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Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Seat belts help protect liver in car crashes

Many people are treated for crash-related injuries in Minnesota emergency rooms every year. Many of those injuries involve the liver, an organ that humans cannot survive without. According to a study, seat belts do not completely prevent liver injuries, but they can help reduce their severity.

For the study, researchers analyzed federal crash data to find people who suffered liver injuries in car accidents. They identified over 50,000 patients who suffered such injuries between 2010 and 2015. All the patients were 18 years old or older, and all were either admitted to a hospital or died en route or while in the emergency room.

There isn't a safe way to text and drive

While Minnesota residents may be less distracted using a wearable device to send or receive text messages while driving, it doesn't make the endeavor any safer. This is among the findings of a study that had 20 people send and receive text messages with either a smartphone or a Google Glass device while in a driving simulator.

Those who receive a text message are advised to pull to the side of the road to read it. While using a tool like Google Glass allowed a driver to keep both hands on the wheel, it also resulted in drivers focusing more on the conversation as opposed to the road. Therefore, it may not be possible for a driver to send or receive text messages while in a moving car until driverless technology is adopted. However, that may still be a long ways off.

Experts suggest driver monitoring for safer self-driving cars

Some Minnesota motorists might own a Cadillac that tracks the alertness of drivers when it is in semi-autonomous mode. Some experts say this kind of tracking software could be installed in all autonomous vehicles to make sure the backup driver is paying attention to the road, and this could prevent accidents such as the one in which a self-driving Uber hit and killed a pedestrian. The video camera in that car indicated that the driver's attention had lapsed.

In the Cadillac, a steering wheel camera tracks the movement of a person's eyes and head. An alert goes off if the car determines that the person's attention has wandered. If the alert is not successful, the car will stop, turn on hazards and call for emergency help. At higher speeds, this happens in a matter of three or four seconds while it will unfold more slowly at lower speeds.

Expert says human programming makes autonomous cars unsafe

Minnesota motorists may have heard that an autonomous Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. One of the reasons for that fatality may be that the vehicle's software was copying human behavior, according to a computer professor at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

The fatal accident occurred in Tempe on March 18. A woman was walking her bike across a dark road when the Uber car, which had a human driver behind the wheel for safety purposes, hit her. The professor says that the program controlling the self-driving car was mimicking the way a human would drive and that could be what allowed the accident to happen. For example, a human driver who cannot see a pedestrian on a dark road will continue driving as though there are no obstacles. However, the professor argues that a computerized car should sense the darkness and adjust its speed to allow for emergency stops.

Symptoms that may show up after a car accident

When car accidents occur in Minnesota, victims may be injured even if they do not initially realize it. There are several types of injuries that have delayed symptoms. These injuries might not show symptoms for hours or days following an accident. Therefore, it's best for crash victims to see their doctors right away to determine if they have been injured.

Many people develop headaches several days after accidents. In some cases, headaches are symptoms of serious conditions such as blood clots in the brain or concussions. Whiplash also leads to delayed symptoms, which may include neck pain, neck and shoulder stiffness and numbness in the arms or hands.

Car accidents can cause a range of injuries

There is a range of injuries that Minnesota residents can sustain in a car accident. The type of injuries that a driver or passenger may suffer from a crash can be affected by a number of factors, including the type of collision, location of the impact and physical position of the driver or passenger in the vehicle. These factors can make all the difference between whether someone experiences severe or mild injuries as a result of an auto accident.

Some common injuries caused by car accidents include neck pain resulting from whiplash, which is caused by the swift and sudden movement of the neck after a crash. Facial injuries, broken bones, bruising and back pain are also frequent consequences of a crash. More serious injuries can include traumatic brain injury, concussion or damage to other internal organs. The psychological impact of a devastating car crash cannot be underplayed either, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can frequently be experienced by car accident victims.

United States pedestrian deaths highest since 1990

Hundreds of years ago, no one had to worry about pedestrian death statistics. That's because walking is the most natural of all human activities. However, in the modern world, Minnesota residents face the threat of death and disabling injuries every time they take to the streets on foot. In fact, pedestrian deaths caused by vehicle accidents are currently higher than they've been in decades in the United States.

A recent report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that 2017 will likely report 6,000 pedestrian versus vehicle accident deaths, which will be the second year in a row this figure has been that high. Furthermore, it's the most pedestrian deaths reported since 1990.

How to make roads safer in the United States

A report published by the National Governors Association aims to reduce the number of traffic deaths and injuries in Minnesota and elsewhere. This report comes as the number of traffic deaths increased in the United States in 2016. That year, there were 37,461 traffic deaths, which was a 5.6 percent increase over 2015. Furthermore, 39 states reported an increase in traffic deaths.

One of the ways to increase road safety is through better coordination between agencies in different states. Governors themselves are urged to take a leadership role as it relates to making roads safer in their states. The recent report recommended that the United States look at improved road design as a way to make the streets safer for drivers and pedestrians.

Technology and its effects on distracted driving

Distracted driving is a huge problem for Minnesota drivers. Numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal distraction as a factor in 14 percent of all traffic accident reports with unofficial estimates being much higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nine people die each day because of distracted driving. With the ubiquity of smartphones and an ever-connected population, the problem will not go away on its own.

Awareness campaigns against distracted driving tend to focus on smartphones and other handheld devices, but the fight to reduce distracted driving involves both high-tech and low-tech solutions. With 52 percent of drivers admitting to the use of phones in the car, a huge emphasis must be placed on reducing this number. Software developers have created several apps that use GPS systems to disable texting functions while driving. Some apps specifically target teen drivers and will alert parents and provide information about driving habits. One app, SafeDrive, makes a game of avoiding phone usage, and drivers accumulate points for driving safely. Another app, Focus, senses phone movement and audibly tells drivers to stop looking at the phone.

Report shows speeding has led to traffic death increase

In 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report stating that the rise in traffic deaths is due not to distractions or new technology but to speeding. By analyzing crash data from 2005 to 2014, the NTSB found that speeding caused approximately 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in that period. Drivers in Minnesota will want to know about how the NTSB proposes to address the increase.

The first move that the agency recommends is to create more severe punishments for speeding so that they're equal to those of DUI. Speeding and DUI have many similarities, with the latter contributing to 112,948 deaths in the 10-year period mentioned above. Yet there is no social stigma attached to the former, nor are there any campaigns to try and dissuade people from speeding.

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