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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

The latest gadgets can be the sources of problems on the roads as Washington motorists deal with the issue of distracted driving. However, many entrepreneurs are considering ways to positively impact drivers as they work on technological solutions that could minimize the risk of accidents resulting from fatigued driving. Warning systems are in the works to identify dangers while alerting drivers.

Fatigue may have been a serious factor in the 2014 accident that injured Tracy Morgan. The comedian’s limousine was struck by a commercial vehicle that entered a construction zone without slowing. Although there are no objective tests that identify levels of fatigue, it is likely that the responsible driver in this incident was tired due to a lack of sleep over the preceding 28-hour period. Truck injuries can be deadly due to the difference in size between a semi and other vehicles. At least one of every four fatal motor vehicle accidents are related to driver fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drivers are more likely to doze off while driving if they sleep for a limited time at night. Snoring can also indicate a risk of fatigued driving. Most fatigue-related accidents occur on high-speed roadways, and these incidents more commonly occur at night. Alert systems are being developed to warn drivers of impending forward collisions, lane changes, and road departure. Earpieces have been designed to track the head motions of drivers, allowing them to be alerted if their heads nod. Additional technology is being designed to track body movements and blinking patterns.

Washington motorists may have read about a deadly incident involving both that occurred on the opposite side of the country on July 18. In a highly-publicized accident, four women were killed when a pickup truck collided with a limousine in which they were riding on Long Island, New York.

Sources report that four additional limo passengers were seriously hurt during the incident and that the driver was also injured. The man who was behind the wheel of the pickup was also taken to the hospital for his injuries. The women had hired the limo for an excursion to New York’s wine country, and the fatal accident occurred as it was leaving a vineyard. The driver was executing a legal U-turn at an intersection near that location when the truck reportedly slammed into its passenger side. The limo driver, who was interviewed extensively by police following the crash, claims that he did not see the pickup as it approached.

Tests indicate that the limo driver was not impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident, and no criminal charges are expected to be filed against him, according to a local district attorney. However, the driver of the pickup is now facing charges of misdemeanor DWI, and authorities indicate that the charges may be upgraded after chemical test results become available.

Although only 10 percent of drivers in America are under the age of 21, they are responsible for 17 percent of alcohol-related fatal crashes. This is despite the fact that in most states, minor drivers who have a blood-alcohol content of over .02 percent can be charged with a DUI.

Texting while driving is another risky behavior that teens tend to engage in while behind the wheel. Each year, 3,000 teenagers are killed in accidents related to using a cell phone while driving, which is more than the 2,000 who die each year in alcohol-related crashes. Overall, sending a text message while driving increases the odds of a crash by 23 percent. Additionally, it can reduce a teenage driver’s reaction time to that of an average 70-year-old driver.

Those who study the issue say that the best way to reduce risky behavior is education. Parents should talk to their teens about the risks of using a phone while driving and that calls and texts should only be made when a car is parked. Teens who know where to go for help may also be less likely to operate a motor vehicle while impaired or ride with someone who is impaired.

Washington drivers who are 65 or older may not be aware of the increased risks that occur as they age. While drivers who continue to operate vehicles as they age are more likely to be more independent and stay mobile, the risks of injuries or death also increase. On average, more than 580 older adult drivers suffer injuries while 15 older drivers die in car accidents every day. In 2012, this amounted to more than 214,000 older drivers being injured and more than 5,500 being killed.

Increased car accident rates among drivers who are at least 70 years of age are associated with the loss of vision and a decline in cognitive functioning, including the individual’s memory and reasoning skills. Additionally, older individuals are more susceptible to injuries and complications from medical treatment.

Although there are major risks, there are ways that older drivers can reduce the risks of injury or death caused by car accidents. For example, older drivers should ask their doctor or health care provider about any medications they are taking to ensure that there are no dangerous side effects. Drivers should also have their vision checked and should wear their glasses or contacts as advised. Additionally, older drivers should avoid driving during bad weather.

If the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board are followed, motorists in Washington and other parts of the country may soon be driving vehicles that feature special sensors to reduce the incidence of collisions. These systems could include rear-mounted and forward-facing monitors that do everything from helping drivers apply brakes to providing warnings that collisions are about to occur. The NTSB says that more than 80 percent of rear-end collisions that cause injuries and fatalities could become less dangerous if new vehicles had such devices.

In a 60-page report released in early June, NTSB officials once again offered their opinion that collision-avoidance mechanisms should be standard in all new commercial and passenger vehicles. When confronted with the idea that this may significantly increase purchase costs for new car buyers, the NTSB chairman pointed to the example of seat belts to illustrate the point that drivers shouldn’t have to pay extra for potentially life-saving equipment.

A trade group for automakers has said that consumers should have the choice whether or not to purchase vehicles with the additional safety hardware. Nonetheless, NTSB officials have pressed forward, noting that only four 2014-model-year vehicles actually offered standard collision avoidance systems. The agency has suggested that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration should begin including collision-avoidance technology ratings in its current safety scale for new vehicles.

