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Fatal truck crashes on the rise

The number of fatalities resulting from large truck crashes is rising. According to statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 4,761 deaths related to large truck crashes in 2017. In 2016, the number was 4,369. Drivers in Texas should be aware of the dangers presented by trucks on the road as tractor-trailer accidents are often more severe than other motor vehicle crashes.

The federal government has established laws limiting how many hours commercial drivers can work at a time. Typically, drivers are limited to 14 hours on the road following a mandatory break of 10 hours. According to federal officials, electronic logging devices are meant to provide more accurate measures of work time than paper records, which used to be the primary form of record keeping.

Dump truck, ready-mix concrete truck crash rates rise

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released statistics on the number of serious dump truck and ready-mix concrete delivery trucks in 2016 (the latest year with available statistics). Truck drivers in Texas should know that there were 8,206 dump truck accidents so severe that the vehicle had to be towed away. This marked a 9 percent increase from the previous year.

The number of dump truck accidents involving injuries rose 2.7 percent to a total of 5,483. This includes accidents with dump trucks used for non-construction-related activities. As for tow-away accidents involving ready-mix delivery trucks, they increased 9.6 percent with 838 in all in 2016. Accidents that caused injuries went up 3.8 percent. Fatal accidents with ready-mix concrete trucks went from 33 in 2015 to 38 in 2016.

ZF develops tech behind external airbags

Though it will take a while before they are perfected, external airbags are already known to provide great safety benefits. The ZF Group has its own strategy for developing external airbags that go on the sides of a vehicle to protect occupants from side collisions. Texas residents may want to learn more about these features.

According to ZF, external airbags reduce injury severity by as much as 40 percent. ZF's own airbags act as an additional crumple zone and are meant to absorb some of the shock of a crash. There are challenges to be met, however. First is how to get the predictive system to recognize an impending crash. Second is how to get the airbags to deploy a split second before the event. Lastly, airbags are known to deploy at inappropriate times.

Defensive driving is key when driving near trucks

Texas roads are filled with all types of vehicles. Motorists are used to sharing space with delivery vans, motorcycles, tractors and even horses. However, one category of vehicle poses a significantly larger public safety hazard to passenger cars. The sheer size of large tractor-trailers makes them a danger to everything in their path.

A fully loaded tractor-trailer rig can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds and outweigh a passenger car by nearly 39 tons. Bringing a big truck to a safe stop can require the length of two football fields under ideal conditions. When variables such as slick roads and worn tires are factored into the equation, stopping distance can be much longer. For these reasons, truckers are trained to keep a safety cushion in between their trucks and other vehicles. Unfortunately, motorists often merge into this safety cushion and put themselves at risk in the event of an emergency that requires a quick stop.

Understanding the reasons why disability claims are denied

Whether you suffer from a progressive condition or the sudden onset of a painful disease, you likely tried to work as long as possible so you could support yourself. However, medical bills and lost days at work eventually caused you to make the difficult choice to leave the workforce and apply for Social Security Disability Insurance.

After completing the lengthy application process, you may have been shocked and disappointed to learn the Social Security Administration rejected your claim. You now have many concerns about your future and your ability to continue with your current quality of life. However, you may find it encouraging to know that an initial rejection of your claim for SSDI may not be the end of the story.

CVSA puts nearly 5,000 trucks out of service in inspection spree

The results of the 2018 Brake Safety Week are out, so truckers and their employers in Texas will want to know how it went. Inspectors certified by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance pulled over a total of 35,080 commercial vehicles in the U.S. and Canada to check for compliance with brake safety rules, putting 4,955 or 14.1 percent out of service for violations.

The 2018 Brake Safety Week took place from Sept. 16 to 22 while the previous year saw only a one-day event. Despite the fewer number of trucks that were inspected, the percentage of those put out of service during Brake Safety Day was almost the same: 14 percent. Brakes violations made up 28.4 percent of the out-of-service violations during the CVSA's 2018 International Roadcheck, the most frequently cited violation.

Texas drivers: watch out for fatigued and distracted driving

Driver fatigue and distracted driving are two of the biggest issues that can lead to motor vehicle accidents on the nation's highways. Truck drivers are not the only drivers who may be hit with fatigue and distraction problems, however. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that approximately 100,000 accidents comprised of all types of vehicles occur each year in this country because of fatigue or distracted driving.

Fleet Owner is a website dedicated to the trucking industry. The site recently reported that a safety and risk management company, Dupré Logistics, started focusing on truck driver fatigue in 2001. They assessed driver logbooks and schedules in an effort to learn how to manage the problem. According to the National Safety Council, driver fatigue is responsible for 13 percent of fatal multi-vehicle and big rig accidents, and a full 28 percent of single truck crashes involve fatigue.

Police in Texas charge man hauling cattle with DWI

Police in Texas say that a 21-year-old man was driving a truck loaded with 38 cattle while under the influence of drugs on Oct. 9. The man was taken into custody following a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 84 according to a Littlefield Police Department press release. After being booked, the man was turned over to the custody of the Lamb County Jail. Initial reports do not indicate if the man's bail has been set, but they do reveal that a sample of his blood was drawn for toxicology testing.

LPD officers say that they pulled over the cattle truck after receiving reports that it was being driven erratically. A caller is said to have told emergency operators that the vehicle was crossing the roadway from shoulder to shoulder. Officers claim that they took the man into custody after noticing clear signs of impairment, but the LPD press release does not reveal what those signs may have been. The truck and cattle were towed to a feed lot in Lubbock.

Which type of disability benefits is available to you?

If you cannot work due to a serious illness or grave physical injury, you would be eligible for certain types of benefits through the Social Security Administration. Disabled Texas individuals often have a difficult time securing the benefits they deserve, even with a valid claim. It is beneficial for you to understand as much as possible about these benefits before you apply.

There are two main types of disability benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. The right benefits for you depend on your income and other factors. Before you move forward with an application, you may need to know the right option for you, along with how you can prove your disability.

Drivers often overestimate the safety benefits of technology

A growing number of Texas car buyers are choosing vehicles equipped with advanced systems designed to anticipate and prevent accidents. However, this technology may not be as effective as they believe. This was the conclusion reached by researchers from the American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety after they polled 1,200 owners of 2016 and 2017 passenger vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems.

The AAA researchers say they were concerned by how little the motorists responding to their poll knew about the key limitations of advanced safety technology like blind-spot monitoring, emergency braking systems and adaptive cruise control. They say that their findings suggest that American drivers may not yet be ready to adapt to vehicles with even more sophisticated autonomous technology.

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Mark A. Di Carlo, PLLC
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