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Riverside County Personal Injury Law Blog

Reducing the risk of car accidents

Each year, thousands of motorists are killed on roads in California and across the United States. The National Safety Council estimates that approximately 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes each year in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Most of these victims were occupants of passenger cars, SUVs or light trucks.

In an effort to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities, automakers have introduced a variety of advanced crash-avoidance technologies, including automatic emergency braking systems and lane departure warning systems. However, according to traffic safety experts, drivers can save even more lives by simply obeying the speed limit, buckling their seat belts and driving sober.

Study: opioids may play part in many fatal two-car crashes

With so many people in California and across the U.S. taking opioids for chronic or acute pain, it's not surprising that opioids would factor in some car accidents. In 1993, 2% of all drivers who were to blame for a crash tested positive for opioids, but in 2016, it was 7.1%. Now, a study published in JAMA Network Open has explored the possible connections between opioid use and the initiators of fatal two-car crashes.

Turning to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, researchers analyzed over 18,300 fatal two-car crashes and discovered that 1,467 of the drivers involved had opioids in their system. Of these, 918 initiated the crash: that is, nearly twice as many as those opioid users who did not (549). Hydrocodone was the most commonly used opioid, discovered in 32% of drivers. This was followed by morphine (27%), oxycodone (19%) and methadone (14%).

Truck accidents: the five chief causes

California residents who are involved in a truck accident should know that such accidents normally arise for one of five reasons. The first is driver error, and this cuts both ways. In fact, studies show that as much as 81% of all truck crashes involving driver error can be pinned on passenger vehicle drivers, not truckers. It's no secret, though, that truckers, pressed as they are by deadlines. often drive drowsy or speed.

The second common cause is bad weather. If a truck skids, hydroplanes or jackknifes on a wet, icy or snowy road, then the trucker most likely was not trained on proper braking techniques. Third, truckers may neglect the rules that surround vehicle maintenance. They must inspect their rig before every shift. Failing to do this, they only raise the risk for a crash by wearing down their brake pads and other components.

Some of the consequences of distracted driving

While most Californians realize that it's dangerous to drive while distracted, they might be surprised to learn how deadly it can be. According to the National Safety Council, roughly nine people die every day in the U.S. because of distracted driving. About 100 people are injured in vehicle crashes every day because of the same problem.

Driving distracted can also be quite expensive. Each year, society pays $40 million for distracted driving accidents, which is almost as much as society pays for DUIs, which is at $44 million a year. Despite the deaths, injuries and costs associated with distracted driving, people still drive while using their cell phones, playing with pets, disciplining their children, eating and putting on their makeup. A 2016 study found that 60% of respondents used their cell phones at least one time while behind the wheel.

Trucking fatalatilies reach 30-year high

According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities resulting from trucking accidents are the highest they've been in 30 years. In 2018, more than 880 occupants of large trucks died in accidents on roadways throughout California and the rest of the United States. A significantly higher number of individuals died as drivers or passengers in other vehicles involved in accidents with large trucks.

The American Trucking Association, which is the industry's largest trade group, says that the data from the NHTSA only gives a partial picture of the problem. Representatives from the association stated that they want the federal government to launch a comprehensive study that provides more useful information about the rate of incidents and their causes. The ATA believes that investing in new technology and driver safety training will go a long way toward reducing the number of fatalities on the road.

Dog bites may lead to life-threatening infections

Not all dog bites are gravely serious in nature, but in some cases, what starts as a dog bite has the potential to progress into something far more dangerous. In certain instances, a dog bite may lead to a highly serious, and even potentially life-threatening, type of infection known as Capnocytophaga. While not all cases of Capnocytophaga prove life-threatening, about three out of every 10 people who develop serious infections ultimately die because of their conditions.

Just what are some potential signs of a Capnocytophaga infection, and is there anything you can do to protect yourself in the aftermath of a dog bite?

Lowering the risk for car crashes in winter

California drivers will want to prepare themselves for winter road conditions. Though it may not happen as often as in other states, winter weather will cause the roads to become wet, icy or snowy. With this comes a loss of traction, longer stopping distances and a higher risk for cars spinning out of control.

One of the first things to do, then, is slow down. This may mean even going below the posted speed limit. Drivers should maintain a distance of five to six seconds minimum from the vehicle in front of them. This should be done every season. Drivers will also want to brake sooner and do so gently. When coming to a red light, drivers can try to keep momentum rather than stop completely since accelerating from a stopped position comes with risks.

Woman killed by homemade pipe bomb at gender reveal party

Party hosts in California and around the country are finding novel ways to ensure that their gatherings become the talk of the neighborhood, but celebrations can quickly become deadly when inexperienced individuals fool around with incendiary devices. The guests at an Iowa gender reveal party learned this painful lesson recently when a device that was designed to hurl pink or blue powder into the air exploded with incredible force.

A 56-year-old woman who was standing 45 feet away when the device went off was killed instantly by a piece of shrapnel that struck her head. The hunk of metal was found by rescue workers 400 feet away in a field. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is helping local authorities to investigate the blast. Initial reports suggest that the party hosts inadvertently built a deadly pipe bomb. The accident took place on Oct. 26 near Des Moines.

Drowsy driving rises after end of daylight saving time

Most drivers in the U.S. know that drowsy driving is dangerous. Yet 27% of drivers in AAA's 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index admitted to driving at least once in the past 30 days in such a state that they could hardly keep their eyes open. Drivers in California should know that drowsiness is a factor in some 328,000 crashes every year, nearly a third of which involve injuries. Around 6,400 drowsy driving crashes each year are fatal.

Drivers who think they are not so susceptible to drowsiness behind the wheel may be surprised to see a change in themselves when they set their clocks back one hour for the end of daylight saving time. A disruption of one's sleep schedule means a disruption of the body's circadian rhythm. The effect of this will be clearly felt when one finds it harder to concentrate on the road and react to potential dangers.

Pedestrian accidents are on the increase

California is known for its congested freeways that are often the scene of motor vehicle crashes. While the number of fatal car accidents has declined in the past two years, the bad news is that auto-pedestrian accidents are on the increase.

Government traffic studies report that pedestrian deaths have increased every year over the last 10 years, and for those individuals residing in urban communities, deaths have increased a startling 69%. Other studies have concluded that this trend is likely to continue in at least half of the states in the near future. Although there is no agreement among the experts on a single, primary cause of this continuing danger for pedestrians, there are several factors in the mix.