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Norman Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

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.

The dangers of trucks with spiked wheel ornaments

Some trucks in Oklahoma might be more dangerous if they have spiked wheel ornaments. These are decorative fittings attached to the lug nuts of tractor-trailer wheels. Made of plastic, metal or aluminum, they could extend far enough to injure a pedestrian, motorcyclist or bicyclist in an accident.

Around 25 percent of pedestrians and almost 50 percent of bicyclists who are killed in accidents with large trucks impact the side of the truck, so it is clear that these spiked wheel ornaments have the potential to make an accident more serious. Furthermore, they can create a perception of aggression from the perspective of other drivers. This perception was actually raised in one lawsuit in Louisiana involving a truck accident.

Avoiding 18-wheeler accidents in Oklahoma

An important part of truck accident prevention is knowing what trucks are physically capable of. Trucks are the largest vehicles on the road and put cars in more danger than themselves. Truck accidents frequently involve overrides or underrides. The first occurs when a truck collides into the back of a car and rides over it, and the second when a car collides into the back of a truck and is forced under it. Rear underride guards are mandated for all trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more, but they are of somewhat limited utility.

Big rigs also have long braking distances. The prevalence of no-zones, or blind spots, on trucks can lead to a lane-change straight into parallel traffic. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has reported that a third of all truck accidents involve no-zones.

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.