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Knoxville Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

A current outlook on helmet laws

The debate over whether motorcyclists should wear protective helmets when riding has been a seemingly endless one. Motorcycle enthusiasts across the nation are divided on this subject, some arguing that it crosses the line in terms of one's freedom. Tennessee motorcyclists are currently required to wear a helmet while operating bikes on the road, but might those laws change in the future?

According to one U.S. News article, some motorcyclists have recently continued the fight for freedom, despite the rising numbers of fatalities in some states that have loosened laws surrounding required helmet use. Some riders even go as far as to connect the freedom of choosing to wear a helmet with the freedom of speech; others claim that a tumble from a bike will likely do damage regardless of helmet use. However, doctors and safety experts alike argue otherwise, stating that making this choice comes with serious risks. While studies show a rising number of deaths alongside changes in helmet laws, one motorcyclist highlighted in U.S. News' article pointed out that an increasing number of motorcycle registration across the country has actually reflected a decrease in deaths since helmet-less laws took effect. 

New guidance on personal use of big rigs

Among the many concerns that Tennessee residents must contend with on the roads is the danger posed by large commercial trucks. Fatigued drivers can be a serious problem given the number of long and lonely hours that truckers spend behind the wheels of their rigs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a rule that was designed to reduce fatigue among truckers in an effort to reduce accidents and improve safety. 

Called the Hours of Service rule, this law caps the number of hours that a trucker may work in a given day or week, how many of those hours may be spent driving versus doing other activities, when breaks should be taken and how long those break periods must last before work is allowed to resume. 

Ooltewah motorcyclist killed in car accident

One might say that motorcyclists in Knoxville are already at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to staying safe on the road. The lack of protection offered by their bikes means that even in a minor collision, they could be at risk of suffering severe injuries. There are steps that motorcyclists may take to mitigate those risks (such as wearing a helmet and protective clothing), yet they also have to worry about inattentive motorists. It can be difficult to see motorcycles on the road, and despite extensive campaigns to increase awareness of motorcyclists, many drivers may still forget to do those simple things to make the road safer for all. 

Sadly, devastating consequences typically accompany collisions between motorcycles and vehicles. This fact was on full display following a motorcycle accident near Meigs County. Authorities believe that a driver pulled on to local highway from a private driveway without seeing a motorcycle approaching. The resulting collision between the two vehicles resulted in the motorcyclist (an Ooltewah resident) being thrown from his Harley Davidson. He died from injuries sustained in the collision. It was later reported that the motorist was not injured at all. 

Assigning liability even if a driver is not legally drunk

Determining liability for car accidents that occur in Knoxville can often be tricky, especially when no clear cut evidence points at one particular party. In cases where suspicion as to whether or not alcohol may have been involved exists, those who are believed to have been drunk at the time of an accident may point to them not having been shown to be legally intoxicated on a sobriety tests as absolving them. By now, popular media and word of mouth likely has filled most of the general public in on the details found in Section 55-10-401 of Tennessee's Annotated Code: that a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent is the standard for determining intoxication. 

Hidden within this standard seems to be an implication that it is permissible for one to drive after having consumed alcohol provided that his or her BAC remains under the legal limit. While one certainly could be said to be taking a big gamble by assuming that his or her BAC is below .08, technically he or she could avoid a DUI in such a scenario (the exception would be one driving a commercial vehicle; his or her BAC need only be above .04 to be charged with DUI). An important point to remember, however, is that simply because one suspected of driving under the influence did not register a reading above the legal limit, that does not absolve him or her of liability if his or her impairment caused a car accident

The most common motorcycle injuries

As perfect as hitting the road on a motorcycle feels, it can almost seem as if the two were made to go together. Most Tennesseee motorcycle enthusiasts would agree with this sentiment, especially as the weather continues to grow warmer in the Volunteer State. Unfortunately, this eagerness to keep the roads hot comes an alarming number of accidents. The below information shares a few accident prevention tips, as well as the most common types of motorcycle injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stresses in a brochure on motorcycle safety that motorcycle accidents take 2,100 lives each year. On the same note, motorcyclists are 16 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries than their automobile counterparts. The NHTSA also points out that most crashes involving motorcycles are not the motorcyclist's fault. To avoid injury on the road, the NHTSA encourages motorcyclists to wear proper protective gear, including gloves, jackets, appropriate footwear, helmets and eye protection. Helmets are the key in this list of protective gear, as they have proven to be 29 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries. 

How to avoid falling asleep at the wheel

The daily demands of life often get in the way of rest for many Tennesseans. Busy workloads, class deadlines and other important tasks can easily push sleep to the back-burner. While life is short and it is important to make the most of it, sacrificing rest for other needs can be a dangerous game. These risks multiply tenfold when a sleep-deprived person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle. 

The National Center for Health Research explains the risks of falling asleep while driving, noting that crashes due to sleep issues cost the country millions. The NCHR also reminds its audience that sleep-deprived driving does not simply mean falling asleep at the wheel; it can involve slower reaction times, poor judgment and decision-making and a shorter attention span. Using a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NCHR shares that one in 25 adult drivers admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel in the last month. Those most vulnerable to falling asleep while driving include sleep-deprived drivers, those who work late shifts, drivers who take medication and travelers. 

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.

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