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Columbia, Missouri Personal Injury Law Blog

Car accident fatality rates rise for second straight year

Missouri residents may drive cars that either drive themselves in certain situations or come with modern safety features. Despite that, fatal car crashes increased in the United States for the second straight year in 2016. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was a 5.6 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.

Overall, there were 37,461 deaths on American roads, the highest total in nine years, and an increase in motorcycle deaths was a key reason. Failure to wear safety belts as well as a tendency for drivers to speed were also cited as key reasons for the increase over the past two years. However, deaths attributed to distracted driving were actually down 2.2 percent from 2015 to 3,450 according to NHTSA data. In 2016, there was a 4 percent increase in deaths attributed to speeding.

Sharing the road with truckers requires patience

Missouri passenger car drivers need to realize they don't own the road and that they must share it with other vehicles, including big rigs. Traveling alongside an 18-wheeler may seem daunting, but drivers can take steps to make the experience less frightening.

Patience, even at the cost of convenience, plays a big part in this. If drivers see a truck in front about to move into their lane, rather than speed up in hopes of getting by the truck first, they should slow down and let the truck move over. Motorists who want to pass a truck should allow plenty of room to do so. They should not pull back into the original lane until they can see the truck in the rear-view mirror. Patience and space can prevent a truck accident as trucks cannot stop as quickly as automobiles.

Understanding bail, bonds and others issues after an arrest

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There are a lot of things that can happen from the day a person is arrested through the day his or her case is ultimately resolved. If you are involved in the criminal justice system, knowing what to expect can help reduce the level of stress you are feeling.

No matter what charges you are facing, these basic points might help you to understand what is going on and what may happen next.

Preventing car accidents that occur close to home

While many Missouri residents believe that those who are driving long distances are more likely to operate their vehicle while drowsy, that is actually not the case. In fact, most car accidents take place within about 25 miles from home. This could be due to the fact that drivers who are in familiar parts of town may be more likely to drive with their brains on auto-pilot.

Because driving in familiar places can be extremely dangerous, particularly after a long day of work or running around, drivers should be active in keeping themselves safe. This includes staying alert and ensuring that they buckle up. By staying alert and not letting their brains go on auto-pilot, they can be prepared to avoid accidents caused by another driver, an animal or pedestrian suddenly crossing the road or potential car equipment failure. Those who let themselves drift off while driving are simply not able to respond as quickly to these types of unpredictable elements.

Safety tips for every jogger

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When you go out for the morning jog, you may not be thinking about anything other than working on getting some exercise and enjoying the morning air. You are probably not thinking about the possibility of being hit by a car. However, without paying attention to the traffic around you, the chances of a pedestrian accident are greatly increased. 

Whether you are new to running outside or you have been doing it for years, it is always good to refresh yourself with some basic safety tips. Following these tips and staying cautious while jogging could save your life.

Accident avoidance systems help save Missouri lives

More than 55,000 traffic accident injuries around the country could have been prevented in 2015 if all vehicles had been equipped with lane departure and blind spot warning systems according to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A researcher from the nonprofit road safety advocacy organization studied about 5,000 front-end collisions and sideswipe crashes, which are the types of accidents that lane departure and blind spot warning systems are most effective at preventing, and she concluded that this technology reduces injury rates by as much as 21 percent.

While the IIHS study provides compelling evidence of the effectiveness of modern electronic accident avoidance technology, the researcher found that many drivers switch these potentially life-saving systems off because they find their warning vibrations and beeps annoying. The researcher also criticized car makers for not making the technology more widely available.

Causes of trucking accident

Missouri motorists have good cause to worry about crashes that involve semi trucks. Because of their size and weight, accidents involving large trucks have the potential to cause serious personal injuries and devastating consequences.

The number of large truck accidents that lead to death is rising on an annual basis. There are around 5,000 fatalities and 140,000 injuries each year nationwide in accidents that involve 475,000 large trucks.

Device may help reduce numbers of drowsy drivers

Missouri motorists may be unaware that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 6,000 fatal traffic accidents every year arou are caused by drowsy driving. In response, a company called Creative Mode has developed a device that is worn on the wrist and is supposed to alert drivers who are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. The founder of Creative Mode says he first became aware of the problem of driver fatigue after a friend broke his collarbone when he drifted off while driving and hit a tree.

The device measures skin conductance, which is related to sweat production, and heart rate to determine when a fatigued driver is dozing off. When the heart rate drops by a certain amount and the skin conductance changes, the device vibrates. When there is another drop in heart rate and change in skin conductance, the device delivers a minor shock. In addition to alerting the driver, the shock is supposed to increase the production of hormones that help keep the driver awake in order to find a place to pull over and rest safely.

New trucking rules put on the back-burner by DOT

In regards to the trucking industry, increased sleep apnea testing and mandatory speed limiters were both being considered by the Department of Transportation last year. However, the DOT has indicated that it will not continue to pursue rule making on those two issues. This information might be of interest to Missouri drivers as both issues can become factors that lead to traffic accidents.

The rule making on the required use of speed limiters in trucks was delayed. It was moved from the agenda of rules actively being considered by the department and placed on the long-term agenda. The DOT did not indicate when the rule making for speed limiters would be once again considered.

The effects of the economy on traffic accidents

Missouri residents might not be aware that there is a connection between driver deaths in traffic accidents and improvement in the economy. The information, presented by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, showed that when the economy improves, driver deaths tend to also increase.

When the unemployment rate dropped, the accident and driver death rate increased inversely. Though a decrease in unemployment usually means an increase in vehicles on the road and driving time, it was not the day-to-day commuting that seems to be affecting the rate. Instead, it seems that the non-necessary driving, such as when people take more vacations, and the risk-taking behavior of speeding, distracted driving or driving under the influence both had a more substantial impact on the number of drivers killed in a car accident.

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