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New Haven Connecticut Personal Injury Law Blog

OOIDA petitions for more service hour flexibility

Commercial truck drivers in Connecticut and across the U.S. are aware that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration currently regulates service hours around a 14-hour daily clock. The agency requires all truck drivers to take a 30-minute break within the first eight hours and does not allow the 14-hour clock to stop.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association hasfiled a petition asking for the FMCSA to allow breaks of up to three consecutive hours in the 14-hour clock. Under the petition, the rule requiring drivers to take 10 consecutive off-duty hours before their next shift will be maintained. The OOIDA is, above all, asking for the 30-minute break rule to be abolished and for service hours to be more flexible as a way to improve highway safety. This comes at a time when the FMCSA is studying the feasibility of letting drivers split up that 14-hour duty time into "split-sleeper" options. While the consecutive 14-hour clock may be said to jeopardize drivers, it could take years before studies prompt the agency to enact changes.

Overloading is a major cause of truck accidents

Overloaded trucks can pose a serious safety hazard for people on Connecticut roadways. Every year, overloaded trucks are a major cause of trucking accidents that cause harm and injuries to truck drivers as well as others on the road. This is because the addition of an unbalanced or overweight load increases the chance that the driver will lose control of the truck and be unable to stop it from crashing. Excessive loads can also be more likely to shift during operation, leading to improper distribution and an increased risk of rollover during lane changes or sharp turns.

Even in cases where a truck has an acceptable load weight, improper balancing can mean that the truck is at risk of rolling over. Truck rollover accidents can cause serious injuries, lifelong disabilities and even death to truck drivers and others trapped under a rolling truck. Loads that are not properly secured can also pose a serious risk as cargo could fall out of the truck as it is in motion. Overweight and improperly loaded trucks lose some of their capacity for handling and operation in case of emergency; for example, the braking distance increases, which could cause drivers to underestimate the time necessary to stop. Downhill runs can be particularly dangerous as overweight trucks can speed down a hill much more quickly than expected.

Distracted drivers can cause car accidents

If Connecticut residents think about it, technology advances in the last few decades are mind-boggling. Younger residents probably can't envision a time without cell phones and texting. However, these advancements aren't always a blessing, and sometimes the use of these devices can be hazardous to one's health.

Motorists that talk or text on their handheld cell phones or other electronic devices while driving cause many traffic accidents just waiting to happen. Such usage is termed 'distracted driving" and shouldn't be done. A driver that takes his or her eyes off the road for even a few seconds to answer the phone could cause an accident.

Driving securely around 18-wheelers

On the roads of Connecticut, drivers will find themselves on occasion near an 18-wheeler. Cars can be as much of an inconvenience to truckers as the other way around, so drivers should give truckers space when passing, let them turn into their lane without speeding up, and stay away from them when they make their wide turns.

There are a few things to remember about trucks. The first is that they are the largest vehicles on the road; in 68 percent of fatal crashes involving trucks and cars, the ones who die are in the cars. The second is that underride and override are a distinct possibility. Underride occurs when a car collides into a truck's rear and slides under it; in many cases, underride guards do little to mitigate the impact. Override is where a truck runs into a car and rides over it.

Many car accidents stem from common causes

Drivers in Connecticut always have good reason to be concerned about an auto accident when taking to the roadways. A large number of car crashes happen throughout the United States each year, with numbers exceeding 60 million. More than that, the number of accidents has grown year over year in 2015 and 2016. Because car accidents can cause significant bodily injury or even death, researchers have dedicated themselves to understanding the causes of auto accidents in order to lower the number of accidents and cut down on driving behavior that can lead to preventable injuries.

Research into auto crashes has involved both detailed study of previous accidents and the use of technology to outfit vehicles in order to study driver behavior. This research has pointed to a few key types of accidents that can be prevented with changed behavior. One of the most common types of car accidents is caused by drivers who enter a rolling right turn on a red light, potentially injuring cyclists, pedestrians and others. This type of accident is the cause of 6 percent of passenger deaths. By coming to a complete stop at a red light before making a right turn, this type of accident can be avoided.

Feds want to study truckers' commuting habits

Connecticut truck drivers may be interested in learning about a federal proposal that could force them to live closer to their jobs. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration wants to study the commuting habits of commercial truck drivers as it is worried about excessive commuting by truckers. The agency defines excessive commuting as more than 150 minutes of drive time between home and work.

As proposed, the survey would study the number and percentage of commercial truckers who commute long distances to work, if they cross any time zones, how this commuting impacts their fatigue on the road and carrier policies, if any, on commuting. The survey was mandated by highway legislation adopted in 2015.

Pokémon Go and the rise in traffic accidents

According to a study conducted by two Purdue University professors, the smartphone-based game Pokémon Go has contributed to an increase in traffic accidents. While their data was culled from the car crash reports made in another state, their conclusions can be applied to Connecticut and the rest of the U.S.

The data specifically covered the months before the July 2016 launch of Pokémon Go and the months after it in Indiana. The authors compared car crash rates between both time periods and noticed an increase in traffic accidents; they then noted whether these accidents, nearly 12,000 in all, took place in intersections near a Pokéstop or in intersections far away from one. The former, they discovered, saw a 26.5 percent increase in the number of accidents.

Multiple factors lead to an annual holiday rise in death rates

As people in Connecticut prepare for the fall and winter holidays, medical professionals prepare for the rise in death rates that always accompanies the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. There are several reasons that death rates climb in the fall and remain high through the winter, including car accidents that begin with heavy holiday traffic.

Thanksgiving leads all U.S. holidays in traffic fatalities. Heavy holiday traffic, weather issues and emotional stress are all believed to contribute to this fact. But there are also greater health risks beginning at Thanksgiving and lasting through the holidays than there are at other times of the year. Many people drink more, eat more and have more stress throughout the holidays. That puts the risk of heart attack up for the season.

The car accident aftermath: remain calm and help others

When you get into a car accident, it is common to wonder what you are supposed to do next. The moments immediately after the wreck are adrenaline-fueled and mentally-jarring, so it is not surprising when accident victims are a bit stunned for a few minutes after bumper meets bumper.

But the issue is a legitimate one. What are you supposed to do after a car accident? How can you better help yourself in case of litigation related to the car accident? Let's answer these questions in today's post.


Mark H. Pearson, Attorney at Law
62 Trumbull St.
New Haven, CT 06510

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