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U.S. slow to mandate life-saving truck side guards

Research shows that installing side guards on trucks could save lives in California and across the country. However, the U.S. government has been slow to mandate the safety feature's use by the U.S. trucking industry.

In 2017, 4,102 people were killed in truck accidents on U.S. roads. Worse, 82% of the fatalities were pedestrians, bicyclists or the occupants of vehicles other than the truck. The most common cause of death in these accidents involved the victim or the victim's vehicle sliding beneath the side the truck's trailer, resulting in crush injuries. However, studies conducted in Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom found that side guards significantly decrease the number of deaths associated with truck crashes. In fact, after the U.K. began requiring the use of truck side guards, cyclist deaths from side-impact truck accidents decreased over 60%. Meanwhile, pedestrian deaths from such crashes dropped 20%.

Responding to red-light runners with cameras, defensive driving

Red-light running crashes resulted in a 10-year high in fatalities with 939 people dying in them in 2017. California residents should know that more than two people die every day in this country in red-light running crashes. Yet a AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that there is a disconnect between what drivers think and what they do. Eighty-five percent acknowledged that red-light running is wrong, yet nearly a third admitted to doing it in the past 30 days.

To better enforce traffic laws, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends the use of red-light cameras at those intersections with a discernible pattern of traffic violations and crashes. In large cities, cameras can reduce the rate of fatal red-light running crashes by 21%. They can cut the rate of all fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 14%. Local governments must ensure, of course, that the cameras are calibrated periodically and that signs are posted notifying drivers about the cameras.

A polite wave is a hazard for drivers

Waiting to turn left out of a shopping center can seem to take forever. With four lanes of traffic and no light, you may feel like you will never catch a break to make it over.

One thing that may occur if there is a break in the lane nearest is a driver may wave you through, and you may jump at the chance to make it to the middle of the turn. However, this action causes more collisions than you probably know. The insurance company calls it the “wave of death,” and for good reason. See why this friendly action causes so much havoc.

Survey: Most drivers use phones behind the wheel

California drivers of all ages continue to drive while using their phones to send texts and emails or browse the internet. Despite widespread campaigns highlighting the dangers of distracted driving, people continue to take their minds and eyes off the road in order to pay attention to their smartphones. A survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance highlighted that drivers across the country consider themselves to be safe drivers while engaging in unsafe behaviors. Almost all respondents to the Multi-National Distracted Driving Survey, 98%, said that they consider themselves to be safe drivers. At the same time, they admitted to a number of unsafe activities. Almost half of the respondents regularly admitted driving while distracted.

Over two-thirds of all respondents said that they had used their phones while driving to text, check emails or use apps. Distracted driving has been implicated in many severe car crashes that have caused injuries or even deaths, but the proliferation of technology makes it difficult for people to disconnect while driving. A full 86% of millennial drivers said that they used their phones behind the wheel. While younger drivers were more likely to drive while texting or surfing, they were far from alone. Drivers in all generations were likely to use their phones while behind the wheel.

The Trump administration wants to let truckers drive longer hours

If the Trump Administration gets its way, truck drivers in California and across the U.S. will be able to work longer shifts. However, the National Transportation Safety Board says that truck driver fatigue is a major hazard on U.S. roads.

Under current federal rules, truckers can work a maximum of 14 hours per day. Of those hours, drivers can only spend 11 behind the wheel. They're also required to take a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of their shift, regardless of whether that time was spent driving or loading and unloading cargo. However, with the support of the White House, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to allow truck drivers to work for up to 17 hours per day and only require breaks for those who have driven for eight straight hours. While drivers would still be restricted to 11 hours a day behind the wheel under most circumstances, they would be allowed to drive an additional two hours if heavy traffic or inclement weather caused them to fall behind schedule.

Tips to avoid distracted driving

Drivers in California and elsewhere are more distracted than ever before, and more car accidents are happening as a result. In 2017, at least 3,166 people were killed in distracted driving car crashes across the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, there are several things drivers can do to help reduce their risk of becoming distracted while behind the wheel.

According to safety experts, it's a good idea for drivers to limit the number of passengers in their vehicle and ask those who are riding with them to keep their noise to a minimum. This will help reduce the amount of in-vehicle distractions that a driver is exposed to. It's also important for drivers to turn off their cellphone or put it in "Do Not Disturb" mode when they get behind the wheel. Even conversations on a hands-free device can distract drivers enough to miss traffic signals or pedestrians crossing the road, leading to a serious accident.

Relaxing trucker drive-time rules a threat to public safety

The current presidential administration has expressed support for loosening the current restrictions governing commercial trucker drive times. While doing so would signal a win for the trucking industry, it could threaten public safety. Supporters of the proposed changes contend that it would give more control back to truck drivers and trucking companies, but safety advocates argue that deregulating the industry would lead to an increase in truck crashes.

According to the Los Angeles Times, fatal crashes involving commercial trucks are already on the rise: a 10% increase between 2016 and 2017. Loosening up regulations regarding how often truckers must stop and rest, safety advocates contend, would lead to more truckers driving while fatigued, and as a result, more wrecks.

Brake Safety Week takes aim at commercial trucks

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will conduct Brake Safety Week in California and across North America Sept. 15-21. During the initiative, CVSA officials will inspect commercial trucks and other vehicles to ensure they are free of critical brake violations.

For this year's event, inspectors will place special emphasis on brake hoses and tubing. While these components are already included in the North American Standard Inspection Program, the organization wants to make sure truck drivers and trucking companies recognize their importance to vehicle and road safety. To pass inspection, brake hoses and tubing must be properly attached, appropriately flexible and free from damage and leaks. Vehicles that are found to have critical brake safety violations will be pulled from service until repairs are made. Meanwhile, truckers who pass the inspection can get a CVSA decal.

Passenger airbag defect leads to recall of 144,000 Audi vehicles

Residents of California who drive an Audi vehicle will want to see if they are affected by a certain recall that the automaker announced in August 2019. A little more than 144,000 Audi vehicles are being recalled for a defect in the front-seat passenger airbag.

These airbags can be disabled by a system inside that senses when the front passenger seat is occupied or empty. But the wiring in the system has been found to corrode over time, causing the software to disable the airbag even when someone is seated. Those who are unsure if their vehicle has the defect should check for an audible warning and an error message on their dash.

The legality of dashcams

Most people have seen at least one video of a crazy incident caught on a police officer's dashcam. This is a video recorder put on the dashboard of a vehicle, but many people wonder if it is legal to have one in a civilian vehicle. The answer is "yes," and dashcams come in handy in numerous circumstances. 

One person's dashcam caught a Tesla hitting a couple crossing an intersection in San Francisco. This footage will inevitably serve as evidence in the eventual claim, and it serves as a reminder of how everyone could benefit from installing one in their cars. If you end up in a car crash, having dashcam footage can help you immensely. 

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