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Norman Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

How tech and data analysis can combat trucker distraction

Trucking companies in Oklahoma will want to learn about the various tech companies and data analysis firms that could help them reduce distracted driving among employees. The fact is that smartphones, infotainment systems and other technologies are creating an addiction in drivers, but there is new technology that can counteract this trend.

Many fleets have taken advantage of an app from Cellcontrol, for example, that can block incoming calls, texts and emails whenever a proximity-sensing device senses that the vehicle is in motion. Others incorporate in-cab video monitoring systems from companies like Smartdrive and PeopleNet. Netradyne, which also creates video-based monitoring systems, has introduced the Driveri RealTimeCoach that provides audible warnings to truckers who are entering into risky situations.

Protecting yourself from racial discrimination at work

Your workplace can be a source of fulfillment and pride. However, if you are facing discrimination based on your race, going into the office can suddenly feel like traversing through enemy territory. Even though you love what you do, you just cannot stomach those awful jokes anymore.

Road to Zero Coalition aims to eliminate traffic deaths by 2050

The National Safety Council has announced a goal to reduce traffic fatalities in Oklahoma and across the U.S. to zero by 2050. The organization's CEO said the ambitious objective is comparable to the goal of sending an astronaut to the moon 50 years ago.

On April 22, 2018, the NSC's newly established Road to Zero Coalition released a report outlining ways the U.S. could eliminate traffic deaths within the next 32 years. However, the goal will be tough to achieve. The country is currently losing approximately 100 people per day to traffic accidents, and federal numbers show that 37,461 people died in car accidents in 2016, which was a 5.6 percent increase over 2015. Meanwhile, crashes involving large trucks increased 5.4 percent over the same period.

Be wary of an employer interfering with FMLA leave

The specific language in a Family Medical Leave Act notice is critical. Employees are likely rely on such information so that they can make informed decisions about when and how much unpaid leave they can take. Similarly, the communication and recording of such leave is critical to prevent unlawful punishments against employees who need to take intermittent leave under FMLA.

It is important for injured workers to know that federal law allows qualified employees to take leave on an intermittent (i.e. temporary, irregular interval) basis or to work a reduced schedule to help deal with injuries that prevent them from working. For example, if a factory worker seeks such leave to undergo physical therapy for lower back pain. He or she should be able to be approved for FMLA leave after following the protocols set forth in the employer's FMLA leave notice.

Ford recalls about 350,000 vehicles following rollaway incident

Ford vehicle owners in Oklahoma may be interested to learn that the carmaker initiated a recall for about 350,000 SUVs and trucks due to rollaway concerns. The company stated that it was aware of one reported accident and injury associated with the problem.

According to reports, the clip that locks the gearshift cable securely to the transmission could become dislodged if it is not fully seated. If the clip does become dislodged, the transmission could shift to a different gear than what was selected by the driver. For example, if the clip dislodged and the driver attempted to put the SUV or truck in park, the vehicle could potentially roll away as soon as the driver opens the door.

CVSA to conduct annual roadcheck in June

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducts a commercial truck and bus inspection spree once a year as a way to enforce compliance with driver and vehicle safety regulations. This 72-hour event is called the International Roadcheck. Truck and bus drivers in Oklahoma should know that the 2018 roadcheck will occur from June 5 to 7, and they should especially keep in mind the current hours-of-service regulations as these are a major focus.

The focus on hours-of-service violations comes as a result of the ELD mandate, which the U.S. Department of Transportation implemented back in December 2017. The DoT has begun the period of hard enforcement for this rule, which states that all commercial truck drivers must install an electronic logging device in their cabs to track duty hours. ELDs will prevent the falsification of duty hours as was the case with paper logs, and the devices will allow inspectors to more easily detect non-compliance.

Motorcycle helmets can reduce neck, spine injuries from accidents

Oklahoma doesn't require motorcycle riders over the age of 18 to wear helmets. Savvy riders, however, will forgo the exhilarating feeling of the wind blowing through their hair and choose to wear helmets. They know that helmets can lessen the injuries to their head and neck should they be in an accident.

Some 1,869 riders were saved from dying in motorcycle accidents in 2016. Wearing a helmet would have saved another 802 riders, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A new study by the University of Wisconsin found that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of injury to a rider's cervical spine. Helmet usage is known to lessen the incidence of traumatic brain injuries.

Car accidents and soft tissue damage

Soft tissue damage is a common injury faced by those involved in Oklahoma auto crashes. A collision and the sudden braking that follows can jolt the body back and forth to the point that the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons) stretch and become strained or even torn. Symptoms, which may appear hours or days after the accident, usually range from chronic pain to inflammation to bleeding. In some cases, victims have diminished motor functions.

Soft tissue injuries are difficult to detect through X-ray, so victims only have their symptoms to consider when determining whether they should see a doctor. If left untreated, the injury could hamper the healing process. Medical attention is crucial, especially when victims suffer from whiplash.

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.

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