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FMCSA taking comments about proposed study

Truck drivers who spend more than 150 minutes driving to a job site may be labeled as "excessive commuters" by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency is currently seeking comment about a survey to find out how many drivers are excessive commuters. It also wants to find out how excessive commuting may have an impact on drivers in West Virginia and elsewhere in the country.

The administration will ultimately determine if employers have policies related to excessive commuting among its drivers. The survey is part of the FMCSA's obligation to comply with the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Once the survey is complete, it would then be tasked with reporting the results to Congress. The FMCSA believes that long commutes could have multiple negative effects, such as reducing the amount of time spent sleeping or engaging in leisure activities.

How Pokémon Go led to an increase in car crashes

Residents of West Virginia should know that the smartphone-based game, Pokémon Go, could be just as much of a factor in distracted driving as texting, talking on the phone and other actions. Although the game's popularity has been waning, millions of people still play it, and reports still come in of players injuring themselves or others because of it.

A study from Purdue University has analyzed crash data in Tippecanoe County in Indiana, spanning the months before the game's July 2016 launch and the ones following it. The authors marked the location of the nearly 12,000 accidents reported in that time and found that after the launch, there was a 26.5 percent increase in traffic accidents at intersections that are within 100 meters of a Pokéstop. Pokéstops are places that players must go in order to receive in-game items.

Truckers required to install electronic logging devices

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is mandating that all long-haul trucking companies install electronic logging devices in their trucks. This new system will log and monitor a truck driver's whereabouts as well as facilitate the sharing of a driver's records and duty status. Many truckers in West Virginia and across the U.S. are protesting the mandate, saying that it is a violation of privacy. Others claim that the ELDs will compromise trucker safety.

The FMCSA previously pushed for electronic logging as a means to prevent drivers from cheating on paper logs. By linking to a truck's engine, the ELD knows when the engine is running and captures the movement of the truck, thus tracking how many hours and miles a trucker drives.

Truck safety systems could save hundreds of lives each year

Nearly 500 road deaths in West Virginia and around the country could be prevented each year if all tractor-trailers were equipped with the latest safety systems, according to a recently published study. Researchers from the AAA Foundation for traffic safety came to this conclusion after studying 2015 truck accident figures and determining how many of these crashes would have been prevented if the commercial vehicles involved had been fitted with air disc brakes, automatic emergency braking systems, lane departure warnings and video-based monitoring technology. In 2015, about 400,000 truck accidents claimed more than 4,000 lives and caused approximately 116,000 injuries.

The greatest road safety gains could be achieved by mandating the use of video-based safety systems. According to the AAA report, this technology would have prevented 63,000 crashes in 2015 and saved 293 lives. While air disc brakes are prevalent in the logistics sector, 2,411 accidents and 37 fatalities could have been avoided in 2015 if they had been fitted to every truck.

Holiday travel leads to more car accidents and fatalities

Many families in West Virginia gathered together for a special Thanksgiving meal, but it was a dangerous time to travel. The long Thanksgiving weekend creates a spike in traffic fatalities according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal agency's analysis of traffic deaths showed that 764 deadly crashes occurred during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2012. That holiday also produced nearly 50,000 wrecks without fatalities. For Christmas of the same year, the agency recorded 654 people killed in accidents. The NHTSA identified failure to follow safety precautions as a source of many deaths. Drunk drivers on Thanksgiving caused about 40 percent of the deadly accidents. Approximately 60 percent of victims were not wearing seat belts.

Distracted driving isn't going away. How can you stay safe?

West Virginia readers know that distracted driving is a significant threat to their safety on the roads. As more vehicles come with distracting in-car features and people become more reliant on their cellphones, it is clear that the issue of distracted motorists is not going away. Accidents occur every day that are the result of a driver who is visually, cognitively and physically distracted.

As a person who may have suffered injuries in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you know how dangerous this type of behavior can be. Distraction is negligent and completely preventable, and sadly, many people impacted by this dangerous choice are innocent drivers and passengers.

Flooring contributes to slip and fall accidents

Business owners in West Virginia who are concerned about the safety of consumers in their stores might be interested in the results of CNA's Slip and Fall Study Report. CNA, a company that provides risk management and insurance services to professionals and businesses around the world, found that half of the evaluated sites did not have a dynamic coefficient level that exceeded the 0.42 minimum threshold as determined by the American National Standards Institute. The results seem to indicate that the fall prevention policies enacted by many businesses may not take into account how flooring material and continued upkeep affect slip resistance.

The study involved a review of liability claims that were filed from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2016. The findings included low-impact trends that occurred frequently, which are on par with such claims.

Hurdles involved in regulating driverless car safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been tasked with writing the safety regulations for self-driving vehicles. This comes as the result of a bill passed by the Senate Commerce Committee in October, which also grants exemptions for up to 80,000 self-driving vehicles that automakers deploy each year within the next three years. However, there are some roadblocks, so drivers in West Virginia may have to wait several more years before getting their hands on a driverless car.

In particular, the NHTSA requires further input on what research it should conduct before revising or eliminating current auto safety guidelines. There are nearly 75 such guidelines, many of which are, naturally, based on the assumption that human drivers are in control of the vehicle. Research may take years, but the Senate bill has given the agency a window of 10 years in which to finalize a set of rules.

Truck driver health and safe driving

When traveling on West Virginia roads alongside big rigs, some people may wonder about the driving skills of truckers. In many cases, the trucker's health plays a role in the likelihood of an accident. According to recent research, having multiple medical conditions at one time could make truckers more likely to cause a crash.

Truck drivers have a lifestyle that can involve poor sleep or poor nutrition as the result of spending many hours on the road. Some types of health problems can be caused by or made worse by living a life on the road. A study conducted by the University of Utah School of Medicine found that 34 percent of nearly 50,000 professional truck drivers whose medical records were examined have at least one of several medical conditions linked to poor driving. These conditions include diabetes, heart disease and back pain.

Car accident deaths increased in 2016

Most West Virginia residents will experience a car accident at some point in their lives. While most car accidents only cause minor injuries and property damage, car accidents are a common cause of death among all age groups in the United States. Car accidents in 2016 were at a nine-year high despite advanced safety features in newer vehicles.

According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Administration, car crashes killed 37,461 people last year. This represents a 5.6 percent increase over 2015 and represents an all-time high compared to an all-time low of 32,744 people killed in car accidents in 2014.

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