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Norman Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

Trade group wants hours of service rules revised

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration strictly enforces rules that limit how long semi-tractor trailer drives can spend behind the wheel, but trade groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believe that hours of service regulations could actually be making the roads in Oklahoma and around the country more dangerous. The OOIDA has petitioned the FMCSA to revise these rules by allowing drivers to split their 14-hour shifts into segments.

The current hours of service regulations, which date back to 2013, require drivers to take a break of at least 30 minutes during the first eight hours of their shifts, but any further breaks they take are not deducted from the 14-hour time limit laid down by the FMCSA. The OOIDA wants the mandatory 30-minute break eliminated, and they have asked the agency to allow drivers to pause their 14-hour clocks while they rest for up to three hours.

Getting rid of distractions on the road

Drivers in Oklahoma and all over the country have likely seen car accidents on the side of the road. These crashes can cause minor or major injuries or death. One of the main causes of accidents is distracted driving, which can mean that drivers are doing everything from using a mobile device to changing the radio station in the car instead of paying attention to the road.

Most drivers know that it's not advisable to use any kind of phone while driving. Over 50 percent of drivers use some kind of phone, according to Consumer Reports. Activities take place include texting and making or receiving phone calls. Some drivers even watch videos while they are behind the wheel.

Important timelines to keep in mind after a crash

Dealing with a car crash and the resulting injuries and damages can be a real nightmare for Oklahoma motorists. Unfortunately, anyone on the road is at risk of being the victim of a distracted, drunk or dangerous driver. A car accident can cause serious medical problems and emergencies, but those urgent issues aren't the only concerns for victims. There are also concerns about how soon to report an accident and how to best work with insurance agencies to seek compensation.

Of course, the first thing to do after a car crash is to seek medical emergency assistance. Once the most urgent moment has passed, however, it can be important to move right away to report the accident and work with the applicable insurance agency. It is generally advisable to report the crash, even if one is not at fault for the accident.

Keeping passengers safe on a motorcycle

Riding a motorcycle with a passenger may be a fun way to spend an afternoon with a friend or loved one. However, Oklahoma residents and others should understand that riding with a passenger may carry safety risks. Ideally, a rider will learn how to operate a motorcycle safely before taking on a passenger. Motorcyclists new to riding with a passenger may want to start in an area where there is light traffic and fewer safety risks.

State law might dictate who can have a passenger on a motorcycle as well as what the bike must have when a passenger is on it. For instance, it may be necessary to have an additional seat or additional footrests for this extra person. Those who are operating the bike might also need to have a full license as opposed to a learner's permit.

Too much driver confidence may result in accidents

Oklahoma residents could fall asleep without even knowing it while driving. Drivers could also cause an accident by rear-ending another vehicle or after losing control of their vehicle for any reason. Although some may believe that accidents are only caused by poor drivers, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, drivers may actually overrate their own ability to operate a motor vehicle.

According to one survey, 50 percent of those who responded believed that they were in the top 20 percent when it came to skill level. Another common scenario that may result in a car crash is a driver making a rolling right turn at a red traffic light. An accident may occur because the driver is looking to the left watching for oncoming traffic while the car is moving to the right. While the driver is looking away, a vehicle or pedestrian may be coming toward the vehicle from the right.

Preventing impaired driving on December 2017

President Trump signed a proclamation on November 30, 2017, that has officially deemed December 2017 National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. The purpose is clear, as the people of Oklahoma probably know how driving under the influence can impact the lives of drivers, passengers and bystanders.

Every 50 minutes in America, one person dies in an alcohol-related car accident. In 2016, more than 10,000 people died in such accidents, accounting for 28 percent of all traffic fatalities in that year. Though the situation was worse 40 years ago, when alcohol contributed to two-thirds of all traffic fatalities, the numbers are still worrying.

Study links Pokémon Go with distracted driving

Pokémon Go, the smartphone game that was launched in the summer of 2016, enjoyed a huge following but also led to many reports of injuries and accidents as players became distracted or oblivious to their surroundings. A study has shown that drivers are hit especially hard by the phenomenon, which is just one among many possible distractions. Though the results pertained to Tippecanoe County in Indiana, they could be equally relevant in Oklahoma.

The study's authors analyzed the county's nearly 12,000 accident reports made between the months preceding the launch of Pokémon Go and the months after it. They then compared the crash risk between intersections close to a Pokéstop and those far from one, concluding that the former saw a 26.5 percent increase in traffic accidents.

Proper medication lowers crash risk for drivers with ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a condition characterized by the inability to pay attention, poor impulse control and hyperactivity. A study published by "JAMA Psychiatry" has reviewed the records of over 2.3 million drivers diagnosed with ADHD. As Oklahoma motorists might expect, the research shows that accidents are less frequent among ADHD drivers who take medication than those who do not.

Furthermore, the authors estimate that as many as 22.1 percent of the recorded car accidents could have been prevented if the drivers were medicated. The study used health insurance claims spanning the years 2005 through 2014 and took into account the number of emergency room visits that drivers made. Authors of the study admit that this is a limitation as the findings exclude both fatal accidents and minor crashes requiring no medical attention.

NHTSA seeks to reduce autonomous vehicle regulations

Oklahoma residents may be aware that the U.S. Department of Transportation launched an initiative in October 2016 with the goal of eliminating traffic accident deaths around the country within 30 years. The Road to Zero Coalition is made up of the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the nonprofit National Safety Council, and much of its efforts will be focused on facilitating the development of autonomous vehicle technology.

Companies including General Motors, Ford and Google say that current automobile safety standards are hampering their efforts to develop self-driving systems and delaying the introduction of potentially life-saving technology, and they have called for the rules to be revisited and revised. The NHTSA voiced support for these calls in a report released on Oct. 27, which vows to address the regulatory hurdles faced by autonomous vehicle manufacturers.

Nine-year high in car crash deaths, says NHTSA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that 37,461 people died in car crashes across the U.S. in 2016, creating a nine-year high. Residents of Oklahoma and elsewhere are concerned that new safety technology, such as automatic emergency braking, rearview cameras and lane departure warning systems, are doing little to stem the increase of deaths.

The NHTSA has stated clearly that human choices are behind 94 percent of all serious crashes. The agency continues to work with state and city partners, as well as with law enforcement agencies, to find ways of encouraging good choices. In an effort to spur greater road safety, the federal government has been pushing for self-driving vehicles; the U.S. House even approved a measure in July that would grant special exemptions to the makers of such vehicles.