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Norman Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

Collision avoidance systems reduce the number of crashes

Oklahoma drivers may not realize that some car manufacturers have been designing collision warning systems for quite some time. Since then, research has shown that certain technology, like lane departure warning systems and blind spot alerts, can prevent car accidents that result in serious injuries.

Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that collision avoidance systems are effective in reducing the number of accidents overall and the number of accidents that result in injuries. The study analyzed about 5,000 car accidents from 2015 that involved the type of impacts the collision avoidance systems were designed to prevent. The numbers showed that the accident rate in vehicles that had warning systems were reduced by 11 percent. When it came to injury-related accidents, the rate was cut by about 21 percent. It is estimated that if all vehicles had collision avoidance systems installed, more than 55,000 injuries would have been prevented in that year.

Why driverless cars might not be available very soon

While many Oklahoma motorists might be looking forward to the day when all of the vehicles on the roads are driverless, that time may not come as quickly as some experts predict. Multiple factors may interplay to prolong the widespread availability of self-driving cars, and the personal preferences of consumers may also make their adoption of these vehicles slower than anticipated.

In order for driverless cars to be released for sale through mass production, safety regulators and legislators will first need to determine how these vehicles will be governed by the traffic laws and regulations of the state and federal governments. The process of passing laws and enacting regulations can take years, slowing down the process. Tricky issues of liability will also need to be determined. For example, questions of who to hold liable for an accident that is caused by a self-driving vehicle will need to be answered.

Device delivers electric shock to keep drivers alert

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving may be the cause behind up to 6,000 fatal traffic accidents annually. Oklahoma motorists might therefore be interested in a new device designed to keep drivers alert and awake, thanks to its use of electric shocks.

The device, called Steer, uses a combination of two sensors to track changes in sweat secretion and heart rate, as these are indicators when a driver is getting sleepy. The process begins with the device setting baseline numbers for the driver. If the driver's heart rate drops by 10 beats a minute from the baseline or the skin conductivity decreases by one unit, Steer gives the driver a brief vibration. If heart rate or skin conductivity continue to fall, the device gives the driver a slight electric shock.

Study claims that higher speed limits have made roads deadlier

Although Oklahoma residents may enjoy driving down roads with higher speed limits, these roadways could be prone to fatal accidents. According to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, increasing maximum speed limits have led to at least an additional 33,000 deaths.

In 1973, Congress passed a measure called the National Maximum Speed Limit due to a concern over the shortage of fuel. States that did not abide by the measure, which set maximum speed limits to 55 mph, were not eligible to receive their portion of the federal highway funds. When fuel concerns began fading in 1987, Congress relaxed the measure, allowing states to raise their speed limits to 65 mph on certain roads. The measure was ultimately repealed in 1995. As a result some states have raised their maximum speed limits to 80 mph while Texas allows up to 85 mph speed limits on certain roads.

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.

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