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Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Personal Injury Blog

Reducing the likelihood of a truck accident

Drivers in Pennsylvania should consider the following safety tips so that they can reduce their chances of crashing into a large truck. According to the U.S. DOT, large truck crashes led to 3,986 fatalities in 2016. More than 65 percent of those victims were the occupants of lighter vehicles. Only 17 percent were truckers.

The first tip is to never tailgate. Instead, drivers should maintain a distance of at least 500 feet from a truck. This distance will vary, though, with speed. Drivers should also keep distractions to a minimum and avoid using a smartphone or other electrical devices. They must keep an eye on the trucker's movements. The trucker may drift in and out of the lane, which could mean distracted or drowsy driving.

Safety advocates worry over HOS exemptions for livestock haulers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains hours-of-service regulations for commercial drivers, but it has long provided exemptions for truckers in the agricultural industry. Pennsylvania residents should know that many safety advocates are worried about the effect of these exemptions. In particular, the exemptions may be allowing livestock haulers to work unreasonably long hours and become drowsy at the wheel.

The exemptions began with the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, which said that agricultural truck drivers do not need to follow HOS regulations during the harvest season so long as they remain in a 100 air-mile radius of their pickup spots. In 2012, that radius was expanded to 150 air miles. Truckers did not have to record their work hours unless they intended to leave that radius.

Study confirms belief that seatbelts lessen liver injury severity

It has long been held by safety experts in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. that seat belt use can lessen the severity of motor vehicle crash injuries. Now, researchers at the NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn have confirmed this belief with regard to liver injuries.

Blunt abdominal trauma is a frequent cause of auto accident injuries, and the liver is among the most frequently injured organs. In severe cases of liver injury, individuals may experience uncontrolled blood loss through deep lacerations and ruptured clots. Trauma can also result in complications like bile leakage and the obstruction of bile flow.

Severe truck crashes on the rise

Large truck accidents can pose a serious risk to other drivers and passengers on Pennsylvania roads. Statistics indicate that the number of serious motor vehicle accidents involving concrete delivery trucks and dump trucks continues to climb. Even though insurance premiums for these types of trucks in a fleet have also escalated, the problem poses a significant risk to others on the road, especially when poor driving habits or other driver negligence is to blame. Various safety regulators have tried to address the issue by introducing technologies to measure roadway incidents and cut back on driver fatigue.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) noted that dump truck accidents that caused damage significant enough to require towing rose by 9 percent in 2016, reaching a total of 8,206. The number of dump truck crashes overall that involved injuries rose 2.7 percent, reaching 5,483 in the same year. In addition, accidents requiring towing that involved ready-mix concrete delivery trucks also went up 9.6 percent, reaching 838, while injury crashes rose by 3.8 percent. There were 38 fatal crashes in 2016 involving concrete delivery trucks, an increase of 5 over the previous year.

Drowsy driving is a problem that won’t go away

Even though it's clear that driving when drowsy is a mistake, there will always be people who feel that it's okay to do so. For example, commercial truck drivers don't always pull over when they're tired, as they want to reach their destination as quickly as possible, to maximize the income they pocket.

Since drowsy driving can impact anyone, you need to understand what you can do to prevent trouble on the road.

Safety errors linked to electronic health records

Pennsylvania residents who are concerned about medical malpractice should be aware of the role electronic health records have to play in safety errors. A recent study that was published in Health Affairs investigated electronic health records to determine how they contribute to pediatric safety errors. It showed that more than half of the mistakes that were recorded were related to these records.

The study's lead author and director of the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare stated that the usability of electronic health records can lead to medication errors. He went on to explain that electronic health records do not always provide the right feedback and that the visual display itself can be an issue as well. For example, electronic health records may not alert correctly when a medication is prescribed to a patient with an allergy. When the display is confusing or cluttered, the chances are even greater that an error will be made.

ZF works on external airbags for greater vehicle safety

The ZF Group is one of many car parts manufacturers that are developing external airbags. The safety tech has yet to be perfected, so residents of Pennsylvania should not expect new vehicles to be equipped with them just yet. Nevertheless, the benefits of external airbags are clear.

ZF has calculated that external airbags can reduce the injury severity of auto crashes by as much as 40 percent. The manufacturer's own model of external airbags, which go on the sides of a vehicle, act as an additional crumple zone that can mitigate collision damage by absorbing some of the shock.

Understand how to drive in winter and reduce crash risk

Winters in Pennsylvania mean rain, freezing rain and snow will create slippery and hazardous road conditions. Although traction control and anti-lock brakes on modern vehicles aid drivers, winter conditions still demand that drivers exercise extra levels of caution and be ready for emergencies. Cautious drivers in well-maintained vehicles have a greater ability to deal safely with wintry conditions and avoid causing serious accidents.

Drivers need to reduce their speeds on wet or icy roads. Slower acceleration and slower deceleration grant drivers greater control of their vehicles. They should also increase their following distances to 8 or 10 seconds to give them more time to react to changes in traffic or road conditions. Even if precipitation is light or subsiding, icy patches could still catch drivers by surprise. When heavy snowfall or high winds create white-out conditions, drivers need to pull off the road and wait until visibility returns.

Shoulder dystocia birth complications and risk factors

Although the majority of births go well for mothers and infants in Pennsylvania, birth injury remains a possibility at any delivery. One form of birth injury called shoulder dystocia could cause a variety of problems for a mother or infant. Shoulder dystocia occurs during a vaginal birth when an infant's shoulders become stuck in the birth canal. Shoulder dystocia can injure either the infant or mother, and some women have an enhanced risk for the issue.

Complications that result from the difficult birth could include tearing of the vagina, cervix, uterus or rectum. Prolonged and heavy bleeding after birth might also trouble a woman. Infants face other complications, such as nerve damage to the shoulder, arm or hand. Shaking and paralysis could result from this nerve injury, but symptoms usually resolve after six months to a year. Severe shoulder dystocia could block oxygen from reaching the infant's brain and cause brain damage or death on rare occasions.

Hours of service rules questioned by industry groups

Pennsylvania motorists may not know that truck accidents around the country claimed 4,761 lives in 2017 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and some observers are saying that federal hours of service rules could be partly responsible. The regulations were put into place to prevent truck drivers from remaining behind the wheel while dangerously fatigued, but some trade groups claim that they encourage speeding and recklessness.

Commercial vehicle accident statistics continue to make grim reading. The 2017 death toll is the highest in almost three decades, and almost three-quarters of the people killed in commercial vehicle crashes were passenger vehicle occupants. A growing number of logistics industry figures claim that relaxing hours of service regulations would save lives, and they are particularly concerned about a rule that requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving.

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