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Knoxville Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

The dangers of drowsy truck driving

Unlike many jobs in which employees can punch the clock at the end of a long day, Tennessee truck drivers must often push exhaustion to the limit. It almost seems as if today's truckers have given the duty of hard work an entirely new meaning. Trucker fatigue has been a point of concern for years -- and is a problem that is in dire need of change within the industry.

Most industries undergo some level of change, along with changes in the economy. Business Insider comments on the ways truck driving has changed over recent years, speculating on why the field has seen a drastic drop in the number of employees. While falling pay and an increase in driving costs have both contributed to the plummeting number of drivers, BI also brings to attention driver compliance, an issue that results in driver fatigue. Where does one draw the line between violating regulations and preserving employee health? When employers give drivers an unrealistic set of expectations, the safety of everyone on the road could be at stake.

Truck accidents: the facts

Some Tennessee drivers might not think twice about it, but the job of a truck driver is often no easy task. In addition to extended periods of time on the road, tight schedules and limited food options, truckers must grapple with perhaps the biggest challenge of the job: the truck itself. These road giants are powerful, making them both efficient and dangerous. How common are truck accidents, and what are some of the typical causes of crashes? 

One 2014 report from CNBC expressed concern over the rising number of truck accidents in the country. According to the report, fatal truck crashes happen 11 times a day on average, claiming over 4,000 lives each year. There are roughly 100,000 nonfatal truck crashes that happen annually -- a number that has steadily risen since 2009. And while many might assume that reasons for crashes simply trace back to poor driving habits, CNBC reveals the unsettling truth that countless truckers are pressured to deliver goods within strict timeframes, causing them to rush on the road. CNBC also criticizes the industry as a whole for not making speedier efforts to get safety technology devices installed in trucks. 

Are autonomous cars making roads safer?

Sometimes, there is no way to avoid a car accident. However, in many cases, the driver at fault was simply driving irresponsibly or in a reckless manner. When a crash becomes fatal, the reasons for the accident can become all the more crucial; these factors can help clarify an investigation. Recent news shows a relatively new possible safety threat on the road: that of autonomous cars. Do the pros outweigh the cons? 

Although the purpose of autonomous vehicles is to make driving safer, many new technologies must go through multiple stages to reach utmost performance. Newsweek reported on one fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber car that, upon investigation, had malfunctioned while in operation. The cause? Most likely, the crash happened as a result of a software glitch that affects the car's ability to detect objects. The Uber car hit a 49-year-old woman bicycling across the street, making the first fatal pedestrian accident caused by an autonomous vehicle. At the time of the report earlier this week, Uber had not responded to the reasons for the crash. 

Tennessee's motorcycle helmet law

Warm weather in Tennessee is here at last, and that means the motorcycles are beginning to keep the roads hot. While the safety precautions one takes may depend on the type of bike, current state laws enforce helmet use at all times. Regardless of one's age or experience, a motorcycle accident with helmets involved could decrease riders' chances of suffering from serious injuries.

Although most states have at least partial laws enforcing the use of helmets, there has long been a debate over these requirements. The Tennessean reported on one effort in 2016 to modify the state's motorcycle helmet laws; however, the billed failed to pass in a Senate committee. This has not been the first attempt at changing Tennessee's helmet requirements. Those for the modifications claimed ending laws for insured drivers over the age of 21 would welcome tourism, while those in opposition argued that law enforcement would not be able to determine which riders were properly insured, and that hospitals would ultimately pay the medical price with potentially increased accidents and injuries.

Are infotainment systems doing more harm than good?

Most Tennesseans do not think twice about safety before starting a journey on the road; after all, the destination is the ultimate goal. However, forgetting basic driving safety precautions can prove highly dangerous, no matter how short the drive. Recent studies have revealed a distraction that has been the culprit behind countless car crashes: high-technology devices. 

