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Drowsy Driving A Factor In LA Garbage Truck Driver Policy Dispute

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on February 13, 2014

We’ve talked before about the danger that could be posed on the road if drivers are unable to secure the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis.  Reaction times are diminished considerably when adequate rest isn’t achieved, and judgment can also be compromised.  Either of these things could contribute to an injurious or even deadly crash, so any drivers, commercial or otherwise, can protect themselves and others by acquiring sleep.

We bring this up because of a situation currently taking place in Los Angeles.  The city may be forced to pay $26 million to the drivers of garbage trucks for the city.  This is because of a policy that the drivers and their attorneys claim was an infringement of their rights.

The policy essentially banned naps during break times.  In addition, groups of drivers were not allowed to go to lunch at the same place at the same time.  These policies were enacted over fears about public perception, but as courts have thus far ruled, the limits extended beyond what was fair.  By enacting rules that covered time that should have been outside the bounds of the job, Los Angeles effectively placed controls on that time, and the thinking is that all those drivers should be paid for those lunch breaks because of that.

The attorney for the drivers noted the safety issues that might crop up if a driver is prohibited from securing rest if they needed it.

Big Upside For V2V Technology

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on February 10, 2014

Last week, the United States Transportation Department made waves with the announcement that Vehicle to Vehicle Communication could be mandated in vehicles as soon as 2017.  This was a big step for auto safety because it signaled a willingness to embrace preventative safety mechanisms, a means to keep accidents from happening in the first place rather than protecting occupants only once a crash already occurs.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times highlights the many benefits this could have for the country.  The analysis comes from representatives of Morgan Stanley, who believe that the proliferation of V2V-equipped automobiles could do wonders for both safety and the economy.

Those analysts pointed out the potential of the system.  At first, V2V may only serve to warn drivers when they need to slow down or take some action in order to avert a crash.  But over time, they picture a world where the system can actually step in on the driver’s behalf.  They believe that people will grow accustomed to V2V and the cars will quickly be able to tap into a range of details about the nearby environment to boost safety.

Plus, when you reduce accidents, you also reduce the toll that such crashes can take on the economy.  The hope is that the availability of this technology can add up to hundreds of billions of dollars being saved.

Snowmobiles Must Be Used With Safety In Mind

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on January 27, 2014

One of the things that you might get to do in the winter that doesn’t isn’t possible in the summer is take a snowmobile for a ride.  This pastime has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, going from a means of transportation or fun winter activity to a full-fledged sport.

Nevertheless, just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it is automatically going to be safe, especially for unqualified individuals who think they can ride in the same manner as the pros.  Even seasoned snowmobile riders can be thrown from the vehicles, so safety must remain vital if ever you get on the back of such a vehicle.  A new press release from Amica Insurance relates some important tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and you should keep them in mind this winter.

The first thing to make sure of is that you’re capable of safely operating the vehicle.  That may require training or at least oversight from someone who already understands how to properly use the snowmobile, but it also means not putting yourself at an immediate disadvantage with poor decisions.

By poor decisions, we mean things like failing to put on a helmet while you’re riding.  A helmet is essential so that you will be offered at least some kind of protection should you be thrown from the vehicle.  In the snow, you never know when a blanket of white disguises an obstacle like a rock or a tree stump, and a helmet can serve to protect you from these.

Being smart also means removing alcohol from the equation.  Just like you shouldn’t pilot an automobile while you’re drunk, you shouldn’t pilot a snowmobile while inebriated either.  If you do, your reaction time will be diminished and you’ll be tempted to make decisions that are less than intelligent.  Plus, inebriation leaves you more susceptible to the dangerous effects of the cold if you’re outside for a long time.

It’s never going to be safe to be stranded somewhere in the cold, so make sure you always have someone with you in case assistance is needed.  That way, the person with the broken-down snowmobile can hop aboard their buddy’s vehicle or the person with the still functional conveyance can go get help.  The risk of a breakdown is also a good reason to wind down snowmobiling as nightfall gets closer and closer.

When you’re on the back of a snowmobile, make sure not to get distracted.  Keep your eyes ahead and on your surroundings so that you’ll be able to pilot around anything dangerous.  Be especially attentive when approaching the crests of hills, as these could disguise a drop in the terrain that could put you at risk.

