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Brake inspection week sidelines nearly 5,000 commercial trucks

In September, inspectors with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance performed brake inspections on over 35,000 commercial trucks and trailers. The mass inspection was a part of the group's Brake Safety Week. The result of the safety week showed room for improvement within the trucking industry. Just over 14 percent of the inspected truckers, including many in California, were put out of service for brake violations.

The CVSA is a consortium of state and local inspectors, trucking companies and federal agencies with the purpose of improving safety within the trucking industry. Its membership extends into Canada and Mexico. The Brake Safety Week is a planned event with prior notice given to operators of commercial trucks and buses.

4 holiday driving hazards

If you are driving to visit family this holiday season, be careful. The roads can be dangerous during this time of year. Obtained from the National Safety Council, here is the number of people who died in car accidents on major holidays in 2015:

  • Thanksgiving: 386
  • New Year: 355
  • Christmas: 273

But why are the holidays so dangerous for motorists? Here are some common holiday driving hazards that cause auto collisions.

Tips for driving safely in bright sunlight

California drivers know that being out in the early morning or late afternoon can be challenging because of the brightness of the rising or setting sun. Bright sunlight creates visual illusions, putting drivers at 16 percent greater risk for a fatal accident than if they were in normal weather.

The first step that drivers can take to protect themselves is to keep a good pair of sunglasses in the car. Sunglasses will reduce the brightness of the sun and protect the eyes from harmful UV rays. Drivers are also encouraged to use the sun visors when the sun is hitting the front windshield or the side windows. All sun visors are designed not to hinder the driver's vision.

Distracted driving and fatigue undermine traffic safety

Many people in California recognize the dangers of distracted and drowsy driving. A survey conducted by the American Automobile Association identified distracted driving as a growing threat after 88 percent of respondents expressed their belief that it was becoming more common. Their concern exceeded by far any worries about aggressive driving or drug- or alcohol-impaired driving. The widespread adoption of smartphones is largely seen as the top cause of distracted driving, and people blame the promotion of productivity culture as a source of sleep deprivation among commercial truckers.

Sending and receiving text messages while driving represent the top form of distracted driving because it takes a driver's visual, manual and cognitive attention away from the road. The processing of each text message equates to a driver operating a vehicle with closed eyes.

Common causes of burn injuries

Personal injuries range from traumatic brain injuries to medical errors. One type that easily can fall under the radar is burns. A burn may seem commonplace or not as serious as other bodily harm, but it can have lasting consequences beyond just scarring. Second- and third-degree burns can lead to infections, bone and joint issues, loss of fluid, development of too much scar tissue and other health problems.

Burns can occur anywhere, as well. Most happen at home or in the workplace, but they can also happen at public places such as restaurants or beaches. With the risk everywhere you go, it is important to know common causes to both prevent a burn injury and know when you have a personal injury claim against a negligent party.

  • Motor vehicle accidents: Car crashes can cause all types of injuries, and one of them is burns from a flaming vehicle or skin contact with the road (friction burn).
  • Hot liquids: Burns from hot drinks may receive the most media attention, but hot tap water is the number one culprit, reveals Stanford Children's Health. The majority of these injuries are avoidable.
  • Electricity: Electrical currents can burn everyone from those in the construction injury to someone handling Christmas lights.
  • Fire: Fire is common everywhere all year round in the form of candles, campfires, cigarettes, matches, grills, fireplaces and gas stoves. House fires increase during the holidays, as well, due to more risk factors.
  • Appliances: Direct contact with hot surfaces on appliances such as ovens and curling irons is another common cause.
  • Sun exposure: People who work in the sunshine without sufficient protection can receive severe sunburns, as well as experience heat stroke.

Truck driving accidents and fatigue

Fatigue is a major cause of accidents every year. Nationwide, over 100,000 accidents each year are caused by driver fatigue, according to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA reports that 13 percent of all truck fatalities and 28 percent of single-driver commercial vehicle accidents involve fatigue. Companies are working to prevent this problem among truckers.

Truckers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of fatigue, and many believe that feeling tired is normal. Some drivers are so tired that they may lapse into "micro-naps" and involuntarily fall asleep for up to 15 seconds.

Mandatory crash avoidance tech could lower truck crash rates

Federal data shows that the annual number of large truck crash fatalities increased 28 percent between 2009 and 2016. This has led safety advocates to urge the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to consider mandating crash avoidance systems on all heavy trucks. California motorists may be interested to learn that those pleas have received attention from several members of Congress.

For example, one senator said that Congress should take meaningful action so that the safety concerns of truckers and others on the road are not left to market forces. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended the mandating of crash avoidance tech on at least 10 occasions since the late 1990s and criticized NHTSA back in 2016 for not proposing any regulations along these lines.

2017 saw less fatal car crashes, more fatal truck crashes

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report has revealed a trend in fatal traffic crashes that should be of interest to drivers in California. It appears that while car crash fatalities went down in 2017, large truck accident deaths went up. In fact, they increased by 9 percent from 4,369 to 4,761.

Multi-vehicle crashes involving large trucks saw increased by 8.8 percent. The number of deadly accidents involving trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds doubled as well. For its report, the NHTSA defined large trucks as those with a GVWR exceeding 10,000 pounds.

Important steps to take following a hit and run

Hit and runs happen far too frequently. One cyclist in Costa Mesa recently fell victim to a hit and run driver. Fortunately, thanks to involvement from the local community, police were able to arrest the suspect. 

While this particular incident resulted in an arrest, many hit-and-run accidents do not have the same kind of luck. It can be challenging to find the perpetrator of the accident, and that is why the victims of such occurrences need to follow these steps immediately after a collision: 

Some drivers may rely too much on car safety technology

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has a new study out that addresses a dangerous trend among drivers in California and across the U.S. This trend is the overreliance on car safety features. It appears that many drivers do not understand the limitations of these features. AAA puts part of the blame on misleading marketing and also calls out dealers, manufacturers and rental-car companies for failing to educate their customers properly.

According to the AAA survey, 80 percent of drivers with a blind-spot monitoring system were not aware of this feature's limited ability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. Even worse, 20 percent were confident enough to never look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

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