Last October, The Washington Post speculated on high-tech devices in newer cars and their potential for distracting drivers. According to The Post, most of these devices take roughly 40 seconds to operate -- 40 seconds of time in which a driver's eyes are not on the road. If smart phones were not distracting enough, these devices contain features that allow internet searches and social media interactions, pulling attention further away from the road. Experts claim these infotainment systems could be safer if they came with certain limitations while the vehicle is moving. The warnings of such devices are not unfounded, either; The Post shares that the number of people killed in crashes in 2016 increased by 40,000.

Tennessee's texting and driving laws

Texting and driving has become such a commonplace term in recent years that many drivers no longer hear its message. As technology continues to blend into the everyday lives of Tennesseans, however, warnings about distracted driving become all the more crucial. As technology changes, so, too, do the laws that surround cell phone use while driving. 

The Tennessean shared last August that, as of January 2018, handheld phone use in active state school zones is illegal. Even reading texts in these zones can land one in trouble with the law in Tennessee. Law enforcement officers behind this new regulation argued that the focal point of school zones should revolve around one aspect: the safety of children and other pedestrians. Not only does cell phone use slow down school traffic; it can pose a serious safety threat to all others on or near the road. The Tennessean goes on to share the new law comes with steep penalties, with a first offense resulting in a Class C misdemeanor and a fine of up to $50. An exception lies in the device itself, and drivers over 18 using a hands-free device do not face such penalties. 

Proposed law may aid officers' efforts

In Tennessee, people are aware that drunk drivers can be on the road at any time of day or night and at any season throughout the year. It is not only New Year's Eve or other such times when people can be seriously injured or killed by intoxicated drivers who should never be behind the wheels of vehicles. Law enforcement officers continue to search for ways to curb this behavior and to nab those who choose to engage in it.

A new law has been proposed in Tennessee that at first glance seems to make life easier for drunk drivers. However, it actually may give law enforcement officers a leg up in their effort to find and arrest these people.

Motorcyclists' rights and protection

With spring fully underway, many people in Tennessee may be getting ready to get out and enjoy the open road on two wheels. The freedom and joy that comes from riding a motorcycle is something that simply cannot be matched from riding in a car or other passenger vehicle. At the same time, the level of risk that a person faces when on a motorcycle is also greater than that of a person in a car or other vehicle. 

As explained by Geico Insurance, bikers and their passengers can and should make safety a priority. Always wearing a helmet and eye protection are some the most basic things that a person can do to help themselves in the event that they are involved in an accident on a motorcycle.

What should I do immediately after a car accident?

If you become involved in a Tennessee car crash, there are several things you should do immediately afterward. There also are several things you should not do. As FindLaw explains, the most important thing you should not do is leave the scene until law enforcement officers authorize you to do so. Leaving too soon could put you at risk for charges of leaving the scene or even hit-and-run.

Naturally the first thing you should do is check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If any of you are in pain, feel dizzy or have an obvious injury, call 911 immediately and request assistance from both first responders and law enforcement. If someone is seriously injured, do not attempt to remove him or her from the vehicle unless confronted with a life-threatening situation such as a fire, downed power line, rising flood waters, etc. Moving an injured person can exacerbate his or her injuries.

Tesla fights NTSB over Autopilot car crash death

Vehicles that drive themselves present a continuing fascination for Tennessee drivers and others across the nation. Once relegated to pure science fiction and battery-operated action toys, partially self-driving cars are today a reality, albeit a still imperfect one.

Witness the latest death that occurred in a Tesla Model X automobile. It crashed into a North Carolina highway divider in March, killing its driver. He had engaged the Autopilot feature that supposedly allows the car’s computer to make sure the vehicle stays not only within lane lines, but also a safe distance away from other vehicles. A similar fatal Autopilot accident, this one in a Tesla Model S, occurred about a year ago when the system failed to prevent the car from crashing into a truck that turned across its path. Tesla’s literature, however, consistently warns that drivers are responsible for keeping their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and monitoring the Autopilot’s performance at all times.

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