Quick Ways To Prepare Your Vehicle For The Winter

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on January 7, 2014

During a harsh winter, you need to take certain steps to protect your car from dangerously low temperatures.  After all, if your vehicle stalls in the middle of such an environment, not only is there a risk that you could be involved in a collision, but merely being stuck on the side of the road can prove dangerous on its own.  You want to avert such a situation however you can, and therefore, it would be in your best interest to consult some of the tips on hand from a new report out of Minnesota.

The big thing to keep in mind is that your vehicle is going to function a lot more easily the warmer it is.  When you park, try to avoid leaving your vehicle out in the elements, especially if it’s going to be there over night or for at least a few hours.  If you have a garage, then it might be a good idea to clear it of various odds and ends so that you can store the car there.  If you have multiple vehicles, you might put the older vehicle in the garage, as its engine may be more susceptible to the effects of the cold.  The great thing about parking in a garage is it will save you from having to go outside and scrape ice.

In the summer, you may be inclined to run your vehicle on fumes, essentially letting downhill momentum carry you to the nearest gas station.  In the winter, you should not do this.  If your fuel is nearly depleted, not only could it freeze, but the gas tank itself could become partially frozen.  This can make it impossible to start the car or it could compromise the viability of the fuel itself.  Do not let gas levels drift under 1/4 tank when the weather is frigid.

The same kind of thinking must be applied to tires as well.  When the weather is cold, the pressure inside will diminish, so it will be up to you to gauge the pressure and inflate as needed so that the tires meet the manufacturer’s recommendations.

The battery is another component that the cold can wreak havoc on.  If it takes a couple of seconds for your vehicle to start in the morning, you could be due for a new battery.  It’s important to replace this early on, before it actually goes out, so that you don’t get stuck out in the cold or in the middle of a road where visibility may be compromised.

A Look At The Progress Made In Vehicular Safety

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on December 23, 2013

A new report takes a look at the strides that have been made in automobile safety in previous decades, and it’s an interesting read considering how far we’ve come.  Today’s safety developments may be focused on active safety systems that attempt to correct for driver error (lane departure warnings, automatic braking to prevent rear-end collisions, etc.), but 30 years ago, a fight took place just to get airbags put into all vehicles.  Following on the heels of the successful adoption of these types of protections came laws geared toward seatbelt usage and protecting children from crashes through the use of appropriate car seats and booster seats.  Although the article is written from the point of view of how State Farm has worked to improve safety, it’s still important for how it shows the road we’ve taken to the current state of automobile safety.

Click here for more information.

Preventative Maintenance Doesn’t Require Piling Up Debt

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on December 13, 2013

When navigating cold weather, it becomes more important than ever to ensure that your vehicle will be able to meet the challenges of the road.  If you’re worried about what this is going to cost you, then consider a new report out of Wisconsin that offers tips on preventative maintenance that won’t break the bank.

Tire pressure, for instance, isn’t something that is going to cost you a ton of money to see to.  Most gas stations will allow you to fill up your tires to the optimum level without even having to pay a fee, or at the very least, they’ll ask you to buy a gallon of gas.  Consult your owner’s manual to determine what the appropriate level would be.  That way, your gas mileage will improve and you’ll have an easier time gaining traction on icy roads.

You’ll also want to make sure that your wiper fluid is going to be able to clear the dirt and grime that could accumulate on your windshield.  Wiper fluid is relatively cheap to find, but you want to do your research to make sure you’re buying the type of substance that isn’t in danger of freezing.  The report even suggests using a spray bottle filled with water and vinegar to spray on the glass, as doing so can prevent the buildup of ice in the first place.

Although the report advises using toothpaste to clean headlights, no matter what you decide to use, make sure your headlights are sufficiently clean so that they’ll be able to cut through the darkness and heavy snowfall.

Even Parking Lots Pose Crash And Injury Risks

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on November 21, 2013

Many accidents occur when driving at high speeds, but over the next couple months, there may be an increase in crashes that take place when vehicles are moving at a snail’s pace.  That’s because a rise in the number of shoppers means that parking lots are going to become potentially dangerous places, and to make sure you’re not going to be put at risk, you would be wise to put into action the tips available from AAA in a new report.

