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Tampa Personal Injury Law Blog

Is caffeine a valid solution for fatigued truck drivers?

Like many others, you may rely on the jolt you get from coffee or another type of caffeinated beverage to help you stay awake. Whether it's first thing in the morning or after lunch, many people need a boost to help them wake up and focus on the task at hand. This is especially true when driving long stretches and spending hours on the road at a time.

Commercial truck drivers spend a significant amount of time on the road. They often face pressure to deliver loads within a certain amount of time, and they can experience fatigue as they try to do their jobs. In fact, drowsiness is one of the leading reasons for truck accidents, and many truckers rely on caffeine to help them stay awake and alert. This can be effective for some, but there are some reasons to believe that relying too heavily on caffeine may not actually be safe.

IIHS: driver-assist tech must better ensure drivers' attention

Florida residents who own a car with driver-assist technology should know that the features have been put under much scrutiny by regulatory bodies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Studies have shown that driver-assist systems are causing drivers to over-rely on them and become inattentive. Many are unaware that the systems provide only Level Two automation and not Level Five. In other words, the cars are not self-driving.

In a recent report, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that these systems must be made so that they keep a driver engaged on driving at all times. Most systems fail in this regard as they only require some steering wheel input to continue operating. Drivers can easily distract themselves even with a hand on the wheel.

AAA survey shows Americans on the fence about self-driving cars

Self-driving cars are making most people in Florida and across the U.S. apprehensive. AAA conducted a survey at the start of 2020 asking motorists if they would feel safe riding in such a vehicle, and only 12% answered that they would. In addition, 28% also said they don't know what to think about the technology. What respondents said they wanted to know and what they said would relieve their doubts about self-driving cars should be carefully noted by automakers.

One thing the survey made clear was that consumers want tangible information and specific news items relating to self-driving cars. Fifty-seven percent of respondents wanted to know just who would be held responsible in an accident with a self-driving car. Fifty-one percent were curious about the laws that would go to make these cars safe while 49% were concerned about whether the cars can be easily hacked into.

Florida car crash statistics

Every year, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles releases data on motor vehicle accidents in the state. This report is designed in part to make road users aware of the risks that they can often face. The 2019 statistics have now been made available. During that year, there were more than 390,000 crashes, and nearly one-third occurred in Miami-Dade county and other parts of South Florida.

The 2017 report revealed that 45,260 people who were injured in South Florida traffic crashes. Again, this total constituted a significant percentage of all Florida accident victims.

Auto-pedestrian accidents are a serious threat

Motor vehicles can pose a serious danger to pedestrians on Florida roads. Because people walking have few protections against heavy cars, they may face a risk of catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities requiring extensive medical care and time away from work. While all pedestrians face a risk when sharing the road with larger vehicles, some cars may be more likely to crash into them, and some walkers may face higher levels of carelessness from drivers. According to one study, drivers with expensive vehicles are less likely to come to a stop for people in a crosswalk than those with cheaper cars.

Crosswalks, of course, are where pedestrians may face the greatest protection, as they are specifically designated areas for safe crossing of streets, often placed at intersections. The study also found that all drivers are more likely to come to a safe stop when the people crossing the street were white or women than when they were men or people of color. The study's authors raised serious concerns about pedestrian safety even in crosswalks and the threat posed by negligent drivers. They emphasized that drivers have a legal obligation to yield, urging greater public education.

Self-driving complacency could increase distracted driving

Car accidents are the most common cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 29. In Florida and across the country, car accidents result in more than 3,000 fatalities every day. Among the primary causes of car accidents is distracted driving. During the year 2017, car crashes with distracted driving involved claimed the lives of 3,166 people, accounting for 8% of the total number of traffic deaths that year. Distracted driving includes anything that takes the driver's attention away from the immediate task of driving.

Common types of distracted driving include using a smartphone to call, text or search the web, reacting to or communicating with other people in the car, eating or looking at billboards. Reaction times are critical for safe driving, and any distraction might lead to an accident. Self-driving cars are designed to take some of the load of driving away from the driver. They will cruise in one lane for the driver, change lanes, park themselves and make things easier for the driver in many other ways.

As a passenger, can you seek compensation after an accident?

When traveling on the roads, you likely know that hazards are all around you. You hope that your friends and loved ones are safe drivers, and you may not question their abilities when a passenger in a vehicle. Of course, even if you are not driving, you still face risks of serious injury in the event that a car accident takes place.

Unfortunately, as a passenger, you have little to no control over how the driver of your vehicle acts, and you cannot control other drivers on the road. As a result, if you see a danger ahead, you may not have the ability to do much to help avoid a crash. If an accident does occur in which you suffer injuries, you may wonder what options you have for seeking compensation.

Teen crash rates rise with earlier school start times

Residents of Florida may remember how late they would sleep in as teenagers. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teens sleep long and late due to changes to their circadian rhythm; those aged 13 to 18 need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep every day. With schools starting early, though, some teens cannot achieve this, which means a higher risk for unsafe behavior when on the road, including drowsy and distracted driving.

A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine focused on the possible link between school start times and teen car crash rates in Fairfax County, Virginia. In 2015, the county pushed back its school start times from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. Researchers found that from the year before the time change to the year after it, the rate went down from 31.63 to 29.59 crashes involving licensed drivers aged 16 to 18 per 1,000 drivers.

Bicycle accidents: why do they happen?

Bicycles are a popular mode of transportation in Florida, and people often choose to hop on a bike to get to work or run errands instead of using a car or public transportation. It can be faster and cheaper to bike than to ride, and it is also an environmentally friendly way to get around. However, choosing to ride a bike can also come with certain risks.

The number of cyclists on the road is higher than ever, but that could also mean that more people need to be aware of the risks that come with riding a bike. When a moving vehicle strikes a person on a bicycle, the results can be catastrophic. If you bike, you may find it beneficial to learn more about the potential hazards you could face and what you can do to stay as safe as reasonably possible.

Florida pedestrians face a higher chance of an accident

People choose to walk for transportation purposes for many reasons. Perhaps they live in an urban area where things are easily accessible simply by walking a few blocks. Others prefer to walk for health reasons, and others may choose to walk because it is a more economical option than driving a car. Even when walking in pedestrian areas and on sidewalks, pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to an impact with a moving vehicle. 

In Florida, the people who choose to walk are facing a higher chance of an accident than pedestrians in other states. Statistics indicate that Florida is one of the leading states for deadly pedestrian-involved accidents. While there are many factors that affect these numbers, drivers always bear the responsibility of safely and cautiously operating their vehicles while driving near pedestrians.


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