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New Haven Connecticut Personal Injury Law Blog

Safety tech lowers number of reverse crashes

A report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that rear automatic braking in newer vehicle models can reduce the number of backup crashes by 62 percent. Connecticut residents with a recent model will want to see if rear autobrakes are an option, though it is a fact that they are only available on 5 percent of new vehicle models.

Furthermore, the report states that combining rear autobrakes with rearview cameras and sensors can lower the number of backup crashes by 78 percent. The IIHS came to these conclusions after testing several vehicle models with and without the safety tech. It gave superior ratings to 2017 Subaru Outback and Cadillac XT5 SUV and advanced ratings to four other models. Yet one car failed to automatically brake when approaching a dummy car.

Roundabouts could help reduce dangerous crashes

People who drive on back roads in Connecticut may encounter dangerous traffic intersections. Some rural roads with high speed limits of up to 55 mph may come together with only a stop sign. These locations are often prone to experiencing severe and even deadly car accidents. However, a number of traffic safety experts are recommending the use of roundabouts or traffic circles as a way to make these junction points safer for drivers.

Installing a traffic light is another common solution for a high-risk intersection. However, while traffic lights are proven to decrease the number of crashes, they may not affect the severity of those that do happen. This means that fatalities and serious personal injuries can continue to be a problem. On the other hand, installing a roundabout may not significantly decrease the overall number of auto collisions, but it could eliminate severe crash injuries. Accidents that take place at roundabouts are far less likely to be fatal or lead to serious injuries.

Drowsy driving poses a significant roadway threat

The hazards of drunk driving are well known to people in Connecticut. However, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous. To educate the public about the impairment caused by sleep deprivation, a safety engineer from Chevrolet is touring cities with a drowsy driving simulation. The simulation invites people to put on a 23-pound suit and goggles that make them experience the sensation of driving while on the verge of falling asleep.

The goggles force people to see how drowsiness alters their rate of eye closure. At first, the goggles shut for one second every 10 seconds, which represents moderate drowsiness. Then the simulation increases the length of eye closures to between two and four seconds to demonstrate extreme sleepiness. The suit weights the bodies of participants to teach them how exhaustion limits their reaction time behind the wheel.

The safest states for commercial vehicle drivers

Big rig drivers in Connecticut understand that safety is an important part of trucking. If a truck driver is not safe, they risk losing their job, destroying property, injuring themselves or causing a fatal accident. An important part of trucker safety is driving a vehicle that meets the safety guidelines laid out by the government.

Research has been done that provides a clear view of trucker safety/commercial vehicle accidents by state and region. This recent study was done on small businesses that had just two trucks all the way up to those with 200 trucks. The vehicles that were used by these companies ranged from pickups to vans to larger trucks.

New tech may be linked to rise in distracted driving

Smartphones, built-in infotainment systems and automated features are changing the way people in Connecticut drive, so it's no wonder that distracted driving is such a widespread issue. At the same time, the number of fatal car accidents is going up, and though the two trends have not been definitely linked, they are clearly not coincidental.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 37,150 people died on America's roads in 2017. This is a more than 10 percent increase from 2014. On the other side, numerous studies have shown just how prevalent distracted driving is. Nauto, a maker of smart cameras for vehicle fleets, has been collecting data on road incidents and found that, over a single four-month period, 67 percent of severe collisions were caused by distracted driving.

CVSA's Brake Safety Week scheduled for September

Commercial truck drivers in Connecticut should know that inspectors nationwide will be out enforcing brake safety guidelines from September 16 to 22. This is part of Brake Safety Week, an annual event held by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance as a way to ensure that truck drivers routinely inspect and maintain their brakes.

Few things are more dangerous to public safety on the roadways than defective truck brakes. Bad brakes can, for example, decrease braking efficiency. During last year's brake inspection spree (which was pared down from one week to one day), 14 percent of truck drivers who were stopped were put out of service for brake violations. During the annual International Roadcheck, a three-day CVSA inspection spree, brake violations usually top the list of out-of-service violations.

Trucker fatigue the focus of annual roadcheck

From June 5 to 7, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held the International Roadcheck where traffic safety organizations and police officers across the nation ramped up enforcement of bus and commercial truck safety guidelines. Drivers in Connecticut, even if they don't operate buses or trucks, may want to know what the most common safety violations were.

While the numbers are still unclear for 2018, data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that there were 33,000 violations of hours-of-service regulations last year. In other words, those truckers were found working over the prescribed 14-hour limit for each day. This was the number one offense; however, it only accounted for 33 percent of the citations issued in 2017.

Truck injury and fatality accidents increased in 2016

In Connecticut, accidents that involve large trucks have the potential to be especially catastrophic. A recent report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that these types of accidents increased in 2016 over the number of truck accidents that occurred in 2015.

According to the FMCSA, the number of fatal large truck crashes increased from 4,074 in 2015 that killed 4,094 people to 4,213 in 2016 that killed 4,317 people. Large truck accidents that resulted in injuries increased from 83,000 accidents that injured 116,000 people in 2015 to 104,000 accidents that injured 145,000 people in 2016. A majority of the fatal large truck crashes happened in rural areas at 61 percent.

Using technology to prevent distracted driving truck accidents

Distracted driving accidents in Connecticut and around the country are often blamed on cellphone use or the sophisticated entertainment and navigation systems offered by many auto manufacturers, but studies suggest that a disturbing number of motorists crash while lost in thought. Accidents involving distracted drivers are especially dangerous when commercial vehicles weighing up to 40 tons are involved, but technology is being developed by several fleet management firms to reduce these risks.

In addition to watching truck drivers for signs of distraction or fatigue, these systems use hours of service data and work schedules to identify drivers that may be a danger to other road users. They are also extremely sophisticated. A driver monitoring system being developed by a Texas-based fleet management company that evaluates risks based on more than 1,000 different variables.

Safety group looks to eliminate traffic deaths entirely

The Road to Zero coalition believes that traffic deaths can be completely eliminated by the year 2050. While the safety advocacy group acknowledges that this sounds like an ambitious goal, it offers several ways to make Connecticut roads safer. Among the recommendations in its April 22 report is an increased effort on seat belt compliance.

Currently, 90 percent of drivers wear their seat belts. Of those who die in traffic fatalities, however, half are not buckled up. Simply reaching 100 percent in seat belt compliance could make a big difference.

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