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Santa Barbara Personal Injury Law Blog

Distracted driving a nationwide safety issue, says Root Insurance

Distracted driving is a major issue in California and the rest of the U.S. with many drivers engaging in it even though they know it is wrong. According to a study from Root Insurance, 47% of drivers say distractions are a top concern for them, and 99% acknowledge phone use as one of the top three sources of distraction, yet the respondents were found to use their phones for an average of 13 minutes each day while on the road.

Moreover, 38% of drivers who use mobile devices do not bother to put them down when they see police around. Among phone-related activities, group chats were the most likely to distract 52% of drivers while social media was the most distracting for 33% of drivers. Common non-phone-related distractions included grooming, playing with a pet and changing clothes.

Nissan braking systems may pose a danger to California drivers

Automatic emergency braking technology is usually a good safety feature to have on a car. However, this might not be the case for 2017-2018 Nissan Rogue models. At least 87 consumers have filed complaints of unintended braking, which can cause a car to stop suddenly and unexpectedly. Such occurrences could endanger the occupants of the vehicle as well as the occupants of other vehicles in close proximity.

Nissan owners who have experienced the unintended braking describe it as abrupt and forceful. In at least one instance, an owner claimed that his car stopped on a railroad track. Fortunately, he was able to get his car moving again before a train came. Other unintended braking incidences have led owners to disengage the automatic braking system, thereby eliminating any potential safety benefits.

Lawmakers struggle to cope with distracted driving

Road safety advocates say that the penalties for texting while driving are not nearly strong enough to deter motorists from indulging in behavior that kills or injures thousands of road users every year. A California assemblyman has proposed a bill that would penalize motorists who text with driver's license points in addition to a fine, but lawmakers in Nevada are considering an alternative approach. Instead of increasing penalties, a legislative proposal being considered would allow police in the Silver State to use controversial new technology to identify drivers who may have been distracted when they crashed.

The challenge for law enforcement is that distracted drivers do not provide any obvious clues and are unlikely to admit that they were involved in an accident because they were staring at their cellphone screens. Developed by an Israeli technology company, the textalyzer can be plugged into an electronic device to reveal how it was being used in the moments leading up to a collision.

Why sleep is so important before driving

Adults in California and throughout the country should get a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. This can reduce the chances that a driver gets into a car accident. According to the National Sleep Foundation, those who have not slept for at least two hours within any given 24-hour period should not drive under any circumstances. Furthermore, AAA says that driving on only five hours of sleep is similar to driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit. It can also double the risk of getting into a car accident.

There are several signs that a person might be too tired to drive. First, an individual may have trouble staying in his or her own lane. Next, a driver who is too tired to drive may forget the last few miles of driving. Finally, a fatigued driver will have a hard time keeping his or her eyes open.

Drunk drivers pose a threat on the road

When people in California get behind the wheel, they may be concerned about encountering drunk drivers on the road. Drivers who are drunk are often unable to make good decisions and may put themselves and others at risk by driving dangerously. By staying alert for signs of drunk driving, people can help to protect themselves from serious danger. There are certain signs that can point to the presence of a drunk driver, including driving in the center of the road, nearly missing accidents, weaving in and out of lanes, turning suddenly, driving in the wrong direction or reacting too slowly to traffic lights.

These are only some of the signs of a drunk driver. Sometimes, people may even witness others drinking alcohol while behind the wheel. Drivers may not brake properly and may fail to stop, or they may stop at unexpected or inappropriate times. When encountering these signs, people may recognize that there is a drunk or otherwise unsafe driver on the road. These kinds of dangerous driving behaviors can lead to severe or even fatal car accidents. Sober drivers on the road should take action to protect themselves.

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.

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