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Lake Charles Personal Injury Law Blog

Truck crashes: common causes and injuries

On average, there are over 500,000 truck accidents every year in America. In 2015, 4,300 trucks were involved in fatal accidents. One thing to remember about these accidents is that it is usually the occupants of the smaller passenger vehicles who incur the fatalities. Louisiana drivers should be aware of the most common causes of truck crashes are and what types of injuries they lead to.

Commercial truckers transport over 70 percent of all shipped goods in the U.S., and sometimes they are pressured into breaking hours-of-service regulations in order to meet deadlines. This often results in driver fatigue and drowsiness, an all too common factor in accidents. Sleep apnea, heart conditions and other signs of ill health also contribute. Truckers can become distracted by their smartphones or by something outside. Adverse weather, debris on the road and poor truck maintenance round out the list of causes.

Pedestrian fatalities have dramatically increased

Pedestrian deaths in traffic accidents have increased in Louisiana and in the rest of the U.S. The increase in deaths has happened even as car manufacturers have added many new safety features to their vehicles. Experts believe that the increase in pedestrian fatalities can be attributed to driver distraction rather than to the vehicles.

According to the chair of the Detroit College of Creative Studies' transportation design program, car manufacturers have made a number of changes to cars to make them safer. These changes include adding additional space under the hood for more cushioning and lowering bumpers. These changes help in accidents because the bumpers strike lower on people's bodies and propel them upward instead of striking them in the chest area or knocking them down under the vehicles.

CVSA to inspect truck brakes during Brake Safety Week

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will be holding its annual Brake Safety Week from September 16 to 22, so truckers and drivers of other commercial motor vehicles in Louisiana will want to make sure their brakes were installed correctly and are properly maintained. Defective or out-of-adjustment brakes can endanger other drivers by increasing stopping distance.

Most of the inspections will be Level I inspections: these 37-step inspections cover both mechanical fitness and driver operating requirements. Various issues, from missing parts to worn rotors to mismatched air chamber sizes, will be checked for. The CVSA will be placing out of service any vehicles that violate one or the other requirements. In those jurisdictions where performance-based brake testing equipment is used, inspectors will measure braking efficiency.

July Fourth is among the deadliest holidays

Louisiana residents who are planning to do something special for the Fourth of July weekend should be careful on the road. According to Esurance and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, this holiday is the deadliest for American motorists. There are more fatal car crashes on Independence Day than on any other day; roughly 40 percent of all highway fatalities between 2007 and 2011 were caused by drunk drivers over the July Fourth weekend.

Intoxicated driving is not the only problem that drivers have to face. Simply traveling to a friend's home or some other location for a party could involve taking unfamiliar routes, which can affect driving behavior. AAA estimates that between June 30 and July 4 of this year, 37.5 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles as part of the festivities.

CVSA roadcheck addresses truck driver fatigue

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has wrapped up its annual International Roadcheck, a three-day inspection spree of buses and commercial trucks. From June 5 to 7, safety organizations and law enforcement personnel across Louisiana, as in all other states, stopped drivers and conducted 37-step inspections that covered both driver- and vehicle-related issues.

While information on the 2018 Roadcheck has yet to be released, previous roadchecks reveal certain trends that the CVSA has been combating for several years. One of them is the violation of hours-of-service guidelines. Truckers might exceed the 14 duty hours allotted to them each day or violate the requirement that they rest 8 hours before beginning a shift.

How new tech may reduce distractions for drivers

So many drivers in Louisiana are addicted to their smartphones that it may sound ironic to say new tech could provide a solution to distracted driving; however, there are several new devices that claim to do just that. It depends on whether individual drivers will use the technology. In a National Safety Council survey of 2,400 drivers across the U.S., 55 percent said they could keep safety devices engaged if they came pre-set on their vehicles.

The Colorado-based company Katasi has developed a device called Groove, which plugs in underneath the steering wheel and links the driver's phone to its provider via a cloud platform. The phone provider can block messages and social media updates and prevent the user from sending communications the moment it is notified that the user is driving. All messages appear on the phone after the car is turned off.

Truck injuries: the most common and most serious

Drivers in Louisiana who are wary of sharing the road with large trucks have good reason to be. Truck accidents often lead to serious injuries, if not death. In 97 percent of fatal crashes involving trucks and passenger vehicles, it's an occupant of the smaller vehicle who dies. Should victims survive, they may have to contend with long-term physical and mental conditions.

A few of the most common injuries that truck accident survivors incur include injuries to the spinal cord; for example, the vertebrae can be compressed, crushed or dislodged. Permanent nerve damage in the spine can itself lead to temporary or permanent paralysis. Other bones in the body, such as the skull, leg bones, arm bones and hip, can be cracked or shattered upon the victim's impact against a window, steering wheel or air bag.

Fatal large truck crashes on the rise

Fatal truck crashes are on the rise in Louisiana and throughout the United States, according to a new report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The report, which finalizes preliminary data released by the agency a year ago, shows that fatal large truck accidents increased by 3 percent between 2015 and 2016.

The FMCSA defines large trucks as those that weigh 10,000 pounds or more. There were 11.5 million such trucks registered in the U.S. in 2016, which is up from 11.2 million in 2015. According to the report, there were 4,213 fatal large truck accidents in 2016, compared with 4,074 in 2015. These accidents resulted in 4,317 deaths, compared to 4,094 the previous year. Of those deaths, 722 were truck drivers or passengers. In 2015, 665 truck drivers and passengers were killed. Despite the uptick in fatalities, the involvement rate for large trucks remained unchanged at 1.46 fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled.

Operation Safe Driver Week begins July 15

Drivers throughout Louisiana will want to be more conscious about any behavior they engage in behind the wheel that could be considered unsafe. From July 15 to 21, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will be hosting its annual Operation Safe Driver Week across the nation. Enforcement personnel will be cracking down on all instances of unsafe driving, from speeding to following too closely on other vehicles to making improper lane changes.

The Operation Safe Driver Program was created by the CVSA as a way to prevent highway injuries and deaths through increased enforcement. A study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that unsafe driving is the leading cause of all highway crashes. It contributes to 93 percent of crashes involving passenger vehicles and 88 percent of crashes with large trucks.

New tech could counteract distracted driving among truckers

Every day across the nation, an estimated 69 million drivers use their cellphones at least once while behind the wheel. Drivers in Louisiana should also know that commercial truck drivers are prone to using phones and other devices while on the road. However, there are several companies that have been producing new tech that could combat this and other forms of distracted driving.

Several companies have been using specific kinds of data to predict when distractions will put truckers into a risky situation. For example, Omnitracs is able to use hours-of-service data. On the other hand, Zendrive has long been using smartphone data to gauge trucker risk for the sake of fleets and insurers. For over a decade, fleets have been using vehicle data to determine hazardous events like hard braking, speeding and aggressive driving.