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Charles Town West Virginia Legal Blog

How are child support payments decided in West Virginia?

Going through a divorce is an emotional time, especially for children. They may not understand why you are splitting up with your spouse, and they are likely unhappy about it. Your children may even blame themselves.

You want to do all you can to protect your kids. You are trying to their routines as much the same as possible. Caring for your children after the divorce may involve a child support payment from your soon-to-be ex. You may be wondering how child support payments are determined in West Virginia.

How truckers may be able to minimize accidents

Truck-related fatalities are on the rise in West Virginia and other states. At a Transportation Research Board meeting in early 2019, the chief safety officer from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration presented the following statistics: Large-truck-occupant fatalities have increased each of the last three years, fatal work zone crashes involving large trucks are on the rise, and the number of large truck or bus collisions has increased.

The FMSCA didn't specifically point the finger at drivers of large trucks. However, data suggests that truckers may be able to literally use their hands to reduce truck accidents. Nearly 40 percent of truck occupant victims weren't wearing seat belts in 2017, so one thing drivers can do is use their hands to buckle up. Work zone crashes may also be reduced if truckers use their hands to click the turn signal early when merging into open lanes and turn their flashers on when traffic is stopped or slowed.

Road Safe America advocates speed limiters on large trucks

One way to reduce the number of large truck crashes is to incorporate safety technology on trucks, especially speed limiters. This is the conclusion that the non-profit Road Safe America reached after analyzing federal data on large truck crash fatalities. Between 2009 and 2017, there were a total of 35,882 such fatalities in West Virginia and across the U.S.

Those eight years saw a significant increase in large truck crash deaths with all but six states experiencing it. Corresponding to this was a decline in the miles traveled by commercial truckers. Road Safe America found that most of the states that experienced the highest increase have speed limits of 70 mph. This is not a coincidence, according to the non-profit, because such a high speed is dangerous for large trucks.

West Virginia legislature considers new drunk driving law

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would make it legal for a person to drive drunk on their own property. However, the bill would not protect a drunk driver from liability for hurting or killing another person. It would also still be legal for police to take drunk drivers into custody if that individual left their property or was spotted coming back onto their property.

The legislation was inspired by an incident that took place in 2012. The case involved a man who was taken into custody for drunk driving after being spotted driving an ATV on his own property. After passing the House of Delegates 97-2, the bill will now be sent to the Senate for approval. It was not clear if it would pass the Senate or when the matter would be voted on.

Study finds vehicle infotainment systems distracting to drivers

New cars and trucks come with an array of safety features designed to reduce traffic accidents on roads in West Virginia and elsewhere. Unfortunately, many new vehicles are also stocked with distracting electronic gadgets, including infotainment and GPS systems, that could increase the risk of car crashes.

For example, a recent AAA study conducted by researchers from the University of Utah examined 30 different dashboard systems on 2017 vehicles and found that all of them required moderate or high levels of driver interaction. Specifically, seven of the studied systems required moderate levels of interaction, 11 required high levels of interaction and 12 required very high levels of interaction. None of the systems required low levels of interaction. The study also found that using GPS systems and sending texts were the most distracting interactions.

What's behind most drunk driving deaths

West Virginia residents 21 and older who are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher will be guilty of drunk driving. This is the legal limit through most of the U.S., though it is considered the highest limit in the world. Some countries, such as Brazil and Russia, have a zero-tolerance policy where no one can drive with alcohol in the blood.

What's clear is that a 0.08 percent BAC is enough to impair drivers' reaction times and raise their risk for a crash. Many drunk driving crashes are fatal crashes; in fact, drunk driving fatalities compose about one-third of all traffic-related fatalities. The ones who are most at risk are drivers under the age of 24, motorcyclists, those with prior DUI convictions and those who mix drugs or medications with their alcohol consumption.

External air bags could increase passenger safety by 40 percent

West Virginia drivers may be interested in learning how external airbags could make passengers safer. The idea of external airbags is not something new. In fact, technology is reaching the point where the concept is feasible. Testing has shown that external airbags may reduce the severity of passenger injuries by up to 40 percent.

The technology is designed to protect the sides of the vehicle. A split second before an automobile crash, the airbag will deploy and act like a large pillow, absorbing some of the collision force. One of the biggest challenges automobile manufacturers face is making the airbags deploy properly.

How Breathalyzer tests work

When police stop a suspected drunk driver, standard protocol is to have the driver complete a set of field sobriety tests and take a breath test to determine their blood alcohol content. Each time a person with alcohol in their system breathes out, they expel a small amount of vaporized alcohol. Breathalyzer machines are calculated to detect the infrared radiation, or IR, of ethanol, the chemical in alcoholic beverages that causes intoxication. Different organic compounds have different IR wavelengths.

Most Breathalyzer machines require a person to blow into the machine for several seconds. This is so the air that enters the machine comes from the deepest part of the lungs. Otherwise, the machine could pick up mouth alcohol that is on a person's breath right after they have taken a drink. Most machines will not register unless a person has blown a sufficient sample of air into the machine.

CVSA sidelines almost 5,000 trucks in brake inspection spree

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held its annual Brake Safety Week from Sept. 16 to 22, inspecting trucks and other commercial vehicles at random to check for compliance with brake safety rules. Truckers in West Virginia may remember it, but even if their vehicles were not checked, they will want to know the results of the spree.

In all, 35,080 commercial vehicles were inspected in the U.S. and Canada. Inspectors placed 4,955 of those vehicles out of service for brakes violations; that comes to 14.1 percent. The 2017 brake inspection spree, though it lasted only one day, saw 14 percent of vehicles sidelined. Brakes violations continue to be an issue; in June, when the CVSA held its annual 72-hour International Roadcheck, poorly maintained brakes formed the majority of violations at 28.4 percent.

Distracted driving, an overlooked threat among truckers

Distracted driving is on the rise throughout West Virginia and across the U.S., but it's a threat that many trucking companies are ignoring. Truckers are especially prone to distracted driving not only because of increased smartphone use but also because of a "productivity culture" that forces them to stay awake longer. Texting and fatigue are frequently behind trucking accidents.

Experts say that texting constitutes a visual, manual and cognitive distraction. It can take a driver's eyes off the road for up to five seconds, which means that one driving at 55 mph could travel the entire length of a football field without once looking up from the phone. Inattentive driving leads to truckers swerving or drifting into other lanes and compromises reaction times.


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