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Saint Louis Missouri Personal Injury Blog

Distracted driving grows around emergency vehicles

Many Missouri motorists know that distracted driving is dangerous. Legal changes to outlaw texting while driving and public awareness campaigns have drawn attention to the threat of fatal accidents linked to distraction behind the wheel. Nevertheless, surveys continue to indicate that while drivers know that distraction can be deadly, they continue to engage in the process and believe that they are in control of their own behavior.

While many expect that emergency vehicles would discourage distracted driving, one survey indicates that motorists are even more distracted when they are present. This puts first responders and others at risk of a serious accident. The study, released as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, indicated that 60 percent of respondents said that they post on social media when they see an emergency vehicle. They take videos and photos to share with friends, whether they see a vehicle performing a traffic stop or rushing toward an accident. Absent the presence of an emergency vehicle, 24 percent of the respondents said that they take videos and photos while behind the wheel and 29 percent admitted to posting on social media while driving.

The effects of drunk driving can reach far beyond the road

When you imagine a drunk driver, you probably think about how someone's car might swerve over the line if they had too much to drink. Or you might consider how dangerous it would be to get behind the wheel after enjoying an evening out.

Driving after consuming alcohol puts yourself and other drivers at risk. However, sometimes people overestimate their ability to get home safely. Following the recent accident at Poor Richard's in Eureka, you would be wise to seriously consider the amount of physical harm and property damage you could cause by getting in the driver's seat if you have had too much to drink.

How radar data accurately links precipitation with car crash risk

In Missouri, rain and snow can put drivers in danger. Previous studies say the risk for a fatal motor vehicle accident can go up anywhere between 10 and 76 percent in precipitation, but a new study from North Carolina State University has come up with more accurate numbers.

This study uses radar data whereas past studies have had to rely on police reports and field observations to know if it was raining or snowing at the time of a crash. Researchers have found that heavy precipitation makes a fatal highway accident 246 percent more likely while light precipitation makes one 127 percent more likely.

Distracted driving habits are not easy to break

Most Missouri drivers are probably aware of the dangers of being distracted behind the wheel. Nevertheless, it's not easy for motorists to break habits that could divert their attention while driving. In fact, a survey of more than 2,000 executives and consumers found that roughly eight out of 10 people polled admitted that they talk on their cellphones while driving. More than 30 percent of respondents reported having a near-miss vehicle accident because they were distracted.

The insurance company that conducted the survey also noted that while distracted driving car accidents do create possible liabilities for companies, many employers still expect workers to remain connected. Therefore, they do very little to discourage inattentive driving. Typing an email or text was the most common distracted driving risk identified in the survey. This was followed by social media use, capturing video/taking pictures and shopping online.

Truck crash death toll continues to rise

Truck accidents continue to pose a threat to others on the road in Missouri and across the country. Drunk, distracted or drowsy driving are hazardous in any type of vehicle, but the danger escalates dramatically when a negligent driver sits behind the wheel of a massive semi truck. The weight and mass of these trucks mean that other people involved in a crash have a much higher chance of serious injuries or even fatalities. The number of fatal truck accidents has continued to climb, a disturbing trend that has sparked attention.

Indeed, the number of deadly trucking crashes has risen at almost three times the overall rate of fatal accidents. In 2017 alone, 4,102 people died in crashes with large trucks. While 17 percent of these lives belonged to the occupants of the trucks, 68 percent involved those in other cars and passenger vehicles, while 14 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians. This number marks a 28 percent increase over the death toll from truck accidents in 2009.

Bipartisan bill proposes way to stop underride crashes

Underride crashes are some of the most serious accidents that can occur between motor vehicles and large trucks, killing more than 300 people every year. It occurs when motor vehicles collide with trucks and slide under them. Occupants may suffer head and neck injuries or, in some cases, be decapitated. Truckers in Missouri know that federal law currently requires underride guards for the rear of commercial trucks.

On March 5, a bipartisan bill was introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives that may change this. The Stop Underrides Act, as the bill is called, would update the standard for rear underride guards and add the requirement for front and side guards if passed.

When is the dog bite victim liable for the attack?

It goes without saying that Missouri dog owners should try to have as much control over their pets as they can. Dogs that go out of their way to attack anyone that doesn’t hold their leash could put victims at risk for severe injuries or deadly infections. If the owner is found guilty of keeping a dangerous dog that has attacked victims more than once, they could receive misdemeanor or felony charges dependent on how severe the wounds are.

However, the state is aware that not all dog bite attacks are completely the owner’s fault. Missouri statute 273.036 states that if the damaged party was also responsible for the incident, then the court will determine how much contributory negligence they have to reduce the damages owed by the owner. Both victims and dog owners should know which common defenses are available in the event of an attack.

AAA: drowsiness a hazard of daylight saving time

Drowsy driving is a major issue throughout Missouri and the rest of America. In a AAA survey, three in 10 respondents admitted to driving at least once in the past month in such a sleepy condition that they had trouble keeping their eyes open. In that same survey, however, 95 percent said they consider drowsy driving to be unacceptable.

The issue becomes heightened after daylight saving time since drivers "lose" one hour of sleep due to the time change. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recommends that drivers adjust their sleep schedules prior to daylight saving time. Adequate sleep is the only remedy for drowsiness.

Strict cellphone laws can mean fewer distracted driving deaths

ValuePenguin analysts believe that there is a link between distracted driving fatality rates and the strictness or laxity of cellphone laws in each state. Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration, they determined that there were, between 2015 and 2017, more than 1,400 distracted driving crash fatalities where cellphone use was involved. Missouri, which has a partial ban on texting, ranked 20th.

The five states with the highest fatality rate were Tennessee, Delaware, Wyoming, Texas and Montana. Of the five, only Delaware has a complete ban on both texting and all handheld phone use, making it an outlier of sorts. These five states accounted for 31 percent of the distracted driving fatalities between 2015 and 2017.

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