Peyton Law Firm, P.L.L.C.

Report calls for updating of NHTSA's car safety rating system

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration established a five-star car safety rating system in the 1990s, and it has no doubt helped automakers continue to build safer vehicles. However, one report argues that the system is becoming outdated in the face of technological advances. West Virginia drivers should know that the safety rating is based on a series of crash tests conducted in a lab with crash dummies.

The report, released in October 2019 by a former NHTSA leader in crash testing, argues that the federal government needs to expand its crash testing to incorporate vehicle safety innovations like pedestrian detection. Already, the U.S. is lagging behind Europe, Asia and Latin America in the comprehensive scope of its crash testing. For instance, Europe tests its cars four times as much before rating their safety.

Protect your interests with certain estate planning tools

Planning for emergencies and unexpected situations may seem unnecessary, especially for a West Virginia adult who is young and healthy. You may not see the need to have certain types of protections in place, but you will be immensely thankful that you took the time to think about these things if you ever find yourself hurt or sick. Certain estate planning documents, particularly a power of attorney, can allow you to make certain decisions for yourself.

You may be the victim of a serious accident, or you may be too sick to speak for yourself and express your wishes regarding care and medical treatment. This is why having a power of attorney is important, no matter your age or health status. This allows you to appoint a trusted individual to act on your behalf, such as making choices that you cannot make and taking care of your finances.

Sleep apnea among truckers, and how it can be treated

Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder that affects about 4% of the general population. However, as those in the trucking industry are aware, it affects around 35% of truckers in West Virginia and across the U.S. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type of sleep apnea, occurs when a person's throat muscles and mouth palate relax and collapse, occasionally blocking the upper airway and interrupting sleep.

With OSA, a person cannot enter into deep sleep and REM sleep, the result being that he or she will remain both physically and mentally fatigued the following day. Truckers with OSA, then, are bound to be drowsy behind the wheel, becoming a hazard to themselves and to other drivers. They should know, then, how to recognize OSA and see a doctor if they suspect they have it.

CVSA's inspection blitz scheduled for early May

In West Virginia and across the nation, large trucks are a constant on the roadways. Since these big vehicles can cause a lot of damage, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has a yearly International Roadcheck inspection blitz to help encourage compliance with federal safety regulations. The 2020 inspection spree has been scheduled for May 5-7

While the International Roadcheck has traditionally been held in June, the CVSA moved it forward to allow for more favorable weather in certain jurisdictions. The inspection blitz will be held throughout much of North America, including West Virginia. During the inspections, the drivers will be checked for compliance with the electric logging device (ELD), that their commercial driver's license is in order, that they have their medical cards and more. In addition, the vehicles will be inspected based on the 37-point North American Standard Level I.

FMCSA to conduct large truck accident study

The number of fatal truck accidents in West Virginia and around the country rose dramatically between 2009 and 2018. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the agency tasked with regulating the trucking industry, but its last large commercial vehicle accident study was released more than 15 years ago. The FMCSA plans to conduct another large truck accident study due to changes in vehicle safety technology, road design, and driver behavior, and it made a formal proposal on Jan.14 asking for input about factors that should be taken into consideration.

The last truck accident causation study, which was conducted between 2001 and 2003, found that the overwhelming majority of commercial vehicle crashes where the truck was at fault were caused by a driver error of some kind. The new study could reveal whether or not semi-autonomous safety features like automatic braking systems and lane departure warnings are effective at eliminating driver mistakes and preventing accidents.

Running red lights can cause dangerous car accidents

Red light accidents continue to present a serious threat to highway safety in West Virginia and across the country. According to studies, as many as 800 people are killed each year in crashes linked to drivers illegally running red lights while thousands more are severely injured. Red light cameras are one method that municipalities across the country have adopted to reduce violations. The cameras monitor for cars that speed through red lights and their license plate information. Drivers in violation will often receive a ticket in the mail.

Some people have criticized the red light cameras across the country. They say that the cameras may not make the roads safer at all and are primarily a mechanism for increasing city and police department revenue. Chicago, for example, came in for particularly harsh criticism. The well-known red light camera system was linked to costly fines. However, it also came simultaneously with yellow lights that ran for the shortest time allowable by law. The cameras were associated with an increasing number of rear-end motor vehicle accidents caused by drivers trying to speed through the yellows while avoiding a red light violation ticket.

Who is responsible for your slip-and-fall accident?

When you're out and about, you probably are not thinking about all of the ways you could possibly get hurt. If you are not doing anything risky or dangerous, you are not considering the potential hazards you are facing at any given moment. In reality, there are things all around that can cause harm, even if you are doing something as simple as running errands or walking down a sidewalk.

Dangerous premises can lead to falls and other types of accidents that can leave a person gravely injured. Most West Virginia victims don't realize these types of accidents were perhaps due to something more than just their clumsiness or inattentiveness. If you think your accident was the result of dangerous property conditions or factors beyond your control, you could have grounds to pursue compensation through a premises liability claim.

Car accidents linked to drunk driving prevention device

Many people in West Virginia and across the country promote the use of ignition interlock devices. These machines require people driving a car to blow into an in-car breath test before starting their vehicles. In most cases, they are installed in a car only after a person has been convicted of drunk driving. However, some people urge that the devices be used more broadly. In Sweden, all government vehicles have ignition interlock devices installed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also come out in support of wider use of the devices, noting their success in reducing repeat drunk driving incidents by 70%.

However, others have raised concern about the effectiveness of the devices, especially when they are required for people without a drunk driving conviction. An investigation by The New York Times uncovered multiple incidents in which traffic accidents were caused by ignition interlock devices, the same mechanisms intended to prevent dangerous collisions. Specifically, the crashes were caused by the requirement for "rolling retests." Some devices require the driver to blow into the interlock before starting the car and test their breath again at random intervals while driving.

Safety features may lead to distracted driving

According to research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, advanced driver safety features may actually increase the risk of distracted driving. Researchers found that drivers who used lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control were twice as likely to be distracted than those who didn't use them. This is partially because drivers tend to believe that the car will automatically avoid any obstacles it may face. However, the truth is that advanced safety features only augment a driver's ability to avoid dangerous situations.

Ultimately, a driver is still responsible for staying alert and taking actions to remain safe while on the road. The AAA researchers said that the features themselves are not dangerous and can reduce the odds of an accident when used properly. However, a lack of communication between automakers and customers has resulted in drivers overestimating what modern safety tools can do.

Study reveals three causes of truck accidents

Professional truck drivers understand the importance of driving safely and responsibly on West Virginia roads and others throughout the country. However, large truck accidents do happen, and according to one study, large truck drivers were likely to blame in 44% of such crashes. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) found that there were three factors that caused most collisions involving commercial vehicles. One of the main causes were brake problems with the trucks themselves.

Poor brakes were cited as the cause of 29% of accidents analyzed as part of the LTCCS. Excessive speed was the cause of 23% of crashes that were reviewed as part of the 2007 study. Researchers say that drivers who are driving on wet roads should reduce their speed by a third on wet roads and by up to half on a snowy highway. It should be noted that driving at a high rate of speed can be especially dangerous when a truck cannot brake properly.

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