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Butler Personal Injury Law Blog

Winter weather could increase your risk of a slip-and-fall

Despite how minor and humorous they may appear in television shows or movies, slip-and-fall incidents can result in serious injuries. Sometimes, these common accidents can even prove fatal. In fact, more than a million people head to emergency rooms each year because of slip-and-fall incidents. There are certain steps you can take to reduce your risk of joining this group, such as wearing shoes or boots with good traction and moving slowly on slick surfaces. Still, if a property isn't carefully maintained, even your best efforts may not prevent a slip-and-fall.

It only takes a second for your feet to lose grip, sending you crashing to the ground. You could easily suffer broken bones, soft tissue injuries, head and brain injuries or even spinal cord injuries as a result of slipping on a snowy or icy surface. When that happens, you may have a claim of premises liability against the facility or business where the accident occurred. This is particularly true if basic maintenance could have prevented your injury.

Drug arrests and commercial truck drivers

Commercial truck drivers in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country have many regulations to which they have to adhere. However, it is not unusual for truck drivers' drug arrests to be overlooked.

A report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association revealed that in 2015, more than 40 percent of the drivers that were fatally injured for whom test results were available had tested positive for illegal substances. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which is a federal law that safeguards the privacy of patients, is often used to stop trucking companies from being notified when certain medications are prescribed to truck drivers that may impair their ability to operate a truck safely.

Driving in winter conditions

Many Pennsylvania motorists know that driving in winter conditions can be a daunting task. Driving on snow is far different than driving on regular asphalt. As such, people who drive in snow must have a different way of handling the wheel and pedals.

Part of the problem is that snow and ice make a road extremely slippery, meaning the tires cannot get traction or a grip on the surface of the road, potentially resulting in a winter car accident. Further, the decreased temperatures that occur during winter also can have an effect on the tires themselves. For example, scientists use the term "coefficient of friction" to show how much available grip an object has. Zero typically means that an object has no grip while one is the highest amount of available grip. One normal roads, a properly maintained tire has a coefficient of friction of about one. This number drops to 0.7 on wet roads and 0.15 on snow. When it comes to ice, the coefficient of friction is just 0.08.

Truck safety technologies could prevent 77,000 crashes per year

According to federal data, there were more than 400,000 accidents involving large trucks in 2015. Sadly, these crashes resulted in 116,000 injuries and 4,000 deaths. However, a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that advanced truck safety technologies could prevent over 77,000 truck accidents each year, which would save lives in Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

AAA studied the benefits of installing four advanced safety systems in large trucks and determined that the technologies saved lives. Researchers found that the technology that could prevent the most accidents was a video-based onboard safety monitor, which may be able to prevent 63,000 crashes, 17,733 injuries and 293 deaths each year. The second most effective technology was a lane departure warning system, which could prevent an estimated 6,372 crashes, 1,342 injuries and 115 deaths each year. Automatic emergency braking systems came in third with the potential to prevent 5,294 crashes, 2,753 injuries and 55 deaths each year. Air disc brakes came in fourth, possibly preventing 2,411 crashes, 1,447 injuries and 37 deaths each year. All four technologies combined could prevent 77,077 crashes annually.

3 ways to avoid holiday car crashes

Travel stress around the holidays is pretty much a given. Planes, trains and automobiles across the country are filled with holiday travelers trying to get somewhere. Your gifts and goodies, ordered with that special two-day shipping, have to get somewhere, too. That means even more big trucks on the roads, which --combined with ice, snow and holiday hurrying -- can lead to some serious crashes.

Who's liable for a self-driving shuttle bus crash?

You've heard of self-driving cars, but how about a self-driving shuttle bus? The first autonomously driven shuttle bus -- sponsored by AAA -- recently got to test its skills in Las Vegas. The problem is, two hours after the bus went into operation, it got into a crash.

The incident, as well as other incidents involving self-driving automobiles, has fueled the debate over whether these vehicles will ever be as safe as human-driving cars. It also begs the question: Who is liable in a self-driving automobile collision?

Changing driving habits for Daylight Standard Time

Pennsylvania residents may be aware that Daylight Saving Time ended on Nov. 5. The upcoming months can be a particularly dangerous time for drivers because daylight hours are now shortened and wildlife will be more prominent on the roadways.

The majority of wildlife collisions occur in the month of November as this is when deer begin mating season. Deer are particularly prevalent once the sun goes down. Bears are also more out and about as they are focused on finding food and fattening up before their hibernation begins. Striking an animal can result in serious damage to the vehicle. In some cases, the accident can even cause life-threatening injuries to those in the impacted vehicle.

Drowsiness a health hazard for night shift workers

Shift work increases the risk for many conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but there is another concern that could be considered more pressing. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital have determined that night shift workers are prone to drowsy driving, especially during their commute home. According to their report, over 9.5 million people in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. work night shifts or rotational shifts, so the problem is a widespread one.

In the study that researchers conducted, 16 night shift workers were chosen to participate in two driving sessions on a closed driving track. The first occurred after they had slept an average of 7.6 hours, and the second after they got off work. Driver performance was measured by the number of mistakes they made while an EEG measured drowsiness during micro-sleep episodes.

Study finds link between truck driver health and crash risk

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has published a study linking poor truck driver health with a higher risk for accidents. The authors concluded that even minor medical conditions can add up to endanger truck drivers. This has raised some concerns for trucking companies in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, especially regarding their medical screening processes.

Investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine analyzed the medical and crash histories of 49,464 commercial truck drivers and found that those with three or more medical conditions were involved in more incidents. The authors calculated that such drivers met with 93 crashes for every 100 million miles driven. As for relative crash risk among all drivers, it was calculated at 29 every 100 million miles.

New electronic parking brake could eliminate rollaway accidents

Pennsylvania residents may be alarmed to learn that a study performed by a leading business consulting firm found that six out of 10 commercial vehicle fleet operators have experienced a rollaway situation within the last two years. A moving vehicle with no driver behind the wheel poses a serious threat to the safety of road users, and this is especially true when the vehicle involved is a commercial truck that can weigh as much as 40 tons. However, an Ohio-based commercial vehicle systems manufacturer claims that their new electronic parking brake has the potential to make this kind of incident a thing of the past.

The Intellipark parking brake developed by Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems prevents truck rollaways by engaging tractor and trailer air brakes automatically when drivers forget to do so. The system was unveiled in Atlanta on Sept. 26 at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show. The system relies on interlocks placed in truck seats, doors and seat belts, and it engages automatically when drivers open truck doors or exit their vehicles without first applying their emergency brakes.

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