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Unsafe truck driving practices to be targeted

Texas motorists and truck drivers may be interested to learn that the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Operation Safe Driver Week is scheduled to take place between July 15 and July 21. During this week, law enforcement agencies around the country will be taking part in watching the nation's roads in order to spot commercial drivers and drivers of passenger vehicles using unsafe driving practices.

According to a study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver behavior was a critical factor in about 93 percent of crashes involving passenger vehicles and 88 percent of crashes involving large trucks during the period reviewed. As such, the Operation Safe Driver Program will focus on spotting a variety of dangerous driving behaviors, which includes improper lane changes, distracted driving, speeding, following other vehicles too closely and failing to wear a seat belt.

Coalition announces goal to eliminate traffic deaths

With an ambitious goal of bringing traffic deaths down to zero by the year 2050, an organization called the Road to Zero Coalition is pressing a number of initiatives aimed at improving road safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2016, more than 34,000 died in motor vehicle accidents. Of those deaths, more than 4,700 involved large trucks.

One of the coalition's initiatives is bringing seat belt use to 100 percent. It is already at 90 percent, but half of the fatalities were not wearing seat belts. Another is shifting the culture away from speeding, distracted driving and driving under the influence and toward a focus on safety first. The coalition also aims to improve safety technology in vehicles.

Can you really know your BAC before you drive home?

You and your friends stopped for a happy hour on your way home from work. Now as you get behind the wheel of your car and fumble with the keys you start to wonder just how much you’ve had to drink. Are you legally able to drive? What is your BAC? Is there a way to tell?

Tech firm working to improve autonomous vehicle technology

Texas residents may have read media reports concerning a pedestrian in Arizona who was struck and killed by an SUV that was being used to test autonomous vehicle technology by the ride-sharing company Uber. The accident serves as a reminder that drivers should remain vigilant at all times even if their vehicles are equipped with the latest electronic safety systems, and a startup technology company is developing software designed to ensure that they do.

Boston-based Affectiva develops software that scrutinizes facial expressions and can be installed in the driver-facing cameras already fitted to vehicles with autonomous systems. This software monitors eye and head movements and can alert drivers who may have become distracted, and major auto manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz are reportedly interested in adding it to their vehicles.

Self-driving cars should not drive like humans, professor says

Texas motorists who are interested in the development of self-driving cars may have heard about a fatal accident involving a pedestrian on March 18. A professor in Arizona, where the accident occurred, says it happened because autonomous cars are being programmed to drive in the same way that humans do.

The Tempe police chief says the Uber vehicle was not at fault in the accident. Video of the incident shows the pedestrian stepping from a dark area into a part of the road where there was not a pedestrian crossing. However, the professor maintains that the problem was that the car was proceeding the way a human would by assuming that there were no obstacles in the path ahead despite being unable to confirm that visually. He says that autonomous vehicles should drive at a speed that would allow them to stop if an object comes into their range of vision.

Truck accidents can pose severe risk on the roadway

For drivers on the roadways in Texas, sharing the highway with large trucks and 18-wheelers can be an unnerving experience. The massive size and weight of these vehicles mean that they can pose a particular threat to smaller cars, light trucks and motorcycles, and a crash could lead to severe personal injuries or even fatalities. This means that it can be important for drivers to be particularly cautious around large semi-trucks in order to protect themselves from negligent or dangerous driving.

There are a number of situations that can lead to commercial trucking accidents, both those caused by truck drivers and those caused by other vehicles on the road. Of course, due to the size of large trucks, even an accident caused by another passenger car can have repercussions for many other drivers and passengers on the roadway. Passenger cars' driving behavior that can lead to trucking accidents include changing lanes suddenly in front of a truck, attempting to unsafely pass a truck without enough room, driving quickly between several large trucks or failing to speed or slow one's vehicle when a truck is merging.

Car accidents and soft tissue injuries

When people in Texas are in a car accident, they might suffer a soft tissue injury. These types of injuries may involve sprains, tears, strains or simply soreness to tendons, muscles and ligaments.

The impact of a car accident can stretch soft tissues and lead to these types of injuries. However, since they are not detectable using an X-ray in the same way that broken bones are, these injuries may also be more difficult to diagnose. Furthermore, it could be hours or even days after the accident before a person begins to notice symptoms. Typical symptoms are inflammation and persistent pain.

What happens if my Uber gets in a crash?

Let’s say that it’s a Friday night on campus, and you and your friends are ready to go out and unwind. You hop into the Uber that you sent for on your phone. But on the way to your destination, your driver rear-ends another car, causing your head to hit the seat in front of you and your neck to snap back and forth. You may have a serious injury and hefty medical bills. You are left wondering what your actions should be.

Now that ridesharing apps are a common part of college life for many Texan students, it is important to know what you should do if your rideshare is ever in an accident. So, what should you do if your Uber or other rideshare is in crash?

OOIDA petition seeks change to hours of service rule

Commercial truck drivers in Texas should be aware that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has proposed a major change in break times for 14-hour work clocks. The association has submitted a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requesting that drivers are able to have up to three straight off-duty hours during the 14 hours they are working. It is asking that drivers be allowed to pause their daily work clock and that the 30-minute rest time requirement that is currently in place be eliminated.

According to the petition that the association submitted, the current regulations are excessively complicated. They offer no alternatives that take into account the physical restrictions and capabilities of individual drivers. The regulations compel drivers to get on the road when they are exhausted at peak travel times and in road and weather conditions that are not safe.

Ways to reduce distracted driving

For Texas motorists, one major concern when getting behind the wheel can be the dangers created by distracted drivers. As the popularity and ownership of smartphones has spread, so has texting while driving and other distracting app usage. Many safety experts have warned that the rise in fatal accidents is tied to the popularity of dangerous distractions on the road. However, phones aren't the only cause of distracted driving; even built-in entertainment and navigation units can turn a driver's attention away from the road.

While people widely recognize the hazards posed by distracted driving, they still engage in these behaviors. Consumer Reports conducted a survey and found that over half of all U.S. licensed drivers who have smartphones sometimes text, browse the web or send emails while operating their vehicles. There are a number of technical solutions proposed by smartphone manufacturers and made available for both iPhones and Android devices by app developers; these can identify a "car mode" that blocks incoming notifications and sends auto-replies to incoming texts.

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Mark A. Di Carlo, PLLC
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