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New Orleans Personal Injury Law Blog

Report: NHTSA needs to update crash tests and safety ratings

Louisiana residents may depend on the safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when choosing what car to buy. The agency instituted the 5-star safety rating system in the 1990s, basing it on the New Car Assessment Program that it developed in the 1970s. Now, a leader in the development of that program released a report showing how the current rating system does not hold up under certain changes.

The author, who works with the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said in the report that the federal government is not performing enough crash tests. Europe, for example, does four times as many crash tests as the U.S. before rating the safety of its vehicles. The report emphasizes the need for new vehicle safety technology, such as pedestrian detection, to be tested.

When things go wrong in hospitals, patients often suffer

When you go to a Louisiana hospital, you probably assume that the people who work there will provide quality care and appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Things can go wrong in hospitals, and when they do, innocent patients may suffer. This may be medical malpractice, and the repercussions can be quite serious.

If something went wrong with your treatment or while you were staying in the hospital for surgery, you may find yourself facing additional pain, extended suffering and other complications. Your situation may the result of negligent care or preventable medical errors, both of which could be grounds for a civil claim against the facility and/or care provider. An assessment of your case can help you see what legal options may be available to you.

CVSA schedules 2020 International Roadcheck for May

Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance holds a 72-hour inspection spree of commercial motor vehicles called the International Roadcheck. Truckers in Louisiana should know that the 2020 roadcheck is set to take place from May 5 to 7, during which time they may be stopped at random for an inspection.

Most International Roadchecks take place the first week of June, but the CVSA says it has bumped up the date for this year because the weather will likely be more favorable for some jurisdictions in May. Most inspections will be Level I inspections: the most thorough of the eight North American Standard inspections established by the Department of Transportation.

Fatal motor vehicle accidents show danger of red-light violations

Many Louisiana motor vehicle accidents happen when a driver runs a red light. One of the most basic aspects of safe driving is understanding that red means stop. Still, many drivers will go through the red signal for a variety of reasons. A strategy that many cities use to discourage the practice is by installing red-light cameras.

However, these have been a source of dispute for their fairness and safety. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says than nearly 93 percent of those who were seen running a red light that had just changed stated that it was an unacceptable act. Still, 42.7 percent said they had gone through a red light in the previous month.

Safety systems in cars can lead to distracted driving

A recent study by the AAA Foundation suggests that some modern safety technology can actually lead to distracted driving. Louisiana drivers may be interested in learning more about these systems and why they are so distracting.

It is not that car safety systems are dangerous. When they are used properly, they can make roads safer. However, when individuals rely on them too much or do not fully understand their purpose, the risk of danger increases. It is important to recognize that car safety technologies are support systems. When a person is driving, they need to keep two hands on the wheel and be fully attentive at all times.

RIDE Act pushes for alcohol detection systems on all new cars

Drunk driving crashes claim the lives of some 30 people every day in Louisiana and across the U.S. Lawmakers, looking to technology to curb this trend, have introduced a bill in Congress that would, if passed, lead to the development of an alcohol detection system. This system would then be installed on all new vehicles by 2024.

The bill is known as the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019. Under the RIDE Act, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would collaborate with various automakers to develop a system similar to the ignition interlock device. The bill would provide funding for research and development and establish a pilot program so that the new tech is tested. Whether developers will work off of existing tech or not is unclear.

Study finds many fatal two-car crash initiators used opioids

Opioid users in Louisiana know that such drugs can cause psychomotor and cognitive impairment in those who have yet to develop a tolerance. Such impairment can affect one's driving, which is why not a few drivers who cause crashes test positive for opioids. In 1993, 2% of all crash initiators tested positive for them, but in 2016, the percentage rose to 7.1%.

Researchers at Columbia University analyzed thousands of fatal two-car crashes in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and looked at those drivers who tested positive for opioids. There were 1,467 in all. Of these 918 were deemed to be the crash initiators: nearly twice as many as those who were not. The most commonly used opioids were hydrocodone (32% of drivers), morphine (27%), oxycodone (19%) and methadone (14%).

Artificial intelligence could reduce distracted driving crashes

Smartphones, in-vehicle technologies and other devices are causing more distracted driving accidents in Louisiana and across the U.S. In fact, the National Safety Council reports that distracted driving crashes kill at least nine Americans and injure another 100 each day. In addition, a 2016 study found that almost 50% of U.S. drivers admit to texting, using a GPS app or browsing social media while behind the wheel.

In an effort to address these issues, U.S. automakers have already pledged to make forward collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking systems standard on all new vehicles by 2022. Meanwhile, car engineers are also working on new artificial intelligence, or AI, systems to cut down on distracted driving. These systems will focus on identifying a driver's visual, manual and cognitive distractions and mitigating them before they cause a crash.

When a recalled product sold second-hand causes injury or death

Thanks to the internet and social media, there are so many places Louisiana residents can list items they no longer need for sale. It can be a great way to earn a little side cash for the sellers, and a good way for buyers to find the products they want at a fraction of their regular retail price. The problem is, most people who post items in second-hand marketplaces do not pay attention to recall notices, so these items may cause others to suffer injury or death.

How big of a problem is this? Who is responsible if the recalled item sold second-hand causes harm to its new owner or his or her family members?

Car crashes go up when daylight saving time ends

Daylight saving time has come to an end in Louisiana and across the United States. While turning the clock back means people can spend an extra hour in bed, studies show that any disruption to sleep patterns can lead to an increase in traffic accidents.

For example, a report by the Insurance Bureau of British Columbia found that late afternoon car crashes tend to increase in the two weeks following the end of daylight saving time. This might be because drivers have their regular sleep habits interrupted by the time change, causing them to feel drowsy behind the wheel. The National Sleep Foundation reports that around 6,400 people are killed and 50,000 are injured in drowsy driving collisions each year. To reduce the risk of such accidents, experts recommend that drivers ensure they get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel.