Charles Town And Martinsburg West Virginia Legal Blog

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.

How alcohol impacts a driver

If a driver in West Virginia or any other state drives with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, he or she is committing a crime. It is usually labeled as either driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. Drivers should know that driving after consuming any amount of alcohol can be dangerous. They should also be aware that they can be impaired without showing any symptoms.

Those who drive after drinking alcohol could experience a slower reaction time and a lack of coordination. It can also reduce the level of concentration that a person has while behind the wheel. A lack of concentration could cause a driver to swerve into another lane or drive faster than the speed limit. Alcohol can also lower a person's inhibitions, which can make it harder to properly deal with others on the road.

AAA: most drivers depend too much on safety tech

There's a good chance that many West Virginia residents with driver assistance systems in their vehicles are relying too much on them to stay safe. As a result, they may be putting themselves and others at risk. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has called attention to this fact in a report, and some of its statistics are alarming.

A total of 29 percent of drivers with adaptive cruise control, for instance, say that they are comfortable engaging in other activities behind the wheel. More than 40 percent of those with automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warnings cannot differentiate the two technologies.

Inspection spree sidelines thousands of trucks

West Virginia drivers often have to share the road with large commercial vehicles. This is one of the reasons why the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance periodically performs roadside inspections to identify possible safety violations. During an inspection blitz that took place in early June, more than 11,800 trucks and buses and 2,664 drivers were placed out-of-service. The primary focus of this round of vehicle assessments was hours-of-service violations, which ended up being responsible for more than 40 percent of the problems that affected drivers.

The purpose of these CVSA inspections is to minimize big rig accidents as much as possible by keeping drivers and vehicles with violations off the road. Over three days, approximately 67,000 roadside inspections were conducted. Of the 45,000-plus vehicles subjected to level I inspections, just under 22 percent ended up being placed out-of-service. Results from level I, II, and III inspections kept approximately 4 percent of drivers from immediately getting back behind the wheel.

Reducing backup crashes with advanced safety features

West Virginia residents may want to learn more about rear automatic braking because a new report has shown how effective it is in preventing backup crashes. In fact, it can reduce the number of backup crashes by 62 percent, and that number jumps up to 78 percent when the tech is combined with rearview cameras and sensors. This is important because backup crashes often result in extensive property damage and serious injuries. Many young children have died in backup crashes, too.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested the combination of rear automatic brakes, rearview cameras and sensors in several recent vehicle models, giving superior ratings to the 2017 Subaru Outback and Cadillac XT5 SUV and advanced ratings to four other models. One vehicle, however, failed to brake automatically as it approached a dummy car parked at an angle, so the technology is not perfect. Rear automatic brakes are meant to primarily avoid obstacles, but they could develop to the point where they avoid pedestrians.

Roundabouts can help reduce serious and fatal accidents

Dangerous intersections in West Virginia could be made safer if roundabouts are installed instead of stop signs or traffic lights. According to studies by the United States Department of Transportation, roundabouts reduce serious and fatal accidents by 78 to 82 percent. A serious motor vehicle accident, also known as an "A" accident, is defined as an accident that causes broken bones, massive loss of blood or unconsciousness to occur.

Though traffic lights have been found to reduce the number of vehicle crashes overall, the accidents that do occur at traffic lights are often more serious. This is especially true when there are intersections on roads with high speed limits. Roundabouts force drivers to slow down, which reduces the severity of the collisions.

Study says women are more prone to distracted driving

In a recent study regarding distracted driving, 68 percent of respondents were not easily convinced of the hazards of texting while behind the wheel. This could be of major concern for West Virginia motorists. Overall, the researchers found that certain groups are more prone to distracted driving. These include females as well as those who are less concerned about safety and individuals who frequently use tech devices.

Many states across the nation and even other countries around the world have put laws into place that require drivers to remain hands-free of mobile phone devices while driving. The need for these laws has occurred because people who talk on the phone while driving are twice as likely to cause an accident. Furthermore, the probability for crashing increases sixfold for those who text and drive.

Drowsy CMV drivers more likely to crash when far from rest areas

Researchers have come out with a study showing that fatigued commercial vehicle drivers are more likely to get in accidents the farther they are from rest areas, truck stops and weigh stations with rest havens. Truckers and other work vehicle drivers in West Virginia will want to take note of the findings.

The study considered crash data in Kentucky from 2005 to 2014. Out of the 7,538 incidents where the trucker was at fault, 284 were fatigue-related. Researchers found that these crashes were 2.5 times more likely to occur in areas that were between 20 and 40 miles away from the nearest rest option. When these options were more than 40 miles away, the risk for a crash rose seven times.

Study shows distracted driving more common in summer

Residents of West Virginia who are thinking of taking a road trip during the summer should know this season is an especially risky one for drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that the summer sees 20 percent more miles driven than the winter; the months of June, July and August also see 29 percent more road deaths than December, January and February.

With more people on the road, there is more chance for distracted driving. TrueMotion, a smartphone telematics platform, studied the behavior of more than 20,000 drivers during the 8.4 million trips they took between January 2017 and May 2018. By considering sensor data from the company's mobile app, TrueMotion Family, researchers were able to conclude that drivers spent more time distracted by their phones in June, July and August than other months.


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