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How commercial truck safety tech pays off

Among the six research topics that the American Transportation Research Institute considers a priority for 2019, one is a revision of the cost-benefit analysis concerning truck safety technology. Truckers in Louisiana may have heard of or had first-hand experience with safety devices like lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and collision mitigation systems.

The return on investment of truck safety technology can be hard to determine because it requires factoring in the cost of accidents that never happened. Therefore, this is where some estimates can come in handy. According to estimates from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the cost of the average truck crash among all vehicle types is nearly $150,000.

Bill proposed that mandates automatic emergency braking on trucks

Just as members of the Truck Safety Coalition were pushing for stricter truck safety regulations, lawmakers introduced a bill that, if passed, would take one important step toward this goal. Truckers and truck fleet owners in Louisiana should know that the bill, H.R. 3773, will require all new commercial trucks to have automatic emergency braking installed.

The bill is called the Safe Roads Act of 2019 and will direct the Secretary of Transportation in creating a new standard regarding AEB. This standard will be meant to cover all AEB use while trucks are in operation. Automatic emergency braking is a device that can apply the brakes for truckers who fail to react in time to warnings of an impending collision. The feature costs around $500.

3 reasons you want an attorney to review an insurance settlement

Car insurance is something you pay for but hope to never need to use. Unfortunately, some people have to make major claims eventually against their own policies or the policies of other drivers who causes accidents. Regardless of which driver is responsible for a collision, insurance companies will play an important role in handling the medical expenses and property damages that result from the crash.

Still, quite a few people who have diligently paid for their policies their entire lives and who drive safely may find themselves dealing with insurance adjusters that don't respect the real costs of the crash.

Driving time regulations to change

People in Louisiana who are concerned about road safety may be interested to learn that the Department of Transportation intends to relax federal regulations regarding the number of hours truck drivers can be behind the wheel. The trucking industry has been appealing for less stringent federal rules regarding how long truck drivers can remain on the road without rest. However, safety advocates assert that loosening the federal regulations will make them weaker and result in safety hazards caused by fatigued drivers.

Long-haul truck drivers are currently limited to driving 11 hours within a 14-hour period of being on duty. The drivers are required to have 10 straight hours off duty before their on-duty period restarts. Truck drivers who intend to drive in excess of eight hours are also required to have a 30-minute break before the eight hours end.

Traffic fatalities decrease slightly year over year

Louisiana motorists may be pleased to hear that a preliminary report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that the total number of traffic deaths nationwide dropped by 1% during 2018. With a few exceptions, the number of car accident fatalities has declined steadily year over year for decades, but the data at the end of 2016 seemed to be cause for concern that U.S. roadways were growing more dangerous. Then 2017 saw a 2% drop in the number of traffic deaths and the NHTSA report suggests that a similar but smaller decline occurred in 2018.

The agency estimated that 36,750 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2018, which would represent a drop of around 1% when compared to the 2017 total of 37,133. The NHTSA also raised concerns about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists and projected that pedestrian fatalities rose by 4% in 2018 and that bicycle related fatalities rose by 10%. The increased danger to pedestrians may be the result of more people moving into cities.

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.

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