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Gastonia Injury Law Blog

Daydremaing may be a bigger road safety threat than cellphones

Many road safety experts in North Carolina and around the country have blamed the surge in distracted driving fatalities on the popularity of mobile devices like smartphones and tablet computers, but a study from a leading insurance company suggests that drivers who become lost in thought or daydream behind the wheel are a far more serious problem. A research team from Erie Insurance came to this conclusion after studying accident data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System gathered over the last five years.

The researchers first determined that 10 percent of the 172,000 road users killed during the last five years lost their lives in accidents involving distracted drivers. They then analyzed the data to find out what had distracted the motorists involved. Daydreaming or general distraction was the most common explanation given with 61 percent of the drivers saying that they were lost in thought before crashing. Cellphone use was only listed as the factor 14 percent of the time.

The role of training in preventing construction fall injuries

Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers throughout North Carolina and the rest of the country. In fact, federal figures estimate that falls account for one-third of construction fatalities. Safety advocates say that training and education are key to preventing construction-related falls.

To this end, the Center for Construction Research and Training along with OSHA and other construction entities are encouraging construction workers across the United States to use some time between May 7 and May 11 to stand down and discuss safety issues associated with falls. The May dates correspond with the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction event. While there are no strict guidelines on how falls should be discussed during the national stand-down, options include videos, toolbox talks and demonstrations.

How noise impacts health

Those who work in North Carolina may be harming their health by working in a noisy environment. According to a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, there is a link between noise and high cholesterol and blood pressure. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that 41 million workers are exposed to excess noise while on the job.

About 25 percent of American workers are now exposed to noise while at work, which is an increase from 14 percent in 2017. Of those workers, 24 percent had high blood pressure while 28 percent had high levels of cholesterol. Those who work in the mining, manufacturing and construction industries were the most likely to be exposed to high levels of noise. The results of a CDC study are supported by previous research such as a study conducted in 2015 and published in Occupational Environmental Medicine.

Study highlights causes of commercial trucking accidents

Every year in North Carolina and across America, 15 million commercial tractor-trailers carry the vast majority of the nation's goods used around the country. It's no surprise given the volume of trucks on the road that trucking accidents are a regular occurrence. Unfortunately, statistics show the frequency of those accidents is increasing.

One study that looked closely at the increase in trucking accidents is the Large Truck Crash Casualty Study (LTCCS). Sponsored jointly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the study indicated that among other things the majority of all truck accidents resulted from truck driver error.

How to drive safely in the rain

North Carolina is no stranger to intense rainfalls. Charlotte, North Carolina typically sees about 44 inches of rain every year, which is five inches more than the national average. 

The rainy season means the likelihood of traffic collisions increases. Many drivers do not know how to drive in new conditions, so you want to be more mindful than usual of other drivers on the road. You also need to be aware of your actions to avoid a car accident. 

Alliance seeks to improve safety in the entertainment industry

North Carolina workers in the entertainment industry can face serious threats to their health and well-being due to on-the-job accidents. Falls, electrical problems and other hazards can be dangers for workers on movie sets, in theater spaces and in other entertainment venues. Because of the danger of such accidents and injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is renewing an alliance with two major industry groups in order to reduce the number and prevalence of workplace injuries.

OSHA is working with the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, a professional association, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the major entertainment industry trade union. As part of the alliance, the three organizations will share information, resources and details to help cut down on the number of workplace accidents suffered by entertainment industry workers. OSHA will provide materials on enforcement initiatives, the rulemaking process and cross-industry safety campaigns.

What's involved in a soft tissue injury

Car accident victims in North Carolina should know about soft tissue injuries because they tend to be hard to diagnose. No X-ray can detect them, and the symptoms sometimes appear days after an accident, so victims may delay in having them treated.

The soft tissues are the muscles, tendons and ligaments. These non-bony parts of the body can easily be strained, sprained or torn through sudden, uncontrolled movements, so they frequently arise from car accidents where the impact and the braking toss the body back and forth. In most cases, victims experience chronic pain and inflammation in the affected area. Sometimes, an affected limb can suffer from a diminished function. Bleeding is also common.

Government attempts to detect drowsy drivers challenged

For drivers in North Carolina and across the country, truck driver fatigue caused by sleep apnea is both a major public health concern as well as a direct worry for its potential to lead to devastating trucking accidents. Because of the size, weight and mass of large trucks, collisions involving these vehicles can carry especially serious consequences. To prevent these types of collisions, the federal government has put in place a series of regulations that attempt to detect those at risk for drowsy driving.

Sleep apnea is of particular concern because, when untreated, people with this disorder may find it impossible to have restful sleep, leading to drowsiness throughout the day and even dozing off behind the wheel. However, government efforts to test truck drivers for sleep apnea are being challenged in court by an industry association. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, or OOIDA, is suing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the FMCSA, arguing that guidances it issued in 2015 for truck driver medical examinations violate a 2013 federal law.

Automatic braking lowers backup crash rates, IIHS states

Automatic braking systems can sense obstacles ahead of time, alert the driver to them and apply the brakes for the driver in the case of an emergency. Drivers in North Carolina may want to know just how effective these systems are, especially if they own a new car that's compatible with such technology.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently studied the effects of automatic braking systems on back-up collision rates. This is important because front automatic braking systems usually get more attention; in fact, they will become standard features on most cars by 2022.

3 apps to help you fight off distracted driving

Now that everyone seems to have a smartphone in their pocket, distracted driving is more prevalent than ever. It is for this reason North Carolina has introduced a new initiative to keep drivers safe while traveling down rural roadways. 

While the smartphone is a common source of distracted driving, it can also help you remain more focused on the road. There are numerous apps available, many of which are free, you can download to help you keep your eyes on the road where they belong. With everyone doing their part, North Carolina can reduce its number of annual motor vehicle accidents