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Roadcheck inspection blitz will focus on secure cargo

From June 6-8, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will be conducting commercial truck safety inspections as part of its International Roadcheck inspection blitz in West Virginia and around the country. For this year's inspections, the CVSA will focus on the importance of cargo securement. This is a regular part of Level I inspections, but the CVSA wants to emphasize how it important it is.

A tip sheet is available online from the CVSA that offers reminders to drivers on securing equipment safely and making sure cargo is secure. It also advises checking tie-downs that may be worn or damaged.

Determining liability in self-driving car accidents

There are a number of companies that have created prototypes of computer-driven vehicles to be used on the roads of West Virginia and around the country. Additionally, several automobiles already in production have limited self-driving capabilities, such as the ability to automatically parallel park. The reason for the interest in these automobiles is that there are a number of safety benefits associated with these types of vehicles, since computers don't get tired or distracted.

Along with the fact that automobiles will be piloted by computers and not people, another major difference in these vehicles is the way that accident liability will need to be determined. Currently, liability is generally determined based on the actions of the drivers involved in a crash. For instance, if someone ran a red light, they would probably be considered liable.

Company seeks to advance autonomous truck tech

West Virginia residents may be familiar with autonomous car technology. Now, a California company is developing a system that allows trucks to be driven remotely from an office. The goal is to increase driver safety and make the truck driving position a more appealing one. If the system is fully implemented, it may allow drivers to spend more time at home as opposed to on the road.

An aftermarket kit is attached to the truck that allows the remote driver to control its transmission, throttle and steering. A combination of cameras and radar allows the driver to see what the truck sees and make decisions accordingly. The process has been compared to playing a truck simulator video game, but the vehicle that is under the driver's control is real. This person has full control of the truck at all times even if it is in autonomous mode.

Will you land on your feet after a spinal cord injury?

A serious accident can turn your world upside down in a matter of seconds. Those first days seem like a whirlwind of doctors, nurses and information that you might not quite understand. Your doctor told you that you suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury, but understanding what that actually means might be a challenge.

High-tech ways to improve safety at railroad crossings

Cars, pedestrians, bicyclists and train cars have been co-existing for more than 100 years. And for that long, there has been risk associated with areas where trains and other traffic cross paths. In the past, low-tech methods of keeping people safe at crossings involved a person waving a flag or igniting a lantern.

However, over time, these methods proved ineffective and more sophisticated systems of keeping people safe at railroad crossings continue to be developed. For instance, as noted in this article from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, many high-tech systems could increase the safety at crossings today.

Traffic fatalities continue alarming upward trend

Traffic accident deaths in West Virginia and around the country increased alarmingly during 2015 and 2016 despite groundbreaking improvements in automobile safety systems and advances in emergency medical care. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in January that accident fatalities rose by 8 percent during the first nine months of 2016, and full-year estimates released by the National Safety Council on Feb. 15 provide equally grim reading.

The Illinois-based advocacy group put the number killed on America's roads in 2016 at 40,200. Accident fatalities last exceeded 40,000 in 2007. When death rates surged in 2015, experts said that the falling price of oil and plummeting unemployment rates had resulted in a sharp rise in vehicle traffic. However, the 3 percent increase in traffic volume observed in 2016 is not enough to explain a 6 percent rise in accident deaths according to the NSC. The safety organization says that reckless driver behavior and lax enforcement of traffic laws are also important factors.

Study links poor truck driver health to higher accident risk

Truck drivers in West Virginia and around the country perform a challenging job that often requires long hours, and their health could impact their ability to drive safely according to a study conducted by a medical university. The researchers examined the medical records of almost 50,000 commercial drivers and compared their health conditions to data about their accidents.

The researchers identified drivers with one or more health issues that could reduce their ability to drive effectively. These high-risk health conditions included low back pain, diabetes and heart disease. The driving records for drivers with at least three worrisome health conditions revealed that they experienced a higher rate of truck crashes. Per every 100 million miles driven by these people, 93 crashes occurred. When looking at all truckers, including healthy people, the crash rate equaled 29 per 100 million miles.

Millennial drivers are the worst on the road

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. saw a 7 percent rise in fatal car accidents from 2015 through 2016. The elevated number of fatalities during that year exceeded all other one-year increases in the past 50 years. West Virginia motorists in the millennial age group may have played a part in this increase.

Between Aug. 25 and Sept. 6, 2016, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Administration conducted a survey of 2,511 drivers. The survey divided people into age categories and asked if they had run a red light, texted while driving, or driven over the speed limit in the previous 30 days. The market research firm administering the survey found that millennial drivers, those aged 19 to 24, reported driving more dangerously than any other age group. According to the foundation's executive director, some of the millennials said it is all right to engage in risky driving behaviors.

Truck driver training regulations delayed

People who train truck drivers in West Virginia will need to navigate an uncertain regulatory environment. A 60-day delay imposed by the administration of President Trump on all new federal regulations has pushed the effective date for truck driver training standards out to March 21, 2017. The Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Vehicle Operators established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration might face further delays while under review by administration officials.

If the new standards become active, a three-year time period will be needed to apply the rules to CDL training programs across the country. Drivers receiving their commercial operator licenses after Feb. 7, 2020 will need to meet the standards. As of yet, this final deadline has not been altered.

Car accident victims sue Apple over distracted driving feature

Emergency response personnel in West Virginia and around the country are being called to more and more accidents caused by distracted drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked electronics manufacturers like LG, Samsung and Motorola to incorporate smartphone features that make texting and driving more difficult, but a class action lawsuit filed by a group of California road users suggests that Apple has already developed just such a safety feature.

The lawsuit claims that Apple developed a feature that prevents drivers from texting in 2008 and earned a patent for the safety technology in 2014. However, the company has never made the texting lockout feature available to its customers. The plaintiffs, who all suffered injuries in accidents caused by distracted drivers, want Apple to include the feature in its newest devices and offer it to current iPhone owners.

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