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Tucson Personal Injury Law Blog

Construction zone accidents on the rise across the nation

The state of Arizona continues to undergo explosive growth, and with the influx of new residents and communities comes a need for improved and expanded infrastructure. In other words, road construction is a common site across Tucson and the remainder of the state, but these work zones can prove highly dangerous and even potentially deadly for motorists.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the number of car crashes occurring in the nation’s construction zones rose sharply between 2013 and 2015, increasing by more than 40 percent during this time period. Just what is causing today’s construction zone accidents, and what can you do to avoid becoming a statistic?

Fatigue, distraction major dangers behind the wheel

When truck drivers get behind the wheel in Arizona, they could be at risk for fatigue and other forms of distraction. While these apply to all drivers of different types of vehicles, the consequences can be particularly devastating when large trucks are involved. Fatigued drivers can cause serious crashes, and people in other vehicles or pedestrians are at a much higher risk of injury or death when involved in a collision with a semi-truck.

Some estimates indicate that driver fatigue could play a role in up to 100,000 reported accidents every year. In addition, 13 percent of all fatal trucking accidents and 28 percent of those involving only a single truck are related to fatigue. As a result, some trucking companies are taking action to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. Truckers' schedules can play a major role in fatigue; when people are forced to frequently switch shifts, they could be more vulnerable to exhaustion, even when their drives meet federal safety standards. In addition, lengthy drives over monotonous, large highways, frequently at night, can be conducive to fatigue.

Company uses cameras and AI to track driving

Some Arizona truck drivers might be operating vehicles that have artificial intelligence-based analytics and a camera installed on the vehicle. According to the owner of the company that supplies the technology, even though truck drivers usually do not like this kind of surveillance, the feedback on this has been positive.

Driver safety improved in the first two months of the system's implementation. For example, there are moderate and major stop sign events. The former is when a truck goes through a stop sign at a speed that is under 7 miles per hour while the latter is when the truck goes through faster. Stop sign events decreased by 60 percent after installing the technology.

AAA study: drivers are too reliant on car safety tech

Drivers in Arizona, as in other states, may be relying too much on safety technology like blind-spot monitoring systems and adaptive cruise control. This trend has been the subject of a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the results of which should be of interest to anyone with a driver assistance system.

AAA has found, for example, that 80 percent of drivers with blind-spot monitoring overestimate its ability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. 20 percent never bother to look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes. Over 40 percent of those with automatic emergency braking confuse it with forward-collision warning (the former takes action, while the latter gives the warning).

Roadside inspections sideline thousands of trucks and drivers

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) routinely performs roadside inspections on trucks and other large vehicles as they go through Arizona and other states. The most recent round of inspections resulted in more than 10,000 trucks and buses being taken out of service by inspectors because of various violations. During the multi-day spree, nearly 70,000 roadside inspections were conducted. The results personally affected more than 2,500 vehicle drivers. However, this equals less than 2 percent of the total drivers.

While the inspections covered all types of violations that could apply to commercial vehicles, the main focus for the latest CVSA vehicle assessments was hours of service. This is an especially serious issue since drivers remaining on the job beyond the hours permitted by industry regulations are more likely to be less alert and aware of potential risks. Coincidentally, it was driver hours-of-service violations that accounted for more than 40 percent of driver-related issues.

The causes of distracted driving

According to a study from The Harris Poll and Volvo, most drivers believe that they perform better behind the wheel than others on the road. However, the truth is that most drivers in Arizona and throughout the country are distracted while operating a motor vehicle. The study found that this is generally true regardless of how old a driver is despite stereotypes about the driving habits of millennials and Generation Z.

Anyone born between the middle of the 1990s and the middle of the 2000s typically qualifies as a member of Generation Z. According to the study, 51 percent of respondents in that age group said it was harder to focus on a single task compared to 5 years ago. Among all respondents, 43 percent said that using a phone was the single biggest distraction while driving. This topped a list that included other passengers, children and changing a GPS.

How can I protect myself during a road rage attack?

You are just sitting at a red light in heavy traffic, minding your own business, when it happens. The driver of the vehicle behind you begins laying on his horn and gunning his engine. A glance at his angry gestures in the rearview mirror confirms that you are the target of the other driver, but you have no idea why he is so upset. Did you accidentally cut him off? Is he angry that traffic isn’t moving fast enough and taking it out on you? Whatever the cause, being the target of an angry driver can be terrifying for Arizonans.

Road rage is becoming a more serious problem in Arizona, as well. According to ABC 15 Arizona, authorities say there has been an increase in road rage cases across the state. As you may presume, this could be due to the rapidly rising population and increasingly congested traffic. It can be easy for many drivers to lose their patience behind the wheel and, in some cases, to completely snap.

Brake Safety Week scheduled for September

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has announced that this year's Brake Safety Week will be held from Sept. 16 to 22. Therefore, all commercial truckers in Arizona should be prepared for possible inspections. This annual inspection spree is meant to enforce brake safety guidelines by putting those who commit a vehicle- or driver-related violation out of service. Without properly installed and maintained brakes, CMV drivers are more likely to get into crashes.

Last year's event lasted one day, yet it resulted in 14 percent of CMV inspections leading to out-of-service penalties. Brake issues were involved in most of the violations during last year's International Roadcheck, also hosted by the CVSA. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a Large Truck Crash Causation study that shows how widespread the issue is; nearly a third of large trucks with pre-accident violations are found to have brake problems.

How to prevent drowsy driving

If Arizona motorists are like most Americans, they've struggled to stay awake while driving at some point in their lives. In fact, a survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60 percent of adult drivers say they have felt drowsy behind the wheel and 37 percent say they have actually fallen asleep while driving. Meanwhile, a 2018 AAA report said that the number of motor vehicle accidents related to drowsy driving is nearly eight times higher than federal statistics suggest.

According to traffic safety experts, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. For example, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08. However, the National Sleep Foundation reported that going without sleep for 18 consecutive hours can make drivers behave as if they have a blood alcohol level of .05, and staying awake for 24 straight hours can have the same impact as a .10 blood alcohol level.

Arizona’s new cellphone restrictions on teen drivers

Unlike most states, Arizona does not have a statewide ban on texting while driving. However, the state did just add a new cellphone-related prohibition for a certain class of drivers: Teen drivers.

Under this new ban, certain individuals under 18 are prohibited from using a handheld communication device while driving. The ban went into effect at the start of this month.

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