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New Haven Connecticut Personal Injury Law Blog

Safety advocates urge more truck regulations

For many drivers in Connecticut, the threat of a truck accident can be particularly chilling. Drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles face significantly higher risks in a crash involving a semi-truck or 18-wheeler; they are far more likely to face severe injuries or even fatalities. Therefore, safety advocates are urging Congress to pass new legislation that could toughen safety regulations for large trucks on American highways. Road Safe America and the Truck Safety Coalition are seeking a mandate for all heavy trucks to use speed limiters and automatic emergency braking.

According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, trucks that did not use speed limiters were 200 percent more likely to have a crash at highway speeds than those who did use the limiting devices. However, advocates say that the Department of Transportation has failed to take action on proposed regulations for over a decade, under both Republican and Democratic administrations. They said that rulemaking proposals that would address these issues have been stalled throughout that time. In addition, they argued that automatic emergency braking systems could stop over 2,500 truck accidents every year.

How to handle the aftermath of a car accident

Most Connecticut readers do everything they can to drive safely and avoid car crashes. However, accidents still happen and knowing what to do in the moments following a collision can be very important for insurance claims and any potential legal action.

The first thing that drivers should do after a crash is take a deep breath and try to remain calm. A level-headed mindset will make it easier to help others and gather the information needed by insurance agents, police officers and lawyers. Next, drivers should call 911 and see if anyone is in need of medical assistance. If it is safe to leave the damaged vehicles where they are, drivers should do so. However, if it's unsafe, it's best to move the vehicles to the side of the street.

A surprising increase in big rig accidents

Connecticut residents may be interested in federal data showing that in 44 states, there was an increase in big rig truck crash deaths between 2009 and 2017. This means that only six states saw a decrease in accidents of this type.

Between 2009 and 2017, more than 35,880 people died in accidents involving large trucks. Some believe that many of the deaths could have been avoided if technology designed to limit speeding or employ emergency braking had been required by law. By way of comparison, according to statistics for the period between 2009 and 2016, the number of miles that truck drivers were on the road decreased when compared to previous figures. This gives extra weight to the increase that was seen in large truck accidents during the same time.

Drowsy driving, and how to avoid it

Connecticut drivers who often find themselves drowsy behind the wheel should consider the danger that they pose. Drowsy driving, after all, is responsible for many auto accidents every year. Sleep deprivation, in its effect, is similar to alcohol. Going without sleep for 24 hours is like having a blood alcohol content of .10, well above the legal limit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people should sleep at least seven hours every night. Those who feel drowsy even after achieving this minimum may have a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. People who take medications like sleep aids, antidepressants, antihistamines and muscle relaxers are also at a greater risk for drowsiness. A doctor could adjust their regimen, such as by changing the timing of each dose.

Concerns arise over livestock haulers' safety exemptions

Commercial truckers in Connecticut, as elsewhere in the U.S., were mandated back in December 2017 to install electronic logging devices on their trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted this move as a way to reduce fatigue-related accidents and save money on paperwork. From that time to Sept. 30, 2018, livestock haulers had a temporary exemption from the ELD mandate.

This is just one of several exemptions that the FMCSA implemented for livestock haulers, largely through the influence of agricultural industry representatives like the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. These representatives have, for example, fought against certain mandatory breaks, pointing out what that can mean with livestock in the back of the truck.

Why drunk driving can lead to serious injuries

There are many ways in which a person in Connecticut can be killed in a drunk driving accident. In some cases, one can go into shock from losing too much blood in a short period of time. It is also possible for someone to bleed out from a massive cut or other open wound. Individuals who are struck by a vehicle could be killed because of blunt force trauma.

The same is true for those inside of a vehicle that causes a crash. A driver or passenger may collide with a solid object such as a steering wheel or any other hard surface in the car or truck itself. Glass can pierce the skin or a vital organ and lead to a person's death. In the United States, an individual is considered to be legally drunk if he or she has a blood alcohol content of .08 percent.

ZF makes the benefits of external airbags clear

The car parts manufacturer ZF Group has released some safety data that could get automakers to consider the benefits of external airbags. However, Connecticut residents should know that external airbags, like self-driving cars, are far from being perfected, much less implemented on vehicles.

ZF discovered that external airbags mitigate the severity of vehicle occupant injuries by up to 40 percent. The manufacturer has created a model that goes on both sides of a vehicle and acts as an extra crumple zone, absorbing the shock of a side-impact crash. The model is about 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide and weighs 13 pounds. The dimensions will vary with the vehicle.

Slip-and-fall accidents

Many claims are filed against businesses over slip-and-fall injuries in Connecticut every year. There are several important things that small business owners should know about their potential liability in slip-and-fall claims.

Slip-and-fall accidents arise after a person trips or slips and is injured as a result. Generally, a property owner has a duty to keep their business safe for customers by providing adequate lighting, cleaning up spills, removing obstacles and repairing broken flooring that could lead to a fall.

Accident risks jump for drivers with insufficient sleep

Chances are high that many drivers in Connecticut have not gotten a good night's sleep. Results from multiple surveys show that about one-third of people fail to sleep at least seven hours each night. Health experts recommend that adults sleep for seven to nine hours a night. Sleep deprivation impedes people's ability to operate a vehicle safely. Drowsy drivers contribute to about 7 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. Among fatal crashes, as many as 16 percent of them arise from sleep-deprived drivers.

To investigate the dangers of driver fatigue, a new study analyzed 5,470 accidents and interviewed many of the drivers involved. Compared to people who got the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, drivers who only got six hours of sleep caused crashes 1.3 times more often. When sleep dipped to five hours, drivers experienced a crash risk 1.9 times higher than the properly rested group.

Distracted driving impacts road users in many ways

Motorists in Connecticut know that they need to stay alert while driving. However, many people operate motor vehicles while distracted. This is considered among the most dangerous actions that a motorist can take. To understand why, it's important to know that a person could be visually, cognitively or manually distracted while behind the wheel.

While manual distractions involve driving without both hands on the wheel, visual distractions involve not looking at the road while driving. Cognitive distraction is when a driver is not focused on the road even if he or she is looking at it. For example, drivers who are fatigued are experiencing a form of cognitive distraction as it can reduce their ability to focus on the road.


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

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