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Driving distractions that place you at great risk for injury

Have you ever had to come to a sudden stop while driving? It can be quite an unnerving feeling, especially if, in doing so, you narrowly avoided a collision.

If the reason you had to stop so quickly was that you were distracted while driving, you might have felt a bit guilty after the fact, thinking of how the situation might have been much worse if you hadn't stopped in time.

Tesla crashes raise questions about electric car safety

Car buyers in Missouri who are concerned about the environment are often attracted to the electric vehicles produced by Tesla. The California-based company has built a reputation for performance and economy in just a few short years, and its cars and SUVs are known for featuring some of the most advanced self-driving systems available. However, two recent deadly crashes involving Teslas have raised questions about the reliability of their nascent autonomous technology.

The first accident to attract the attention of both the media and federal crash investigators took place in 2018. Two teenagers died when the Tesla Model S they were traveling in reached speeds of up to 116 mph before crashing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Tesla's large lithium-ion batteries caught fire in the seconds following the accident and reignited on two further occasions, according to accident reports.

Steps to take after a car accident

No Missouri resident wants to get into a car accident. Even the most minor fender bender can have surprising long-term consequences relating to injury and property damage. For most people, the shock of a vehicle collision makes it hard to focus. But the hours and days immediately after an accident are important for anyone who ultimately has to file an insurance claim. There are a few things a person who has been in an accident may want to consider to make the process go smoothly.

For starters, staying calm after a motor vehicle accident can help a tremendous amount. That may be easier said than done, but approaching a car wreck rationally can help one to avoid mistakes that could be costly in the future. The first real question, however, is whether the driver needs emergency assistance or not. Insurance claims are secondary to immediate health concerns.

GHSA report looks afresh at prevalence of speeding

The Governors Highway Safety Association came out with a report called, "Speeding Away from Zero: Rethinking a Forgotten Traffic Safety Challenge," which contains several methods for addressing the continuing trend of speeding. In Missouri and the rest of the U.S., speeding accounts for almost one-third of all motor vehicle-related fatalities.

Speeding drivers put pedestrians and bicyclists at especially high risk. All that's needed is even a slight decrease in speed to reduce not only the chances of a crash but also crash and injury severity when the worst does occur. Yet many consider speeding to be culturally acceptable. This lack of a safety-minded culture can be countered, the GHSA believes, with better education and stricter law enforcement.

The dangers of drowsy driving

Exhausted drivers can pose a serious threat on Missouri roadways, even if drowsy driving is extremely common. While many people get behind the wheel while tired, the results of driving while tired can mimic those of alcohol intoxication, leading to serious car accidents. According to a AAA survey, one-third of respondents reported driving while extremely tired at least once in the past month while struggling to keep their eyes open. Long work hours and night shifts can contribute to the drowsy driving epidemic as can the widespread use of prescription sleeping pills.

While best practices recommend not driving for eight hours after taking a sleep aid, 20 percent of people with a prescription said they have driven within seven hours of a dose. In addition, most places in the country have insufficient public transit systems while taxis and rideshare services are costly. Thus, many people wind up driving while sleepy even when they are aware of the dangers of the practice. In addition, tired people often underestimate the severity of their exhaustion.

What can you do if a loved one suffered harm in a nursing home?

Families who place a loved one in the care of a nursing facility likely do so with the expectation that he or she will receive appropriate care. It is not an easy decision to make, and families often struggle with knowing whether or not they made the right choice.

The intent of nursing facilities and long-term care residences is to provide physical and medical support for those who cannot care for themselves.

AAA study reveals distracting side of infotainment systems

Missouri residents who like modern vehicles should know that some technology can actually be harmful. Infotainment systems often come with features that have nothing to do with driving and serve only as potential distractions, according to researchers at the University of Utah. These devices include features for calling, texting and surfing the web.

Those same researchers came out with a study for AAA analyzing 30 infotainment systems found on new 2017 vehicles. Seven of the systems demanded a moderate level of attention, 11 a high level and 12 a very high level. Though they came with voice commands, using these was found to be distracting to some extent.

Dump and delivery truck accidents have increased

In Missouri and around the country, people are seriously injured or killed in accidents with dump trucks and delivery trucks each year. These types of accidents have been on the rise, unfortunately.

According to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, serious accidents that involved dump trucks and that required that vehicles had to be towed away increased by 9 percent in 2016. During that year, 8,206 serious dump truck accidents requiring towing from the scene were reported. The FMCSA also reports that there were 5,483 dump truck accidents in 2016 that caused injuries, which was an increase of 2.7 percent.

Air bags placed outside of cars are in development

T-bone accidents on Missouri roads can lead to serious injuries. However, external airbags may be able to help reduce the destruction from those types of accidents. According to auto parts maker ZF, an external airbag could lower the severity of an occupant's injury by 40 percent. It would act as a giant pillow designed to absorb the impact from a collision.

An external airbag would inflate in about 15 milliseconds, which is roughly the same about of time it takes an internal airbag to deploy. Furthermore, it could be modified to fit the dimensions of a vehicle. While external air bags may help keep people safe in an accident, they are unlikely to be available to consumers in the near future. This is because there is no guarantee that they won't inflate when they aren't supposed to.

Study looks at the effectiveness of emergency braking systems

Missouri drivers who have access to automatic braking systems may be safer. After doing a study of General Motors vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that motorists with this safety feature had significantly fewer accidents.

GM offers both a Forward Collision Alert system, which lets the driver know when is a crash is about to happen but does not take action, and a Front Automatic Braking system, which brakes if an accident is about to happen. Vehicles that had these systems had 64 percent fewer rear-end injury crashes. Rear-end crashes in which a third party was injured were 68 percent lower.

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