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New Haven Connecticut Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

Why groups want crash avoidance tech required on large trucks

Semis and large trucks were behind 4,300 deaths in 2016, according to federal data. This represents a 28 percent increase from 2009, and as a result, more and more groups are pushing for new federal safety guidelines. Truckers in Connecticut should know that many are especially determined to make crash avoidance systems a requirement on all heavy trucks. The National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending this since in the late 1990s.

The NTSB has criticized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, however, for ignoring these recommendations. An article from The Kansas City Star brought attention to these criticisms and has prompted some Congressional members to see if Congress cannot take decisive action to improve large truck safety.

Many drivers ill-informed about vehicle technologies

Car safety technologies can help Connecticut drivers to avoid accidents and injuries. However, in many cases, they may not understand how these advanced systems work and may tend to overestimate their capacities, according to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Fetures like blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control can be great tools for drivers in staying safe on the roads, but many drivers expect too much from these systems.

According to researchers, survey respondents often seemed unaware of the limitations of these technologies. This kind of awareness is important, especially as autonomous driving technologies improve. When drivers use these systems correctly, they can improve safety significantly, but if people put too much trust in the systems, they could find themselves in serious car crashes. The survey noted that almost 80 percent of drivers don't understand how blind-spot monitoring technologies can be limited. Many expected the systems to be better at spotting bicycles or fast vehicles, and one-quarter noted that they no longer check visually for oncoming cars, relying instead on alerts from the system.

Inspection blitz reveals many unsafe commercial vehicles

Connecticut drivers may be interested in the results of this summer's three-day blitz of commercial vehicle inspections. Agencies from across North America joined forces in an inspection campaign that resulted in over 20 percent of inspected vehicles, which were primarily transport trucks, being taken out of service for safety violations.

Regulatory agencies and law enforcement authorities joined forces in June to complete the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's annual 72-hour International Roadcheck across North America. Over 67,000 commercial vehicles were given roadside inspections between June 5 and 7. The stated focus of this year's initiative was reducing hours of service violations. As a result, roughly 2 percent of drivers whose records and qualifications were subjected to inspection were sidelined, with the leading reason being a violation of hours-of-service regulations. Drivers were also commonly removed from the roadways for having improperly classified driver's licenses or maintaining false duty statues.

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.


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

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