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Columbia, Missouri Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

How does a traumatic brain injury change your life?

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Getting into a car crash or experiencing a slip-and-fall accident isn't something anyone plans to do. Still, accidents happen all the time. If you hit your head when you fell or were hit in the head with something, you may have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Blunt force trauma to the head, which could happen by something dropped on you at work or striking the steering column during an accident, can also lead to a TBI. You can even develop a TBI without hitting anything, if your head gets shaken around enough.

Actions to take after a car accident

If a motorist is in a Missouri car accident, there may be several important actions to take if another driver is at fault. First, regardless of who has caused the accident, injured people should be assisted but should not be moved if possible. If the accident is serious, the police may be called.

The person who is not at fault should collect information from the other driver such as name, contact information and insurance policy information. This may be useful if that driver fails to report the accident to the insurance company. It may also be a good idea to document the accident with photographs and witness statements.

What is an MIP and is it serious?

Many people think that crimes committed by minors do not carry very serious consequences. The reality of the situation is that many states have very strict laws, especially concerning minor in possession (MIP) charges. In fact, an underage individual may be arrested even if he or she appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Missouri.

Consequences for a MIP conviction can be serious. College students that are underage and caught with alcohol can face consequences both in a criminal court and with their schools as well.

FMSCA training rule took effect on June 5

Starting in February 2020, truck drivers in Missouri and around the country who apply for their CDL will have to receive training from a provider on a FMCSA-approved list. The new rule took effect on June 5, and it has a compliance window of nearly three years. Drivers will need behind-the-wheel training in addition to classroom and road time.

There is no minimum number of hours that a driver will need to spend behind the wheel to get his or her CDL. Lobbyists for the trucking industry want a one implemented, and one was included in earlier versions of the rule but omitted from the final version. To get on the national registry, a trainer will need to be certified by and meet criteria set forth by the FMCSA. Carriers that provide their own training will also need to be in compliance with the new rule by February 2020.

Trucking companies may increase testing for sleep apnea

Carriers in Missouri and other states across the nation may soon require more truck drivers to be tested for sleep apnea after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case related to the issue in April 2017. It was brought by a driver who claimed that one carrier's required testing for the medical condition violated his rights. With less fear of having to defend the decision in court following the rejection of the appeal, more companies may require sleep tests for drivers.

Although work on guidelines for testing, tracking and treating truckers for the medical condition is underway, no federal regulations are in place. Because obesity may be an indicator of sleep apnea, two Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advisory committees have recommended required testing for drivers who have a BMI of 35 or higher.

Study shows that side underride guards could save lives

Each year, Missouri residents are seriously injured or killed in collisions with large trucks. Some of these crashes occur when people's cars go underneath the sides of the trucks, crushing the cars underneath. A study has demonstrated that the installation of side underride guards would help to prevent these often deadly accidents.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, side underride guards would provide as much protection to cars as rear underride guards do. Rear underride guards are installed on the back of the trucks to prevent cars from traveling underneath them when the cars are behind the trucks, and regulations are being considered by federal lawmakers to make them mandatory. Side underride guards are not yet being looked at, but they would potentially save many lives.

Getting a DWI in Missouri is a serious issue

You may think nothing of getting behind the wheel after a few drinks. You know you are safe to drive, but then you're stopped by law enforcement. Maybe you swerved while driving, or perhaps there is a roadblock enforcement effort underway to reduce impaired driving in the area. Suddenly, you're spending a night in jail instead of your own bed and facing a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge.

Even a first offense can cause serious legal issues for you that can spill over into your personal and professional life. You could lose your job or a college scholarship if you're convicted or plead guilty.

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