New Research Tries to Identify Reasons for Distracted Driving

Friday, October 25, 2013
It’s quite clear now that there are different forces at work that seem to prevent people from avoiding distracted driving at the wheel. It's also clear that much of the motoring public is aware of the dangers of distracted driving, and using cell phones at the wheel, but continues to engage in such practices nevertheless.

Several new studies are focusing on these forces, and what is it exactly that seems to prevent people from stopping such destructive practices, even when they're completely aware of the dangers of doing so.

The fact is that many people who use their cell phones while driving are aware that such practices can lead to an accident, but can't seem to be able to help themselves from reaching out for their cell phone.

Studies have indicated that as many as 95% of Americans are aware that using a cell phone while driving can be extremely dangerous, and increases their risk of being involved in an accident. However, an equally large number of Americans admit to using cell phones for texting or having a conversation. That means that many persons are habituated to using cell phones, and don't see anything amiss in reaching out for their cell phone to answer an incoming text message, or receiving a phone call when they're driving.

Obviously, this makes the problem of controlling distracted driving an even bigger challenge. It's not merely a question of simply educating people or making them aware of the dangers of distracted driving, because people already seem to be aware of the risks involved. It's important to understand how strong and ingrained these habits are among people, and how difficult it is going to be to break some of those habits.

Children More Distracting Than Mobile Phones

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A new study conducted by Australian researchers has some very unsurprising findings for Los Angeles car accident lawyers. The study by researchers at Monash University Accident Research Center has found that children tend to be a much greater source of distraction for parents while driving, than cell phones.

The study was based on an analysis of the driving practices of 12 families, who took 92 trips in all. The researchers found that parents displayed distracted behaviors in 90 of those trips. The parents were driving with children between one and eight years of age. Some of the more severe distractions were turning around to check up on the children in the back seats, helping children with something, and talking with children. 

Parents have many demands on their attention when they're driving with children, and the number of distractions seems to increase with the number of children in the car. While having a conversation on a cell phone or texting while driving can take away attention from the task of driving, they do not seem to increase stress levels among parents, in the way that driving with children can. When there are multiple children in a car, there are likely to be arguments, scuffles, tantrums and all kinds of other distractions that parents have to deal with while operating the vehicle safely.

Before driving, make sure that you have some items that children may need during the journey like snacks, toys or puzzles, within reach, so that you do not have to frequently reach out for things. If the distractions get too much, pull over somewhere safe. It is also sometimes best to simply turn a deaf ear to all the chaos in the car, and firmly remind your children that you cannot be disturbed while you are driving.

Friends, Family Main Suppliers of Alcohol to Underage Drivers

Thursday, October 10, 2013
Alcohol-related car accidents continue to be a major risk for teenage drivers who are at a high risk for driving under the influence of alcohol. Even though, a driver below the age of 21 is not allowed to possess alcohol, the number of teenage accidents involving driving under the influence of alcohol every year, just confirms that those laws are very often violated. A new survey finds that very often, it is friends and family members, who actually supply in the underage driver with the alcohol.

The survey was conducted by the Centers for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. The survey focused on more than 9000 students, who were in grade 7 to 12. The researchers specifically focused on teenagers who drank alcohol or smokes.

Among the students who admitted to drinking alcohol, 39% admitted that they were given the alcohol by someone else. Approximately 28% confirmed that they gave money to someone to purchase the alcohol for them, while 6% got their alcohol from a liquor store. Obviously, teenagers who drink alcohol are finding many ways of getting around the system.

Among the students who lived in urban or suburban areas, approximately 40% reported that they were given the alcohol by someone else, while in rural areas, the rate was approximately 35%. In rural areas, approximately 33% of the students said that they gave someone else the money to buy the alcohol for them, but while in the urban areas, the rate was approximately 27%.

Not surprisingly, older teens were much more likely to admit that they gave someone the money to buy the alcohol. As many as 32% of older teens admitted doing so.

Other common sources of accessing alcohol for teenagers were grocery stores, gas stations and bars.

Research Provides New Clues about Causes of DUI Accidents

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

According to a new study conducted at the University of Missouri, people who otherwise are against driving under the influence of alcohol, find that their attitudes undergo a change once they have drunk a moderate amount of alcohol.
The researchers analyzed 82 adults, and measured their attitudes toward driving under the influence of alcohol, both while sober and after they had consumed some amount of alcohol. They found that there was a staggering difference between attitudes towards intoxicated driving when the subjects were sober, and after they had consumed a certain amount of alcohol.

