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How often are work zones a factor in accidents and road deaths?

California’s roadways are constantly undergoing repair and growth, and this means most motorists find themselves making their way through work zones on a regular basis. Many drivers experience anxiety or nervousness when navigating their way through these road construction zones, though, and with good reason. Work zones are a common factor in numerous auto accidents, and they also contribute to the number of deaths that occur on the state's and nation’s roadways.

Just how much of a factor are work zones in traffic accidents, injuries and deaths?

International Roadcheck event helps keep roads safe

Between June 5 and 7, there were 11,897 vehicles taken off of the road as part of the International Roadcheck event. It was held by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and also resulted in 2,664 drivers being removed from service. Drivers were largely taken off the road because of hours-of-service violations or problems with their licenses. In many cases, licenses were either expired or suspended. Some drivers were found to be driving the wrong class of vehicle.

Trucks were taken off of the road for issues related to their braking systems as well as tire and wheel issues. Trucks were also ordered out of service for having inadequate lighting or because cargo was not secured properly. According to the CSVA, there were 45,400 Level I inspections conducted during the event out of 67,502 inspections done overall. This was higher than the number conducted in 2017, but there were fewer drivers and trucks taken out of service.

Testing begins for new carrier safety scoring system

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing to change its hours-of-service rules for commercial truck drivers in California and the rest of the nation. The organization is asking for comments from the public. The proposed changes will expand the air-mile 'short-haul" exemption, extend the on-duty limitation, revise the mandatory break for continuous driving and allow some drivers to split up the on-duty rest break. These proposed changes were posted in the Federal Register on August 23, 2018.

The FMCSA is also asking for comments regarding several safety scoring petitions that have been submitted that seek relief from the current rules. One is to enable covered commercial motor vehicle operators to take one rest break of up to three successive hours for every 14 hours they drive. The other petition is requesting that covered CMV operators be allowed to split up their required break periods instead of taking them all at once.

How common is substance abuse among truckers?

Today’s commercial trucks are large and heavy enough to unnerve even the most comfortable drivers, but most motorists have little choice other than to share the road with them. While commercial trucks present inevitable hazards because they can be hard to see or navigate around, they become even more dangerous when the people driving them abuse substances before getting behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, however, the American Addiction Centers report that truckers abusing substances is not new or uncommon. In fact, the tough demands of the job coupled with the lonely nature of it lead many truck drivers to turn to alcohol or drugs, with many of today’s truckers admitting that they do, in fact, abuse substances while on the clock. Just how much of a problem has substance abuse among commercial truckers become?

Dangerous guardrails will no longer be installed in California

According to Caltrans, the X-Lite guardrail end treatment system will no longer be used on California highways. An investigation carried out by a local NBC station found that they were struck in at least nine accidents that resulted in fatalities. The state sent a letter to the manufacturer of the product saying that it would be switching to another product that met Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware standards.

A statement from the manufacturer said that its product had saved lives and reduced the severity of automobile accidents. However, a total of 13 states are in the process of removing the X-Lite guardrail as of 2018. In California, the X-Lite system is used mostly along Interstates 8 and 15. Roughly 20 percent of them are installed in San Diego County. Despite previous fatal accidents, Caltrans said it was only going to remove damaged guardrails and would further study any dangers associated with the X-Lite system.

Tips for avoiding distracted driving

California drivers who are prone to distractions behind the wheel will want to consider the following tips. By being more attentive motorists, they can avoid becoming statistics in the future. In 2015, distracted driving contributed to 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries in the U.S.

The first tip is to put away mobile devices like phones and tablets. Calling and texting are out of the question. Sending and reading text messages, according to the CDC, can take a driver's eyes off the roadway for five seconds. If one is going 55 mph, this is like traveling the length of a football field with one's eyes closed.

Do millennials crash motorcycles more often?

Motorcycle riding is admittedly a riskier way to travel when compared to passenger cars. Motorcycles expose their riders to a variety of risks that car drivers do not have to face.

When it comes to risk-taking, conventional wisdom holds that the younger a driver is, the more likely he or she is to take a risk or drive in a way that's unsafe. That is also the generally held belief about people who ride motorcycles as opposed to car drivers. Is it true that younger motorcycle riders, such as those in the millennial generation (which the Pew Research Center considers as those born between 1981 and 1996), are more likely to get into a crash?

Two 18-year-old men killed in suspected DUI accident

On Aug. 12, two 18-year-old men were killed in a suspected drunk driving accident on Highway 24 in Walnut Creek according to the California Highway Patrol. The crash also injured two 18-year-old women.

Authorities say that the driver, a female Antioch resident, was driving a Honda east on Highway 24 around 4 a.m. when she veered off the road near the Interstate 680 interchange. The car rolled over and landed on Boulevard Circle. Two male passengers died in the crash. The driver and a female passenger, an Oakley resident, suffered severe injuries and were transported to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek for treatment.

Scientists develop 3D-printed device to help spinal injuries

Scientists have created a potentially revolutionary 3D-printed device that could one day help spinal cord patients in California recover some bodily functions. The device was developed by a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota, and their findings were published Aug. 9.

The silicone device is a 3D-printed guide designed to hold neuronal stem cells, which are also printed on a 3D printer. The guide and stem cells are implanted into an injured spinal cord, where they serve as a bridge connecting the living nerve cells on both sides of the injured area. The connection could help patients regain some bodily functions, such as control of the bladder, bowel and certain muscles. It could also help reduce a patient's pain.

High semi-truck ground clearance creates fatality hazard

Maybe you have noticed as you pass a semi truck that, due to its high ground clearance, your shoulders are about level with the bottom of the trailer. At the back of the truck, there is a bar that hangs down to about the front bumper of your car, and unless you hit it going very fast, it will catch your car so that the crumple zones and airbag activate.

If the tractor trailer jackknifed and you ran into the side, there would be no such safety mechanism. Crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that the bottom of the trailer would shear the windshield and roof of a midsize sedan off the vehicle. Most people in passenger vehicles in this situation are decapitated.

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