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Springfield Virginia Motor Vehicle Accidents Blog

Many ridesharing drivers are sleep-deprived, says AASM

Those who work as ridesharing drivers in Virginia should already be aware of the risks they face. Low fares and salary incentives can compel many drivers to work past their safety limits, depriving themselves of sleep in the process. Even worse, they tend to undervalue sleep. Since most ridesharing drivers are independent contractors, they aren't screened for conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea.

This is the situation that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine described in a position statement back in April 2018. Not much has changed then. Drowsy driving continues to be a serious hazard. According to AAA estimates, there is an average of 328,000 drowsy driving crashes every year in the U.S. with 109,000 of those ending in injuries and 6,400 of those resulting in fatalities.

Infotainment system distractions the subject of new AAA study

Researchers have conducted a study for AAA that show how distracting infotainment systems can be. Virginia residents who want these and other new tech on their cars should know what the dangers are since no one is immune to distracted driving. The study involved 30 new 2017 vehicles with infotainment systems. A group of drivers aged 21 to 36 participated by using the systems while behind the wheel.

As might be expected, drivers became negligent, swerving completely out of their lanes, failing to halt at stop signs and traveling at excessively slow speeds. Every activity, even listening to the radio, proved distracting at some level. Of the 30 infotainment systems, none could be classified as demanding only a low level of attention. Seven came with a moderate demand, 11 with a high demand and 12 with a very high.

The wrong way to fight roadway fatigue

Thousands of accidents are caused by trucks in Virginia and the rest of the United States every year. In 2016, nearly 4,000 people died as a result of these incidents. One of the leading causes of collisions is fatigued drivers. Due to the large weight of trucks, fatality victims are often drivers and passengers in small vehicles as well as cyclists and pedestrians. Only a small portion of fatalities are truck drivers themselves.

Truck accidents are particularly troublesome on long-haul routes where drivers are expected to travel long distances at a time. Trips that span more than 51 miles account for 65 percent of all accidents. With more than one in every four truck drivers reporting falling asleep behind the wheel at some point, it's no mystery why so many accidents happen. The solution some drivers are coming up with, however, may be even worse.

Pedestrian injury: What steps should you take after an accident?

Motor vehicle drivers have a clear advantage when it comes to avoiding injuries in a pedestrian-versus-car crash. The pedestrian may suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries after a direct hit while the motorist will usually survive without suffering any kind of bodily harm. For this reason, motorists have a high level of responsibility when it comes to giving pedestrians the right of way and staying attentive.

Many pedestrians who are struck by cars have the right to pursue financial compensation. To have the best chance of success in legal actions, injured pedestrians or their family members can do the following immediately after an injurious pedestrian accident.

Common factors behind drunk driving fatalities

Many people in Virginia die each year in drunk driving accidents. Though drunk drivers face heavy fines and even jail time if caught, alcohol-related crashes continue to be an issue across the nation. In fact, drunk driving deaths account for approximately a third of all traffic deaths. The following are some of the common factors behind these fatalities.

At the highest risk are drivers under 24, motorcyclists and those with prior DUI convictions. Young drivers are inexperienced and, when traveling in groups, more easily distracted. These issues account for the fact that young drivers are at a greater risk for crashes than older adults with the identical blood alcohol concentration.

Safety features could reduce car accident rates

Bank of America Merrill Lynch claims that technology used in automobiles will help to reduce the number of accidents that occur. Since 2011, there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of accidents on Virginia roads and those in other states. The increase is partially the result of higher employment, which has led to more miles being driven. Smartphone use as well as the legalization of marijuana are also cited as factors for the increase. According to data from the IIHS, states that had legalized marijuana had more crashes reported by police than bordering states that had not legalized it.

In 2016, 91 percent of drivers owned a smartphone compared to 52 percent of drivers in 2011 according to research conducted by State Farm. However, the use of collision avoidance features could reduce accidents by up to 30 percent by the 2030s. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that advanced safety features can reduce crashes by up to 40 percent. By 2022, it is believed that 99 percent of new vehicles in the United States will come with front crash prevention systems.

External airbags may reduce occupant injuries by 40 percent

Drivers in Virginia may not instantly think of airbags on the outside of their vehicles as being all that helpful, but there's compelling research suggesting otherwise. New data presented by a leading car parts maker suggests that external airbags may reduce the severity of injuries sustained by vehicle occupants by as much as 40 percent. These results could provide an added incentive for widespread implementation of this type of technology.

External airbags are designed to deploy in motor vehicle accidents involving side impacts. They provide an added "crumple zone" during impacts to absorb some of the blow to areas where drivers or passengers are usually located. However, there are some issues with technology that have kept external airbags from being adapted at a faster pace. For instance, vehicles must be able to detect when a collision is about to happen so that the airbags on the outside can be appropriately deployed.

Be aware: Virginia teens may still text and drive

Distracted driving among teens remains a huge problem in the U.S. even though texting and driving is prohibited in nearly every state. The CDC believes that up to nine people are killed every day on the nation's roadways because of distracted driving. Out of a study group of more than 101,000 teens, 38 percent admitted to texting and driving, and nearly 56 percent of older teens acknowledged they engage in this dangerous habit.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety confirms that 47 states have put laws into effect that either ban or limit texting and driving. In addition, new drivers in 38 states are forbidden from using a cell phone for any activity while operating a motor vehicle.

Texting and driving: It's not safe while waiting at a red light

Some people believe it's safe to text behind the wheel when they're stopped at a traffic light. People have become more connected through texts, emails and phone calls, so it's no wonder that they want to check their messages when they aren't moving.

Texting and driving is illegal, though, no matter where you are in your vehicle. Even texting at a red light could result in a ticket and fines in Virginia. It could also cause a crash.

Automated emergency brakes more effective than originally thought

Since its inception, automatic emergency braking was believed to be a major breakthrough in vehicle safety. Now, a study of certain vehicles and their use of emergency braking has shown that automatic brakes may be even more helpful in avoiding accidents than experts first imagined. If true, this could be great news for all Virginia drivers.

The study, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, reviewed data collected from 2013-2015 model vehicles. All of the vehicles were built by General Motors, including Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet offerings. The study took data provided by GM identifying what vehicles had emergency breaking and then compared that to police accident reports to determine how often vehicles with automatic emergency braking failed to prevent motor vehicle accidents.

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