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Santa Barbara Personal Injury Law Blog

Common causes of automobile accidents in California

There are many causes of automobile accidents in California; however, the most common factor is driver error. Dangerous habits such as driving while distracted or while under the influence of alcohol are often contributing factors to accidents. Other seemingly more innocent forms of error include drivers not being familiar with local laws and roads. Furthermore, the failure of drivers to properly maintain their vehicles is a common factor.

Error by outside entities is another major factor. For instance, some localities may not properly maintain roads and traffic lights. This can lead to accidents from potholes or roadway confusion. Additionally, design flaws in the automobiles themselves is a major factor in many crashes. Faulty brakes and the failure of various safety features could cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles.

Pedestrian deaths on the rise

One of the worst areas in the country for pedestrians is in California. Overall, Bakersfield was ranked as the seventh most dangerous city in the nation regarding pedestrian fatalities. However, it is one of just two of the 10 most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians located outside of Florida. Overall, California ranks 16th in pedestrian deaths. Of the states in the top 20, California is one of 10 that planned for a higher pedestrian fatality rate in 2017 than in 2018. Most states plan to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths in the year ahead.

Pedestrian deaths are on the rise in the United States, and 2016 and 2017 saw the highest rate of fatalities since 1990. In 2016, more than 6,000 pedestrians died. The number was 5,977 in 2017.

Drowsy ridesharing drivers a growing problem

Drivers in California should be aware of the danger of drowsiness on the road. While it affects anyone who decides to go out on the road after an extended period of wakefulness, it's becoming especially common among ridesharing drivers. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that the ridesharing industry is creating a public safety risk.

In a position statement published back in April 2018, the AASM calls for ridesharing companies, law enforcement, government officials and medical experts to collaborate on addressing it. This thought has been echoed in the 2017-2018 Most Wanted List compiled by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to AAA estimates, there are 328,000 drowsy driving crashes annually in the U.S. with 109,000 resulting in injuries and 6,400 in death.

Study finds seat belt use reduces severity of liver injuries

Motor vehicle accidents result in approximately 2 million emergency room visits every year in California and across the U.S. Many accident victims sustain blunt abdominal trauma, and the liver and spleen are the two organs that are most commonly injured. If the spleen suffers from severe bleeding, it can be surgically be removed, but that is not the case with the liver. This is why protecting this organ is so important.

Researchers at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn have conducted a study showing that seat belt use can reduce the severity of liver injuries. Their data included over 52,200 injury cases from the National Trauma Data Bank that spanned the years 2012 to 2015. All of the injury victims were 18 years and older, and they were admitted to the hospital, passed away upon arrival or died en route. Motorcycle crashes were excluded.

Car accidents: reason number eight in the world for loss of life

According to Michael Bloomberg, a global ambassador for the World Health Organization, safety issues on the roadways of the entire world need more attention than the subject currently receives. Road safety is not just a problem in highly populated locations such as California; it happens everywhere. In 2016, an all-time high of 1.35 million fatalities attributed to motor vehicle accidents occurred throughout the world.

There are several key behaviors that increase the risk of death in car accidents. They are drunken driving, speeding and not using motorcycle helmets, seat belts or child restraints properly. Drowsy driving causes nearly 10 percent of overall crashes in the world according to one study, but over 50 percent of the persons killed in motor vehicle accidents are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Study finds automatic emergency braking systems work well

California drivers who have vehicles with automatic emergency braking systems are much less likely to strike another vehicle from behind, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The study focused on General Motors vehicles, but other studies have focused on Volvos and Subarus and come to similar conclusions.

Automatic emergency braking, or AEB, systems are designed to warn drivers of impending front-end crashes and automatically apply the brakes if the driver fails to take evasive action. In order to see if this technology actually reduces accidents, IIHS researchers asked GM to provide VINs for Buicks, Cadillacs and Chevrolets made between 2013 and 2015. Some of the vehicles had AEB systems, some did not. Researchers then cross-referenced the VIN numbers with police-reported crash data to find out how often vehicles with and without AEB systems were involved in rear-end striking collisions.

California pedestrians need to walk safely

On any given day during any season in every community across the nation pedestrians are out walking. It is important that while pedestrians are out and about that they are safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2016 alone, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in accidents with motor vehicles. It is staggering to know that approximately every 90 minutes a pedestrian was involved in a fatal accident in this country.

Children typically spend a lot of time outdoors. They can be impulsive and negligent about their safety when they are running around having fun. A good family rule is that when kids under 10 are walking in traffic areas, they need close watching to help prevent pedestrian accidents. As they grow, kids need repeated discussions about safety while walking. Even older kids benefit from reminders to stay safe and follow the notion to stop and look left-right-left before proceeding. Wearing bright or reflective clothing is another useful practice.

Advanced courses aim to make teens safer motorists

Teenage drivers have always been the riskiest age group on California roads. Not only are they more likely to make impulsive decisions than older drivers, but they also lack the car control experience of other age groups. Meanwhile, cellphones and other distracting gadgets constantly tempt young drivers to take their eyes and minds off the road, making a bad situation even worse.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that auto accidents are the top cause of death for Americans between the ages of 15 and 18. In 2015, nearly 2,000 teen drivers were involved in fatal car crashes and another 99,000 were injured in auto accidents. While the NHTSA doesn't list the cause of each car accident involving a teen driver, research shows that distracted driving, poor decision making, weather and general driving inexperience are frequent contributing factors.

NTSB reports legal marijuana linked to higher car accident rate

Since the use of recreational marijuana in California has been legalized, the rate of traffic accidents could go up if the results in other legal marijuana states are any indication. The National Transportation Safety Board has released a report that concludes that drug-impaired driving has increased nationwide since some states made recreational marijuana legal.

A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety supported the conclusion of the safety board. Legal marijuana states experienced increases in motor vehicle crashes, but fatalities did not rise. A look at three such states produced crash rates that increased by 6 percent since the new laws came into effect.

NHTSA: fatal truck crashes and urban area crashes rise in 2017

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its 2017 data on fatal car crashes. Overall, crash fatalities decreased from 2016. However, California motorists may be concerned to find out that deaths from large truck collisions and urban area accidents increased. SUV and tractor-trailer crash deaths went up 3 and 5.8 percent, respectively, while deaths in large straight truck wrecks rose a startling 18.7 percent.

By contrast, the total number of people killed in traffic crashes saw a nearly 2 percent decrease. There were decreases in passenger car, van and light pickup truck accidents. The NHTSA also noted significant decreases in bicyclist deaths (8.1 percent) and speeding-related deaths (5.6 percent).

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