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

Do you wonder whether Zantac has harmed your health?

Heartburn is a fact of life for many people, and you may be one of them. Up until a couple of months ago, you probably had no problem taking a couple of Zantac. They would kick in, and you would feel better and go on with your life.

Now, however, you hesitate to take any heartburn medication, even though the Food and Drug Administration says that other medications such as Previcid, Prilosec, Tagamet, Pepcid and Nexium are still safe. While that may be good news, you still wonder if all the years you took Zantac, or its generic equivalent, Ranitidine, caused any harm to your health. Unfortunately, it could be too soon to tell.

Common causes of tractor-trailer accidents

Traffic accidents involving semi-tractor trailers claim thousands of lives each year in West Virginia and around the country. However, the vast majority of these deaths occur in crashes that could have been avoided. Driver error is the most common cause of truck accidents, but it is passenger vehicle drivers who are to blame more than 80% of the time. Common mistakes that lead to fatal truck crashes include not maintaining a safe distance, changing lanes without signaling and reckless maneuvers born out of impatience.

Other common causes of truck accidents include poor maintenance, equipment failure, badly loaded cargo and trucker fatigue. Many tractor-trailer crashes occur as a result of a combination of these factors. A safety system that has not been properly maintained could fail at a crucial time, and a truck driver who has remained behind the wheel longer than federal hours of survive regulations allow may not be capable of taking evasive action in an emergency.

Using artificial intelligence to reduce distracted driving

West Virginia residents may be surprised to know that at least one person dies every day in the United States because of car crashes caused by distracted drivers. About 100 people are injured every day for the same reason. Automakers are trying to attack driver distraction by using artificial intelligence and visual monitoring technology.

If these systems produce positive results, automakers will likely be legally required to provide them in new vehicles. By the end of 2020, the United States and Europe are already required to include Advanced Driver Assistance Systems in new vehicles. These systems offer more safety, including autonomous emergency braking and warnings for forward collisions.

Tips for safe winter driving in West Virginia

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With the winter comes snow and rain. The roads then become icy and slippery, putting innumerable drivers in West Virginia at risk for a car crash. There are ways to at least reduce the risk for a crash, though, and these can be boiled down to a few simple tips. First of all, drivers should determine not to go out unless it's absolutely necessary.

AAA: end of DST heightens risk for drowsy driving

Drivers in West Virginia may have noticed how they are drowsier after the end of daylight saving time than before in spite of the additional hour of sleep they enjoyed. There is a good reason for this: The body has its internal clock disrupted by the change, so one will naturally feel tired while the body readjusts.

To make matters worse, many people stay up late the day before the change in order to take advantage of that extra hour. AAA recommends that everyone go to bed the normal time the night before the end of DST and watch out for the signs of drowsiness behind the wheel. Drivers may, for instance, suffer from reduced alertness and slower reaction times.

Use caution dealing with insurers after an accident

An accident in which you suffer injuries can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. It may be difficult to think clearly at a time when making a mistake can be dangerous or costly.   

While you may not be thinking about the insurance company at the moment the ambulance pulls up to the scene, your first interactions with an insurance adjuster can mean the difference in whether you obtain the payout you need to cover your medical expenses for your injuries.

Lawmakers taking notice of uptick in pedestrian traffic deaths

Modern vehicles have generally reduced fatalities for people traveling inside vehicles throughout West Virginia and nationwide. The latest statistics about traffic fatalities, however, show that pedestrians and bicyclists are not faring so well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian deaths went up by 3.4% in 2018 compared to the previous year. As a result, legislation is developing in the U.S. House of Representatives and some states to address the problem.

Potentially, lawmakers might introduce new laws that call for vehicles to have softer fronts. Traffic spaces designed to separate motor vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists more effectively might emerge as well to reduce the rising death toll. The increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2018 translated into 208 more people dying than the year before. The same year claimed 51 more bicyclists compared to 2017 because of a 6.3% rise in fatal bicycle accidents.

Safe driving week includes the issuance of thousands of citations

Operation Safe Driver Week is a program organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to highlight the importance of truck drivers as well as passenger car operators following the rules of the road. From July 14 through 20, police gave out nearly 47,000 tickets as part of the week of action. Most of the citations were related to speeding. In addition to the 46,752 traffic tickets, drivers received 87,624 warnings for different types of traffic violations, including failing to wear a seat belt or minor maintenance issues that were not severe enough to pull a vehicle off the road.

According to the safety alliance, 94% of motor vehicle accidents, including trucking accidents, involve fault on the part of at least one driver. Crashes involving buses and large trucks can be especially dangerous to everyone on the road. People in smaller passenger vehicles are far more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries or even lose their lives as a result of an accident. Nevertheless, truck accident deaths have been on the rise. This event is intended to stop dangerous driving behaviors that can lead to serious collisions. Since 2008, around 25% of crashes have involved excessive speed of one kind or another, leading police to focus on speed as part of the 2019 enforcement initiatives.

Newer pickups neglect passenger safety, says IIHS report

West Virginia drivers who own modern two-row pickup trucks should know about some crash tests done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS performed both driver-side and passenger-side small overlap frontal collision tests to see how the two sides can withstand a collision with a vehicle or other object. The results were uneven, with passengers seeing an increased chance of injury/death than drivers.

Eleven pickups were involved, and each one received a rating from "poor" to "good" regarding driver- and passenger-side safety. Only three of the pickups had a passenger side that scored "good" -- the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan. The rest were plagued with passenger sides that "struggled to maintain their structure" upon impact.

NTSB: limos should require lap and shoulder belts for all

If they intend to take a limousine somewhere in West Virginia, people should know what the current safety standards are like for these vehicles. Many limousines are modified to the point that they can be considered mid-sized trucks. As a result, they are exempt from the seating and seat belt standards that apply to traditional vehicles.

The National Transportation Safety Board believes that this is not an ideal situation, especially in the light of an October 2018 limousine crash that left 20 people dead, including the driver and 17 passengers. In its investigation of the crash, the NTSB found that none of the passengers were wearing lap or shoulder belts. The limousine, a 2001 Ford Excursion, had side- and rear-facing bench seats that could not withstand the impact of the crash.

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