San Antonio Legal Blog

Avoiding the four most common types of car crashes

The four most common types of car accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, are front-impact, side-impact, rear-end and parking lot collisions. Drivers in Texas would do well to review the ways that they can avoid these.

Front-impact collisions are the most widespread with the IIHS finding that they account for 54% of all serious car crashes in 2016. The car may hit another car or a stationary object like a tree or pole. Front-impact crashes often arise in bad weather and slippery road conditions. Driver distraction is another factor, so one must avoid phone use, among other things. Lane-departure warning systems can reduce the likelihood of these crashes.

Volvo to manufacture alcohol detection and intervention tech

For over a century, the leading cause of auto accident fatalities in Texas and across the country has been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While there is such a thing as alcohol detection technology for cars, it often detects intoxication through a breath test. Volvo will be deploying technology that does not require a breath test, and it will be the first automaker to do so.

The tech will involve in-car cameras that track eye movement. While Mercedes-Benz, Ford and Subaru already use such cameras, they are not meant to address drunk driving specifically. Volvo's cameras will look for things like a lack of steering input over a prolonged period, extended periods where drivers have their eyes closed, extremely slow reaction times and drifting in and out of lanes.

Hands-free mobile devices not enough to stop distracted driving

Many people in Georgia know that distracted driving is a major threat to highway safety. Due to laws designed to clamp down on the distractions created by smartphones, many drivers have shifted to hands-free mobile phones, at least for voice conversations. In general, phone usage that requires people to use their hands, like surfing the internet or most texting, is more distracting than voice conversations alone. Still, like any kind of stimulus, a hands-free cell phone can also be a distraction. People may struggle with voice commands and technical problems or simply get caught up in a conversation.

Some researchers have found that while using hands-free mobile phones can cut down on one type of distracted driving, it can also encourage others. Distraction is not limited to the effects of electronic devices, after all. For example, a driver might pick up a sandwich and eat on the road while having a conversation, and the two activities together contribute significantly to distraction. In some cases, they found up to a 100% increase in risk when using hands-free mobile devices, because people would use their hands for other activities, from eating to applying makeup. All of these activities work to take drivers' hands away from the wheel and eyes away from the road.

Road construction workers face serious risks while they work

It seems as though there are always roadways here in Texas under construction. The situation can be inconvenient and frustrating as a driver as you navigate through cones, barriers and more. However, as one of the people working on the roadway, you are incredibly vulnerable to injury -- not just from the equipment and construction vehicles but also from those motorists trying to get through the construction zone.

Fatalities in your line of work are a very real danger. The problem is so prevalent that several federal agencies gather information regarding deaths of road construction workers over the years. A review of some of that information could help you identify where your risk is highest.

OSHA revises current amputation rules

Manufacturing companies in Texas and throughout the United States are required to ensure that machines are safe to use. This generally means that a machine is properly guarded and that there is a regular maintenance schedule in place. Taking these steps may minimize or eliminate the possibility of an amputation occurring. According to OSHA, an amputation occurs when a person loses some or all of a limb or any other external body part, and all amputations must be reported to OSHA.

In some cases, the loss of a limb or other body part may result in a permanent disability or death. According to an OSHA official, those who maintain or service a machine may be at a higher risk of injury when it is not guarded or maintained. On Dec. 17, OSHA updated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) regarding amputations resulting from workplace accidents.

Workers still vulnerable to injuries or fatalities on the job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,250 workplace fatalities in 2018. This was an increase of 2% from 2017, but the fatality rate per 100,000 full-time workers in Texas and throughout the country remained steady at 3.5%. The BLS data indicated that there was a 12% increase in workplace deaths caused by workers who intentionally overdosed on drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, there was an 11% increase in the number of workers who took their own lives in 2018.

Transportation accidents accounted for about 40% of accidents and other safety issues companies dealt with. Sales drivers and large truck drivers were most likely to be involved in a fatal accident. The National Safety Council said that these numbers show that employers need to do more to protect their workers. Ideally, managers and other leaders within the organization will create a culture that respects and prioritizes worker safety. With proper culture management, it may be possible to create and establish policies that workers support within about 12 months.

OSHA: computer-based training not enough

OSHA has high standards when it comes to employee safety training, and one of the things it has been stressing recently is that computer-based training alone does not meet those standards. Employers and employees alike in Texas should know that OSHA requires training that results in "mastery of the training material."

For many companies, this training material includes many interactive and physical components like the proper use of personal protective equipment. This means, then, that online training must be supplemented by more hands-on training with plenty of interaction between trainer and trainee. With this, trainees can refresh their skills and give trainers a way to assess trainees' progress.

The dangers caused by jackknifed trucks

It is not uncommon to see a jackknifed truck on Texas roads. Jackknifing can be dangerous for the trucker and other motorists on the freeway. Jackknifing is not inevitable. When truckers follow a few safety procedures, they may avoid jackknifing, even in dangerous situations.

Truckers should look at their mirrors to make sure that their trailer is not swinging, especially if they are braking hard. If they notice that their vehicle is beginning to jackknife, experts recommend that they should let go of the brake, which allows the wheels to start rolling again and regain traction.

Study shows how opioid use is prevalent in fatal 2-car crashes

There is an opioid crisis in Texas and the rest of the U.S., and studies show that it is impacting the roads. From 1993 to 2016, the percentage of opioid-using drivers who initiated a crash rose from 2% to 7.1%. A study published in JAMA Network Open says that in fatal two-car crashes, the at-fault drivers were twice as likely as the other driver to test positive for opioids.

Researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing 18,321 fatal two-car crashes in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. A total of 1,467 drivers tested positive for opioids with 918 being at fault for a crash and 549 not being at fault. Drivers were most commonly found taking hydrocodone (32%), morphine (27%), oxycodone (19%) and methadone (14%). However, the study only associates opioid use with car crashes without asserting that one causes the other.

The fatality rate for oil workers is shockingly high

Can you guess which industry has a similar fatality rate to that of U.S. military troops serving in Afghanistan? Although it can be hard to imagine a job in America that is that dangerous, the reality is that oil workers are dying, and things are not getting much better. While the job itself is inherently dangerous, it does not explain this high fatality rate. Therefore, you need to look at safety practices.

Every workplace should provide workers with the safest possible environment. This includes providing safety training and providing safety equipment when necessary. Texas employers who do not meet these standards frequently face fines for safety violations, but it does not seem like those fines are doing much to protect workers.

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