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Lake Charles Personal Injury Law Blog

How to drive safely in heavy rush hour traffic

No matter how hard you try, you can't avoid traffic at certain times of the day. If you're on the road during rush hour, you can expect to find yourself in traffic jams every now and again.

While this is all part of driving, it doesn't mean you should sit back and hope for the best. Instead, focus on implementing a variety of safe driving tips, such as the following:

  • Never become distracted: When traffic slows, you may begin to search for things to pass the time. This can lead you to send a text message, search for food in your purse or talk on the phone. These distractions, among others, take your attention away from the road.
  • Leave more time: If you're in a hurry to get somewhere and know that you'll face rush hour traffic, leave more time in your schedule. When you're in a rush, you're more likely to make poor decisions.
  • Don't jump lanes: It's easy to believe that the other lane is always moving faster, but don't become one of those people who jump from lane to lane just to save a couple minutes. Once you know where you should be, stay there until it's time to exit or make a turn.
  • Leave more space: There's no good reason to drive too closely to the vehicle in front of yours. Many people do this as a means of keeping others from getting in front of them. While it may be effective to a certain degree, it also increases stress and the risk of an accident.
  • Avoid aggressive driving behavior: This includes things such as cutting off other drivers, yelling at someone who makes a mistake and passing cars on the shoulder of the road. Defensive driving is always better than aggressive driving.

6 tips for driving safely in bright sunlight

Louisiana residents who find themselves driving into the brightness of the rising or setting sun on a frequent basis will want to consider the following six tips for staying safe. After all, bright sunlight can cause visual illusions and raise the risk for a fatal car accident by 16 percent.

The first step is to purchase a pair of sunglasses and keep them in the car at all times. Sunglasses will not only reduce the brightness of the sun's rays but also protect against harmful UV rays. Second, drivers should use their sun visors. These visors are somewhat flexible and specifically designed to not impede visibility.

Staying safe when driving during the winter

Roads in Louisiana and throughout the country can become perilous during the winter months. However, there are many strategies that you can use to safely get to a destination even when the roads are bad. According to AAA, individuals should avoid driving while tired, and it is always a good idea to inflate tires before driving if needed. Furthermore, radial tires should not be used with any other type.

During periods of rain or snow, it is never a good idea to use a parking brake or cruise control. If a vehicle starts to skid, try to steer in the direction of the skid until regaining control of it. Drivers should increase their following distance when driving on snowy roads, and they should also try to avoid stopping whenever possible. If stopping is necessary, do so in a slow and controlled manner to avoid a skid or other negative outcome.

New York limo crash highlights safety issues in industry

On October 6, a limousine crashed in Upstate New York, killing 18 people in the vehicle and two pedestrians. As a result, traffic safety advocates in Louisiana and across the country are raising questions about regulations in the limo industry.

The tragic crash happened when a 2001 Ford Excursion limo drove through a stop sign at an intersection and collided with a parked vehicle. The group of partygoers who hired the limo had originally booked a bus for the trip, but it broke down and was replaced by the limo.

Catching fatigue and distracted driving among truckers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that at least 100,000 vehicle crashes every year are caused by driver fatigue. In addition, the National Center for Statistics and Analysis has stated that distracted driving accounts for 15 percent of all injury crashes and 10 percent of all fatal crashes. However, truck drivers in Louisiana should take note that there are companies with the technology to combat these two trends.

For example, the fleet-management systems provider Omnitracs offers products that take into account a trucker's hours-of-service data to predict when he or she is at risk for fatigue. Omnitracs continues to improve its algorithms to better detect unsafe driving behaviors, adverse weather and adverse traffic conditions. However, it stresses the need for managers to intervene to determine what the actual cause of fatigue is.

Staying safe and healthy on Halloween

It isn't uncommon for Louisiana residents and others to spend Halloween eating and drinking to excess. The good news is that there are healthier ways to spend the holiday. One tip is to refrain from drinking alcohol as there are more car accidents on Halloween than on New Year's Eve. For those who do choose to drink, it may be a good idea to get a designated driver or find another ride home.

It may also be wise to swap out candy for treats that have less sugar in them. Doing so could make it easier to avoid gaining weight or developing health problems such as diabetes. Even if a party host decides to get rid of the alcohol and sugary snacks, it can still be possible to have fun. For instance, a costume contest can encourage people to have fun and show off their creative sides.

Large truck fatalities up as overall vehicle deaths decline

Drivers, passengers and pedestrians in Louisiana can take comfort in knowing that vehicle-related fatalities are on the decline. This is the main takeaway from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data comparing fatal accident statistics for 2017 with the previous year. There was a nearly 2 percent drop in the number of people who perished in traffic accidents in 2017, according to the NHTSA. While this is certainly promising news, the one glaring trend in the opposite direction was the 9 percent increase in fatal accidents involving large trucks.

There were nearly 400 more fatal large truck accidents, like the kind that might include a collision with an 18-wheeler, in 2017 than what occurred the year prior. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration responded to the stats by noting that not all of the fatalities that occurred involved commercial trucks subject to FMCSA or Department of Transportation oversight. According to the FMCSA, there was also a significant increase in deaths related to 10,000- to 14,000-pound trucks for the time period evaluated.

Louisiana one of the nation's deadliest drunk driving states

Fatal drunk driving accidents are becoming an increasingly serious problem in Louisiana according to government figures. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data reveals that about 30 percent of the people who die each year on the state's roads lose their lives in crashes involving an intoxicated driver, and nearly 70 percent of these accidents are caused by motorists with blood alcohol concentrations almost double the legal driving limit.

The consumer research firm ValuePenguin used this kind of data to identify states where fatal DUI accidents are worryingly common. They then identified trends and looked for factors that could be influencing the figures. Louisiana ranked sixth on the company's list of the deadliest drunk driving states between Texas and Oklahoma. The state earned its place because one out of every 20,000 of its residents die in drunk driving accidents each year.

Motus reports on distracted driving among mobile workers

Motus is a vehicle management and reimbursement platform that has helped businesses improve safety among their grey fleet drivers (employees who use their own vehicles for work purposes). It knows, however, that mobile workers, being connected all the time, are more prone to distracted driving than others. Its 2018 Distracted Driving Report should therefore be of interest to Louisiana motorists.

Between 2013 and 2017, smartphone ownership went up from 55 to 77 percent among mobile workers. At the same time, the number of auto accidents they were in rose from 5.7 million to 6.4 million, a 12.3 percent increase. Motus has also calculated that mobile workers each drive about 1,200 miles every year while distracted.

Inspectors pull nearly 12,000 commercial vehicles from roads

Commercial truck drivers in Louisiana and around the country are required to keep their vehicles in safe working condition. If their trucks are not properly maintained, they could cause a serious accident, potentially harming occupants of other vehicles.

In order to promote truck safety, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducts an International Roadcheck each year. During this event, which takes place in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, CVSA inspectors conduct a blitz of roadside checks on commercial vehicles. One such campaign was held in early June, and it resulted in 67,502 inspections. Of those, approximately two-thirds were Level I inspections.