You basically don’t want to engage in those bad habits that you know other drivers will be focused on.  A seatbelt needs to be affixed even in a parking lot.  Don’t unbuckle early to beat other shoppers to the sales, and don’t wait until you leave the lot to snap it back into place.  A crash at low speeds can at times by as hazardous as other accidents, especially if the collision prompts the airbag to go off.

You also need to put down the cellphone when you’re navigating.  A phone call to a loved one to see what they want for Christmas can wait until the vehicle has been pulled into a parking spot.  The same goes for any texts you need to send.

So that you don’t have to throw the vehicle into reverse (potentially putting inattentive pedestrians or children at risk), pull forward into a spot if you can.  Otherwise, make sure that you have space to view your full surroundings.  A backup camera can work wonders in this regard.

As Vehicle Systems Advance, Concerns Arise Over Repair Costs

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on November 19, 2013

We live in an era where automobiles are becoming safer than ever thanks to technology.  Advances have been made in seemingly every part of a vehicle, from the onboard computer that can detect a crash to headlights that do a better job displaying the road up ahead.

However, this attention to safety has come at a cost, and that cost is explored in detail in a new report.  The article highlights the increased concern shared by many that the advances in safety are proving problematic when it comes time to actually replace an auto part.

The report casts a particular spotlight on headlights and side mirrors, something that used to be one of the cheapest fixes possible should a break occur.  Bulbs for regular headlights could be as cheap as $10, while mirrors could be slapped back on for a cool $100.  But in an era where LED headlights and mirrors that come equipped with cameras are the norm, the costs of such things have skyrocketed.  It’s pointed out that a replacement headlight for a Toyota Corolla compact would be $737, and a Nissan Versa Note mirror would be about $600 for parts alone.

Batteries are another component for which costs can go up exponentially.  On a standard vehicle, you pop out the previous battery and put the new one (usually purchased for less than $100) right back in its place.  If you have a Hybrid, though, say a Toyota Prius, replacing that battery is going to run more than $3,600.

Toyota Worries That WiFi Expansion Could Endanger Safety

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on November 15, 2013

Citing safety concerns, the Toyota Motor Corporation has asked the government to delay a plan to expand internet access until such time that research can be conducted into how this would affect the safety of automobiles using the wireless spectrum allotted for vehicle safety functions.

Development is underway on vehicles that can communicate with infrastructure and with one another via wireless technology, and with such systems on the horizon, a certain frequency was designated for automobiles to use exclusively.  Now, though, the Federal Communication Commission wants to expand usage of this frequency to other systems, something that some automakers like Toyota think would be a bad idea.

Earlier this week, the California-based Toyota Info Technology Center’s principal research manager was in front of the House Energy and Commerce Panel to speak on the issue.  He painted a picture of vehicle safety systems being disabled when they pass by coffee shops that happen to be using the same WiFi.  He also voiced concern that a move to broaden WiFi access would mean that a child’s internet usage in the backseat could similarly undermine the abilities of the vehicle’s onboard communication technologies.

This issue will be of particular importance as support for Vehicle to Vehicle Communication technology continues to grow.  There are a number of safety issues that remain to be worked out before we enter this new era of connectivity.

Following Another Fire, Tesla CEO Says Model S Fears Are Overblown

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on November 13, 2013

Yet another fire incident has put the Tesla Model S in the news once again, with people around the country continuing to worry about the vehicles’ propensity to catch fire after being involved in an accident.  However, the CEO of the company believes that the media is placing too much scrutiny on these vehicles, which he claims make up an incredibly small percentage of the vehicle fires that occur on an annual basis.

He points to 2010 data from the National Fire Protection Association that shows 184,500 vehicles catching fire in that year alone.  Calling the headlines misleading, he opts instead to direct consumers toward the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s and Consumer Reports’s bestowal of high safety ratings upon the vehicles.

Since October 1, there have been three incidents in which a Model S caught fire after being involved in some sort of accident.  In regard to those and other accidents, the CEO said that his vehicles have yet to lead to any serious injury.

For the NHTSA’s part, a spokesperson said that they are working with the auto company to get a better idea of what occurred so that they know the proper course of future action.  One Gartner analyst interviewed for the story said that, while regulatory action was unlikely, Tesla could opt to offer additional protection to the battery packs where the fires began.

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