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Northridge Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Law Blog

Statistics show pedestrian deaths are on the rise

Recent statistics have demonstrated a marked rise in pedestrian deaths on the nation's roads. Though a definitive cause for the rise has not yet been proven, several factors are speculated as contributing to the increase. In any event, the numbers of deaths should make both motorists and pedestrians in California act with greater care.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities among those walking on the road jumped at least 9 percent in both 2015 and 2016. The figures for 2017 remain the same as 2016. Currently, the number of deaths is nearly 6,000 annually.

Trucking companies use technology to reduce distracted driving

It's human nature for truck drivers in California and across the country to become distracted while behind the wheel. After all, there are dozens of things that can take a driver's mind off the task at hand. Everything from phone calls and text messages to family problems can be distracting.

However, in an effort to save both lives and money, trucking companies are starting to aggressively address distracted driving with technology. For years, fleets have been using vehicle data to alleviate driving performance issues such as hard braking or acceleration. That type of data is now being used to predict situations that may lead to distracted driving or driver fatigue.

Safety group hopes to make traffic deaths a thing of the past

In 2016, there were 37,461 vehicle accident deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That was a 5.6 percent increase from 2015. However, the Road to Zero Coalition has announced a plan to eliminate such deaths on California roads and others throughout the country. While Road to Zero believes that all traffic fatalities are preventable, the group acknowledges that its goal is ambitious.

One suggestion that the Road to Zero Coalition makes is to create a culture of safety when it comes to driving. For example, drivers should commit themselves to reducing speeds and refraining from driving while impaired. They can also make sure that they use their seat belts at all times. Currently, seat belt usage in the United States is at 90 percent. However, half of all traffic deaths come from those who don't buckle up.

New data suggests distracted driving is on the rise

It's been well documented that distracted driving is a major cause of accidents in California and across the county. Despite that fact, data collected by a mobile technology startup suggests that distracted driving is on the rise.

A recent report indicates that nearly 60 percent of all American drivers use their phone while driving. The data was collected by the startup company Zendrive. By analyzing anonymous data from their users, Zendrive concluded that approximately 69 million drivers use their phone while driving every day. According to the data, distracted drivers were on their phones an average of 3 minutes and 40 seconds per hour while behind the wheel. That represents an increase of 10 seconds per hour over the previous year.

Truck accidents and personal injury settlements

When victims of truck accidents seek compensation, they have two choices: they can either file a personal injury lawsuit with the trucking company or engage in alternative dispute resolution to reach a settlement. Civil law in California, as in other states, allows for either option. However, victims should understand the difference between binding and non-binding agreements.

The most common methods of ADR are negotiation, mediation and arbitration. The first two are non-binding and can take place simultaneously as the case goes through civil court. Arbitration, however, is a substitute for a civil trial. Therefore, once an agreement is made, the victim waives the right to going to trial on the same claim. No matter which ADR method a victim chooses, the process will be quicker and cost less money than a trial.

Autonomous cars may still be safer than human drivers

California drivers may have heard about the driver who was killed in March 2018 while their Tesla was on autopilot; in another accident involving an autonomous vehicle, a self-driving Uber car hit and killed an Arizona pedestrian. However, some experts caution that it is important not to react disproportionately to a low number of accidents by autonomous cars since they can significantly improve highway safety.

More than 35,000 people die in car accidents throughout the country annually, and 90 percent of motor vehicle accidents happen because of human error. By comparison, the number of accidents caused by autonomous vehicles is much lower, so it stands to reason that they could save lives.

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.