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Lake Charles Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

Teens may benefit from 'realistic' drivers' ed programs

Teens in Louisiana are often singled out as being among the drivers more likely to take risks when behind the wheel. Results from a university study suggest younger drivers may gain a better awareness of the potential risks if they participate in supplemental drivers' education programs. The one referenced in the study involved an emergency room tour and visits to a morgue and an intensive care unit to emphasize the consequences of reckless driving. Motor vehicle collisions are the top cause of accidental teen deaths in the United States, according to the CDC.

Each participant in the program was a negligent driver referred by the court or a parent. At the beginning of the supplemental drivers' ed program, teens were asked to identify their most frequent risky driving behaviors within the previous 30 days. The top responses included texting, driving on interstates or freeways and driving late at night. Different parts of the six-hour program included a hospital tour, discussions with staff about their experiences with crash victims, videos and lectures.

Why roundabouts can be safer than traffic lights

The use of traffic lights can help to lower the number of crashes that take place at intersections in Louisiana and other states. However, the crashes that do happen are often severe in nature, and they can result in significant costs. While installing a roundabout won't reduce the number of crashes, it generally reduces the severity of the accidents. In North Carolina, a roundabout was installed for about $1.2 million.

However, it was estimated that the roundabout would save about $2.5 million in reduced accident costs. Furthermore, it would reduce injuries at the intersection of Pine Log and Carthage roads by 89 percent based on an analysis of past accidents. The reason why accidents are less serve at a roundabout is that there is less of a chance that a driver misjudges his or her entry. Instead of trying to beat a light, the driver simply needs to look to the left when entering the roundabout.

Tips for safe driving during the school year

When school is in session in Louisiana, drivers need to be more careful about their actions behind the wheel. The same goes for holiday seasons when traffic gets heavy. The following are just a few basic tips on how to drive safely in both situations. The first tip is to avoid distracting behavior. Not only calling and texting, but also eating and adjusting the radio will take one's eyes off the road.

This is important since pedestrians, especially children, can dart out onto the street and not even use a crosswalk. Drivers are encouraged to always check their mirrors, especially when changing lanes or making a right turn. Bicyclists can sometimes pull up into a blind spot, so always check for them.

Study finds semi-autonomous vehicles make dangerous mistakes

Louisiana motorists shouldn't trust the electronic driver assist systems on their semi-autonomous vehicles, according to a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Apparently, the systems may have difficulty identifying stopped vehicles and could even steer distracted drivers into an accident.

IIHS researchers tested the semi-automated capabilities of five vehicles on a track and on the road. These vehicles included the Tesla Model S, Tesla Model 3, BMW 5-Series, Volvo S-90 and Mercedes E-Class. They found that the electronic driver assist systems on all the tested vehicles failed under certain conditions. For example, both Tesla models hit a stationary balloon on a track when researchers turned off their adaptive cruise control systems. However, when the system was turned back on, the vehicles braked in time to avoid the collision. All the other tested vehicles managed to avoid the balloon under all track conditions.

Simple ways to avoid car accidents

Louisiana drivers will want to consider the following tips so that they can avoid car accidents in the future. After all, many accidents can arise out of one's own negligence. The first tip is to always concentrate on driving. Cell phone use of any kind, whether for calling, texting or surfing the web, is to be avoided while behind the wheel. Drivers should also refrain from eating, applying makeup, fiddling with their audio system and reaching into the backseat. Even letting one's mind wander is a form of distracted driving.

A driver is also advised to know their vehicle's limitations. Old tires and brakes will increase stopping distance, and poor maintenance can affect a vehicle's steering, handling, acceleration and stopping power. Vehicles that sit higher up are less capable of handling turns at high speeds. Furthermore, drivers should be aware of their disposition before driving. They should not drive after drinking. If they are drowsy, they should pull over for a nap. Additionally, drivers should be extra cautious at night and in bad weather.