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Lawton Oklahoma Personal Injury Law Blog

Truck crash fatalities continue to rise

Truck crashes in Oklahoma and across the country continue to lead to deadly results. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, truckers are dying behind the wheel at the greatest level in 30 years. This also means that others on the road face an even greater threat, given that most injuries in commercial trucking crashes involve smaller passenger vehicles. In 2018, 885 drivers or passengers in large trucks lost their lives in collisions, the highest number since 1988, when 911 died.

In total, 4,678 people were killed in 2018 trucking accidents, a 1% increase from the 4,367 who lost their lives in crashes involving trucks one year before. This marked the fourth consecutive year of increasing numbers of fatal truck collisions. In particular, the NHTSA noted a 13% increase in the number of pedestrians killed in these crashes in 2018. Of course, these numbers point only to deaths, and many more people face catastrophic injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident involving a large truck. The size and weight of trucks mean that others involved in a collision are far more likely to be seriously injured.

Study reinforces how not all memory loss is caused by Alzheimer's

According to the Alzheimer's Association, some 40% of dementia cases are not due to Alzheimer's but to other conditions. Memory loss can even be attributed to traumatic brain injuries that were incurred years before. Oklahoma residents should know that a UCLA study has not only reinforced this fact but also found a way to distinguish between memory loss caused by Alzheimer's and that caused by TBIs.

MRI scans can reveal subtle abnormalities in patients with neurological disorders like Alzheimer's. Researchers looked for similar abnormalities in their group of 40 UCLA patients who had incurred a TBI and who were experiencing memory loss. The results were published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Daylight saving changes increase accident risk

Though many people in Oklahoma enjoy setting back their clocks an hour each fall and getting an extra hour of sleep, first responders and police know that the changes mean more car accidents. Taking extra care driving during the week following changes to daylight saving time may help drivers prevent accidents from occurring.

The human body has an internal clock and circadian rhythm that allows it to wake up each morning, gives it the energy to go throughout the day and makes it begin winding down as the sun sets until it is time to sleep. Changes to the clock mean that this internal clock becomes disrupted. Experts believe that this can cause drivers to become drowsy while driving. Studies done by AAA have found that driving while drowsy is similar to driving drunk. Tired drivers are responsible for more than 6,000 motor vehicle fatalities each year.

Car accident deaths decline, but serious dangers remain

American highways can be dangerous places for people in Oklahoma and across the country. Still, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlighted some positive movement, reporting that fatalities linked to car crashes declined by 2.4% in 2018, a drop for the second year in a row following a spike in 2015. According to the NHTSA, this decline is largely linked to better, safer cars produced with technological updates that can make crashes less likely. However, the toll taken by motor vehicle accidents continues to be significant. Around 36,560 people were killed on the roads in 2018, and hundreds of thousands more were severely injured.

The NHTSA said that the positive trend was continuing in 2019 with car crash fatalities down 3.4% in the first half of 2018. However, nearly all motor vehicle collisions remain preventable, it emphasized. The NHTSA noted a troubling trend for pedestrians and cyclists. In 2018, 6,283 walkers were killed in crashes, an increase of 3.4% and the highest number since 1990, while 6.3% more cyclists lost their lives in collisions. Crashes involving large trucks also continued to kill more people with a 1% increase in fatalities over 2017.

Doubts arise as cities replace traffic lights with roundabouts

There are only about 5,000 roundabouts in Oklahoma and across the U.S., making them a rare sight for most drivers. However, more and more cities are replacing traffic lights with these structures in the effort to improve traffic flow and safety. According to statistics, the roundabouts are, in fact, doing their job effectively.

For example, the city of Carmel, Indiana, is the unofficial "Roundabout Capital of America" and sees 40% fewer property-damage crashes at those intersections that are now roundabouts. Crashes with injuries are down by 75%. Drivers there enjoy lower insurance rates and save gas that would otherwise have been wasted by idling in front of a red light.

FMCSA official discusses truck safety proposals

Trucking companies in Oklahoma and around the country are finding it difficult to hire enough long-haul drivers, but that may change soon if legislation being considered by the House of Representatives and the Senate is passed. The bills would allow drivers between the age of 18 and 20 to drive tractor-trailers across state lines after they have logged 400 or more hours of training. The proposition failed to gain traction in Congress in 2018 due to opposition from groups including the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is also looking into expanding the role of young truck drivers by promoting a pilot program for 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds with military experience. Truck drivers under the age of 21 are currently only permitted to drive big rigs intrastate. The program was one of several issues discussed by the FMCSA's administrator on Oct. 5 during a trade conference in San Diego.

Study finds male breast cancer patients less likely to survive

Male breast cancer patients in Oklahoma and elsewhere are less likely to survive than female patients, according to a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The study was published in JAMA Oncology on Sept. 19.

Statistics show that breast cancer cases in men are on the rise. In 1975, there were 0.85 breast cancer cases diagnosed per 100,000 men in the U.S. In 2016, there were 1.21 cases per 100,000 men. Experts estimate that nearly 2,700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. Unfortunately, researchers found that men are more likely to succumb to the disease than their female counterparts.

What to think about when driving during the fall

Oklahoma roads can become slick with rain and leaves as the calendar turns to fall. Leaves that fall off of trees can make it harder to see potholes, lane lines and other markings. Leaves that are still on the trees can prove distracting to tourists and others who may be in town just to see them change colors. Therefore, it is important for drivers to slow down and to increase their following distance.

It is also important to slow down while driving in foggy conditions. Fog can be more prevalent during the early morning hours as the temperatures are generally cool enough to support clouds close to the ground. Those who are going to drive during times of fog should use their low beams as it can be easier to see.

Weather, late hours and distractions worry teen drivers' parents

University researchers who surveyed parents of teenagers concluded that parents should actively encourage their teens to drive safely and promote responsible driving behavior among their peers. The survey of 900 parents of children aged 14 to 18 identified bad weather as a major concern for parents. Volatile weather, which is common in Oklahoma, worried 68% of parents, who often prevented their teens from riding with teen drivers when weather conditions were potentially hazardous.

Driving late at night, particularly after midnight, concerned parents nearly as much as weather with 67% of them limiting late-night driving by teens or with teens. The number of young people in a vehicle represented another common concern. Close to 40% of parents viewed a vehicle driven by a teen with two or more teens as passengers as a threat to safety. They feared that distractions like cell phone use and loud music would take attention away from traffic.

Study shows technology can cut car crashes

Autonomous technologies have the potential to reduce the number of dangerous car accidents on Oklahoma roads. While fully self-driving cars might be some time away on the horizon, a range of advanced driver assistance systems could reduce the risk of serious car accidents and the associated injuries and fatalities. According to one study released by GM, these safety technologies can be linked to significant decreases in certain types of car accidents. Rear-end collisions in particular were reduced by 46% with the installation of certain types of safety devices.

The study involved examining crash data collected by police in 10 different states. Car accident reports contain VINs, which are individual numbers identifying a particular vehicle. GM provided access to its database of VINs for 3.8 million vehicles produced from 2013 to 2017. By comparing these numbers with the crash data, researchers were able to determine which cars had the safety technologies installed.

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