When sober, these adults were stringently against driving under the influence of alcohol. However, they did not believe that it was such a dangerous practice, once they had consumed a few drinks.

This is a classic example of the manner in which alcohol can impair a person’s judgment. After a certain number of drinks, a person may not be able to make the right kind of judgment calls, and one of the first things to fly out the window after a few drinks, is the person's distaste for driving under the influence of alcohol. As a result, the person may drive or operate a motor vehicle, believing that there is nothing wrong in doing so.

Every year, alcohol kills more people than any other motor vehicle accident factor, excluding speeding. Thousands of people are killed annually, and even more people are severely injured in alcohol-related accidents across the country. Many of those accidents are caused by people, who normally would never have driven while intoxicated, but decided that they would do so, just one time.

In order to stay safe when you're out drinking, make sure that you have a designated driver for the evening that is entrusted with the responsibility of driving you home.

Texting Increases Accident Risks for Teen Drivers with ADHD

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Teen motorists, who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, may have poor driving skills, compared to those teens who do not suffer from ADHD. However, when researchers recently compared driving skills of the two categories of groups, and introduced texting while driving into the equation, they found that teenagers who were texting were actually poorer drivers than teens who suffered from ADHD.

Overall, the results of the study found that teenagers who suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder showed bad driving skills, compared to teenagers with no history of the condition. However, the risks of being involved in an accident increased substantially when texting was added to the mix.

Teen texting is a serious highway safety problem, and teenagers account for the some of the highest volumes of texting in the United States every year.

The researchers also found that medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder do not reduce a teen’s risk of being involved in an accident. Persons, who suffer from ADHD, are often prescribed stimulant medication that can help them control their symptoms to some extent. However, most teenagers who suffer from ADHD tend to drive at night or during weekends, when they are less likely to have taken their medication.

Teenagers who suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder had more difficulty staying within their lane while driving, and maintaining constant speeds. They were also much more likely to drift out of their lanes. All of this translated into a much higher risk of making driving errors. As many as 17 % of the teens with ADHD had received at least one traffic ticket, while in the group without any symptoms of ADHD, the rate was just 6%.

More Widespread Use of Blackbox Recorders in Accident Investigations

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Over the next couple of years, Los Angeles car accident lawyers expect to see a massive increase in the use of event data recorders or black box recorders in traffic accident investigations. Such use of data recorders has existed for a while now, but the use of black box recorders was bound to become more high-profile after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began pushing for mandated black box recorders in all automobiles. The agency is pushing for all automobiles manufactured after September 2014 to come with event data recorders.

Critics say that there are many privacy issues that have not yet been ironed out, and these need to be dealt with before event data recorders become a standard feature in all automobiles. However, currently as many as 96% of cars that are manufactured in the United States come with an event data recorder. These data recorders are also currently being used in accident investigations as well as criminal investigations.

Event data recorders are of different types, and some recorders can record the speed of the car at the time of the accident, the crash force at the time of impact, as well as other information, that could easily help investigators who are trying to find out what exactly happened in the seconds before the crash. In other words, event data recorders allow investigators significantly in accident reconstruction.

Information about whether the occupants of the car were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident, or whether the brakes were activated in the seconds before the crash can be obtained from the event data recorders. This information is likely to be very useful in car accident and auto defect investigations.

Caltrans Warns Motorists of Accident Risks from Road Debris

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Many car accidents in California every year involve not two vehicles that collided with each other, but vehicles colliding with or trying to avoid pieces of debris that fall off pickup trucks and other vehicles. The California Department of Transportation is again warning motorists of the accident risks that come when they collide with road debris.

Road debris is a huge issue in California, and according to the Department of Transportation, each year, millions of pounds of debris are collected by dump trucks. Much of the debris constitutes typical items that are found in a California household. Debris may consist of mattresses, bathtubs, computers, stoves and ovens, clothes, shoes and every other item that you can think of. These items typically fall off pickup trucks when they're being transported, and then simply lie on the road, posing a serious accident hazard to unsuspecting motorists.

Road debris must not be underestimated as an accident hazard. There have been serious, and even fatal accidents involving motorists who either collided with the debris, or met with an accident when they were trying to avoid a piece of road debris. For instance, in 2006, a California Highway Patrol officer was killed in an accident when he was trying to avoid a stove that was falling off a pickup truck.