While not yielding the right of way on occasion may seem like standard behavior for some drivers, it is actually the primary cause of fatal traffic collisions in Washington. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration keeps records of all known fatal crashes involving vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians. The Auto Insurance Center has recently used that agency’s Fatal Accident Reporting System data from 2009 to 2013 to find the primary causes of fatal crashes nationwide.

While Washington’s problem seems to be the right of way, in neighboring Oregon and Idaho, drivers’ failure to remain in their lanes leads to the most fatal crashes. The compiled data also allowed for the examination of other factors, such as the prevalence of fatal intoxicated driving crashes in each state. Such crashes are more common in states with large rural areas where drivers have less access to public transportation. Rural areas are also more likely to have more fatal crashes caused by speeding due to long stretches of road with little traffic.

Weather also plays a role, and Washington drivers are more likely to have a fatal crash in the rain than in the snow, which may be due to the frequency of the rain during the winter months. However, snow is far more likely to lead to a fatal crash than fog, and sleet is a much greater danger for drivers and pedestrians than crosswinds.

Some Washington motorists may know that some days are safer than others when it comes to driving, but a few of the risky periods may be somewhat surprising. Statistics show many different days each year on which the hazards of the road are more prominent than usual. While holidays like Memorial Day weekend are obvious because of the number of vehicles on the road during the traditional kickoff to summer, others are more unusual.

Memorial Day weekend may already seem like an obvious time to avoid driving more than necessary due to the higher incidence of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities. Daylight saving time is a less obvious choice, but one study showed that the hour of lost sleep correlated with a 17 percent increase in traffic fatalities on the following Monday. Black Friday is another dangerous day to drive and park, as demonstrated by a Progressive Insurance report showing a massive 36 percent increase in parking lot claims and doubled overall claims.

Alcohol consumed by drivers increases the risks of being on the road on St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Day. For reasons yet to be explained, however, Friday the 13th also poses a higher risk of traffic accidents. A United Kingdom insurer has reported that collision claims rose approximately 13 percent on Friday the 13th, regardless of the time of year in which the day falls. Aggressive driving tendencies in general rise during major holidays, increasing the likelihood of an accident.

After being in a car accident that was caused by another driver, it is important that it is reported to the authorities. In addition, it is a good idea to report the accident to the insurance company of the driver who was at fault. Although the driver who caused the accident is required to report it to his or her insurance provider, those who are responsible for a crash aren’t necessarily motivated to do so.

It is important for all parties to get as much information as possible to help bolster their claims in the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident. It is advisable to take pictures, collect insurance information from other drivers involved and get witness statements from anyone who saw the crash occur. The report that is made to the insurance company should only state the facts in the case.

The insurance company will typically conduct its own investigation and the police will make a determination as to whether either driver broke the law. In some cases, the insurance company may need to look into the case itself before authorizing any repairs or paying for any damage that may have resulted from the crash. In the event that the other driver’s insurance company refuses to honor a valid claim, drivers should file claims with their own insurance company and let their insurer take steps to obtain reimbursement.

Approximately 100,000 auto accidents reported to police are caused by tired drivers in Washington and the other states every year. Young adult men, shift workers and people with children are the most at risk for driving while drowsy. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a survey in 2005 and found that around 168 million adult drivers drove while they were sleepy, and around 103 million people have fallen asleep while driving.

Fatigued drivers are more prone to attention lapses. Sleep deprivation may also cause behaviors that result in auto accidents such as impatience and faster driving. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll and found that people between 18 and 29 years of age were more likely to drive in a fatigued state than older people.

Driver fatigue causes approximately 71,000 auto injuries, 1,550 deaths, and over $12 billion in losses each year. These numbers may be higher since it is difficult to determine sleepiness as a cause of the crashes. Australian researchers have shown that 18 hours without sleep is equal in impairment to a blood alcohol level of 0.05. After 24 hours, the impairment is equivalent to 0.10. A person is considered legally drunk at 0.08. Fatigued driving accidents have caused drivers to go to jail.

Sternum fracture results in death about 25 to 45 percent of the time and is often caused by trauma to the hard plate of bone in the center of the chest that protects the heart and lungs from injury. When the sternum is fractured, rib breakage occurs about 20 percent of the time, and spinal fractures occur in roughly 10 percent of cases. Washington motorcyclists may be at higher risk for such injuries in case of accidents because of the lack of air bags and protective restraints.

People over 50, especially women, seem to be more vulnerable to this type of fracture. When osteoporosis is present, sternum fractures become more common, especially in an automobile or motorcycle accident where trauma to the chest is present. Bruising, damage or punctures of the heart and lungs, injury to abdominal organs, spinal cord injuries and death are all possible outcomes of sternum fracture.

Chest pain, difficulty breathing, crunching or grinding sounds and extensive chest bruising are all possible indications of sternum fractures. The chest may also appear deformed or misshapen because of the buckling of the underlying bone and the cartilage connecting it to the ribcage. Prompt assessment and treatment is important in these cases to prevent other complications such as bone infections, pneumonia, bleeding into the thoracic cavity and in many situations death.

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