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Peoria Personal Injury Law Blog

Trade group asks FMCSA to revise hours of service rules

Accidents caused by fatigued tractor-trailer drivers can cause catastrophic injuries, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tries to reduce the number of these crashes by strictly enforcing hours of service regulations. These rules set limits on how long truck drivers can spend behind the wheel before taking a break, but industry groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association say that they may be placing road users in Illinois and around the country in danger.

The OOIDA is particularly concerned about the rule that restricts the shifts worked by truck drivers to 14 hours. While the trade group does not object to the 14-hour limit, they have petitioned the FMCSA to allow drivers to stop the clock periodically for up to three hours. Doing this would permit drivers to work the same 14 hours over a longer period of time, and the OOIDA says that it would allow them to take rests when they are tired and pull over when road conditions become treacherous due to weather.

Drowsiness may account for 10 percent of all crashes

According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy driving may account for more crashes than was previously thought. For example, U.S. government statistics attribute drowsiness to only 1 to 2 percent of all crashes, but AAA researchers believe the percentage may be closer to 10 percent. Illinois motorists will want to know how they came to this conclusion.

The study involved more than 3,500 drivers across the U.S. Using in-vehicle cameras and other equipment, researchers monitored their driving behavior over a period of time. Afterwards, they determined when drivers were drowsy based on how long they would close their eyes. They then studied the 701 crashes that those drivers were involved in, estimating that 8.8 to 9.5 percent were caused by drowsiness. It also caused over 10 percent of those crashes that led to airbag deployment, property damage, and/or injuries.

ELD mandate cannot be enforced in some states

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in August 2017 to take action against states that had not brought their laws current to include updated safety regulations. Commercial truck drivers in Illinois may be interested to know that the mandate to have an electronic logging device is still not being enforced in some states because they are unable to do so legally.

Arizona is included in the number of states that do not neatly fit into the enforcement categories included in the enforcement map for the electronic logging device early period. A law enforcement official from the state stated that the drafting of the federal electronic logging device regulation pertaining to interstate truckers in to the state legal code was still in process. As a result, the state's highway patrol and the rest of the Arizona Department of Public Safety is not able to legally issue tickets or citations.

How do defective drugs affect patients?

Imagine taking your medications as you're meant to every day. You take the time to go to the pharmacy for refills and to see your doctor to get the medications you need. Suddenly, the medications you take don't seem to be working. You're in more pain than usual, and you have symptoms of withdrawal.

What's happening? Have you become dependent on the medication? You're not sure, so you go to the pharmacy to ask and be sure you have the right dosage. That's when you're told there's been a recall, because some medications weren't inserted into their pills. As a result, you've been taking placebos.

The NHTSA and the drugged driving problem

Illinois motorists should be aware of the summit that is to be held by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to address the nationwide problem of driving while under the influence of drugs. The summit, which will be held on March 15, 2018, is intended to start a national discourse about the issue. In part due to the legalization of marijuana in some jurisdictions and the rampant use of opioids across the nation, the increase in motor vehicle accidents caused by drugged driving has created a sense of urgency.

The NHTSA is focusing on creating innovative solutions that can promote road safety and lower the incidences of deaths that result from motor vehicle accidents. It has has invited a number of stakeholders to join in creating a plan and taking action to combat drugged driving. Among those are criminal justice professionals, drug recognition experts, local and state elected officials, safety partners, policy and data specialists and toxicologists.

Property owner could be liable if you fall into an icy lake

With winter here, lots of people want to head out to local lakes and try their hands at ice skating in the natural environment. Most property owners with ponds make sure to put up signs that state how deep the water is or that there is no trespassing allowed, in an attempt to limit liability in the case that someone gets hurt on their properties.

Negligence usually doesn't apply to cases where facilities do not allow ice skating on bodies of water, but it can. For instance, if the pond is not fenced in and there are no signs forbidding people from ice skating, then the property owner may be liable if someone skates on the pond and falls though the ice.

What to do if you're hit by a texting teen

You were at an intersection waiting at a red light when you first noticed the driver next to you using a cellphone. You thought the teenager was likely texting, since his eyes rarely came up to check the road in front of him. You were stopped, so you didn't think much of it. There was time for him to put down the phone and drive safely.

You started forward after the green light, and you temporarily put the texting teen out of your mind. That didn't last for long, though. As you started to slow for the next red light, his vehicle hit yours from behind at full speed.

NTSB recommends ways to discourage speeding

Speeding is a danger in Illinois and around the country, but few may know that speeding is a leading factor in the nationwide rise in traffic fatalities. This is according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB analyzed crash data between the years 2005 and 2014 and found that 112,580 deaths, or 31 percent of all fatalities, involved speeding. In comparison, drunk driving deaths totaled 112,948.

While drunk driving or not wearing a seat belt have a social stigma, speeding does not. This is why the NTSB recommends that punishments for speeding be changed to match those of DUI. It also recommends the use of enforcement tools like speeding cameras, although the latter are banned in several states.

Improperly loaded trucks are a major public safety risk

Approximately 70 percent of all freight tonnage transported in the United States is moved by trucks. The manner in which that freight is loaded could be putting lives at risk and creating liability for trucking companies and their cargo owners. Improperly loaded freight is one of the leading causes of trucking accidents, and unless drivers inspect their cargo, they might be unaware of the increased rollover risks associated with improperly loaded freight.

If a load is unbalanced, it is more likely to shift during a lane change or evasive driving maneuver. When a heavy weight shifts inside the trailer being pulled by a big truck, it can cause the trailer to sway, rock or even flip onto its side. If a tractor-trailer has a rollover incident, the driver loses all control and everything in its path is in danger, including cars and passengers. Trailer walls can puncture, and spilling cargo can also cause crashes for nearby motorists. With flat-bed trailers, improperly secured cargo might fall off and cause serious damage to adjacent people and property.

Driving around big trucks in Illinois

Big rig accidents usually do not end well for cars. In 2014, for instance, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 68 percent of all truck accident fatalities were car occupants. That's why drivers, no matter where they are, should know how to stay safe around trucks.

Trucks are the largest vehicles on the road, and their weight prevents them from stopping as quickly as cars. In fact, many 18-wheelers take twice as long to stop as cars. This could mean bad news if a car suddenly brakes in front of a truck. Often, the result is an override accident, where the truck crushes the car underneath it.

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