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State College, Pennsylvania Legal Blog

AAA: car crash risk goes up following daylight saving time

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that car crash risks increase after drivers lose one hour of rest for daylight saving time. Many Pennsylvania residents know that it can be hard enough already to get the recommended seven hours of sleep every night. Nevertheless, they will want to consider adjustments to their sleep schedules whenever the season for "springing forward" comes around.

In a recent AAA survey, 95 percent of drivers acknowledged that drowsy driving is unacceptable and unsafe. However, 30 percent of them also admitted to driving in a significantly fatigued state at least once in the previous month.

Opioids may be an element in some traffic fatalities

Pennsylvania drivers who cause fatal crashes may be more likely to be using opioids than those who do not. According to a study that appeared in the journal JAMA Network Open, people who caused fatal accidents involving two cars were almost twice as likely as the other driver to test positive for opioids. Among all accidents, the most common cause was swerving out of the lane.

Researchers looked at more than 18,000 fatal two-car accidents. More than 1,400 drivers tested positive, and nearly one-third of those positive tests were for hydrocodone. More than one-fourth were for morphine. Others opioids commonly in use included oxycodone and methadone. In 1993, 2 percent of people who caused crashes were positive for opioids while in 2016 it was 7.1 percent.

Determining the cause of a car accident

It is important to know who or what caused a car accident. After all, car accidents can be expensive, costing people in Pennsylvania a lot of money or even their lives. This cost has to be accounted for, which is why the police as well as insurance companies do everything in their power to figure out the entity responsible. Once the correct party has been determined, the police can administer the proper punitive action, and the insurance companies can send said party a claims payment.

Of the many factors that cause car accidents, human error is the most prevalent. For instance, drivers using their phones while on the road might be too distracted to keep their eyes focused on what lies ahead. What's more, given the abundance of new technologies finding their way into modern vehicles, drivers are becoming more distracted today than any other time in history. Alternatively, a driver who had too much to drink before sitting behind the wheel can be a liability for the rest of their fellow motorists. Other factors that can impede with a driver's ability to safely navigate the road include having a medical condition or being lost in a place where the driver is unfamiliar with the local rules of the road.

Beware of hit and runs when visiting your college student

Visiting your child at college is supposed to be an enjoyable time that leaves memories for years to come. Sadly, many parent’s college visits are memorable for another reason: a hit and run injury.

Hit and run injuries are at an all-time high, according to ABC News. There has been a 60 percent increase in hit and run fatalities since 2009. Currently, an average of 2,000 fatalities occur each year in the United States as a result of a hit and run accident. Sadly, many of these occur around colleges and universities.

Dangerous use of phones while driving increases

Pennsylvania drivers may be using their mobile devices in even more dangerous ways than in previous years. According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released on Jan. 24, drivers in 2018 were 57 percent more likely to be seen using their phones for texting or emailing than in 2014. They were less likely to be using them to make calls.

Experts say that while there is no evidence that distracted driving accidents increased, using cellphones for texting and surfing on the web while driving is more dangerous than talking on the phone. Doing so requires drivers to take their eyes off the road. However, just talking on the phone is also dangerous because drivers doing so tend to focus on just one part of the roadway. Even talking to children in the car or drinking coffee while driving can be distracting.

Trucker may be behind fatal pile-up in Florida

Pennsylvania motorists likely know how dangerous it can be to drive around large commercial trucks. An accident that occurred in early January in Florida illustrates this to a tragic degree. Florida Highway Patrol reported that a large truck, driven by a 59-year-old man, was going north on I-75 near Gainesville when it moved left from the right lane and struck a 2007 Honda sedan in its path.

The two vehicles went through the median guardrail into southbound traffic, and the truck collided with a 2006 Chevrolet passenger van. The van flipped over, and some of its occupants were ejected from the vehicle. The truck then crashed into another semi, driven by a 49-year-old man, and a fire erupted. In all, seven people were killed - both truckers and five children ranging from 9 to 14 years old.

Crash rates go up among dump and concrete delivery trucks

Pennsylvania motorists may have good reason to feel anxious whenever they drive around commercial trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a new report that focuses on accident rates among dump trucks and ready-mix concrete delivery trucks, and the results are not reassuring. In 2016, there were 8,206 dump truck crashes so severe that the vehicle had to be towed away. There were 838 such crashes with concrete delivery trucks.

Compared to 2015, that's a jump of 9 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively. There were 2.7 percent more dump truck crashes that resulted in injuries, coming to a total of 5,483. Injuries were involved in 3.8 percent more concrete delivery truck accidents. Fatalities arose in 38 ready-mix delivery truck crashes; this was five more than in 2015.

The global cost of motor vehicle accidents

Many Pennsylvania motorists are concerned about the threat posed by traffic accidents, and those concerns are echoed by leading global public health officials. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death around the world for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 29. Across all age ranges, vehicle accidents are the world's eighth most common cause of death, now ahead of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The WHO reported that traffic deaths rose to 1.35 million in 2016 as part of its 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety.

The United Nations previously urged a goal of cutting traffic fatalities in half between 2016 and 2020. However, the WHO's report warned that this achievement was unlikely. The organization urged global lawmakers to treat the issue of roadway safety as one with serious implications for public health. While the number of annual deaths related to traffic accidents has escalated, the death rate has remained stable in terms of the world population. There have been around 18 car crash deaths per 100,000 people for the past 15 years.

Winter driving preparations for Pennsylvania motorists

Driving in Pennsylvania during the winter can sometimes be difficult for motorists in the Keystone State, especially when conditions affecting traction and visibility suddenly develop. The National Safety Council is making an effort to educate drivers on new available technologies designed to help regain traction and reduce accident risks when conditions are hazardous. The non-profit organization is also encouraging drivers to take sensible precautions when heading to their destination during the winter months.

The NSC recommends that drivers warm up their vehicles first before hitting the road on cold winter days although the organization does suggest being cautious about leaving a car running in enclosed spaces. Experts also suggest that drivers either avoid driving altogether in weather that naturally increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents or let others know about their travel plans in advance. If motorists are stranded in an unfamiliar place, the NSC recommends remaining in the vehicle and lighting emergency flares.

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