For the California Department of Department of Transportation and other public agencies, clearing up road debris is equally as hazardous. The Department of Transportation advises motorists to drive slowly and drop speeds when they see road debris, and then pull over and call 911. If necessary, change lanes to avoid the debris. Don't panic and don’t make an emergency maneuver that can increase your risk of being involved in an accident.

Legislation to Ban Google Glass Already in the Works

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Google is all set to take the next step in wearable computing, with the much-anticipated launch of the Google Glass. However, lawmakers are already very concerned about the potential effects on drivers, who are wearing these interactive glasses while they are at the wheel. A new bill that has been proposed in West Virginia would ban driving while wearing a Google Glass device, although the device has not yet been released in the market.

It's highly unlikely that the lawmakers who have introduced this proposal have even tried out the Google Glass, but they have been concerned enough about its possible effects on driving, to move to enact a preemptive ban on the use of the device behind the wheel. The bill would ban wearable computing test devices like Google Glass that come with a head-mounted display.

It's not so surprising to Los Angeles car accident lawyers that lawmakers would be concerned about the negative effects of wearing such devices, because there's already a wide body of research that confirms the negative effects of cell phone use and texting while driving on a person's driving skills. Arguably, the Google Glass is all set to take those distractions to the next level.

Google is all set to begin testing on its Google Glass Explorer program, and will begin testing in at least 1,000 subjects, who will receive a pair of the reality glasses. A person who wears the glass can perform a number of activities including taking pictures and recording video of everything that he sees, instantly.

Experts already predict that this could be the next wave of technology that sweeps through the American population, and it is highly likely that over the next few months, as these glasses become available and more affordable, we will see large populations of users wearing these glasses behind the wheel too. In this context, the West Virginia bill makes sense.

Researchers Recommend Mandatory Auto Cell Phone Blocking Technologies

Thursday, March 21, 2013

California is one of several states in the country that have attempted to reduce the number of distracting drivers by banning both texting while driving as well as the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. However, it is clear to Los Angeles car accident lawyers, that these measures have had very limited success in reducing these practices. Two researchers from West Virginia University have a radical suggestion to eliminate distracted driving. They suggest that all automobiles come with cell phone blocking technology that absolutely prohibits motorists from texting, e-mailing, having cell phone conversations, and using apps on their smartphones while the car is in motion.

It isn't difficult to imagine that automakers will be able to come up with technology like this. Therefore, the researchers want automakers to invest in coming up with technology that will prohibit motorists from using their cell phone for any purpose as long as the car is in motion.

The researchers have the facts on their side. After all, there are statistics to confirm that distracted driving is a growing menace on our streets. According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, cell phone use behind the wheel causes as many as 333,000 injuries and 2,600 fatalities on U.S roads every year.

Other bodies of research also confirm the devastating effects of using cell phones while driving. According to research from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, texting caused more than 16,000 accident fatalities between 2001 and 2007. It is highly likely that those are conservative estimates. In states, where there is no ban on texting while driving or cell phone use while driving, it's hard to estimate exactly how many people are killed by such devastating practices.

Study Confirms Increased Accident Risks for Teenagers Riding with Teenagers

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

California's graduated driver’s licensing program places strict restrictions on the number of teens who can ride in a car being driven by a teenage motorist. A new study confirms the wisdom of having a law like this.

The survey was conducted by the AAA, and confirms to Los Angeles car accident attorneys, that it is important to retain such restrictions on the number of teenage passengers in a teen motorist's car. The research finds that having a number of passengers in a car increases the risk of risky driving practices for teenage motorists between 16 and 17 years of age.

Among these drivers, there was an increase in the number of speeding-related fatal crashes. These drivers were also much more likely to drive late at night or drive under the influence of alcohol.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety researched data on fatal accidents that occurred across the country between 2005 and 2010. They found that a total of 9,578 motorists between the ages of 16 and 17 had been involved in fatal accidents during this period of time. In at least 3,994 of these accidents, there had been at least one teenage passenger in the car at the time of the accident.

According to the AAA, there is plenty of research to show that having young teenage passengers in the car increases a teenage motorist’s risk of being involved in an accident. In fact, Los Angeles car accident lawyers are aware of other studies which show that the accident risk of a teenage motorist increases proportionate to the the number of teenage passengers in the car.

As a parent, you can reduce your child’s chances of being involved in an accident by laying down strict rules about passengers, and making sure that your child complies with these.

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