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Riverside County Personal Injury Law Blog

Emergency responders vulnerable to distracted drivers

First responders in California and nationwide are at an increased risk of dying in accidents caused by distracted driving, according to a new survey. In 2019, at least 16 emergency workers have been killed by vehicles across the country.

Experts say that emergency responders are particularly vulnerable to distracted drivers because they exit their vehicles to render aid to people who are on or near roadways. Adding to the problem, accident scenes often tempt drivers to engage in dangerous distracted driving activities. According to the survey, which was conducted by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 80% of drivers slow down to get a better look at accident scenes. In addition, 71% of drivers attempt to take cellphone photos of the scene, 66% send emails about what they've witnessed, and 60% post details about the accident on social media sites.

Self-driving cars aren't close to being safe yet

California residents may be excited to get their own self-driving cars, but these vehicles might not be released on the market anytime soon. A report from the Rand Corporation urges caution and much more testing before letting these cars drive in real-world conditions.

Some autonomous vehicles have already debuted on public roads to mixed results. A Tesla driver died in May 2016 when his vehicle hit a truck. The Tesla Model S Autopilot didn't brake because the bright sky prevented the system from detecting a white truck. Uber Technologies was responsible for the first pedestrian fatality attributed to AV, and the company temporarily stopped their testing but has since resumed their efforts.

CVSA roadcheck set for June, focuses on steering and suspension

Commercial truck and bus drivers in California will want to keep in mind that between June 4 and 6, they may be stopped at random for an inspection. This is because the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is holding its annual International Roadcheck at that time. The spree will consist of mostly Level I inspections, which cover both driver and vehicle regulations.

Drivers will be asked to provide their CDL, Medical Examiner's Certificates, work log and other documents to ensure compliance with federal guidelines. Their vehicles will have all their components checked, such as the brakes, tires, wheels, lights and cargo securement devices.

New pickup passengers more vulnerable in a crash than the drivers

Passengers in newer pickups are a higher risk for injury or death than the drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS has been conducting crash tests on both driver and passenger sides of vehicles since 2017, and it discovered this discrepancy after a round of tests on 11 two-row pickup trucks. California residents will want to know what the pickups were and how they were ranked.

The worst was the Toyota Tundra with a rating of "poor." Researchers stated that the Tundra struggled to maintain its structure in the crash tests. Part of the reason for this poor performance may be that the Tundra has not seen a major redesign since 2014, whereas some of the other vehicles tested have been recently overhauled.

Weather Channel faces wrongful death suit for deadly 2017 crash

In March of 2017, the stars of the show "Storm Wranglers" were speeding down a highway looking for signs of a tornado when they ran a stop sign and crashed into a jeep driven by a 25-year-old storm spotter. All three were killed upon impact. California residents should know that the mother of the 25-year-old has filed a wrongful death suit against the show's network, the Weather Channel.

The lawsuit claims that the storm-chasing duo of "Storm Wranglers" had long been known for reckless driving. Its videos, which are frequently live streamed on the Weather Channel's Facebook page, feature the duo speeding, ignoring stop signs and traffic lights, driving off-road and in ditches, driving on private property, traveling on the wrong side of the street and violating other traffic laws.

Nevada proposes "textalyzer" for confirming distracted driving

California residents should know that in neighboring Nevada, a measure has been proposed that may allow police to use a device called a "textalyzer" to determine if drivers were using their phone prior to a crash. The maker of the device, the Israel-based company Cellebrite, says the device does not access or store personal content. It will check for any user activity, such as if the driver opened a Facebook messenger call screen.

Advocates of the bill say that distracted driving is underreported since drivers can lie to the police about their actions prior to a crash. There is also no consistent police practice for punishing distracted driving, unlike with DUI. Those punishments that do exist are widely considered weak. Advocates say that people feel it is okay to drive distracted because of the lack of social stigma attached to it.

What to do if a dog bites you

Dog bites can be scary, whether it is by a strange canine on the sidewalk or a puppy during the teething stage. One out of every five dog bites results in an injury that needs medical attention, shares WebMD. Therefore, it is crucial to know what to do if a dog ever bites you. 

There are certain actions you should take after a dog bite, but some of them depend on the details of the situation. Here are some tips for dealing with different types of dog bite injuries.

Liability waivers do not always block recovery of damages

Adults and children in California often must complete liability waivers before participating in activities, like athletics, amusement park rides, skiing or school trips. Although these forms seek to exempt businesses and other organizations from paying damages when accidents happen, waivers do not necessarily hold up in court. During legal challenges, the language of the waiver, its scope, and the public interest will guide the interpretation of the contract.

Customers and participants should be clearly informed that they are signing liability waivers instead of having the language hidden within an agreement that covers multiple issues. Parents need to sign for their minor children.

Daylight saving time means drowsy driving, more crashes

Losing one hour of sleep for daylight saving time may not sound like much, but it can really affect driving performance for the worse. Ideally, every California motorist should be sleeping at least seven hours every night. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety warns that missing one to two hours of sleep in a 24-hour period can double one's risk for a car crash.

AAA goes even further, saying that those who rest only five hours in the previous 24 hours will act like drunk drivers when on the road. The level of impairment is roughly the same in both cases. Yet a third of respondents to a AAA survey admitted that they drove at least once in the previous month in a condition where they had difficulty keeping their eyes open. At the same time, 95 percent of respondents acknowledged the danger of drowsy driving.

Daylight saving time and crashes caused by drowsy drivers

Drowsy drivers in California are more likely to cause head-on collisions. According to the American Automobile Association, drivers cause more auto accidents when they miss two hours of sleep. The AAA encourages drivers to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Statistics show that roughly 33 percent of drivers admit to driving without getting enough sleep. Especially after daylight saving time, Americans need to learn how to drive with safety in mind. Getting adequate sleep is an excellent way to secure road safety.

Research from the Foundation for Traffic Safety, a branch of the AAA, states that drivers missing even one hour of sleep double their chances of causing fatal accidents. An official spokesperson for the AAA stated that drivers should get at least five hours of sleep.