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Lawton Oklahoma Personal Injury Law Blog

Truckers say federal rest rule actually causes more fatigue

Many commercial truckers in Oklahoma and across the U.S. have complained about a federal rule requiring them to take a 30-minute rest break after driving for eight consecutive hours. The thrust of the argument is that the break creates delays, forces truckers to speed in order to meet deadlines and gives rise to fatigue sooner in the shift.

This is an important concern because some even believe that the inflexibility of federal hours-of-service guidelines is partly to blame for the recent surge in large-truck fatalities. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows a 9 percent increase in 2017 with a total of 4,761 people killed. The number has not been this high in 29 years.

The risks involved in nighttime driving

With the end of Daylight Saving Time, many drivers in Oklahoma find themselves traveling in the nighttime. This brings a certain set of challenges. While people do only a quarter of their driving at night, 50 percent of traffic deaths occur during this period. Drivers should therefore be aware of those challenges and what they can do to mitigate them.

The first challenge is compromised night vision. Drivers should aim their headlights correctly, avoid looking at oncoming lights and slow down. Speeding drivers will have less time to react to dangers even when their high-beam headlights are on.

Surgeon mistakenly removes kidney during back surgery

Medical malpractice is a common cause of injury and even death in Oklahoma. Most people trust that doctors will do their best. However, mistakes sometimes occur. One woman went to the hospital to receive spinal fusion surgery on her back and later found out that a surgeon removed one of her kidneys.

The surgeon discovered what he believed to be a malignant tumor in the woman's pelvic region and removed it. The woman never had a chance to consent to the procedure. The surgeon who removed the kidney was assisting another surgeon and was tasked with creating an incision for the back surgery.

Programs aim to reduce truck driver fatigue

Truck accidents can pose a major threat to motorists on the roads in Oklahoma. These crashes can be particularly dangerous if the truck driver involved is fatigued, distracted or otherwise impaired. Estimates indicate that up to 100,000 crashes each year are caused by drowsy driving. Many companies are looking for technological solutions that can reduce the risk of severe crashes.

Many truck drivers believe that it is normal to be tired while driving, simply due to the grueling nature of driving as a profession. However, excessive drowsiness can play a major role in reducing a drivers' ability to react correctly in the face of emergency situations. As a result, 13 percent of all fatal truck crashes and 28 percent of crashes involving a single commercial vehicle are linked to drowsy driving. Some trucking companies have introduced fatigue management programs. This involves reviewing driver data to retool schedules and start times in order to improve safety metrics.

AAA underscores the need for more supervision of teen drivers

Parents of teen drivers in Oklahoma may have heard that National Teen Driver Safety Week was held in October. As part of this program, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released some research data showing how teen drivers often face increased risks for fatal accidents.

The main issue came down to teen passengers. If a teen driver only has passengers around their age in their vehicle, the fatality rate for everyone goes up 51 percent. Furthermore, the fatality rate goes up 56 percent for the occupants of other vehicles and 17 percent for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Limo in deadly New York crash had bad brakes

Every year, thousands of Oklahoma residents hire chauffeured limousines to drive them to special events, such as weddings and parties. When they do so, they expect the vehicle to be well-maintained and safe. However, not all limo companies take that responsibility seriously.

For example, a stretch limousine crashed in upstate New York on Oct. 6, killing 20 people. According to media reports, the vehicle had been cited for serious brake issues by the State Department of Transportation in March. Further, the problems had not been corrected when the car underwent a follow-up inspection on Sept. 4. An attorney for the limo company claimed that the vehicle had been cited for minor problems, including worn windshield wipers, and that those problems had been corrected. However, a representative for the state DOT said that the vehicle had failed its inspection and that the owner of the company had been told not to place the vehicle back in service.

About LBD

Oklahoma residents should know that Lewy body dementia, or LBD, is a progressive brain disorder that affects 1.4 million people in the United States. It is a condition in which alpha-synuclein protein deposits accumulate in the parts of the brain that control movement, behavior and cognition. LBD is very underdiagnosed because its symptoms are very similar to well-known medical conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. In fact, many medical professionals, including physicians, have no familiarity with LBD.

The causes of LBD have not been confirmed, but research is being conducted to verify what causes the condition. It is believed that multiple factors are responsible for the development of LBD. Environmental and genetic factors, combined with the processes that are the result of natural aging, are believed to make people susceptible to developing the condition.

Safety technologies more limited than people think

Drivers on Oklahoma roadways are likely to overestimate the abilities of vehicle safety technologies like adaptive cruise control, according to the results of a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. A senior researcher on the project said that a substantial proportion of the people who responded were unaware of the limitations of the technologies. The study suggests that American drivers may need more education before they are ready to switch to self-driving cars, which require the drivers to be alert and ready to take the wheel.

With adaptive cruise control, the vehicle can apply the brakes or accelerate on its own. Approximately 29 percent of the drivers studied were at times comfortable doing other things while the car was driving with adaptive cruise control on. Drivers confused the capabilities of automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning systems. A collision warning system gives the driver a warning; automatic emergency braking applies the vehicle's brakes when there is danger of a crash.

Crashes among mobile workforce go up 12.3 percent

The mobile workforce in Oklahoma has become constantly connected via smartphone, and this may be the reason why it sees such high auto accident rates in recent years. Motus, the vehicle management and reimbursement platform, has made a link between the two trends in its 2018 Distracted Driving Report.

Motus found that as smartphone ownership among mobile workers went up from 55 to 77 percent between 2013 and 2017, so the number of car crashes they were involved in went up from 5.7 million to 6.4 million. In addition, it found that while smartphone use was most prevalent during mobile workers' morning and evening commutes, the peak time was between 2pm and 4pm.

Rehab input included in new TBI guidelines

The treatment for Oklahoma patients who have sustained a traumatic brain injury is typically based on established clinical practice guidelines. An update to guidelines for patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries being implemented in Canada could provide guidance for health professionals in the United States. The update was based on input from the rehabilitation professionals directly involved with many of the main aspects of patient care, from the initial assessment through follow-up care. The goal is to better address the many needs of TBI survivors.

The new clinical practice guideline is one of several updates that have been made to improve the standard protocols for the care of anyone with a brain injury. Another reason for the guideline update is because of a move towards community-based rehabilitation as an alternative to long-term hospitalization. Many rehab professionals generally agree with established TBI guidelines. However, suggested protocols aren't used too often in everyday practice. A separate survey found that while a high percentage of care recommendations were mostly or fully implemented, there are still multiple gaps in implementation.

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