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Road safety groups call for stronger rear-seat regulations

Louisiana's seat belt laws are some of the toughest in the nation and require all passenger vehicle occupants to buckle up, but road safety advocacy groups say that even stricter regulations are required to protect rear-seat passengers. Advances in airbag and seat belt technology have greatly improved crash survivability for drivers and front-seat passengers, but these safety features do little to protect those seated in the rear of vehicles.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently studied 117 car accidents involving rear-seat passengers who were killed or suffered serious injuries while wearing a seat belt. They discovered that a third of them suffered serious chest injuries and almost a quarter suffered major head trauma. The nonprofit safety group says that these are the kind of injuries that may be prevented by the safety features that protect drivers and front-seat passengers.

How Louisiana residents can determine if a driver was at fault

Drivers who are concerned about negligence in car accidents should consider the factors that determine whether a driver is at fault for a crash. Negligence has a precise legal definition that may be different from how it is defined in casual conversation. Understanding how negligence is defined can help the victim of a car accident determine whether he or she has a case against the driver who is believed to have caused the accident.

First, there needs to be evidence that there was a loss or personal injury that resulted from the driver's actions. For instance, while a driver may have failed to keep his or her vehicle in good condition, the lack of proper maintenance on the vehicle needs to have directly caused the collision for the court to consider it negligence. As an example, if the other driver's vehicle had broken headlights, that might lead to the court determining the driver was at fault but only if the accident happened at night or in inclement weather that reduced visibility.

Teens' car crash risk goes up once they are licensed, says NIH

Louisiana residents should know that a teen driver's risk for a crash or near-miss actually goes up once drivers obtain their license. In a recent study from the National Institutes for Health and Virginia Tech University, 90 teens had their driving monitored from the time they had their learner's permit to their first full year as licensed drivers.

The risk of a crash or near-miss incident went up eight times during the first three months of having a license when contrasted with the last three months of having a permit. In particular, teens who had just been licensed were discovered to make severe turns, brake harshly, accelerate quickly and engage in other dangerous maneuvers.

Even light rain increases fatal accident risks substantially

A recently published study suggests that motorists in Louisiana and around the country greatly underestimate the dangers of driving in rainy conditions. A team of researchers led by a data analyst from the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies examined the prevailing weather conditions when 125,012 fatal motor vehicle accidents occurred between 2006 and 2011, and they found that even light rain increased the chances of being involved in a deadly collision by 27%. The study was published on March 29 in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Other research into the link between precipitation and car accident risks has relied on police and local weather reports, but the researchers behind the latest climate study used high-resolution radar data instead to determine how much rain was falling at the precise time and place crashes occurred. They found that rain, snow or ice increased the chances of a fatal accident by 34%, and heavy rain made deadly crashes 250% more likely.

Technologies aim to take drunk drivers off the road

Drunk driving is a scourge on the roads in Louisiana and across the country. This is why there have been so many efforts made to eliminate the behavior. Nevertheless, crashes related to drunk driving took 10,874 lives in the United States in 2017 alone, according to federal statistics. Now, Volvo is looking to help prevent drunk driving by installing autonomous technologies that could detect symptoms of intoxication and distraction behind the wheel.

According to Volvo, these technologies would enable the car to send multiple warning signals to the driver. If the driver behind the wheel does not respond, the car would be able to actively intervene. The auto manufacturer said that the purpose of the technology would be to stop potentially deadly car accidents before they occur. If impairment is detected, the car could slow its speed and park on the side of the road. The company said the technology would be available for installation by the early 2020s.

Employer pressure a factor in distracted driving

Though distracted driving is a form of negligence, Louisiana residents should know that there are many reasons for it. The Travelers Companies, after surveying more than 2,000 consumers and executives, has been able to identify some of them in its 2019 Travelers Risk Index.

One factor in distracted driving is workplace accountability. Eighty-seven percent of executives in the survey said they expect their workers to be connected even outside the office. Seventy-four percent do not think of distracted driving as a great concern. As a result, many workers feel pressured into answering work-related messages when on the road; 20 percent said they do, mostly out of fear of upsetting their boss.

Commercial truck driver exhaustion can endanger others

Many driver-related factors can influence the likelihood of a serious motor vehicle collision. Both impairment and distraction can drastically increase the likelihood of a driver experiencing a significant collision. However, exhaustion or fatigue are also significant concerns when it comes to safely arriving at your destination.

If you have ever gotten behind the wheel of a car when feeling tired, you likely already know how hard it is to drive safely when you feel exhausted. Exhaustion directly impacts your ability to quickly respond to stimuli. It also impacts your ability to focus on your surroundings. The combination of those two consequences can be quite dangerous for drivers.

Critics say NHTSA unresponsive to rise in truck crash deaths

Large truck crash deaths are on the rise. According to the federal government, there was a 28 percent increase in them from 2009 to 2017. A total of 4,102 people died in truck crashes in 2017 with 68 percent of those being car occupants. Louisiana residents should know that many truck safety groups are proposing a remedy to this trend: new truck safety technology.

Specifically, the National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending forward collision warning and mitigation systems for all heavy trucks since the 1990s. On at least 10 occasions, it proposed a mandate to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal regulatory agency in charge of making regulations. However, NHTSA has not followed through.

Pedestrian fatalities might have hit 30-year high in 2018

Pedestrian deaths are rising in Louisiana and across the U.S. according to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Preliminary numbers show that 2018 might have been the deadliest year for pedestrians in almost 30 years.

GHSA analysts examined preliminary data gathered by state agencies over the first half of 2018. They estimated that around 6,227 pedestrians lost their lives on American roads last year, which is 250 more than died in 2017. The total also represents the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1990 and a 51.5 percent increase from 2009, when 4,109 deaths were reported.

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