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New Orleans Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

What happens to commercial vehicle drivers who drink?

It goes without saying that people should avoid getting behind the wheel after having consumed alcohol. Yet many may question exactly how long one should wait until it is safe for them to get behind the wheel again. The answer to this question may be difficult to define for the average driver, yet for those who drive professionally, the standards are quite clear. Thus, if you are involved in an accident with a truck or bus driver (and you suspect alcohol may have played a factor), pinpointing whether the driver was in violation of the law might not be overly difficult.

The standards detailing the prohibition of alcohol use by commercial vehicle drivers are set in the Code of Federal Regulations. Beyond prohibiting drivers from drinking on the job, the law also states that they are not to be allowed behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle within four hours of having had a drink. In addition, drivers are not allowed to possess wine or beer while working (even if they are not consuming it). The only exceptions to this rule would be when one is transporting alcohol or transporting passengers who are allowed to carry alcohol.

Teens and night driving

Teenage drivers pose a risk to other vehicle operators in Louisiana due to numerous factors such as cellphone usage, interacting with friends in the car and other distracting behaviors. However, as the days become shorter, another risk to be aware of is nighttime driving. Driving in the dark is challenging for everyone, but it is particularly difficult for younger drivers.

According to the National Safety Council, driving at night increases the risk of being in a fatal crash for teenage drivers. The most dangerous time period is between 6 PM and midnight, and some of this time frame is when teens are driving home after extracurricular activities, athletic games, work and school-related events. Due to the increased risk, experts encourage parents to spend more time accompanying teenage drivers during these hours and teaching night driving skills.

Practicing caution can reduce accidents in construction zones

When people are commuting in Louisiana and come across a construction zone they may be frustrated to have to slow to a snail's pace, especially if they are in a hurry to get somewhere. However, speeding through construction zones and ignoring special instructions posted on road signs can be incredibly dangerous and cause unnecessary accidents. 

One way that people can plan ahead for delays in their commute due to construction is to check local news channels or even map their route on a mapping app to locate delays. Often, the news will share major construction projects that could affect the regular commute for motorists and apps will usually signify why a delay is occurring. When people factor in enough time to travel to their destination despite slowed traffic from construction, they can remain patient and level-headed when they encounter a project area. 

Amazon's impressive delivery speed may create safety hazard

As the world becomes increasingly focused on ways to get things done faster, more efficiently and with less physical output from consumers, innovative ways of transporting necessities are becoming commonplace. In Louisiana, one may notice an increase in contracted delivery drivers who are tasked with getting packages to the people that ordered them in record time. While a worthwhile goal, one has to wonder if the accomplishment of that objective is actually coming at a cost. 

A notable retail giant in the online platform is Amazon who has set itself apart from many of its competitors with the record speeds with which they are able to ship and deliver the product to the people who have ordered from them. Their method for taking the lead in that area has been to hire a series of contracted drivers who are responsible for seeing that packages are delivered as quickly as possible. 

The unknown dangers of eating while driving

Unbeknownst to you (and likely many others in New Orleans) is that every time you take to the road, you may be surrounded by drivers engaged in a potentially dangerous activity. This activity may be just as likely to lead to a car accident as drunk driving or using a cellphone while behind the wheel, as countless people engage in it without realizing the risks they are creating. We are talking about eating while driving, and you (just as many of those that our team here at Bruno & Bruno has worked with in past have been) may be surprised at just how likely it is to have played a factor in your accident. 

Like most, you may view eating as being such a natural action that you would not even classify it as a distraction. Yet take a moment to think about the actions that go into eating. You have to grasp whatever it is that you are eating, you must look at what you are eating as you direct it towards your mouth, and finally, you have to pay at least some attention to what you are doing in order to avoid spills. When doing this while behind the wheel, one's effort and attention (although likely inadvertently) is pulled away from the road ahead. 

Keeping teen drivers safe

Many parents may feel a mix of anxiety and excitement when their teens get old enough to learn how to drive. While getting a driver's license is an exciting sign of growing independence, it may also introduce new risks into a teen's life. While car accidents involving teens are an unfortunate occurrence on Louisiana roads, there are some important things parents may do to help their teen drivers stay safe behind the wheel.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are responsible for more teen deaths than any other cause. In 2017, there were 3,255 fatal accidents involving teen drivers.  Some of the most common reasons teen drivers get into accidents include immaturity, lack of experience, speeding and distracted driving. Parents may help combat some of these risks by demonstrating safe driving practices themselves, such as obeying speed limits and refusing to use cell phones while driving. It is also essential for parents to spend adequate time teaching teens to drive so they feel confident after they get their licenses.