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Norman Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

Crash tests lead to safety awards for large cars

Three full-sized vehicles popular among Oklahoma drivers have been awarded the highest rating for crashworthiness by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the auto safety organization financed by the car insurance industry. Receiving the Top Safety Pick Plus designation were the Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and the Toyota Avalon.

Other large cars didn't make the cut for the highest safety designation awarded by the organization, which conducts crash tests on SUVs, cars and trucks to demonstrate their response in an auto accident. The Tesla Model S, Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala did not receive the designation.

Road rage behaviors can lead to harm

Drivers in Oklahoma and across the United States are bubbling over with frustration and anger, indicates a 2016 study of road rage phenomena. Aggressive driving can pose a real threat to others on the road, and the study shows that it could be a growing trend.

The results of the study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveal that an estimated 8 million drivers engaged in serious dangerous driving behavior due to road rage within the previous 12 months. These types of incidents included deliberately ramming another car or getting out of the car for a confrontation with another driver. Even more, however, nearly eight out of 10 respondents they experienced significant aggression, anger or road rage while driving in the past year.

Truck driver training rule goes into effect

Oklahoma truck drivers may be interested to learn that a rule that sets national standards for CDL applicant training became law on June 5. However, the rule provides a lengthy window before trainers, carriers and other stakeholders must comply.

The rule establishes a core curriculum that trainers and carriers will be required to teach CDL applicants and other truck driver trainees. Additionally, there is required behind-the-wheel training, and CDL applicants must get their training from FMCSA-approved trainers. All truck driver trainers, including carriers who maintain their own training facilities, have until February 2020 to get themselves on the registry.

IIHS releases vehicle safety report

According to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 30 traffic fatalities for every million vehicles registered on average from 2011 to 2014. However, Oklahoma drivers should know that pickup trucks actually performed better than average with a rate of only 26 deaths per million registered vehicles. Passenger vehicles had an average of 39 deaths per million registrations. That was the most of all segments included in the report.

The IIHS did mention that deaths per million registered vehicles was not a perfect indication of vehicle safety. This is partially because the report focuses only on driver deaths instead of passenger deaths. Furthermore, to be included in the study, vehicles must have had at least 100,000 registered vehicle years. Therefore, vehicles such as the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Sierra 1500 were not a part of the report.

Motorcycle crash statistics reveal the associated dangers

Each year, many Oklahoma residents are killed or seriously injured in motorcycle accidents. Data released by the Insurance Information Institute shows that the fatality rate for people in motorcycle collisions in on the rise.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,976 people died in motorcycle accidents around the country in 2015. This was an 8.3 percent increase over the number of fatalities in 2014. The rate of injuries decreased from 2014 to 2015, however. In 2014, 92,000 motorcyclists were injured while 88,000 were injured in 2015.

Technology might help lower distracted driving crashes

Oklahoma residents may be interested in news about an emerging technology called a textalyzer. Proponents of this technology claim that it will help lower the risk of distracted driving caused by cellphone usage. Opponents claim that it has the potential to give law enforcement too much information about a person, violating their civil rights and privacy laws. The technology was still in its early testing phases in the spring of 2017, but it could see wide scale usage.

The so-called textalyzer aims to solve one of the greatest problems associated with phone usage while driving, which is its reputation for being almost impossible to prove. As of 2017, laws require police officers or investigators to get a warrant to search a person's phone records or use in order to prove they were using their phone illegally. This has proven to be a major issue with enforcing laws related to car accidents caused by phone use while driving. By allowing an officer to quickly scan a person's phone for recent usage, including swiping that would distinguish between illegal and hands-free use, phone activity while driving can be proven and laws can be enforced.

Tailgating and accident liability

Fault is a major legal element in any car accident case. Under Oklahoma law, fault is usually determined by examining several important factors in an accident. One driver may be entirely at fault, or the drivers may share some fault or responsibility for the accident. Whichever driver is mostly at fault will be responsible for paying damages to the other driver.

There are a few basic components to fault and negligence. This applies to car accidents and most other areas of personal injury law. First, the plaintiff must prove that the other driver owed them a duty of care. For example, drivers have a duty to drive safely and responsibly. Second, the plaintiff must prove that the other motorist breached their duty and that the specific breach of care is what caused the accident. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the damages they are suing for are the result of the accident and not some other factor.

How to combat distracted driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, out of all of the vehicle accident fatalities in 2015 that were attributed to human choice, those that resulted from distracted driving had a percentage rate increase that was higher than the fatalities caused by the failure to wear a seat belt, drunk or drowsy driving or speeding. Oklahoma motorists who are concerned about the growing problem of distracted driving should begin to consider how to avoid the problem.

There are multiple studies that indicate many drivers believe that distracted drivers are more dangerous than drunk drivers. At EndDD.org, individuals at businesses and schools are being educated on how to use defensive driving to protect themselves and their loved ones from distracted drivers.

Inspectors will focus on cargo safety in International Roadcheck

Road users in Oklahoma and around the country could be more likely to see semi-tractor trailers being pulled over for safety inspections in early June. This is when the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's International Roadcheck safety initiative will take place in 2017. The 72-hour-long campaign is scheduled to get underway on June 6, and the CVSA revealed on March 13 that inspectors will be focusing much of their efforts on cargo safety and securement.

Shifting cargo can make commercial vehicles traveling at highway speeds unstable and unsafe, and CVSA inspectors are expected to check cargo tie downs closely during the North American Standard Level I inspections that are common during these International Roadcheck events. These rigorous inspections examine drivers as well as their vehicles, and CVSA says that its inspectors conducted more than 42,000 of them during the 2016 International Roadcheck initiative. However, the nonprofit group maintains that its annual safety push is as much about education as enforcement, and a cargo safety flier has been produced that is designed to help truck drivers and logistics companies to avoid sanctions.

Autonomous trucking

An autonomous trucking startup company has created a system that would eliminate the necessity of having drivers in commercial trucks during final-mile delivery. This means that commercial truck drivers in Oklahoma and the rest of the nation would be able to control the truck remotely.

The company is headquartered in San Francisco, and similarly to other autonomous vehicle companies, its technology is comprised of software as well as front- and side-facing radar and camera technology. However, its system allows truckers to be in an office while controlling a truck from a terminal to a final delivery destination.

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