flyers. To mitigate these risks, most stores regularly mop up messes, replace slip-resistant mats and coat their floors with slip-resistant treatments. In addition, many stores also utilize risk assessment technology that uses sensors and other devices to analyze hazards in real-time and mitigate them before they cause an injury.

The danger of hydroplaning

West Virginia has a rainy season like every other state, which poses several challenges on the road. One of the dangers that drivers must always be alert for is hydroplaning, where a vehicle slides or slips uncontrollably over a wet surface. The thin layer of water that develops between a vehicle's tire and the road could become thicker, making the tires lose traction.

It doesn't take much water to make a car hydroplane. The first 10 minutes of rainfall are especially dangerous because the water will immediately mix with the oil residue on the road and create a slippery surface. Later, the rain will wash away that oil. Drivers must do their part to reduce the risk of hydroplaning by ensuring that their tires have good tread depth and are properly inflated.

FMCSA proposes changes to hours-of-service rules for truckers

In August 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that laid out the various revisions it plans to make to commercial truck drivers' hours-of-service regulations. The FMCSA is now asking for comments. These proposed changes should be of interest to truckers in West Virginia and throughout the U.S.

The current 100 air-mile exemption for short-haul truck drivers is 14 hours on duty, but the FMCSA is proposing to change it to 12 hours to make the rule consistent with rules for long-haul truckers. The agency is also considering allowing truckers up to two more on-duty hours when they encounter adverse driving conditions (the current limit is 14 on-duty hours a day).

How car safety tech could reduce backup crashes

West Virginia residents, especially those who are thinking about purchasing a new car, should know that current safety tech is cutting down on the number of backup crashes. While backup collisions are only one type of accident, the fact remains that they can lead to serious injuries and even fatalities, particularly among children.

One report found that vehicles with rear automatic braking report 62 percent less backup crashes than vehicles without the technology. The feature is an option on only 5 percent of new vehicles. If rear automatic braking is combined with rearview cameras and sensors, chances for a backup crash go down by 78 percent.

How roundabouts may save lives

Car accidents cause many injuries and deaths in West Virginia every year. Unfortunately, traffic signals and speed limits are not enough to stop negligent drivers from causing serious collisions. Experts suggest that roundabouts may save lives and be more effective than traffic lights at preventing serious accidents.

Traffic lights can reduce the number of accidents at an intersection; however, the collisions that do occur tend to be serious. Roundabouts reduce the risk of serious accidents by eliminating the problem of whether or not there is enough time for a driver to get through the intersection. Drivers may simply look to their left to make sure the roadway is clear before entering a roundabout.

Cultivate safe driving habits to avoid accidents and injuries

When summer days in West Virginia wind down, kids go back to school and major holidays loom ahead on the calendar. These forces increase traffic, especially with the addition of school buses, bicyclists and pedestrians. Hazards can pop up in urban, suburban or rural environments, and safe drivers observe best practices in all situations.

Stopped or slowing school buses require special attention. The law bars drivers from passing school buses that have their red lights flashing. Yellow lights on a school bus mean that drivers need to decrease speed. People should never make assumptions about what children will do near a bus. They might enter the road without looking or not use proper crosswalks.

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