Houston Personal Injury Blog

How to avert drowsiness on the road

Drowsy driving is a big problem in Texas, especially in locations where there are no comprehensive public transit systems. Many people fail to sleep the minimum seven hours each night that the CDC recommends while others put themselves and others in danger by taking prescription sleep aids and heading out on the road before sleeping a sufficient time. Still others will sleep seven hours but remain drowsy because of a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the effects of being awake for 24 consecutive hours can be compared to that of having a BAC of .10. Drivers, then, should get adequate sleep, have themselves checked for sleep disorders and ask their doctor to change the dosage timing for any sleep aids or other drowsiness-inducing drugs, such as antidepressants, antihistamines and anxiety drugs, so that these do not conflict with driving.

Distracted driving and how to avoid it

With the advent of smartphones and in-vehicle technology, few people need to be told that distracted driving is a rising trend, but what's important to remember is how widespread it is. Drivers in Texas, as anywhere else, are expected to maintain control of their vehicles at all times, and anything that keeps them from doing this, from phone use to eating and drinking, can be considered a distraction.

There were 3,166 fatalities arising from distracted driving crashes in 2017 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To protect themselves and others on the road, drivers will want to eliminate as many distractions as possible. It all starts with the phone; even hands-free devices can be distracting.

Beware: sharing the road with big rigs is risky

Whenever you share the Texas highways with big rigs, you and your passengers are at risk. Eighteen-wheelers and semi-trucks typically weigh more than 10,000 pounds. When fully loaded, they could weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, or even more. Passenger vehicles weigh significantly less, and when these two collide, occupants of passenger vehicles are typically worse off.

If you are a victim of a car vs. 18-wheeler accident, you can suffer fractured bones, spinal cord injuries, internal injuries and traumatic brain injuries. You will probably lose workdays, which will cause income losses. Along with steep medical costs, devastating financial consequences can follow.

Women more likely to incur serious injuries in car crashes

According to a new study, women are 73% more likely than men to suffer a serious injury or death in an auto accident. Texas drivers should know that part of the reason for this trend is the lack of accurate crash safety data. With this comes the lack of safety measures and devices designed with women in mind.

For example, the majority of crash dummies used for testing are based on the male body. A female crash dummy was introduced back in 2003. However, it is mostly just a smaller version of the male type. It weighs 110 pounds and is 5 feet tall, putting its dimensions just outside those of the average woman.

New rules could ease trucker regulations

Commercial drivers in Texas and throughout the country could soon see a change to current hours-of-service rules. As they are written today, drivers can remain on duty for no longer than 14 hours at a time. During this on-duty period, they can spend up to 11 hours on the road. Once that period is over, a driver must wait at least 10 hours before working again.

Those who plan on driving for eight or more hours must stop for 30 minutes prior to reaching eight hours for the day. Hours are tracked by an electronic logging device (ELD) that also keeps track of whether a driver is on or off duty. Those who violate HOS rules could be forced to stop driving for a day or more. As many drivers are paid by the mile, being forced out of service may result in lost income.

Drunk driver prevention systems a must, says MADD president

At a congressional hearing in May 2019, the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving called for automakers to put more effort into making drunk driver prevention systems. Drunk driving is a serious issue, contributing to 29% of all roadway fatalities in Texas and across the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2017, there were 11,000 deaths and over 200,000 injuries resulting from drunk driving crashes.

Many automakers have labs that are capable enough of developing prevention technology. Volvo has already announced a prevention system that makes use of cameras and sensors. One group has been working for over a decade on a program called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. This uses breath- and touch-based systems to determine if a driver's blood alcohol content is over .08, the legal limit. If it is, the system responds by making the vehicle inoperable.

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