Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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Seat belts are the most important safety feature in your car. A new study finds a high risk of spinal injuries in children who were unbuckled during a motor vehicle accident.

Spinal injuries are not very common in young children, but they are very serious injuries when they do occur. Spinal injuries account for approximately 1 to 2% of all injuries involving children. Although they are comparatively rare compared to other types of injuries, they are linked to a significant drop in the person’s quality of life and his ability to enjoy life after the injury.

The researchers wanted to see the incidence of spinal injuries, especially pediatric spinal fractures, in younger motorists between the age of 15 and 17. The researchers focused on a total of more than 34,500 patients as part of the study. The average age of patients in the study was 15 years.

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Auto safety technology can be used now to mitigate the effects of many of the factors that cause accidents, including distracted driving and speeding.  A recent story on NPR highlighted the various technologies that help avoid the risk of driving drunk.

The role of tech in helping prevent car accidents cannot be underestimated.  Auto makers and the government have long recognized this fact, and have collaborated in a program called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.  The program has developed tech that prevents a car from moving if the technology identifies that the motorist’s blood alcohol levels are above the legal limits.  Sensors are used to measure alcohol levels even more unobtrusively. These sensors are installed in the windshield of the car, and the technology requires the motorist to blow in the direction of these sensors, so he can begin operating the vehicle.

While this may be a reasonably effective way of identifying blood alcohol levels, the researchers are working on enhancing the technology to make it possible for the sensors to analyze the motorist’s breathing, and identify blood alcohol content while differentiating his breathing from that of other passengers in the car. The researchers are working on other ways of detecting alcohol content, including a light emitting technology that would shine a light on the motorist’s fingers and identify blood alcohol levels based on the amount of light that is reflected back. The technology is still at the prototype stage, but the goal is to have the technology in areas where the driver is likely to place his hands, like the steering wheel.

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At least half a dozen traffic safety rules that directly impact motorist safety continue to remain backlogged, while motorists remain at risk of injuries. According to a report, a number of traffic safety laws, including those that would require back seat passengers to wear seat belts and trucks to come with speed limiters, continue to remain backlogged.

The back seat seatbelt law continues to remain pending in spite of a law passed in 2012 that required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to direct automakers to install devices in their cars that would warn the driver if a rear seat passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was given a period of three years to act, but the agency has failed to do so.

This back seat law is just one of several traffic safety laws whose implementation has been delayed, placing motorists at risk of injuries in accidents. The Associated Press conducted a review of several such rule-making actions that have been delayed under the last three federal administrations.  The review found that at least 13 such traffic safety rules are several years overdue. These rules have long crossed the deadlines that were set down for their execution.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released fatality rates for the first 3 months of 2021, and the picture is not good. The statistics represent an increase in fatalities during the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period of time in 2020.

When it comes to highway deaths, there seems to be no end to the bad news. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted a total of 8,730 traffic accident fatalities during January, February and March 2021. This is an increase over the 7,900 fatalities that the agency projected for the first three months of 2020. This also means a 10.5% increase over the numbers last year.

That is a staggering increase, and the data presents a sobering picture for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which says that these fatality numbers are projected to have increased in spite of the fact that there was a decline in the number of vehicle miles travelled this quarter. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded significant increases in traffic fatality numbers across all of its regions. Georgia falls in Region 4 which recorded an 18% increase in the number of traffic fatalities recorded in the first quarter of 2021.

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Seatbelts are easily one of the front line defenses and driver or passenger in a vehicle can use to protect themselves in a car accident.  Automakers are taking the initiative to encourage more motorists to wear seatbelts while driving in order to reduce the risk of injuries in accidents.

General Motors is one automaker that is introducing new features that encourage motorists to buckle up. The system is based on an older concept at the automaker, and features a technology that does not allow motorists to drive immediately after switching on the ignition. While the car will start, gears will not activate for twenty seconds after. This gives the motorist and passengers time to buckle up.

The company’s Chevrolet division had introduced a system like this in 2015. Those systems are estimated to have resulted in a 16 percent increase in seatbelt use in motorists driving these vehicles.  The 2020 models come with systems that encourage motorists to buckle up before driving. These are available on the Chevrolet Caribou, Colorado and Traverse models. In 2022, the systems will be available on the Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks as well.

