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Riverside County Personal Injury Law Blog

Using black boxes to understand truck crashes

If you drive regularly, you may pass dozens of semitrucks during your morning and evening commutes. While you can typically count on a professional operator to drive responsibly, a negligent, careless or distracted driver may put your life in danger. Alternatively, if you collide with a tractor-trailer, you may sustain life-altering injuries. 

In California, you do not have to bear the cost of recovering from injuries that someone else caused. Instead, you can likely pursue the sort of compensation that allows you to focus on your recovery. To do so, though, you must prove your case. Accessing the truck‚Äôs event data recorder, commonly called a black box, may be essential. 

U.S. automobile safety testing falling behind other countries

Automobile consumers in California have looked to the federal five-star safety rating system since the 1990s when shopping for new vehicles. The New Car Assessment Program emerged under the strong leadership of a safety advocate while she served at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As part of her current work for the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, this person has written a report criticizing the federal government's failure to evolve the safety rating system in recent years. Europe, Asia and Latin America now put more effort into vehicle safety testing than the United States.

European regulators administer four times more safety tests than U.S. regulators. Vehicle systems that could detect pedestrians have been ignored by U.S. safety authorities. Real-world data about how new safety technologies actually perform is collected within the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, but the database remains largely inaccessible to the buying public because it is geared toward academic and industry researchers.

Cities with most car accidents in 2019 ranked in new report

The transportation nonprofit Go Safe Labs has released a report on car accident numbers and rates in 2019. Researchers, after analyzing some 2 million collisions occurring from 2018 to 2019, have come up with a list of the 10 worst cities for accidents. California residents may not be surprised to hear that Los Angeles made the list. It came in third with 19,660 crashes.

In all, 953,630 crashes took place in the U.S. in 2019 -- a 6.8% increase from 2018. At No. 1 was Houston with 22,188 accidents, followed by Charlotte, N.C., with 21,818 crashes. Texas saw two other cities, Austin and Dallas, rank fourth and fifth with 16,635 and 14,685 crashes, respectively. Raleigh saw 12,846 crashes, which was actually 25.5% fewer crashes than in 2018. The list ended with Oklahoma City, Baton Rouge, La., Nashville and Phoenix.

Determining who is responsible in a multi-car accident

Any car accident is upsetting, but it is especially disturbing when multiple cars are involved. One of the largest car accidents in the United States involved 194 cars. Thankfully, there were no fatalities in this incident, but it was likely a legal nightmare afterward. California drivers may wonder how it is determined who is at fault in an accident like this.

At least three vehicles need to hit one another in order for it to qualify as a multi-car accident. These types of accidents usually involve one vehicle rear-ending another and starting a chain reaction. Carelessness or driving while distracted are often to blame for multi-car accidents.

Man suspected of DUI arrested for causing two crashes, one fatal

A 65-year-old California woman walking her dog was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver traveling west on Pearblossom Highway. The accident occurred around 8 p.m. on Jan. 23. The driver then fled the scene and caused a second accident, this time involving multiple vehicles, in the city of Palmdale. The incident ended in seven people being injured.

The driver was among four people taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Two were taken to the hospital in critical condition, and one was treated at the crash scene with minor injuries. California Highway Patrol subsequently arrested the driver. The 62-year-old native of Palmdale is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Planned study into truck accidents will analyze distractions

Truck accidents are a growing concern in California. Because the state is a prominent destination for deliveries and produces a variety of products shipped across the country, these vehicles are constantly on the road. The risks of a truck crash have long been significant with truckers under the influence, drowsy truckers and reckless driving. In recent years, however, new dangers associated with distracted driving have been added to the list.

A plan to conduct a new truck accident study will consider distracted driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, will analyze the factors in accidents that led to injuries, fatalities and the need to tow the vehicles involved. A goal is to use onboard systems that track when truck drivers were traveling at excessive speeds, departed from their lanes or hit the brakes hard.

There may be a limited time to file a claim after auto accidents

After auto accidents, Californians will often be unsure of what they should do next. Medical expenses, lost wages and other problems will frequently arise. While a legal filing is an option to recover compensation for what was lost, a factor that might recede into the background is the statute of limitations to file a claim. That does not diminish its importance.

There are various factors that should be understood with the statute of limitations to file an accident claim. There might be a temptation not to report the accident to law enforcement and the insurance company. This is a mistake because injuries can manifest themselves later even if those involved did not initially believe they were hurt. Costs of repair and raised insurance are also considerations. Still, it is wise to report it and to do so as soon as possible.

4 common causes of wrong-way car accidents

When you drive on a one-way street, you expect every motorist to be going the same direction you are. Unfortunately, though, that does not always happen. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there are between 300 and 400 wrong-way car accidents on U.S. roadways every year. 

If you drive at night, on weekends or near medians, you may have an increased risk of colliding with a wrong-way driver. Even worse, wrong-way crashes often result in serious injuries, as many are head-on collisions. Here are four reasons these types of collisions tend to occur.

How red-light cameras may lower accident rates

Red-light running crashes kill hundreds of people every year in California and across the U.S. In 2016, the number came to more than 800, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. More than half of the fatalities are individuals other than the red-light runner: pedestrians, bicyclists, occupants of other vehicles etc.

In a survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 92.9% of drivers acknowledged that running a stoplight is dangerous. Yet 42.7% admitted to doing it at least once in the previous 30 days. Lack of awareness, then, is hardly the issue. Many experts are encouraging the use of red-light cameras as a way to reduce not only traffic violations but also accidents.

Hands-free phones still open up drivers to other distractions

Every day across the U.S., at least nine people die in car crashes resulting from distracted driving. Most California motorists think of phone use when they think of distracted driving, but anything that takes one's eyes or mind from the road is a distraction. Eating, drinking, or talking with passengers can all constitute a distraction.

While hands-free phone use is acceptable in many places, even this can pose a cognitive distraction. In addition, it opens up drivers to other distractions. Lytx, a maker of video telematics and fleet management software, analyzed trends in risky behavior among the fleets that it serves and found out some interesting things in this regard.