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Charleston Personal Injury Law Blog

Learn the dangers of drowsy driving

Most West Virginia drivers have felt fatigued while behind the wheel at some point in their lives, and they're not alone. According to a recent AAA study, nearly one-third of respondents said they've experienced severe sleepiness while driving within the last 30 days. In 2018, another AAA study found that drowsy drivers were responsible for 9.5% of all wrecks.

Not only is drowsy driving common, but it is also highly dangerous. In fact, a study by the National Sleep Foundation found that staying awake for 24 consecutive hours can leave a driver just as impaired as someone with a BAC level of .10. This is above West Virginia's .08 legal limit.

Many drivers don't understand semi-automated car tech

The Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making has just published a discussion between a professor of cognitive sciences and a NASA scientist on the subject of automated systems in cars. Specifically, the professionals address how drivers interact with autonomous technology. West Virginia residents should know that half of the cars being manufactured today are at least semi-automated. Some of these cars are relatively inexpensive and, thus, more widely available.

With this wide availability comes a higher risk for dangers because, as it turns out, many drivers don't understand how automated systems work or what their limitations are. In one survey, 11% of drivers thought that they could use their phones or engage in some other distracting activity whenever a vehicle's safety technology was on. This is to confuse safety tech with fully automated vehicles, which are still far in the future.

Operation Safe Driver Week to focus on speeders

Speed continues to kill motorists in West Virginia and across the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speed played a role in 26% of all fatal traffic accidents nationwide in 2017, claiming the lives of 9,717 people. In addition, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance says that speed has been a contributing factor in almost one-third of all the deadly crashes that have occurred over the last 20 years.

To help reduce the number of speed-related accidents, the CVSA has made speeding violations the focus of its annual Operation Safe Driver Week. During this event, which is scheduled to take place from July 14 to 20, law enforcement officers will be pulling over speeding drivers throughout North America. They will also be issuing citations to drivers who are impaired, distracted, texting while behind the wheel, ignoring traffic signals, not wearing their seat belts and more.

NHTSA: truck crash deaths reached 29-year high in 2017

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that, while motor vehicle crash fatalities went down 2% between 2016 and 2017, truck crash fatalities went up 9% from 4,369 to 4,761. This has marked 2017 as the year with the most truck crash deaths since 1988. Truckers and passenger vehicle drivers in West Virginia may want to know more.

Of the 4,761 deaths, about 1,300 were truckers. Occupants of the other vehicles accounted for the remainder of the fatalities. Fatal crashes involving 10,000- to 14,000-pound trucks, including dual rear-wheel pickups, saw the sharpest increase in fatalities. Tractor trailers that haul freight (these weigh more than 26,000 pounds and are subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules) were involved in 5.8% more crashes.

Dodger Stadium assault case scheduled for mediation

West Virginia residents should know that a man who claims he was assaulted outside the gates of Dodger Stadium back in 2015 will have his case sent to mediation. He had filed his complaint back in September 2017, naming Los Angeles Dodgers LLC and two individuals as the defendants. Among other things, the plaintiff is accusing the Dodgers of negligent hiring, retention and supervision.

The man was exiting the stadium around 10 p.m. when he says he was approached by a 52-year-old woman and her son, the two defendants. The two began to shout vulgarities, and when the man reached the handicapped parking area, the two attacked him; he fell to the ground, unconscious, and was kicked repeatedly. He suffered traumatic brain injuries. Only after several minutes did security staff arrive. It appears the area was poorly lit.

Large truck crashes are rising, and others pay the price

Out of the more than 34,000 deadly car crashes that occur every year in West Virginia and the rest of the U.S., about 4,000 involve at least one large truck or bus. The number of truck crashes has risen in Florida especially, going from 23,515 in 2014 to 32,513 in 2018. A 2017 report from the Florida Department of Transportation found that speeding was the number one driver-related factor in these crashes.

It's not so much the truckers who are being impacted by this trend but rather the people in passenger vehicles. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration states that 72 percent of fatalities arising from crashes between trucks and passenger vehicles are occupants of the latter. One mid-sized trucking company in the Midwest, Maverick Transportation, is addressing the trend by ramping up safety technology for its fleet.

Detecting drivers who are impaired by marijuana

Some West Virginia motorists have the mistaken belief that it is safe to drive while they are under the influence of marijuana. However, doing so may cause drivers to be impaired and can potentially lead to accidents.

People who drive under the influence of marijuana can be charged with DUIs. However, determining whether someone is under the influence of marijuana is difficult for law enforcement officers. There isn't a simple breath test that can be administered to drivers who are suspected of driving while high. Blood or urine tests may be positive for marijuana even if someone has not recently smoked it.

Microbes may be link between TBIs and cognitive damage

Traumatic brain injuries are often incurred by soldiers and by those who play contact sports like football and boxing. It has long been known that TBIs can lead to cognitive impairment and behavioral changes with some people becoming clinically depressed and committing suicide. West Virginia residents should know that there is no drug to prevent or cure this development in TBI patients.

However, new research may have found the link between TBIs and these later complications. One doctor states that normal brains contain certain germs that lie dormant until they are activated by head trauma. Once activated, the germs are said to release toxins and antigens into the brain that can cause inflammation and cognitive damage.

Root Insurance shares results of distracted driving study

Root Insurance, an auto insurer that provides discounts to drivers who avoid phone use, has recently shared the results of a distracted driving study. Conducted by Wakefield Research, the online study brought together the responses of nearly 2,000 drivers in West Virginia and the rest of the U.S. These responses say a lot about distracted driving trends today.

First of all, ignorance does not seem to be a major factor. Nearly half marked distracted driving as their top concern when behind the wheel, and 99 percent were aware of how prominent and widespread phone use is among drivers. Eighty-nine percent were critical of ride-hailing employees who text and drive, and 39 percent have even given bad ratings to such drivers. Ninety percent regarded themselves as better drivers than ride-hailing drivers.

Three ways homeowners can ensure pool safety

West Virginia residents who own a swimming pool should know that 3,536 Americans die every year in unintentional non-boating drowning accidents. There are 7.4 million swimming pools and over 5 million hot tubs on residential or public properties across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so it's important that the owners do all they can to prevent drowning. Below are three ways to ensure pool safety.

First, homeowners may want to install a climb-resistant fence around the pool. It should be at least 4 feet high, and its vertical slats should be spaced no more than 4 inches apart. This can keep their children as well as neighboring kids from entering the pool area without supervision or without permission. Adding a pool alarm is also recommended.

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