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Spring DST linked with higher fatal crash rate for first week

West Virginia residents may have no choice but to drive drowsy after losing one hour of sleep with daylight saving time. They should know, however, that the first week after DST always sees a rise in fatal car crashes. This was the conclusion that researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder came to. Their study, the most comprehensive yet on the subject, analyzed more than 730,000 fatal crashes in the U.S. that occurred between 1996 and 2017.

Specifically, the fatal crash numbers increase 6% nationwide after the time change, coming out to 28 more fatal crashes a year. The number rises 8% in the westernmost regions of each time zone, which are regions where the sun tends to rise and set later, leading to greater sleep deprivation among residents. What gave even more support to the results was that the annual uptick moved from April to March in 2007: the year that DST was moved from April to March.

If a vehicle is coming at you, can you avoid a head-on crash?

When traveling the West Virginia roads, you want to remain as cautious as possible. You know that a hazard could appear at any time and that the potential for a car accident always exists. As a result, you do your best to remain on the lookout in hopes of avoiding any dangers that may come your way.

Of course, you cannot control the actions of other drivers, and even if you see a hazard ahead, you may not be able to get out of the way or take other evasive actions to avoid ending up in a crash. In particular, if you see a wrong-way driver coming toward your vehicle, avoiding a head-on collision may not be easy.

Bill proposes interstate travel for truck drivers under 21

The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety held a hearing in February of 2020 concerning a bill introduced the previous year that, if passed, would open up interstate travel to commercial truck drivers under 21. West Virginia residents should know that every state except Hawaii allows 18- to 20-year-old CMV drivers to travel intrastate.

The bill, known as Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy or the DRIVE-Safe Act, proposes a probationary period for these young drivers before they start to travel interstate. They would be required to travel for 400 hours, and a driver 21 or older would accompany them for at least 240 of those hours.

School start times may affect how safely teens drive

Teenagers tend to sleep long and into the late morning due to changes in their internal circadian rhythm. If they do not achieve the 8 to 10 hours of sleep recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, they may drive distracted, forget to wear their seatbelt and take more risks. West Virginia residents should know that one way to minimize this risk is to change school start times.

This is the conclusion proposed by a study that has been recently published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. In it, researchers analyzed the rate of teen car crashes over a two-year period in Fairfax County, Virginia. Back in the fall of 2015, the county had made a change to the time that its schools start, setting it at 8:10 am rather than 7:20 am.

What commercial vehicle drivers can do to avoid fatigue

Commercial motor vehicle drivers in West Virginia and across the U.S. are liable to work while in a drowsy state of mind, which is dangerous. Research shows, for example, that being awake for 18 consecutive hours impairs one in the same way that having a BAC of .08 does.

Before anything else, truckers need to ensure that they get adequate sleep. If possible, they should also avoid driving during those lulls that everyone experiences during the day. One lull comes usually between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and another is between midnight and 6 a.m. Truckers should be able to recognize the symptoms of drowsiness like heavy eyelids, continual yawning and short-term memory lapses.

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.

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