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Springfield Virginia Motor Vehicle Accidents Blog

Ford "Sleep Suit" highlights danger of drowsy driving

For World Sleep Day (March 15), Ford Motor Company is using its "Sleep Suit" to show the effects of drowsy driving. Virginia residents should know that fatigue is behind an estimated one in five road accidents. Experts say that being awake for 18 hours or more can lead to the same level of impairment as that produced by alcohol intoxication.

The Sleep Suit enables people to experience drowsy driving in a safe environment. Participants also put on goggles, which are connected to a smartphone app that can simulate microsleep episodes. These are brief periods lasting from half a second to 10 seconds, during which the brain shuts down as an uncontrollable response to sleepiness. These episodes blind drivers to the road even if their eyes are open.

Driving while drowsy is comparable to drunk driving

When it's time to "spring forward" the clocks in March of each year, many people complain of the inconvenience of "losing" an hour of sleep. Unfortunately, the loss of sleep can be more than just a frustration; studies show that it can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents for drivers in Virginia. That's why AAA is reminding drivers that not getting enough sleep can double their chances of causing a crash.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study that found that drivers require at least seven hours of rest each day to be alert. Getting an hour or two less than the recommended amount increases the risk of an accident by double. Additionally, the data shows that drivers who get five hours of sleep or less have a crash risk that is similar to that of a drunk driver.

Truck safety regulations mired in Congress for years

A study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suggests that truck drivers in Virginia and around the country are about twice as likely to be involved in a speed-related accident when systems designed to limit top speeds are switched off. Speed limiters are installed in virtually all tractor-trailers sold in America and have been for many years, but regulations that would require trucking companies to switch them on have been mired in a congressional morass for more than a decade.

Congress has also failed to push forward a proposed Department of Transportation regulation that would require tractor-trailers to be fitted with automatic emergency braking systems. Research indicates that this regulation could prevent more than 2,500 truck accidents each year. Trade groups claim, however, that mandating these systems would place an unfair financial burden on trucking companies.

Distracted driving isn't limited to texting

Have you ever sat in your car at a red light and worried that car coming up quickly behind you is going to stop as well? Do you regularly feel concern about other drivers not paying attention as they exit the freeway behind you? If you have been driving for any significant amount of time, you know these types of concerns are not unfounded. Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of car accidents. Even at low speeds, rear-end crashes can result in serious injuries for the victim.

In many cases, rear-end collisions occur because the driver at the rear is distracted. This does not necessarily mean that he or she was texting and driving even though, of course, smartphone usage is one of the most high-profile causes of distracted driving. Here are three types of distracted driving that can lead to a car wreck.

What to do after a car crash

Car accidents are scary and disorienting for everyone involved. Even if no one is hurt, emotions can run high due to rattled nerves and distress over property damage. Luckily, there are a few steps that Virginia drivers can take to ensure everyone's safety and increase the chances of a smooth car insurance claim.

First, it is imperative that drivers remain calm immediately following an accident. While it's easy to become emotional or angry, keeping a level head will help drivers render aid to others and remember important crash details that need to be reported to law enforcement officers and insurance agents. Second, drivers need to call 911 and check to see if anyone has been injured in the collision.

Fatal car accidents are on the rise in the U.S.

The average motorist in Virginia can usually be fairly confident about getting behind the wheel as long as they are alert and focused. However, there may be a good reason for drivers to be apprehensive. According to the National Safety Council, driving deaths climbed by 6 percent from 2015 to 2016, the latest year stats of this nature are available for. A similar increase was seen during the previous year, meaning fatal accident rates spiked nearly 15 percent within two years.

Some officials cite lax enforcement of existing drunk driving, seat belt, and speeding laws as a reason for this sharp increase in deaths related to motor vehicle accidents. Many states don't not consider not wearing a seat belt to be a valid reason to pull someone over. Yet half of all fatal collision victims aren't wearing a seat belt. Also, roughly a third of all deadly crashes involve a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Car accidents and their most frequent causes

There are some common causes of car accidents, and they apply to Virginia and around the country. Most people know, for instance, that distracted driving is becoming a major issue. Multitasking is never a good idea behind the wheel whether by using a smartphone, adjusting the radio, eating, drinking, applying makeup or conversing with noisy children.

Drivers should also be aware that alcohol and drugs, even over-the-counter medicines, can impair their judgment and slow their reaction times. Medical conditions contribute to many car accidents, too, with some drivers suffering episodes like heart attacks, strokes and seizures. Such episodes may be uncontrollable, but they sometimes present risk factors that drivers must take into account. Falling asleep at the wheel could also be considered a medical episode in the light of conditions like obstructive sleep apnea.

Speed named as reason for increase in big-rig accidents

Despite an increase in traffic safety programs, a new report released from Road Safe America shows that big rig trucking accidents increased in almost every state. The report looked at data for trucking accidents from 2009 to 2017. Though the number of miles driven by commercial trucks decreased over the years, the number of accidents increased. However, the safety group is pushing for increased safety regulations throughout Virginia and the rest of the U.S.

In total, more than 35,000 people died in heavy commercial truck accidents in the analyzed years. Texas, Florida, California, Georgia and Pennsylvania had the greatest number of big rig accidents in 2017. Representatives for Road Safe America said that these states have higher speed limits for trucks. Large commercial vehicles can weigh 80,000 pounds or more. It takes much more time for these larger vehicles to stop and slow down. Some experts estimate that equipping large trucks with speed limiters that would prevent them from traveling over 65 mph could save lives and reduce fuel usage by $1 billion each year.

Avoid these common types of car accidents

Car accidents happen every day. You probably know people who have been involved in serious collisions. You may have had a fender bender or two yourself during your driving career. There are some things you can do to reduce your chances of getting hurt on the road in the future.

By knowing the most common types of car accidents and understanding their causes, you can become more aware of when a collision is likely to occur and take action to avoid it. Follow these tips to increase your safety when you are behind the wheel.

Pedestrians face increased danger on the roads

Pedestrians may be relatively safe on Virginia roadways, but they can still face significant dangers on a daily basis, let alone while traveling to neighboring states. A study by Smart Growth America examined the dangers pedestrians face in states and metropolitan areas across the United States. Eight out of the 10 most dangerous cities were in Florida, leaving the state as the most dangerous for walkers. Virginia's neighbors, Maryland and North Carolina, came in at number 13 and number 18 on the list.

Researchers compiled the list by analyzing a number of factors, including fatal pedestrian accidents, walking rates and other statistics. While the results zeroed in on areas where pedestrians may face a particularly substantial risk, walkers across the country are experiencing more injuries and deaths on the roadway. Between 2008 and 2017, pedestrian deaths due to motor vehicle accidents escalated by 35 percent, even as vehicle safety technologies improved. Around 13 people were killed every day, for a total pedestrian death toll of 49,340 during that period.

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