April 2011 Archives

April 26, 2011

New Air Bag Requirements in the U.S.

Airbags Deploy.jpg47 percent of people killed in rollover accidents are ejected from their vehicles, according to a Reuters report. Ejections from rollover accidents account for most fatalities. Most ejections occur through the side windows of vehicles.

Rollover accidents account for one third of all crash fatalities. That is about 10,000 deaths per year over the past 10 years, making them the deadliest of all motor vehicle accidents. This is one of the most important reasons why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has come up with new air bag requirements.

The NHTSA is requiring manufacturers to enlarge side curtain air bags, make them stay inflated longer and make them deploy in all types of serious accidents. These new requirements are designed to save lives, by creating another barrier to ejection from vehicles, even when windows are down or when drivers and passengers are not wearing their seat belts.

In 2013 the new air bags will begin to appear in vehicles and be in full implementation by 2017. The new air bag rules will apply to vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less. The implementation of these new air bags will cost the manufacturer an average of $31 per vehicle, but it is predicted that the new rule will save an average of 373 lives and 476 serious injuries per year.

April 13, 2011

Event Date Recorders Can Help Determine Liability in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Liability can sometimes be difficult to determine in automobile and truck accidents, when issues of fault are argued and when eyewitnesses are not reliable. That is why Event Data Recorders (EDRs, otherwise known as "black boxes") are important.

EDRs record data on a vehicle's speed, braking activity, engine RPM's, motorist's use of turn signal prior to accidents, and even seat belt use. A committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created standards for EDRs. They recommend that manufactures be required to record 86 separate streams of data.

The information recorded can help investigators determine who was at fault for an accident, by determining if the driver was negligent, if there was an auto defect or if the accident occurred because of hazardous conditions. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 would have made EDR technology mandatory in all vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2015, but it never was approved by the House of Representatives. EDRs are however available if an automobile company voluntarily decides to install one in its vehicles. EDRs are not yet mandatory but the NHTSA does have 15 data elements mandated for their use.

EDRs and their advanced technology can prove extremely useful in motor vehicle accident litigation, but they are not the only tool used to determine fault or the injuries suffered by people involved in accidents. An experienced personal injury lawyer must also know how to use all available resources to demonstrate the harm a client has suffered and be able to assess and determine the long term medical care needs of each client. Technology is only one piece of the puzzle, so be well informed and researched when choosing an attorney.

April 5, 2011

4 Common Causes of Truck Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that almost 3,500 people were killed in the U.S. as a result of heavy trucks collisions, in 2009. Truck accidents are cause by various factors, but for of the most common causes of truck accidents are:

Driver Fatigue
Commercial truck drivers have deadlines to keep, and so they tend to drive for long periods of time and travel further than is safe. When a driver travels for long periods of time it becomes harder to pay sufficient attention to driving conditions and to respond properly to changing circumstances.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) came up with a set of regulations for commercial truck drivers to follow. The Hours-of Service (HOS) regulations states that after 10 consecutive hours off-duty, a truck driver may only drive a maximum of 11 hours, if carrying property. Also, the FMCSA limits the number of hours commercial truck drivers can drive in a seven or eight day period. New regulations, however, will be published by July 26, 2011, by the FMCSA.

Distractions
When drivers are distracted, the likelihood of an accident increases. Most drivers in the U.S. are not allowed to send text messages while driving, according to the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA). More than half of the United States has laws established forbidding texting while driving. The FMCSA, however, prohibits all commercial truck drivers from texting while behind the wheel.

Poor Road Conditions and Maintenance
When road conditions are bad, most drivers try and spend less time on the road. Truck drivers, however, have strong incentives to drive through all kinds of weather in order to arrive by their scheduled deadline.

Truck maintenance is also important. Properly maintained vehicles are safer to drive then those that have defects.

Other Drivers on the Road
Truck accidents are not always the result of the truck drivers fault; sometimes other drivers on the road contribute to truck accidents. Some vehicles try and go around trucks, or miscalculate when driving near or around trucks. You must remember that trucks have bigger blind spots than regular vehicles and therefore a driver must keep a proper distance between themselves and the truck.