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Kern County Motor Vehicle Accidents Blog

Passing the truck: Long hours and older drivers

California ports see a huge amount of the country's import goods, which means commercial trucking is a big business in the Golden State. These large vehicles are heavy and travel at high speeds, which makes any accident involving a truck a serious concern. New reports are shedding a light on hazards in the trucking industry that could affect the safety of our roads.

A new report from USA Today states that port truckers, who make short trips from the ports to warehouses or train yards, are often being forced to work extremely long hours by the companies who own the leases on their trucks. Drivers are little more than indentured servants who fear that one wrong move could lose the thousands of dollars they have paid into their truck in an effort to buy it from the company. This exploitation is also a danger to the public at large, as many drivers spoke about falsifying driving records, sometimes being on the road up to 20 hours in one day. 

The truth about motorcycle crashes

The thrill of motorcycle riding is bargained with its inevitable safety hazards. This rings true in most areas of the United States, including California. Of course, there exists the right of individual choice to ride a vehicle containing less safety features than a normal car. However, there are facts to be aware of when operating a motorcycle on public roads.

While individual causes of crashes is a matter of its own to be studied, the California Office of Traffic Safety reports that motorcycle fatalities per 100,000 motorcycle registrations increased from 54 in 2013 to 60 in 2014, and the percentage of motorcycle operators killed with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater increased from 23 percent in 2013 to 28 percent in 2014. The COTS provides precautionary tips to motorcyclists to better prepare them for dangerous road situations. Additional research shows that lane-splitting, speeding, and riding during commute hours all largely factor into motorcycle wrecks.

Drugs more common than booze in crashes

Driving under the influence of drugs has increased across the nation, and drivers in California are no exception. As The Atlantic reports, drivers who die behind the wheel are more likely to have drugs in their system than ever before. In fact, 43 percent of drivers in a fatal crash have either prescription or illegal drugs in their systems, and 37 percent test positive for alcohol, according to recent data. This is a reverse from 2005, where the drivers who died with alcohol in their systems was 41 percent and drugs were at 28 percent.

Although this rise in drug use while driving cannot be directly tied to the opioid crisis, prescription drug use is on the rise. Twenty percent of drivers surveyed had used a prescription drug, most often antidepressants, painkillers or sedatives, within the past two days. Marijuana use is also on the rise for drivers, and it was the most common drug found in a driver's system. More than a third of the drugs a driver was found to be using was a form of marijuana, and amphetamines were the next largest category after that, at just over 9 percent. 

Ignoring motorcycle safety and awareness can be deadly

Motorcycle safety and awareness work together to help keep motorcyclists safe from harm. When all motorists work together, many deaths and injuries might be prevented. This is very important since it isn't likely that motorcycles are going to be a thing of past anytime soon.

There are some facts about motorcycle crashes that might shock you. This is because they go against some assumptions that people have about bikers and motorcycle accidents.

States with legal pot see more accident claims

Now that California has joined the ranks of the states where the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized, residents in the state may want to pay extra attention to what that may mean for their safety and the safety of their loved ones when on the road. Just as drunk drivers are known to pose serious risks to innocent people, so too can drivers who are impaired by marijuana.

Just how big of a problem is drugged driving? A recent report gives a glimpse into how legalizing pot may be impacting life via automobile insurance claims. A study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute compared claims in Oregon, Washington and Colorado to those in neighboring states where pot was not legal at the time. The study ran from January 2012 through October 2016. Those three states legalized marijuana in 2014 and 2015.

What are the most common motorcycle accidents?

Riding a motorcycle in California can be dangerous, but if you know how to watch out for some of the most common motorcycle accidents, you can drastically reduce your chances of being involved in a collision. RideApart.com details what some of the top accidents are and how you can avoid them.

 

Phones and friends prove deadly

As California teens flood the roads over summer vacation, all drivers need to use caution. New reports from USA Today show that Memorial Day begins the "100 deadliest days of summer" for those drivers who are between 16 and 19.  If it keeps pace with the past five years, experts expect about 1,000 people to die in crashes involving a teen driver over this time period, which sees a 16 percent increase in fatalities at the hands of teen drivers compared to the rest of the year.

Nearly 60 percent of crashes are due to driver distractions, which can include talking and texting. In fact, researchers found that in the six seconds before a crash occurred, 12 percent of teen drivers were using their cell phones in some fashion, including talking and texting. Some teens even use social media while on the road. Talking on the phone can distract a driver, but texting and other phone usage, like checking social media, is even more dangerous and is only on the rise. In 2007 drivers between 16 and 24 used their phones behind the wheel 1 percent of the time, but that number grew to 4.8 percent in 2014.

Liability after a car accident

Like most in Kern County, you likely take a second to pause and contemplate your decision before handing the keys to your vehicle off to another. The stories of several of those that we here at McKnight, McKnight, McKnight, and McKnight Attorneys at Law have worked with may justify your hesitancy, as these people have often had to account for much more than just scratched paint and dented bumpers after loaning their cars out to others.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are involved in a car accident where the other driver is clearly at fault. It is soon discovered that driver does not own the vehicle that he or she struck you with. If he or she is not covered under the insurance of the driver who owns the car, and your insurance is insufficient to meet total cost of your accident expenses, what are you to do?

How many lives do seat belts save?

From obeying the speed limit to avoiding any distractions that can take one’s attention off of the road, there are many ways that drivers can reduce the likelihood of being involved in an accident in Kern County, and in other California locales. Furthermore, there are certain steps that you can take to increase your safety whether you are driving or riding in a vehicle as a passenger, such as wearing your seat belt. Also, it may be helpful to realize just how many deaths seat belts have prevented.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that almost 64,000 deaths were avoided because of seat belts throughout 2011 to 2015. Sadly, 48 percent of the people who died in a passenger vehicle crash during 2015 were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision. Furthermore, estimates show that the use of seat belts prevented more than 13,900 fatalities during 2015. There are various reasons why seat belts can save your life, such as stopping you from being ejected from a vehicle during a crash. However, it is critical to make sure that you wear a seat belt appropriately.

Ride-sharing drivers need more insurance

As more and more people across California rely on ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, understanding their impact on the road becomes increasingly important. As a rider, Money magazine explains, you will be covered for damages up to $1 million, and if you collide with an Uber or Lyft driver, the insurance claims process is the same as it is if you were in an accident with anyone else. For drivers who use ride-sharing apps, things are not as cut and dry.

For those who make their living picking up rides, or just use it for some cash on the side, it is extremely important to confirm the correct insurance coverage so so a person is not exposed to an incredible amount of risk. There are several different levels of liability that are needed to be covered for outside of insurance for day-to-day life. First, anytime a driver has accepted and is on the way to pick up a ride-share passenger or have one in the car, Lyft and Uber have both liability and collision insurance protecting the ride. When the app is on, but the driver has not been assigned a passenger, this is more of a gray area, and the Uber and Lyft insurance doesn’t provide collision coverage during this period at all. They do provide limited liability coverage of up to $100,000 per accident.