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Saint Louis Missouri Personal Injury Blog

Keeping the risk for drowsy driving down

Drowsy driving is a widespread issue in Missouri. In fact, it may be more widespread than many believe; with a lack of any tests to prove drowsiness, drivers can easily lie to the police about it. However, a 2018 AAA study that analyzed videos of drivers estimates that 9.5% of all car accidents are caused by drowsy drivers.

Sleep deprivation is the most obvious cause with many drivers failing to sleep the recommended minimum of seven hours each night. Another issue is that drivers will take prescription sleep aids and go out on the road too soon. Most sleep aids recommend that users sleep seven to eight hours afterwards, but some people will start driving within seven hours, according to a 2018 Consumer Reports survey.

Police reports do not capture all possible car crash factors

A study from the National Safety Council shows that Missouri police are not capturing all the possible car crash factors in their reports. In fact, no state captures all 23 of the factors that the NSC believes are essential to knowing the reason for a crash. For example, no state has a field or code for police to measure driver fatigue.

Only 34 states have a field for reporting whether a driver was texting while only 28 had a field for hands-free phone use and the use of drugs, such as marijuana, that can be detected through a positive drug test. No state has a way to report on the use of advanced driver assistance systems, and only three capture the use of infotainment systems.

Avoiding every distraction while behind the wheel

Most Missouri drivers know that distracted driving is wrong, but they may not be aware of just how wide-reaching the problem is. For example, drivers would do well to keep away from their phones as well as hands-free devices. In fact, any action that takes one's eyes and attention from the road is a distraction.

Eating and drinking will force drivers to take at least one hand off the wheel. Furthermore, this can lead to spills, which are bound to sidetrack drivers. This is why a no-eating policy in the car may be a necessary step toward preventing distracted driving.

Drivers to look out for on the way back to college

blond student.jpgNow that the summer is wrapping up for many college students in St. Louis, most of them are packing up their cars and getting ready for those long drives back to campus. Whether their university is local or out of state, most of them are bound to be behind the wheel for an hour or more before they arrive at their apartments or dorm rooms.

Unfortunately, the roads leading back to college are typically quite hazardous. Not only do students have to deal with summer traffic and construction, but they will be far from the only young drivers making a long road trip back to school. These motorists are still inexperienced and are vulnerable to committing several forms of negligent driving on their way to college. It's crucial for students to be aware of potential dangers they may face.

How external airbags can reduce car crash injury severity

ZF, the German auto supplier, has been testing the effectiveness of external airbags, so Missouri drivers who keep up with the latest in vehicle safety tech may want to take notice. In 2018, ZF released the results of its testing, finding, among other things, that external airbags can lessen the severity of an occupant's injuries by up to 40%.

External airbags deploy from the side of a vehicle, acting as a sort of pillow that absorbs the force of an impact. This additional crumple zone can thus prevent occupants from being too violently knocked around inside. Of course, the question is how to make the airbags deploy in the split second before a crash occurs.

Factors involved in senior car accidents

As a general rule, people experience mental and physical decline as they age. Therefore, it could make it dangerous for older people to driver on highways in Missouri and throughout the country. In 2017, drivers over the age of 65 accounted for 14% of all fatal accidents. In that same year, they accounted for 19% of the overall driving population. According to research published on TheSeniorList.com, Florida, California and New York were among the 10 states with the most fatal accidents involving senior drivers.

New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wyoming were among the states that had the fewest number of fatal crashes involving older drivers. While it may be easy to say that older drivers cause more accidents because of their age, this isn't necessarily true. It is important to note that the states where fatal accidents caused by seniors were the highest were typically those with the highest populations.

Common reasons that car accidents occur

Human error accounts for a large number of car accidents that take place in Missouri and throughout the country. For example, distracted operation is the most frequent cause of accidents. Eating, applying makeup and using a smartphone are all examples of distractions a person could face while driving.

Speeding is another common reason why accidents occur. When a car is traveling at a high rate of speed, it can take longer for that vehicle to stop. Ultimately, it can be harder to avoid an accident. Driving while impaired by drugs and alcohol can also impact a driver's reaction time. Ideally, a person will abstain from operating a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or using a controlled substance.

Increasing truckers' driving time

Motorists in Missouri may be interested to learn that the Department of Transportation intends to relax rules regarding the number of hours that truck drivers are allowed to work. Even though the trucking industry has been trying to loosen the federal regulations that limit the number of hours truckers can remain behind the wheel without stopping to rest, safety advocates state that relaxing the federal regulations will result in safety hazards caused by driver fatigue.

The regulations that are in place establish a limit of 11 hours of driving for long-hour drivers within a 14-hour on-duty shift. Before their on-duty time begins again, the drivers are required to have had 10 straight hours off duty. Also, truck drivers who plan to drive an excess of 8 hours are required to take a 30-minute break before reaching 8 hours.

Common causes of serious truck crashes

Trucking accidents can pose a particular threat to others on the road in Missouri. Because of the massive size and volume of big rigs, collisions involving these vehicles can be especially dangerous. While an average car weighs 4,000 pounds, a large truck weighs over 20 times that amount. While there are a number of factors that can contribute to these serious crashes, several common causes dominate.

One of the most frequent causes of trucking collisions is driver error. While truck drivers are professionals who have a strong responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and effectively, they can also make mistakes. Truck drivers often work lengthy schedules of many hours on the road, and fatigue can seriously hinder judgment and driving skills. Many truckers are also prone to distracted driving. Still, most crashes linked to driver error are caused by the passenger vehicles' drivers rather than the truckers.

Traffic deaths fell 1% in 2018 according to NHTSA

Missouri readers might be relieved to learn that U.S. traffic fatalities decreased by 1% in 2018, according to preliminary numbers released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While the drop is small, it marks the second year in a row that roadway deaths have gone down following significant increases in 2015 and 2016.

The NHTSA reports that an estimated 36,750 Americans were killed in traffic accidents last year. In comparison, there were 37,133 fatalities in 2017. While overall deaths declined, the agency says that there were some troubling trends in 2018. For example, crashes involving large trucks increased by 3%, pedestrian deaths jumped by 4% and bicyclist deaths spiked by an alarming 10%.

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