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Lake Charles Personal Injury Law Blog

Study suggests 4/20 holiday leads to more fatal car wrecks

Since the early '90s, April 20 has been a self-proclaimed holiday for marijuana users. Therefore, it's not surprising that car crash rates increase around that date. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana use can impair driving skills. Drivers in Louisiana will want to know more about the connection between the holiday and nationwide crash rates.

A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed U.S. government data on fatal car crashes between 1992 and 2016. Researchers found that in most states, fatal car crash rates increased in the study period that included 4/20 when compared to the weeks preceding and following it. They estimated that over 140 driver deaths were linked to 4/20, amounting to an overall increase of 12 percent each time the holiday came around.

AAA: drowsy driving more widespread than one may think

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsiness may be contributing to more than 10 percent of car accidents across America. This runs counter to previous statistics, though it has long been held that such statistics come with their own limitations. Louisiana drivers will want to know what these are.

The AAA study involved the monitoring of more than 3,500 drivers across America. For several months over a four-year period, researchers recorded those times, via equipment like in-vehicle cameras, when drivers seemed to be drowsy. They measured drowsiness using PERCLOS, or the percentage of eye closure.

Causes of distracted driving and what to do about them

Louisiana motorists have probably encountered distracted drivers more than once on the road, and perhaps they themselves are distracted from time to time. Smartphones are apparently to blame for most distractions. A survey from Consumer Reports shows that 52 percent of drivers with smartphones have used them to text, send emails, watch videos, and surf the internet while behind the wheel.

Safety features for smartphones are available. Apple operating systems include a mode that blocks all alerts to incoming calls and texts, while iPhones and Androids have an option where they send automatic replies to calls and texts. However, this may not be enough. Consumer Reports advises drivers to either keep their phones out of sight or to pair them with their Bluetooth device. Drivers should never text while driving, and it is against the law in many states.

Unsafe truck loading procedures are a major hazard to motorists

More freight is moved by truck across Louisiana and the United States than any other mode of transportation. In fact, there are approximately 15 million trucks operating on American roads, with each carrying up to 80,000 pounds. Therefore, making sure those loads are secure is a major component of highway safety. Improperly loaded trailers are a leading cause of trucking accidents and a common denominator in many rollover incidents. While erratic driving is obvious to motorists, negligently loaded freight is a hazard hidden potentially inside a locked trailer traveling in the next lane.

When a trailer is overloaded or unevenly loaded, the risk of cargo shifting is greatly enhanced during basic driving maneuvers such as lane changes or hard braking events. When cargo shifts, it can cause the trailer to sway, rock or flip onto its side. Even the best drivers have no control over a skidding, rolled-over big rig. Furthermore, all nearby motorists will be placed in serious peril when this happens. Spilling and falling freight is another major safety hazard associated with rollovers and improperly secured cargo incidents.

How to report an accident in a timely manner

If a Louisiana resident gets into a car accident, that person has a decision to make as to whether to report it. In some cases, the damage to the vehicle is roughly equal to the deductible on that driver's insurance policy. That may result in a driver paying the cost of repairs and dealing with increased auto insurance premiums. However, a driver may want to report the accident even if it was not his or her fault.

A claim may need to be made to both the victim's insurance company as well as with the other driver's. In the event that a person wants to take legal action after a car accident, it may be worthwhile to report the accident to an insurance company. Injured victims may also want to take note of any relevant statutes of limitation.

Speed main culprit for increased traffic deaths

Traffic deaths have increased in the United States in recent years, and many theories have been proposed as to why that is. According to a study from the National Transportation Safety Board, excessive speed is to be blamed for the increase. The study found that 31 percent of all traffic fatalities were caused by accidents involving excessive speed on the road. This translates to 112,580 deaths in Louisiana and elsewhere between 2005 and 2014.

That is roughly the same as the number of people who were killed by drunk drivers during that time period. According to the NTSB, the penalties for speeding should be equal to the penalties for driving under the influence. The argument is that vehicles driven at excessive speed are more likely to get into an accident. These accidents are also more likely to result in a victim being seriously hurt or killed.

Driving with large trucks

Like other drivers around the country, drivers in Louisiana may not enjoy having to drive next to a large commercial rig like an 18-wheeler. However, there are steps that drivers can take to make sharing the road with large trucks safer and more comfortable for everyone on the road.

When driving around large trucks, drivers should always be patient and aware of their surroundings. They should resist trying to take chances, such as accelerating when a truck is attempting to move into their lane. Such behavior increases their risk of getting in an accident as the large trucks are unable to stop as quickly as passenger vehicles.

Car crashes can be avoided by following the right of way

For drivers in Louisiana, it can be particularly important to keep the right of way in mind when on the road. Failure-to-yield laws determine which driver entering an intersection, roundabout or other driving situation have the right to proceed first while driving. Having a clear understanding of which vehicle is entitled to pass can be very important in avoiding devastating car accidents as well as traffic tickets and moving violations.

Running a red light is one of the most frequent traffic violations in the United States as well as one of the most dangerous to human life. In 2014, 709 lives were lost and 126,000 injuries occurred due to drivers running red lights. In most cases, the people who were killed in the crashes were not the drivers who ran the red lights; victims included other drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.

Several major factors lead to many car crashes

Drivers in Louisiana have reason to be concerned about safety when taking to the roads due to the prevalence of car accidents. The number of auto crashes that take place each year has continued to grow, escalating in both 2015 and 2016. There are about 6 million car crashes that take place each year across the United States. Understanding the cause of accidents can help to prevent future crashes and even lower the overall rate. Researchers are working to study the reasons for the crashes through both detailed investigation and the use of technology.

Studies have pointed out multiple causes for many of the car accidents that happen each year in the country, and many of them are preventable. More accidents are caused when drivers take to the road while tired. Drowsy driving is a major danger: A full 21 percent of fatal crashes and 7 percent of crashes overall are linked to drowsy driving. Approximately 37 percent of adults report that they have previously fallen asleep while driving.

Roundabouts can save lives on the road

Intersections can be a point of trouble for Louisiana drivers on the roadway; these conjunctions of major roads can be common sites for car accidents. Some types of accidents common at intersections have been fatal or led to a number of serious injuries. This is one reason why traffic engineers have advocated for the construction of a greater number of roundabouts to manage traffic at popular intersections.

A study conducted in Minnesota for the Department of Transportation examined 144 roundabouts throughout the state and found that fatal car crashes declined by 86 percent at intersections following the construction of the roundabout. This decline was not accompanied by a similar decline in more minor accidents that led to property damage; however, the more serious accidents were significantly reduced by the change to roundabouts.