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Northridge Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Law Blog

Arbitration could hinder auto accident victim's rights

California residents who are involved in an accident with a self-driving car could have limited recourse if automakers get their way. Per Uber's terms of service, the families of those who are killed in its self-driving vehicles have to go to arbitration as opposed to court to settle the matter. A group of senators are now asking other major car companies if they plan to do the same with their autonomous vehicles.

Going to arbitration can help companies because they generally hire the arbitrator. The prospect of repeat business for whoever fulfills that role could lead to a cozy relationship with an automaker. Furthermore, anyone who participates in arbitration is not allowed to to take part in a class-action lawsuit. The senators noted in their letter that accountability is one of the keys to continued innovation in the autonomous vehicle sector. Without it, automakers may have no incentive to provide a safe product.

Distracted driving a major roadway danger

A study shows that drivers in California and across the country express a great deal of concern about distracted drivers but continue to engage in these behaviors when behind the wheel themselves. In the survey, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety as part of the annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, the number of drivers who say they have recently used a handheld cell phone while driving has shot up by 46 percent since 2013. At the same time, 88 percent of respondents also said that distracted driving poses a major threat.

The survey aims to measure Americans' attitudes and behaviors around key traffic safety issues; it included responses from 2,613 licensed drivers across the country, aged 16 and up. In the survey, almost 50 percent of participants said they had recently spoken on a handheld phone while driving and 45 percent said that they had read a text or email recently. An additional 35 percent admitted to sending a text or email while driving.

New study classifies top causes of trucking accidents

Commercial trucking accidents are all too common in California and the rest of the country. To study the most common causes of these accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration got together with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and analyzed the crash data of 120,000 fatal truck crashes that occurred over a 33-month period. The results were published as the Large Truck Crash Causation Study.

Researchers found that 75 percent of the truck accidents involved at least one other vehicle. Of the 120,000 accidents, truckers were to blame for approximately 68,000. The causes were broken down into four categories: decision, recognition, non-performance and performance.

Helmets can help to avoid injuries in motorcycle crashes

Motorcyclists in California often face severe personal injuries and lifelong disabilities after a crash. This means that using personal protective equipment and safety gear like helmets can be critical for health and even survival after a motorcycle crash. One survey found that 1859 lives were saved due to motorcyclists wearing helmets behind the wheel, and that an additional 802 lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists regularly wore their helmets. Using a motorcycle helmet helps to reduce injury to the cervical spine during a crash, which can work to protect motorists' lives as well as avoid serious disabilities and paralysis.

The study, conducted by the University of Wisconsin, indicated that using a helmet in a motorcycle accident helps to lower the likelihood of fractures to the cervical vertebrae. This contradicts earlier assertions that helmets do not provide protection for the spine during a crash and may, in fact, increase the danger due to added weight on the spine. Concern about spinal injuries has been one reason why helmet use is often not required by law.

New AAA study uses accurate methods to detect drowsiness

According to government statistics, 1 to 2 percent of all accidents in California and across the U.S. are caused by drowsy driving. However, researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study that suggests the numbers may be even higher.

There are currently several limitations in the assessment of drowsiness in drivers. For one, there is no accurate method that police officers can use to determine drowsiness, and drivers themselves may not be aware of the condition they're in. If they are drowsy, they might choose to keep it out of the police report. As government statistics are based on police reports and post-crash investigations, researchers say that their percentage is ultimately misleading.

New California law changes rules for pedestrians

A new law in California eases up on the rules for pedestrians crossing busy streets, and in at least one city, police are using the new law as an opportunity to educate pedestrians about safety.

Before the new law, it was illegal for a pedestrian to cross a street after the walk signal began flashing. Doing so was technically jaywalking. But now, it is okay to cross during the flashing of the signal, as long as the pedestrian makes it across by the time the signal's countdown timer has hit zero. If the signal has no countdown and is just a flashing hand, crossing is not allowed until the color changes to white.

Drug-impaired driving to be the focus of NHTSA summit

In California and across the U.S., the opioid crisis has been affecting the general workforce. In the past five years, urine testing has shown an annual increase in amphetamine, marijuana and heroin use. With the legalization of marijuana in numerous states, drugged driving has increased. For these reasons, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking for ways to improve safety and reduce traffic deaths.

The NHTSA will be holding a summit on March 15 to initiate dialogue with other organizations. The goals are to explore the best ways to raise awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs, or DUIDs, as well as consistent ways to track DUIDs, test and measure drug impairment levels in drivers and enforce DUID laws.

NTSB finds speeding a major factor in traffic fatalities

Some people in California may be careful about never driving while drunk, but they might not use the same type of caution when it comes to speeding. Traffic fatalities have been on the rise for the last several years, and various experts have pondered whether smartphones or some other factor is to blame. The National Transportation Safety Board has done a study and concluded that speed is responsible for many of these deaths.

The study looked at motor vehicle accidents from 2005 to 2014 and found that nearly the same number of deaths were caused by speeding as by drunk driving. As a result, the NTSB is recommending increasing the penalties for speeding. At present, not only are penalties much lighter but speeding is not regarded as culturally stigmatizing in the same way that drunk driving is.

The discovery phase of your personal injury trial

After your accident, you may have felt like your world was on pause while doctors and specialists worked to bring you healing and relief. You may still feel like you are impatiently waiting for normal to return, and the wait may be more frustrating each day. In addition to the pain and disability you may be experiencing, you are likely watching the medical bills pile up.

While you can't deny yourself the care you need to make a full recovery, you may have heavy concerns about how to afford the total cost, which could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you have decided that it would be in your best interests to file a lawsuit in California civil court to recoup some of your financial losses from the person responsible for your accident, you may be hearing many terms and phrases that are unfamiliar to you. One of them may be the word "discovery."

The risks presented by truck overloading

Overloaded trucks may be a safety hazard on California roads and others throughout the country. Furthermore, overloading a truck may also be a violation of state and federal safety laws. When loads are too heavy or not properly balanced, they could shift when a truck changes lanes or otherwise makes a sudden motion. This may result in the truck rolling over or the driver otherwise losing control of the vehicle.

The more weight that is added to a truck, the longer it may take to stop. This may be especially true if it is going down a hill, increasing the odds of an accident occurring. Increased braking time may make it harder to avoid an accident or take evasive action during an emergency situation. In addition to making sure that a truck is not overloaded, it is important that axles are not overloaded.