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Roadcheck inspections find brake, out-of-service violations

Some Texas truck drivers may be aware that in early June, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held a road safety blitz. The CVSA focused on hours-of-service violations, but fewer than 2 percent of all drivers were taken out of service for this type of violation. "Brake Safety Week" was planned as the focus for a September event.

Of the drivers who were ordered out of service in the June inspections, more than 40 percent had hours-of-service violations. The other top two out-of-service driver violations were false record of duty status and wrong class license. For vehicles, the top out-of-service violations were brake adjustments, tires and wheels, and brake systems.

Distracted driving a generational problem

A study conducted by Volvo and The Harris Poll made some interesting findings regarding distracted driving. Texas drivers should know that the number one distraction for people behind the wheel is mobile devices. The people who admit to using their phones while driving, though, fall unexpectedly into several groups.

Specifically, Gen Xers are tied with Millennials as the most likely to use their phones while driving with 81 percent of those surveyed admitting it. Among members of Generation Z, 71 percent admitted using their phones while driving. Baby boomers were divided into two groups with 64 percent of older boomers and 72 percent of younger boomers admitting to using their phones while driving.

Roundabouts save lives and money

A growing number of road safety advocates are urging officials in Texas and around the country to consider replacing traditional traffic lights and stop signs with roundabouts or traffic circles. Roundabouts slow traffic down rather than stopping it, which prevents high-speed broadside or head-on collisions involving vehicles speeding to avoid red lights. Experts say that in addition to reducing traffic accident fatalities and injuries, roundabouts save taxpayers money by reducing the strain placed on emergency services.

Despite being a common sight in Europe and other parts of the world, roundabouts remain rare in the United States. Research has found that they do not reduce the number of accidents, but they do make crashes far less severe. Common objections raised when roundabouts are proposed include their construction costs and the negative views drivers have of them.

Drowsy driving a major threat to roadway safety

Drowsy driving can be one of the most common and deadly dangers to face motorists on Texas roadways. Whether people are returning home from a long day of work or simply dealing with a poor night's sleep, fatigued driving occurs all too frequently. One report by the American Automobile Association noted that the number of crashes involving drowsiness could be eight times higher than official estimates suggest. In addition, another survey showed that 60 percent of American adults admitted to driving while sleepy and a full 37 percent of respondents said that they had fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once.

Yet another poll found that 3 percent of Americans admitted that they had fallen asleep while operating a vehicle in the two-week period preceding the survey. While drowsy driving may be common, it can also be severely dangerous. When people drive while drowsy, they are at a far greater risk of causing serious car accidents. Drowsy drivers have slow reaction times and impaired decision-making abilities, especially in emergency situations. In fact, sleepy driving has often been compared to drunk driving in terms of the effect on the body.

Seeking disability benefits from Social Security

Your illness or injury has left you with many challenges. You may be in pain, unable to sleep and struggling with basic tasks during your day. On top of everything else, you are unable to work because of your disability. No income means you can't pay your bills, never mind covering your medical expenses.

Fortunately, the federal government offers financial support for people with disabilities. You may be eligible to receive assistance through Social Security Disability Insurance if you worked a certain amount of time and paid into the system through your employer. You must also meet the qualifying criteria, which means having a medical condition that the Social Security Administration has approved for benefits.

Fatigue-related CMV crashes common when rest areas out of reach

Commercial truckers in Texas who work long hours probably know that they are at risk for drowsy driving. What they might not know is that the risk for a fatigue-related crash increases the farther away they are from rest areas. This is according to a recent study completed by the University of Kentucky.

Researchers studied crash data in Kentucky from 2005 to 2014, analyzing those interstates and parkways that have at least a single rest area, weigh station with a rest haven or truck stop designated by the National Truck Network. There were 7,538 incidents where the trucker was at fault, and among those, 284 involved fatigue.

Underage DWI laws based on zero-tolerance policy

When people hear that someone in Texas has been charged with drunk driving, they may expect that the person was not in control of their vehicle and was driving with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the standard legal limit of 0.08 percent. However, when people are found to be driving with alcohol in their systems and they are under the age of 21, they can face DWI charges with a BAC of 0.02 percent or even lower.

This is because of a special subset of drunk driving laws that prohibit underage DWI. Underage DWI laws use a zero-tolerance concept based on the fact that it is unlawful for people under 21 to buy or possess alcohol. While driving under the influence is always illegal, underage DWI laws do not require the driver to be actually influenced by alcohol, nor do they require that the driver operate his or her vehicle unsafely. A driver who is under 21 could face DWI charges after having as little as a glass of wine at dinner. Even driving with a small amount of alcohol in a person's system is against the law if that person is under 21, and the consequences can be severe and long-lasting.

Week targets truck brake safety violations

In Texas and across the country, truck braking violations can pose a severe danger to truck drivers and others on the road. When the brakes on large trucks and commercial vehicles are improperly maintained, it can become difficult or impossible for a driver to correctly stop their vehicle, especially in slippery conditions or emergency situations. The effects of a large, unstoppable truck can be catastrophic given the size and weight of the vehicles involved. This is one reason that the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is conducting its annual Brake Safety Week between September 16 and 22.

In 2017, the CVSA had reduced the brake safety event to a one-day initiative, but after 14 percent of all trucks inspected were required to be taken off the roads due to brake maintenance violations, the event has returned to its week-long status. During the safety initiative, inspections of trucks on the roads will be ramped up. In general, these will be comprehensive Level I inspections, but truck inspectors will have a particular focus on brake components that could be poorly maintained.

How do you know if you are eligible for disability benefits?

When a Texas individual finds that he or she is no longer able to work because of a disabling medical condition, it can signal financial struggles for the entire family. If you are a person who is no longer able to work regularly or earn a sufficient income to support yourself, you may know there are legal options available that could allow you secure financial support.

Through a disability claim with the Social Security Administration, you may be able to obtain benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance. Simply having a serious medical condition is not enough to qualify for these benefits. It involves a complex application process, and the SSA has strict requirements for what qualifies as a disabling medical condition.

Program aims to reduce fatigue among truck drivers

Texas truckers who drive big rigs may be interested in results of a recent international Roadcheck day in Iowa. Motor Vehicle Enforcement Agency personnel performed a 37-step inspection on trucks and drivers at a weigh station on Interstate 380. The program's goal is to improve safety on the nation's highways.

The annual inspection program focused on how long drivers had been on the road this year. Truckers are only allowed to drive 14 hours before they must rest. Drivers who exceed these hours could be fined. Over the 2017 Roadcheck days, almost 33,000 drivers were found in violation of the hours-in-service rule; of these, 1,735 violators were in Iowa. Fatigued drivers, as well as those impaired by alcohol or drug use or illness, were involved in 157 fatal accidents in 2016, says the Federal Motor Carrier Association. Seventy of these accidents involved fatigued drivers or those who fell asleep at the wheel.

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Mark A. Di Carlo, PLLC
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