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Personal Injury Law Blog

Lower unemployment means higher death rate on the road

Georgia residents may be interested to learn about a potential higher risk of dying while driving thanks to the latest economic recovery. According to the IIHS, there were 30 deaths for every million registered vehicles from the 2014 model year. There were only 28 deaths for every million registered vehicles from the 2011 model year. The increase is partially attributable to the fact that people drive more during better economic times and that they may take more risks while on the road.

The IIHS study found that when the unemployment rate drops from 6 to 5 percent, there is a 2 percent increase in miles traveled. This also causes a 2 percent increase in the number of driver deaths. While the number of driver deaths each year had been declining since the 1970s, there was a 7 percent increase in 2015. It is also expected that the number would increase in 2016 as well.

Air bag manufacturer recalls defective inflators

Georgia drivers who own vehicles that were not affected by past Takata air bag recalls should be aware that the company has widened the recall. This recall now includes a particular type of air bag inflator that was previously thought to be safe.

The devices, which cause the air bags to inflate when a collision occurs, can explode with too much force, causing shrapnel to be thrown at passengers and drivers during a collision. It was reported that at least 17 people have died as a result of injuries caused by faulty air bag inflators, with another 180 suffering injuries. Essentially, the problem with the inflators is caused by a chemical called ammonium nitrate. While this is the chemical that causes the air bags to quickly inflate, it can deteriorate if it is exposed to certain conditions.

IIHS top safety rating given to 3 cars

Georgia residents who are looking to purchase a new carmay be interested to learn that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave three vehicles the highest rating for crash worthiness. These vehicles were the Lincoln Continental, the Toyota Avalon and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. However, three other vehicles that were also tested did not make the cut.

One of them was the Tesla Model S, which has been touted as one of the safest cars. However, the Model S failed to pass the small overlap front test, which determines the car's ability to handle an impact coming from the front driver-side corner, such as would happen if a driver crashed into a telephone pole. This test particularly looks at the structural integrity of the vehicle's safety cage, which is what the driver and passengers actually sit in.

Self-driving cars face resistance on safety grounds

Although many Georgia motorists might be interested in the prospect of owning vehicles that operate themselves, advocates say that the technology isn't ready from a safety standpoint. As one government representative noted, around 2 million injuries occurred on American roads in 2016 along with more than 40,000 fatalities. While companies are working to advance driver-free technology, many lawmakers continue to be wary of the risks of turning vehicle control over to machines.

Safety advocates are also worried. Some want driverless vehicles to complete safety exams before they're allowed to travel on the open road. These groups also note that there isn't currently a federal safety evaluation framework in place. As it stands, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration can provide vehicle manufacturers with exemptions that let them safety test their vehicles.

AAA study suggests that road rage is a common problem

Georgia residents may be shocked to learn that close to 80 percent of the motorists surveyed about road rage in 2016 admitted to expressing severe anger or aggression while behind the wheel during the previous 12 months. Researchers from the AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety say that their findings indicate that about 8 million American drivers are involved in serious road rage incidents each year. Examples of serious road rage incidents include ramming vehicles and exiting vehicles to confront other motorists.

The poll of 2,705 licensed drivers reveals that intentional tailgating is the most common type of road rage behavior with more than half of the respondents saying that they had behaved in this way in the prior 12 months. Many also admitted to yelling, aggressively using their horns and making angry gestures, and almost a quarter said that they had cut another vehicle off deliberately. However, less than 5 percent of those polled confessed to deliberately striking another car or exiting their vehicle to initiate a confrontation.

Exploding whipped cream cans and dangers of defective products

A sad ending to a defective product story hit the worldwide news media last week. A fashion blogger and model died when a defective whipped cream dispenser exploded, hitting her in the chest with such force that her heart stopped.

An avoidable accident?

Many parties could be liable in a tour bus accident

A tour bus can be a fun and exciting way to bring together large groups for travel and tourism in Georgia. However, tour bus crashes can also cause devastating injuries impacting large numbers of people. When a tour bus crashes, it's important to be aware of the various parties involved.

A tour bus is considered a "common carrier". This means that it must exercise a great deal of care for the safety of its passengers. Violations of this duty of care can result from negligent acts or willful acts on the part of the bus or tour operator. If an accident is caused by a third party's actions, however, that party is likely to bear responsibility.

Training rules to go into effect for new truck drivers

Truckers in Georgia and throughout the country are seeing a new rule take effect to set standards for the training of aspiring truck drivers. The rule promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration became effective on June 5 following a five-month delay caused by reviews by the Trump administration.

It establishes a core curriculum that must be taught to commercial driver's license applicants and trainee drivers. It also requires new truckers to receive behind-the-wheel training from a list of trainers approved by the FMCSA. There is a compliance window of almost three years, and the rule will apply to all CDL applicants who receive their licenses on or after Feb. 7, 2020.

Driver death statistics vary by truck model

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted a study of car accidents where the drivers were killed by examining registered vehicles for models years 2011 through 2014. The Institute found differences in death rates among various truck models. Although the study only looked at driver deaths, the results illustrated some significant safety disparities among trucks that may interest Georgia residents who are shopping for new vehicles.

For example, the Nissan Titan Crew Cab short bed 4WD earned the worst score out of all the pickup categories with 73 dead drivers out of a million registered vehicles. The Frontier Crew Cab short bed 4WD from the same manufacturer, however, performed relatively well with a score of only 16 driver deaths.

Supreme Court declines to hear sleep apnea testing case

Many commercial vehicle operators in Georgia and all around the country require truck drivers who have a body mass index of 35 or higher to undergo sleep apnea testing. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a debilitating condition that can cause extreme fatigue and heart issues. Medical research has established that risk factors for the condition include obesity, poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles. Truck drivers may be more likely to develop sleep apnea because it can be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the road. Employers test for the condition to reduce the likelihood of fatigue-related accidents from occurring.

OSA tests are expensive, and some trade groups, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, are opposed to mandatory testing. These groups say that only a small number of fatal truck accidents involve fatigued or drowsy drivers. The matter was brought before the courts by a truck driver who claimed that his employer's insistence that he undergo sleep apnea testing violated protections guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act. His lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful, and the Supreme Court announced in April that it would not hear the case.

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