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Grand Rapids Personal Injury Blog

Truck drivers and drowsy driving

Commercial truck drivers in Michigan should be aware that they are more likely to engage in drowsy driving than other motorists. According to some estimates, drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. each year. Because of their enormous weight and size, commercial trucks and big rigs are likely to cause catastrophic and deadly injuries when they are involved in accidents.

Commercial truck drivers are more susceptible to driving while drowsy because of their tight deadlines, pressure from their employers and long hours on the road. Other drivers can get off of the road and get some much-needed sleep until they are able to drive safely again. However, commercial truck drivers who have to get their cargo to a specific location at a certain time may feel that they do not have this option.

Police identify victims of fatal motorcycle crash

Michigan residents may have heard about the crash between a vehicle and a motorcycle that occurred on the night of June 28 in La Salle Township. Michigan State Police of the Monroe post have identified the two motorcycle riders who were killed in that crash. Both were Monroe County residents, ages 53 and 45. However, the identity of the 52-year-old driver of the vehicle has not been released.

The crash took place on South Dixie Highway between a 2017 Harley-Davidson and 2003 Dodge Neon. It occurred when the car crossed the centerline and collided head-on with the motorcycle. Both riders, who were wearing helmets, were pronounced dead at the scene while the driver of the car survived with non-life-threatening injuries. The severity of the impact caused the Harley-Davidson to catch fire, and the car fell into a ditch.

CVSA announces week-long brake inspection event

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announced that it will ramp up its enforcement efforts in Michigan and throughout the country during Brake Safety Week in 2018. The event, which will take place Sept. 16-22, will primarily focus on Level I inspections. Inspectors will be looking for things like loose or missing parts, defective rotor conditions and worn linings. They'll also be checking a wide range of other components that are crucial to the braking safety of commercial vehicles.

Vehicles that don't pass inspection during Brake Safety Week will be taken off the roadways until they fix the associated issues. Brakes must consistently be maintained and repaired so that they operate according to the manufacturer's specifications. When brakes are improperly repaired, maintained or installed, they can reduce efficiency and present a risk to everyone on the road.

Most common injuries in a truck accident

Drivers in Michigan can imagine what the result of a collision with a commercial truck is like. In 97 percent of fatal crashes between trucks and passenger vehicles, it is an occupant of the latter who dies. Should victims live through the event, they are usually left with serious physical and mental conditions. The following are just a few of the most common injuries.

Injuries to the leg, arm and hip bones can arise when the impact of the crash sends victims into the window, steering wheel or airbag. If bones are shattered, they may require multiple surgeries to heal. Victims could suffer head injuries as well. These are just one example of traumatic brain injuries, and their symptoms may not appear until days or weeks after the accident. This makes TBIs notoriously hard to diagnose.

Walking A Dangerous Road

A walk in the park might be an easy and pleasant experience, but walking on or near U.S. roadways is anything but. Research into pedestrian safety around the country shows that pedestrians are in far greater danger than they were a few short years ago. From 2009 to 2016, pedestrian deaths rose nearly 50 percent. In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed on American roads. This trend shows no signs of slowing.

The Double-Edged Problem Of Distraction

Week aims to improve commercial vehicle driver safety

Many Michigan drivers may worry about the potential for crashes when sharing the road with large commercial trucks. As vehicles rapidly move down the highway, the chance of an accident with a large vehicle could pose the risk of serious injuries and even fatalities. The vast majority of car crashes are caused by unsafe driving, so many efforts are intended to improve driver behavior on the roads both in passenger vehicles and in large trucks and buses. One such initiative, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Operation Safe Driver Week, has been scheduled for July 15-22, 2018.

The week includes the participation of law enforcement agencies across the country who step up actions against unsafe driving on that week in an attempt to highlight the risk of unsafe driving and lower the likelihood of commercial vehicle accidents. Driver behavior has been cited by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as the cause of 93 percent of all crashes involving passenger vehicles and 88 percent of all accidents involving large trucks. There are a number of driving behaviors that can lead to dangerous accidents, including distracted driving, tailgating or simply speeding.

Ride-share drivers at risk of drowsy driving accidents

Many people in Michigan rely on ride-share apps, including Uber and Lyft, to help them to get to where they need to go. While these apps may provide a low-cost mode of transportation and are much safer than driving after drinking, there is a danger that the drivers may be drowsy.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, ride-share drivers are at risk of drowsy driving. Many work several jobs and may have been awake for hours before they drive. They also tend to drive late at night when they are likelier to become tired. Uber has announced that it is requiring its drivers to take six-hour breaks once they have driven for 12 hours, and Lyft requires its drivers to take six-hour breaks after driving for 14 hours.

Settling out of court with a trucking company

In the wake of a commercial truck accident, the victim may hold the trucking company liable for injuries, vehicle damage, pain and suffering, and more. There are several ways to go about doing this, though. The victim could go through a prolonged trial in civil court, or he or she could consider settling out of court. Under civil law in Michigan, victims can strive for an informal settlement through various methods of alternative dispute resolution.

These methods include negotiations, mediation, and arbitration. ADR can prove beneficial for both parties since it creates a confidential environment and encourages a candid approach to discussions about the accident. Victims may find the trucking company's representatives to be less defensive and more open to hearing them out, and neither of them will be required to make admissions of fault.

Autonomous vehicles may have human weaknesses

Much of the developing technology related to autonomous vehicles is driven by the potential of enhanced safety. In fact, some self-driving car manufacturers in Michigan dream of a future without car accidents. At the same time, others are concerned that autonomous vehicles may have problematic decision-making capacities. One notable professor argues that the greatest risk to the safety of autonomous vehicles is the involvement of human beings in developing the technology.

The professor, who teaches computer science at Arizona State University, spoke in response to the first recorded pedestrian death involving a self-driving vehicle, which took place in March. The professor said that major technology corporations currently investing in autonomous vehicle technologies are generally seeking to replicate a human-like driving experience in order to foster greater comfort for potential passengers and clients. At the same time, he noted, seeking to replicate the human experience can also introduce flaws that mirror those of human drivers.

What to know about the next International Roadcheck

The International Roadcheck is a three-day inspection spree that occurs once a year across North America. Commercial truck drivers and bus drivers in Michigan should know that the next roadcheck will take place from June 5 to June 7 because it applies to them. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which conducts the event, inspected 63,000 buses and commercial trucks last year; that's an average of 15 vehicles every minute.

Among those 63,000 drivers, 15,000 were issued out-of-service orders. 80 percent were due to violations of vehicle-related guidelines, such as those regulating cargo securement and cargo weight. 20 percent were due to non-compliance with driver guidelines, with hours-of-service violations being the most frequently cited. The CVSA has stated that hours-of-service compliance is the new focus of this year's International Roadcheck.


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