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Riverside County Personal Injury Law Blog

Operation Safe Driver Week: CVSA to target unsafe drivers

According to a study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, unsafe driving behavior is to blame for 88 percent of crashes involving passenger vehicles and 93 percent of crashes involving large trucks. Whether in California or in some other state, unsafe driving is the leading cause of all highway crashes.

The FMCSA, along with other industry and transportation safety organizations, is in support of the annual Operation Safe Driver Week. This event, hosted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is meant to reduce injuries and deaths on America's highways. This year, the event will take place from June 15 to June 21.

Seat belt use reduces severity of liver injuries in car accidents

Drivers and passengers in California who buckle up tend to fare better when crashes occur, especially in regard to liver injuries. A research study of 51,202 liver injury car accident cases from 2010 to 2015 revealed that adult victims who wore seat belts generally experienced liver injuries of less severity and their chances of survival improved.

People wearing seat belts endured severe liver damage 21 percent less often than crash victims who did not wear seat belts. When a seat belt was worn and airbags were present, people had a 26 percent lower chance of serious liver injuries. Among more than 50,000 people with liver injuries as a result of a car crash, those with severe liver injuries were twice as likely to die as those with mild or moderate liver injuries. Severe liver injuries resulted in surgery for 14 percent of patients. Mild liver injuries by contrast only required 5 percent of people to have surgeries.

Zero auto accidents by 2050 is the goal of safety organization

In California, as in other states, there are automobile fatalities on an annual basis. Nationwide statistics show that approximately 100 people die on the road every single day. Many of these accidents are preventable.

The National Safety Council's goal is for there to be zero automobile accidents by the year 2050. The National Safety Council's CEO compared the goal of having zero automobile accidents to racing to the moon. She stated how half a century ago, the idea of going to the moon seemed impossible, but now it is a reality. The implication is that although having a fatality-free transportation system seems impossible, with the right leadership, commitment and technology, it can be done.

Afternoon rush hour: the peak time for texting and driving

Drivers in California know that texting and driving is all too common, but they may be wondering when peak texting takes place. According to app developer Drivemode, that peak time is between 3pm and 7pm: the afternoon rush hour. Drivemode came to this conclusion after studying a year's worth of data culled from its own Android app. Records show 6.5 million instances of messaging among 177,000 drivers.

Twenty-two percent of text messages were sent between 4pm and 6pm. It was between 5pm and 6pm that drivers sent the most messages: a national average of 6.87 per hour. A total of 10 states had a higher message rate than this, the first being New York (8.21 messages), followed by Hawaii (7.90) and Florida (7.87). Standard text messaging accounted for almost half of all instances, while Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp each accounted for about 20 percent of them.

Study raises questions about hands-free cellphones

California residents are subject to some of the nation's strictest distracted driving laws, but motorists in the Golden State are still permitted to make phone calls or send text messages as long as the devices they use feature hands-free technology. However, a study released by researchers at the University of Texas suggests that hands-free features may not make cellphones any safer for drivers to use.

The research team reached this surprising conclusion after observing how reading and sending text messages affected the driving of 20 campus volunteers. The students were placed in an advanced driving simulator and used both a standard cellphone and a Google Glass device to read and reply to messages. The research team used the Google device because it allows drivers to read text messages while keeping their eyes on the road as well as their hands on the wheel.

3 things you should know about premises liability

Premises liability is a legal concern for business owners as well as any type of property owner. If a person is injured on your premises, you could be held liable for his or her injuries. Although that is a broad interpretation, the general idea is that as a property or business owner, you are responsible for ensuring that your premises are safe.

Premises liability cases can take many different directions in court, and there is a wide variety of potential circumstances that can trigger a lawsuit. Here are three important things you should know about premises liability so you can better understand the legal concept and take precautions to protect yourself and your physical property:

The nature of truck accident settlements

Civil law in California grants the victims of truck accidents the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, going through the civil court can cost victims a considerable amount of time and money, which is why many try instead to settle out of court. In most cases, trucking companies are willing to go this route too, which means that there is a greater chance for an amicable agreement.

Out-of-court settlements are achieved through alternative dispute resolution methods, the most widely used being negotiations, mediation and arbitration. This creates a confidential environment where both sides can candidly state their case without admitting to any fault. Trucking companies can be less defensive when hearing victims. Negotiations and mediation are non-binding, so victims can pursue litigation at the same time.

Passenger killed when engine explodes on Southwest flight

When California residents get on a commercial airplane, they expect the aircraft to be properly maintained. However, that is not always the case. On April 17, a passenger was killed on a Southwest Airlines plane when an engine blew apart on a flight from New York to Dallas.

According to media reports, one of the Boeing 737-700 plane's engines exploded mid-flight, hurling shrapnel into a fuselage window. The window broke and gave way, causing the cabin to rapidly depressurize. As a result, a female passenger was partially sucked out of the plane. Other passengers pulled her back in, but she suffered severe injuries. The plane began to rapidly descend, and many of the plane's passengers sent desperate messages to loved ones, fearing they were going to crash. However, the pilot was able to regain control of the aircraft and bring it in for an urgent landing in Philadelphia. The female passenger was transported to a local hospital, but she later died from her injuries. Seven other passengers were treated for minor injuries.

How to prevent distracted driving in semi-autonomous cars

Companies such as Waymo have shown people taking selfies and otherwise enjoying themselves riding in self-driving cars. However, it may not be safe for a driver to take his or her eyes off the road even while in a self-driving car. To prevent California drivers or others from getting too complacent while in such a vehicle, AI technology can be used to determine how attentive a driver really is.

A camera facing the driver inside of the vehicle can be used to keep track of that person's facial expressions and other information. If the car determines that the driver is not paying attention, it can sound an alarm or otherwise warn the driver to do so. This type of system is already used in Cadillacs that have the "Super Cruise" feature. It can also stop the vehicle and call OnStar if it detects that a driver isn't responding in a timely manner.

The growth of distracted driving

With smartphones, navigation systems and other technologies presenting more distractions than ever, drivers are at a greater risk for crashes. Drivers in California should know about a recent survey where 63 percent of drivers stated that they fear distracted drivers more than they do intoxicated drivers. Approximately 75 percent of drivers claimed that they see other drivers on their phones every day.

The most frequent distractions are text messages, phone calls, navigation systems and conversations with other occupants of the vehicle. Though distracted driving deaths are on the rise, the penalties regarding them are still light compared to those of DUI. The lack of a cultural stigma around distracted driving leaves many drivers with little motivation for changing their ways. The same survey states that 79 percent of drivers would be motivated if their auto insurers gave discounts to those who do not drive distracted.