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U.S. experiences over 40,000 fatal accidents for third year

Despite a renewed focus on traffic safety and advances in technology, the United States experienced its third year of over 40,000 annual traffic deaths in 2018. The trend affects drivers throughout Texas and across the country.

According to research compiled by the National Safety Council, 2018 marked the third year where traffic fatalities topped 40,000. While the number of fatalities in 2018 is down slightly from the year before, it still reflects a 14 percent increase from the number of deaths in 2014. Even with the slight decrease over the previous three years, the alarming trend over the prior decade is concerning. Crashes involving injury followed a similar trend, with the 4.5 million people seriously injured in car wrecks representing a one percent increase from the previous year.

Road Safe America urges use of speed limiters on big rigs

Federal data shows that from 2009 to 2017, all but six states saw an increase in the number of large truck crash fatalities. Texas saw the highest number in 2017, followed by California, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Texas also had the fourth highest percentage increase in truck crash deaths during that eight-year period (the top three being Washington, Idaho and Colorado).

One interesting point is that most of these states have a truck speed limit of 70 mph or more. This is an unsafe speed for any vehicles weighing 80,000 pounds or more, according to Road Safe America. The highway safety non-profit, after studying this federal data, is now encouraging truck fleet owners to consider vehicle safety technology.

What documents do you need to gather for your SSD application?

Filing for disability benefits can be a lengthy, complex task. If you cannot work because your physical condition prevents you from doing so, you may have a rightful claim to certain types of benefits through the Social Security Administration. However, actually getting the benefits you need is no easy process. 

Even individuals who have serious, debilitating physical or mental conditions may have a difficult time securing the financial support they need. If you are about to embark on this process, you may be wondering what you can do to increase your chances of a successful claim. One of the first steps you will have to take is gathering the documentation and medical evidence necessary to validate your claim. 

Texas basketball coach loses job following DWI

An assistant basketball coach at a San Antonio high school was placed on administrative leave following his arrest for DWI-, drugs- and weapons-related charges on Jan. 10. The 39-year old coach was specifically charged with driving while intoxicated, possessing dangerous drugs and unlawful carrying of a weapon.

The coach was arrested in Bexar County, which was where he was placed in jail. He was released three days following the arrest after posting $2,100. School officials at Wagner High School, which is where the man coached, have stated he will no longer be permitted to teach or coach in the school district.

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.

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Mark A. Di Carlo, PLLC
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