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Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

GHSA on how to reduce speeding-related crashes

A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association should be of interest to anyone in Minnesota who is concerned about the prevalence of speeding on the roadways. Speeding contributes to nearly one-third of all motor vehicle-related fatalities, yet many consider it culturally acceptable. The GHSA has thus recommended various ways that the members of its State Highway Safety Offices can reduce speeding.

Speeding increases not only the chance of a crash but also the severity of crashes and injuries, especially among pedestrians and bicyclists. Conversely, even a slight decrease in speed can reduce the severity and save lives. Urban areas like Boston and New York City have lowered their speed limits in the effort to reduce overall vehicle speeds.

Safety experts aim to reduce pedestrians' risks

When pedestrians in Minnesota are involved in a car accident, the consequences can be particularly severe. In early January 2019, four people lost their lives when trying to cross the street in the St. Paul area, a spate of deaths that prompted concern from safety advocates and researchers. One research group went out and crossed over 16,000 intersections in the region in order to spot points of potential danger and highlight ways to make the crossings safer for everyone involved. In addition, researchers worked jointly with police to increase enforcement for vehicle violations at crosswalks as well as to improve pedestrian visibility.

Researchers noted that they experienced only 32 percent of cars yielding to pedestrians when they began the experiment, but that number increased to 60 percent after the enforcement and visibility efforts. At some intersections, yield rates were greater than 70 percent. These statistics were backed up by some statewide improvement. In 2016, 60 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents, a number that fell to 42 by 2018. However, this still leaves plenty of room for dangerous and deadly crashes. The goal of safety researchers is to achieve zero deaths in roadway accidents, not merely to reduce them from a peak rate.

AAA study analyzes distracting features on 2017 vehicles

Researchers contracted by AAA recently analyzed 30 in-car infotainment systems on new 2017 models. Their findings should be of interest to many drivers in Minnesota, especially those who are not aware of the ways that technology can be distracting. One in three Americans uses an infotainment system behind the wheel, which means potentially thousands of cases of distracted driving every day.

Of the 30 systems, seven demanded a moderate level of attention from drivers, 11 a high level and 12 a very high level. The study participants, who were between the ages of 21 and 36, were told to use the various features of the systems while on the road. Researchers noted the unsafe behaviors that drivers exhibited when distracted: ignoring stop signs, swerving out of lanes, driving excessively slow and more.

Avoiding and defusing road rage in Minnesota

Over time, every driver will encounter a motorist who is impatient and aggressive. By following a few tips, however, one can defuse road rage and prevent any accidents from occurring. The first tip is to stay calm. If they are cut off, drivers should not honk the horn, flash their headlights or make hand gestures. If they do, this will only inflame the other driver. They should not even make eye contact as this can be interpreted as a challenge.

There are various ways for offended drivers to stay calm. They could listen to music that relieves stress, or they could tell themselves that being angry will not get them home any earlier. If another motorist steals a parking space, one should give that person the benefit of the doubt and assume he or she did not see them. Keep a light grip on the steering wheel; tightly gripping it will constrict blood flow and cause headaches.

External airbags could reduce injury severity by 40 percent

The ZF Group is currently developing external airbags that go on the sides of a vehicle and protect occupants in the event of a side collision. Minnesota drivers who stay up to date on emerging car safety technology should know that these airbags could eventually become standard in most vehicles. However, the tech is still several years away from being perfected.

ZF is clear about the safety benefits, stating that external airbags could reduce an occupant's injury severity by up to 40 percent. This works by providing an additional crumple zone and absorbing some of the shock of a crash. There are concerns about the airbags not deploying in time or deploying when it is unneeded. Predictive systems with airbags are naturally more drastic than the current ones that adjust the suspension or tighten seatbelts.

Automatic braking systems are proving their worth

Motorists throughout Minnesota and the rest of the country desire a safer driving experience. To that end, manufacturers are adding additional safety features as new technology becomes available. One of the more recent safety enhancements, automatic emergency braking, is proving to be especially effective.

An automotive safety group recently performed a study on the emergency braking systems offered by a major vehicle manufacturer. The group studied rear-end accident statistics of General Motors vehicles for models installed with the manufacturer's new braking system over a three year period.

Brake checking: Know your rights if you get into a rear-end crash

As someone who has a job and family, there are times when you're in a rush. It's never a good idea to tailgate another vehicle, but if you're attempting to pass, you might have to get close to the vehicle to get ahead of someone in another lane before you can merge.

Some people don't take kindly to others getting too close to them. Most people would move out of the way, but some people become enraged and brake check the other vehicle.

Short days, long nights pose dangers for pedestrians

Daylight saving time ended on Nov. 4, meaning Minnesota motorists will spend more time driving in the dark. According to experts, this can lead to an increase in accidents involving cars and pedestrians.

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that 75 percent of all pedestrian deaths in 2016 happened after the sun had set. Further, a 2004 study published in Accident Analysis and Prevention found that eliminating the annual "fall back" and keeping an extra hour of sunlight in the evening would prevent over 170 pedestrian deaths every year. This is one of the reasons California recently voted to do away with twice-yearly time changes and keep daylight saving time all year round. However, the downside is that lighter evenings mean darker mornings for pedestrian commuters.

Driving safety tips for Halloween

On Halloween night, it is common to see ghosts, ghouls and goblins. Unfortunately, it is also common to encounter drunk drivers. Fortunately, there are several things Minnesota parents as well as motorists can do to increase the chances of a safe and fun night.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most drunk driving crashes on this fun time occur between 6 p.m. on Oct. 31 and 6 a.m. on Nov. 1. In fact, between 2012 and 2016, 44 percent of all people killed in traffic accidents during those hours died in alcohol-related crashes. In 2016, almost 50 percent of all Halloween drunk driving deaths involved victims between the ages of 21 and 34. However, no pedestrians were killed on Halloween night that year.

Ways to prevent boating accidents

Boating can be a very enjoyable pastime. However, boating accidents do occur. Minnesota residents who enjoy boating may benefit from learning about the common reasons for boating accidents and what steps they can take to avoid accidents while out on the water.

Running out of gas while boating is not an unusual occurrence and can be a result of a miscalculation of the return bearing or trying to outrun inclement weather. However, running out of gas while in the middle of a large body of water can result in a very dangerous situation. This could be avoided by first planning beforehand and carefully calculating how many gallons of gas are needed to go into the water and return and then by adding an additional 10 to 20 percent of gas to be safe.

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