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St. Louis Legal Issues Blog

Trump administration may roll back trucking regulations

Missouri drivers may be even more concerned about risks on the roadway after reports that the Trump administration is planning to roll back safety regulations in the trucking industry. Truck drivers' hours on the job are limited by hours of service regulations. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent truck driver fatigue, a documented contributor to many serious crashes. Truck accidents are a particular danger to others on the road, because the size and weight of large trucks mean that the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles are much more likely to suffer serious injuries and even fatalities.

Despite the danger of truck crashes, the Department of Transportation is reportedly aiming to change these regulations. Under current law, truckers can only drive 11 hours as part of a 14-hour shift. They must wait 10 hours before driving again or risk being out of service and unable to work until the limitations pass. Industry groups say they want the laws to be more flexible, but safety advocates warn that this may be code for deregulation that put lives at risk on the highway. They say that large truck crashes are already on the rise. In 2017 alone, there were 4,657 fatal accidents involving semi-trucks, a 10% increase over the previous year.

July Fourth exceeds other holidays in DUI fatality numbers

Fourth of July celebrations often lead to cases of drunk driving throughout Missouri. In fact, Independence Day is the worst U.S. holiday for fatal drunk driving crashes, according to data from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System. FARS reported 1,192 DUI deaths on Independence Day between 2010 and 2017. Memorial Day, the second deadliest holiday, saw 1,105 deaths.

In 2017, there were 184 DUI fatalities over the Fourth of July weekend. Compared to an equivalent period of four to five summer days, the risk for a DUI fatality shot up significantly. It should be kept in mind that summer is an especially dangerous season for DUI crashes. AAA calls the span between Memorial Day and Labor Day the "100 deadliest days of summer."

What employers can do to meet OSHA standards

Workers are entitled to a safe workplace that is free from known hazards. To that end, OSHA is making it a point to ensure that those who work on or near electrical components do not get hurt or killed at work. Between October 2012 and September 2018, six electrical installation professionals were killed in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. A representative from OSHA who works in Missouri says that employers can keep their workers safe by providing them with adequate training and other resources.

OSHA itself provides resources to help companies identify hazards and keep the risk of injuries to a minimum. The Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs can help employers implement safety standards for those who are working on power lines or near sources of power. Following these recommendations can help prevent electrocution or electrical fires.

Creating a safety plan for the teen driver in your family

Few milestones in adolescence are more thrilling than becoming a licensed driver. If you are a parent, though, you may worry about the safety of the young drivers in your family. That makes sense, as automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

You probably do not want to prohibit the teen driver in your family from driving altogether. After all, learning how to be a safe driver is part of becoming a successful adult. Still, you do not want to leave your child’s safety to chance. Instead, you may want to create a comprehensive plan to help your young driver stay safe on roads in the St. Louis area. 

Car crash numbers decline with use of ADAS

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or ADAS, are devices that help assist with driving by warning drivers against hazards and, in some cases, intervening when drivers do not react in time. Missouri residents should know that ADAS can help reduce the number of car accidents on the nation's roads. A J.D. Power study from 2018 illustrates this very well.

More than half of the study's participants said that within 90 days of owning their new ADAS-equipped vehicle, the safety tech was able to help them prevent at least one crash. Of these, 49% said it was the blind spot alert that helped. Backup cameras, which are required on all new vehicles, and parking sensors were named as helpful by 42% of participants while 35% favorably mentioned the forward collision warning or automatic emergency braking systems.

Summer heat poses a danger to workers

Workers in Missouri may face a particular threat to health and safety in the summer months. The summer of 2018 marked the fourth hottest on record, and many people fear that the increased temperatures are here to stay. Both indoor and outdoor workers can be affected by excessive heat even though people working outside may be more prone to the immediate effects of the temperature. Other aspects of the job may combine with the ambient temperature to escalate the risks of excessive heat, including warm mandatory personal protective gear or hot-running machinery and equipment.

Every year, around 1,300 workers lose their lives due to excessive heat exposure on the job. However, this outcome is not inevitable; proper precautions can help to prevent heat-related deaths and severe injuries. There are a number of steps that can improve workplace safety in conditions of extreme heat. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides guidelines and materials to train workers and managers about the symptoms of illnesses caused by the heat. The Heat Illness Prevention Program is another 45-minute program that provides information on how workers can stay safe in the heat. The federal government requires heat safety training in many industries.

100 deadliest days for teen drivers are in summer, says AAA

Teen drivers in Missouri and across the U.S. run a higher risk of getting in a car crash than adult drivers. That risk goes up especially in the summer season when teens are more frequently out on the road. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has said that the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest of the year for teen drivers: Their chance of a fatal car crash increases an average of 15%.

For this reason, it's important for parents to establish safe practices with their teens. Before going out, teens should know what roads to take. The vehicle should be regularly maintained with an emphasis on things like tire pressure and the condition of the brakes. Parents and teens should, of course, know each other's phone numbers.

Gig economy, other factors lead to rise in construction deaths

According to the investment management firm Conning, nearly half of 2017's workplace fatalities occurred in two industries: construction and transportation. Construction workers in Missouri should note that this trend is being caused by a number of factors, including a lack of healthy workers and a shortage of experienced workers.

The gig economy is considered the top issue, with more than 75 million Americans having no permanent employment but rather going from job to job. Gig workers are at a higher risk for injury than workers who have been with a company for years. With more immigrants entering the workforce, problems are also arising with communication.

Are truck drivers eligible for workers’ compensation?

One reason truck drivers pursue their particular career path is its independence. Out on the open road, you can enjoy the solitude the journey provides. If you have an accident while behind the wheel, this self-reliance may lead you to believe you are on your own to deal with the consequences.

Many truck drivers fail to realize that they may be eligible for workers’ compensation, even in accidents where they may have been at fault. Understanding your available benefits can help expedite your recovery and relieve a lot of unnecessary financial stress.

Experts question the safety of modern car safety systems

Most of the new cars in dealer showrooms in Missouri and around the country feature an impressive array of advanced safety features, and some of them are even equipped with sophisticated autonomous crash prevention systems that monitor traffic and road conditions and can take over the driving duties in an emergency. Road safety experts say that recent advances in electronic safety equipment could save thousands of lives each year, but some scientists and academics are not so sure.

In an article published in the March edition of the Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, a University of California San Diego professor and a NASA scientist argue that modern passenger vehicle safety features could actually make some types of car accident more likely because drivers are not yet familiar with them. They say that the aviation industry experienced a similar safety setback in the 1930s when the first automatic pilot systems were introduced.

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