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Certain categories of road users have always been at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed in traffic accidents. Such disparities in accident risks among communities seem to have expanded over the past year.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, an analysis of traffic accident fatality data shows that minority communities like African Americans and indigenous communities have a much higher risk of suffering fatal injuries in accidents, compared to white Americans.

The Governors Highway Safety Association report tracked accident fatality data from between 2015 and 2019, and found that African Americans, indigenous peoples, and people of color constitute a disproportionate percentage of fatality rates in accidents. The report was titled Analysis of Traffic Fatalities by Race and Ethnicity, and is believed to be the first such report of this type in several years.

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The elderly population has increased consistently in the U.S. and the number of older adults in the country is expected to be almost 90 million by the year 2050.  With that comes growing concerns of safety concerns with senior driver.  Senior motorists may suffer a number of declines in their vision, hearing and other faculties, and this affects their risk of being involved in an accident. Specifically, decreases in hearing could significantly affect those crash risks.

Those findings come from a new study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which found an elevated accident risk per mile driven for seniors due to the reduction in their sensory abilities and drop in psychomotor and cognitive abilities.  According to the study, it is important to understand the driving patterns and risk exposure of senior drivers, and also understand how these declining abilities affect the safety of these motorists.

One impairment that many seniors face as they get older is a drop in their hearing abilities.  Hearing impairment can increase crash risks for a senior motorist because they are less likely to hear horns, or other audible cues around them. They may be less likely to see vehicles that are trying to pass them, or even an approaching vehicle.  According to the study, hearing impairment is much more dangerous because it can affect other senses, and further increase a person’s risk of being involved in an accident. For example, hearing impairment can impede a person’s vision and cognitive impairment, further affecting the senior’s ability to drive safely.

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Speed racing or drag racing is surprisingly not uncommon in Atlanta, but much to people’s dismay, these races have become much more widespread during the pandemic. Georgia’s Governor is throwing his weight behind proposals, that would significantly penalize persons for street racing or drag racing.

When the pandemic hit, shelter-in-place restrictions went into effect and there was initially a marked reduction in the number of vehicles on Georgia’s roads. That, unfortunately, led to an epidemic of street racing by drivers using the newly empty streets to race against each other in reckless and dangerous behavior. Such behavior has become even more dangerous now as shelter-in-place restrictions have eased and more motorists are travelling again on the roads and highways. Street racing increases the racer’s risk of being involved in an accident and endangering innocent motorists who may be sharing these roads with them.

Georgia’s Governor has shown his support for new pieces of legislation that aim at keeping residents safer by increasing penalties for street racing and drag racing. These new proposals would penalize not just the street racers themselves, but also promoters of street racing. In fact, one bill would also penalize people who are watching these races. The goal is to discourage such rash practices that endanger the lives and safety of Atlanta residents.

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Research has shown that pedestrians are much more likely to be killed in accidents involving sport utility vehicles, compared to smaller passenger vehicles. The result is not unexpected given the sheer size of SUV’s.  But the reason this is bad news for pedestrians is because SUV’s have become increasing popular over the past decade.

According to the results of a new study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, accidents where a pedestrian was struck by an SUV travelling faster than 19 miles per hour were much more likely to result in a fatality than accidents involving a smaller vehicle travelling at a similar speed. When vehicles were travelling at between 23 and 25 mph, the accident fatality rate for SUVs was 30%, compared to 23% for smaller passenger vehicles.

When SUVs were traveling at 40 mph, all 3 accidents involving SUVs in the study data resulted in pedestrian deaths, compared to 7 out of 3 fatalities in accidents involving small passenger vehicles. Not surprisingly, there was little difference in the fatality rate when the speed of the vehicles was below 20 mph, with passengers in both types of accidents sustaining minimal injuries.

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The number of vehicles on our roads has plunged during the pandemic, but the risk from reckless and speeding drivers is ever present. According to the Governors’ Highway Safety Association, there has been an increase in reckless driving across the country since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Governors’ Highway Safety Association recently released a news alert urging motorists to adhere to their regular safe driving routines to avoid accidents, especially during these highly uncertain times.

The lower number of vehicles on the roads seems to have triggered a false sense of confidence among motorists during the pandemic that they are able to disregard normal driving laws. The organization is reporting an increase in speeding across the country. Several states have reported finding drivers now frequently exceeding the 100-mile an hour mark. In some states, drivers have routinely been found to be driving at speeds exceeding 20 to 40 miles over the limits. Many states are also seeing an increase in negligent or reckless driving.

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