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Lawton Oklahoma Personal Injury Law Blog

Driverless cars to effect gradual shift in insurance industry

In 2016, there was a report from Morgan Stanley entitled "Are Auto Insurers on the Road to Nowhere?" which estimated that with the introduction of driverless cars, the auto insurance industry would dwindle by 80 percent by 2040. Oklahoma residents should know that newer research, in addition to the spate of fatal accidents involving driverless cars, is painting a different picture of the future.

The time may come when individual drivers no longer need coverage. However, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report predicts that new sources for revenue will open up, effecting a gradual shift in the industry rather than a sharp decline. Manufacturers and technologies companies in particular may want coverage. From sensors to bumper cameras, autonomous car tech can be costly; even fender benders will no doubt raise the average cost of repairs.

CSVA-verified enforcement to conduct brake evaluations

In an ongoing effort to prevent roadway accidents, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducts its annual Brake Safety Week. This should help reassure Oklahoma drivers who often share the road with large, commercial trucks.

It's important to note that poorly maintained brakes can lower a vehicle's brake efficiency and result in truck accidents. Brake problems are a particularly big concern with commercial vehicles, which can cause large-scale damage. According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, trucks involved in collisions where braking capacity was highly important had a 50 percent higher chance of having brake violations. Another concerning statistic from the same study showed that nearly 33 percent of large trucks with pre-crash violations had brake problems.

IIHS finds highest number of fatal crashes on July 4

Oklahoma residents who are wary about going out on the road on holidays have good reason for it. A recent analysis from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that Independence Day is the deadliest holiday in America for fatal car crashes. The IIHS studied fatal car crash data from 2010 to 2014, 2014 being the last year with accurate data, and found that every year on July 4, an average of 118 people died.

The holiday is particularly deadly for motorcyclists with an average of 26 deaths each year on July 4. The daily average for the rest of the year, at least for the study period, is 12. The most frequent factors in these fatal car crashes include alcohol intoxication, speeding and neglecting to wear a seat belt or a helmet. Approximately 47 percent of the fatal crashes on July 4 involved at least one vehicle occupant, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or above.

Study finds drug combo extends life of pancreatic cancer patients

Pancreatic cancer is rare and aggressive. Many Oklahoma patients diagnosed with the disease die within a year of diagnosis, and a small percentage live for up to five years. However, a new study found that a four-drug combo can help early-stage pancreatic cancer patients live significantly longer than the current standard treatment.

Currently, around 15 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed before the cancer has spread. These patients are generally treated with surgery to remove the tumors and then chemotherapy with a drug called Gemzar. However, researchers at the Cancer Institute of Lorraine in Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France, found that a four-drug cocktail called folfirinox outperformed Gemzar in a study of nearly 500 patients. After surgery, patients in the study were treated with either folfirinox or Gemzar. An average of three years later, nearly two-thirds of folfirinox patients were still living and nearly 40 percent were cancer-free. In comparison, less than 50 percent of the Gemzar patients were still living and only 20 percent were cancer-free.

Core group of truck drivers guilty of distracted driving

Incidents of distracted driving are increasing in Oklahoma and across the U.S. An analysis of driving data by Cambridge Mobile Telematics shows that American drivers engaged in distracted driving during 36 percent of trips in a tested six-month period. This represents a 5 percent increase over the same test period last year.

Studies also show that professional truck drivers are engaging in this behavior. However, an analysis conducted by SmartDrive Systems found that most acts of distracted driving are committed by around 25 percent of truck drivers. Furthermore, this group is more likely to engage in other hazardous driving behaviors. For example, distracted truck drivers are 87 percent more likely to exceed speed limits by 10 mph, 83 percent more likely to roll through stop signs and/or red lights and 36 percent more likely to crash their trucks. SmartDrive, which provides video technology and analysis for the trucking industry, came to its findings by analyzing data from over 180 million truck driving events between February 2016 and January 2017.

New report shows A.I. more accurately diagnoses skin cancer

Residents of Oklahoma who are interested in the growing role that artificial intelligence plays in the medical field will want to know about a new international study published in the Annals of Oncology. Researchers tested a form of deep learning called convolutional neural networks (CNN) and found that AI can diagnose skin cancer more precisely than experienced dermatologists.

The test began with researchers showing the CNN more than 100,000 images (captured through dermoscopy) of benign and malignant skin cancers and moles together with their diagnoses. This trained the network to distinguish between the two types. Afterward, a new set of 300 images followed by 100 pictures were shown. The first set tested the network's diagnostic ability, and the second tested both the CNN and a team of 58 doctors from 17 different countries.

Coverage of self-driving car crash incurs Tesla CEO's criticism

While Tesla is rightfully considered a pioneer in self-driving vehicle technology, that technology still has a long way to go before it can be proven safe. A recent accident in Utah illustrates this fact. The driver of a Tesla Model S crashed into a fire truck and broke her ankle because, even though the Autopilot program was on, she was looking down at her phone. The reaction to this accident, or, rather, to the news coverage it received, should make residents of Oklahoma wonder about Tesla's priorities.

The Tesla CEO, along with several of the company's supporters, made comments on social media to the effect that such a minor accident should not become front-page news when more serious crashes are daily taking lives on the road. Others have replied, saying that any accident involving Tesla vehicles is newsworthy because it addresses some very real concerns.

National driving safety event scheduled for July

Motorists in Oklahoma and the rest of the country should be aware of Operation Safe Driver Week, which is being sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The weeklong event, which is scheduled to begin on July 15, involves the participation of law enforcement officials who will be looking out for drivers of commercial and passenger vehicles engaged in unsafe driving.

According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, unsafe driving behavior is the primary cause of crashes on the highway. Based on the results of the study, such negligent driving behavior is responsible for 88 percent of accidents involving large trucks and 93 percent of wrecks involving passenger vehicles.

Doctors leave surgical sponges in woman's abdomen

When Oklahoma patients undergo a surgical procedure, they don't expect sponges or other instruments to be left in their bodies. However, that's exactly what happened to a woman in Japan according to a report recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The woman, age 42, complained to her doctors that she had been suffering from bloating in her abdomen for around three years. A physical examination and a CT scan revealed two masses, one near each of her hip bones. According to the results of the CT scan, the masses contained "hyperdense, stringy structures." Her doctors performed surgery and found that the masses were tucked into spaces of her abdomen known as the paracolic gutters, which separate the abdominal wall from the colon. They removed them and cut them open, finding gauze sponges encased in fibrous tissue.

Safety technology has potential to reduce truck accidents

News about fatal traffic accidents might feel normal to people in Oklahoma, but the CEO of the National Safety Council urges that people set high goals for roadway safety. She has advanced the goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero by 2050. The council promotes a shift toward a culture of safety instead of accepting the inevitability of traffic deaths. Advances in safety technology have the potential to play a large role in improving vehicle safety, especially for large trucks.

According to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, blind-spot detection and forward-collision warning systems could aid truck drivers. Equipment that alerts truck drivers to lane departures and loss of stability also exist that could reduce the incidence or severity of commercial vehicle accidents by as much as 25 percent.

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