Columbus Personal Injury Law Blog

AAA survey finds 71 percent afraid of riding in self-driving cars

Seventy-one percent of Americans are afraid of riding in self-driving cars, according to a new AAA survey. While this is not as high as the 78 percent who expressed their fear in early 2017, it does represent a jump from 63 percent in a similar survey made in late 2017. Ohio residents should know what AAA is saying about the results and what they think can allay the people's anxiety.

Roughly 55 percent of Americans believe that self-driving cars will become an everyday reality by 2029, yet many believe that year is too soon. The year 2018 saw several fatal accidents involving driverless cars. For example, an Arizona woman was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving car in March 2018. That same month, a driver who had his Tesla on autopilot crashed and died in Mountain View, California.

Pedestrian fatalities may have hit 30-year high

Ohio readers may be alarmed to learn that 2018 was a particularly deadly year for pedestrians. In fact, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, more pedestrians may have died on U.S. roads last year than at any point in the last 28 years.

GHSA researchers analyzed preliminary data reported by state agencies for the first half of 2018. Using the available figures, they estimated that 6,227 people died while walking on or around roads last year. That is 250 more people than were killed in 2017, and it is the highest number of pedestrians killed on U.S. roads since 1990. Further, it represents a 51.5 percent increase from 2009's low of 4,109. If the numbers hold, pedestrian deaths will comprise 16 percent of all American traffic deaths, an increase from 12 percent in 2009.

Do you know how to jog safely on Ohio's roads?

We can't all go out for a daily trail run, unfortunately. Many people who want to stay in shape and put in those weekly miles are forced to do it on sidewalks and roads all over the state.

While it's nice to run on flat, predictable terrain, you do face some serious risks. You're running around cars. Are those drivers distracted or intoxicated? Are they watching out for you as you cross the road? Do they even think about pedestrians, or do they just watch other cars?

FMCSA pushes safety in response to rise in fatal truck crashes

Ohio drivers may want to steer clear of commercial trucks when they see them. Federal statistics show that large truck accidents increased between 2015 and 2017. Further, the number of truck-occupant deaths and fatal work zone crashes involving large trucks also spiked over the same period of time.

To address these sobering statistics, the chief safety officer for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offered several safety tips at the 2019 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., which was held in January. These tips included encouraging truck drivers to use turn signals to indicate their intent to merge into an open lane and to turn on their flashers when traffic is slowing down or stopped. Drivers are also urged to eliminate distractions while behind the wheel, including distractions from cell phones, GPS systems and stereo systems. Federal law prohibits commercial truck drivers from holding a cellphone or tablet in their hand while driving.

How speed limiters could reduce large truck crashes

Between 2009 and 2017, 35,882 people died in large truck crashes. All but six states saw an increase in these fatalities. Ohio drivers who are wondering what can be done about this trend might be interested to hear from Road Safe America. The highway safety non-profit studied the above federal data and found some interesting details.

The five states that saw the highest number of truck deaths in 2017 were Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Those that saw the greatest jump in the percentage of truck deaths were Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and Nevada. Most of these states put the speed limit at 70 mph or more for commercial trucks, which Road Safe America considers unsafe. Large trucks have a longer stopping distance than other vehicles.

Millions of Americans are guilty of drowsy driving

Drowsy driving is a major problem in Ohio and across the U.S. According to experts, this is unlikely to change. Because many areas of the country lack public transportation, millions of people are forced to engage in drowsy driving from time to time.

In a recent AAA survey, nearly one-third of drivers admitted to getting behind the wheel while sleepy within the past 30 days. Meanwhile, sleeping pills present another danger. A 2018 Consumer Reports survey found that around 20 percent of Americans who take prescription sleep aids drive less than seven hours after taking their medication. They do this despite the fact that most sleep aids recommend getting a minimum of seven or eight hours of sleep after taking them. Studies have found that sleepiness can impair someone's driving abilities as much as alcohol. For example, a National Sleep Foundation study found that staying awake for 24 straight hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol content of .10 (the legal limit for drivers is .08).

AAA links infotainment systems with distracted driving

It may seem obvious to drivers in Ohio that doing anything that takes their attention off the road will put them at risk for accidents. Previous research has even measured that risk, saying it can double when one's eyes are off the road for 2 seconds. However, many are drawn to new vehicle tech like infotainment systems and thus find themselves being distracted on the road. A recent study released by AAA shows just how distracting their features can be.

For the study, researchers at the University of Utah had drivers aged 21 to 36 drive in 30 new 2017 vehicles and use the infotainment systems at the same time. These vehicles are from automakers like Ford, Dodge, Toyota, Hyundai, Tesla and Audi. Drivers began to act negligently, sometimes swerving out of their lanes and sometimes ignoring stop signs or driving far below the speed limit.

Fatal wrecks can lead to wrongful death claims

Traffic fatality statistics from the recent New Year's holiday have been released by the Ohio State Patrol (OSP). From midnight on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, to 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2019, 11 individuals died on Ohio roads.

Although the data released is considered still to be a provisional assessment, it appears as though four of the deaths were linked to impaired drivers and six were related to failure to use seat belts. Perhaps because the number this year reflected a five-day total, there were nearly twice as many deaths than the six fatalities from the corresponding four-day holiday one year ago.

Why trucking accidents happen

Over the past decade, truck accidents on Ohio highways and throughout the nation have increased by 20 percent. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) was conducted to see what the root causes of these crashes were. Researchers analyzed 120,000 fatal commercial truck crashes and found that 68,000 were caused by truck driver error. These errors included drivers falling asleep or traveling too fast for road conditions.

Other common causes include following too closely or distracted driving. Accidents related to poor decisions were cited as causing 38 percent of the 68,000 crashes related to driver error. Crashes related to the performance of the driver, such as panicking or not exercising sufficient control over the truck, resulted in 9 percent of these accidents. Drivers who were medically or otherwise impaired while behind the wheel caused 12 percent ofthe accidents.

Ohio police say driver who caused fatal crash may have been drunk

Police in Ohio say that the 31-year-old man who caused a fatal accident in Franklin County during the early morning hours of Dec. 2 may be charged with vehicular homicide. Officers from the Columbus Division of Police who responded to the scene say that he smelled of alcohol when paramedics pulled him from his badly damaged Pontiac sedan. Media outlets have reported that the man has never held an Ohio driver's license and was convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in both 2013 and 2015.

The accident took place on the northbound lanes of Interstate 71 near East 11th Avenue at approximately 1:30 a.m. According to a CDP report, the sequence of events unfolded after the man lost control of his vehicle and struck a concrete median. The resulting chain-reaction crash involved four vehicles. The two occupants of the second vehicle and the driver of the fourth vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene by first responders.

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