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3 tips to help you stay safe around trucks

If you're like most drivers in the Penn State area, you have probably shared the road with a large commercial truck. Whether you are driving in the city or on a cross-country journey, it is inevitable to find yourself passing, being passed by or following a semitruck. You may have even had a close call with one or two in your time behind the wheel.

In general, semitrucks are much different than passenger cars. They handle differently, they are slower to speed up and slow down and even sudden gusts of wind pose a threat to the trucker and other people on the road. While there is no sure way to avoid sharing the road with a semi, there are a few things you can do to stay safe.

Trucking accidents and their causes

One reason that commercial trucking accidents may occur in Pennsylvania is improperly maintained vehicles. The trucks travel many miles every day, which results in significant wear and tear. It is the responsibility of the maintenance crews, drivers and trucking companies to ensure that the fleet is well-maintained. Cracked windshields or some other equipment failure can result in accidents.

Equipment failure can also be the result of the negligence of the equipment manufacturer. Negligence during the production of a part can result in defective components. If an accident is caused by defective parts, multiple parties may be held liable for the accident, including the part and truck manufacturers, the company that sold the truck and the mechanic who made repairs on the part.

Swimming pools can be a summer danger

While many people in Pennsylvania enjoy water activities as a way to escape the summer heat, pools and water parks can also come with dangers. Every day, around 10 people die due to accidental drowning across the United States, and two of them are children under the age of 15. It is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury or death nationwide and the most common cause of death from injury for children ages 1 through 4. This means that drowning takes a significant toll from American families, a worry that can be important to keep in mind while enjoying water-based activities.

Swimming pools can be a popular feature in many families' backyards, but they can be dangerous for children, especially if unsecured. Children have been found dead or severely injured in neighbors' pools without supervision after entering through unlocked gates or fences. While parents or other adults can keep a close eye on children in the water in their presence, pools can present a nearly irresistible attraction for young kids outside. Police and other safety officials emphasize that children should never be left alone to play in the water. They need close supervision at all time in order to ensure that accidental drowning is avoided.

Summer months see higher number of teen crashes

Pennsylvania parents and teens may be particularly concerned about roadway safety in the summer. Because young people are out of school and involved in an array of parties and activities, car accidents may pose even more of a threat than usual. Teen drivers already face a higher risk of car crashes due to a number of factors, including their inexperience behind the wheel and the higher likelihood of distraction from electronic devices or from other friends in the vehicle. This risk grows during the summer.

According to a report by Ford Motor Co., the deadliest days for young drivers are the 100 days between Labor Day and Memorial Day. The American Automobile Association also warns about the dangers of summer driving for teens. Emergency medical providers report that the summer months are some of the busiest, with many victims of serious car crashes being brought to the hospital. On average, accidents involving teen drivers are 15% more likely to be deadly during the summer months. In some cases, the increased number of teen fatalities on the road are simply linked to the increased amount of time they spend behind the wheel.

Drowsy driving: more dangerous than some think

Though the CDC recommends that everyone sleep at least seven hours each night, many are neglecting this and getting behind the wheel. Residents of Pennsylvania should know that drowsy driving is a widespread trend. Nearly one-third of respondents to a AAA survey admitted that in the past month, they drove in such a tired state that they could hardly open their eyes.

Drowsiness is known to impair judgment and slow down reaction times. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation says that to be awake for 24 hours will lead to the same level of impairment experienced by a drunk driver with a .10 BAC. It has a role to play in 9.5% of all car crashes, according to a 2018 study by AAA that analyzed in-car camera footage of drivers just before they crash.

Parking lot accidents: more common than you might expect

Going home from work is one of the best parts of the day. Getting into your car and pulling out of the parking lot is just the first step towards your relaxing evening.

It may be tempting to text your spouse that you’re leaving or maybe call them to discuss dinner plans. But you are putting yourself and others at risk if you don’t drive safely—even when you’re still in the parking lot.

Trucker charged in November highway deaths

Imagine getting killed on your way to your wedding. That was the fate of a Jersey City, New Jersey, couple, ages 35 and 42, who were traveling through Pennsylvania last November en route to their wedding in Pittsburgh.

The couple were headed west on Interstate 78 and passing through Berks County on Nov. 14 of last year. When they got near Hamburg in Windsor Township, traffic ahead of them came to a standstill.

Speeding truckers put others at risk, but safety tech may help

Pennsylvania residents may not know this, but the number of truck accidents is on the rise. Florida saw an especially steep incline from 23,515 in 2014 to 32,513 in 2018, and the Florida DoT has identified speeding as the number one driver-related factor in these crashes.

Speeding truckers are hurting others more than themselves: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says that 72% of all fatalities in truck collisions are occupants of the other vehicle. In their effort to improve safety, many trucking companies are now looking to recent technological advances.

Car manufacturer seeks solution for drunk driving

Many Pennsylvania motorists are very concerned about the dangers posed by drunk driving. People who get behind the wheel while intoxicated can pose a severe risk to others on the road, causing severe accidents and often fatalities. In 2017 alone, 10,874 people were killed in car crashes linked to drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Recognizing the threat on the roads has led to a number of responses, from public awareness campaigns to escalated law enforcement activities.

One automaker is trying a different approach based on technology. Volvo has announced that it plans to install a system in its passenger automobiles that could monitor drivers for signs of intoxication and shut the car down if needed. The system, which will be available in the early 2020s, will make use of a range of autonomous vehicle technologies to control the car in case of an emergency. It will include cameras and sensors inside the car that monitor the driver for signs that something is wrong, including drivers whose eyes close for extended periods of time or who show no activity on the steering wheel.

New research unveiled for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

As part of its effort to curb distracted driving, the National Safety Council has designated every April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In time for its observance in 2019, Ohio State University's The Risk Institute has released some of the findings of its distracted-driving-related studies. Pennsylvania residents should know that The Risk Institute is coordinating a nationwide effort to address what is an epidemic.

According to the NSC, distracted driving crashes cause 9 fatalities and 100 injuries every day in the US. These accidents often involve drivers who were using their cell phones or in-vehicle technologies like voice command features and dashboard touchscreens.

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