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Bridgeport Connecticut Personal Injury Law Blog

Vehicle infotainment systems not as safe as believed

Connecticut drivers who frequently use Apple's CarPlay may be interested in a new study that looked into the safety of the infotainment platform. The study found that using CarPlay reduces driver's reaction times more than texting, using marijuana or being at the DUI limit for alcohol.

The study, which was done by U.K. researchers at IAM RoadSmart, compared Apple's CarPlay and Android Auto against other distractions. As a part of the study, drivers used a simulator to drive three times in a standard route. During the first route, participants drove without any infotainment system use. The second time they were asked to use voice assistants to carry out various tasks, such as making a call or sending a text. On the third route, they were asked to carry out these tasks via the touchscreen option while driving the route.

Americans remain wary of self-driving cars

Many people in Connecticut have shown interest in the potential of self-driving cars and autonomous technologies to reduce the number of car accidents. After all, human error and negligent drivers are the cause of most crashes, which continue to take thousands of lives and injure many more each year on American roads. Still, according to one syrvey by the AAA, only 12% of Americans would feel safe riding in a self-driving car. Around 28% of people said that they are unsure what to think about the technology. They don't feel that they have the information and statistics they would need to opt for autonomous technologies.

In addition, drivers said that they want to know more about how self-driving vehicles will work and how the cars will protect people's safety on the roads. After all, almost everyone has experienced a computer crashing or a malware problem, and many people know the results could be devastating if the same kind of technological flaws led to a motor vehicle accident. Others also raised concerns about legal responsibility. It is relatively easy to determine who is at fault in a motor vehicle accident when humans are responsible for the crash. Distracted, drunk, drowsy or otherwise negligent drivers can be identified from their behavior.

DST raises rate of fatal crashes nationwide

Springing forward one hour for daylight saving time can leave many Connecticut residents feeling groggy in the morning. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have found what kind of impact this can have on car crash rates. Specifically, the first week after DST sees a 6% rise in fatal crashes nationwide, coming out to some 28 additional deaths every year. The risk for a deadly crash increases the farther west one lives in a time zone.

Researchers analyzed over 730,000 fatal crashes that occurred from 1996 to 2017. One discovery that supported their conclusion was that in 2007, when DST was pushed forward from April to March, the annual rise in fatal crashes moved along with it.

Those with expensive cars less likely to yield to pedestrians

Drivers in Connecticut and across the United States need to be aware of pedestrians that are crossing the street. Though pedestrians typically have the right of way when crossing the road, many vehicles do not stop to allow them to cross. A new study finds that this may be especially true for those who drive expensive vehicles.

Researchers from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas found that drivers with more expensive vehicles were less likely to yield to pedestrians when compared with drivers who drove less expensive cars. For every $1,000 in the increase of the car's value, the likelihood of the driver yielding to a pedestrian decreased by 3%. The study also found that drivers were less likely to stop for male pedestrians and pedestrians of ethnic or racial minorities.

Study: school start times may influence teen driver safety

Teens are as liable as anyone else to become distracted behind the wheel, and lack of sleep is one factor that can raise the risk for this. Lack of sleep, in turn, can be aggravated by an early start to school each day. Connecticut residents should know about a study that suggests that pushing back school start times can reduce the rate of car crashes involving teens.

In it, researchers analyzed crash data over a two-year period in Fairfax County, Virginia. In the fall of 2015, the county made it so that its schools start at 8:10 am instead of 7:20 am. In the year before this change, licensed drivers with ages from 16 to 18 were in 31.63 crashes per 1,000 drivers. During the second year, the crash rate declined to 29.59. The rest of Virginia, which made no similar alterations, saw a steady teen car crash rate.

Steps to take to keep lab workers safe

According to OSHA, there are more than 500,000 workers employed by labs in throughout the United States. Connecticut laboratory workers may face a variety of hazards such as walking on a busy loading dock or coming into contact with potentially toxic chemicals. They may also be exposed to toxic waste or other materials that could be harmful to their health. The OSHA Lab Standard was created to ensure that non-production lab workers were protected from recognized hazards that could harm them.

Employers are required to hire a chemical hygiene officer (CHO) who will help to create a chemical hygiene plan (CHP). A CHO must have either have relevant experience or sufficient training to be named to this position by an employer. The CHP will outline the protocols that labs will use to prevent dangerous conditions as well as protocols to follow in the event that a person is injured.

The factors that help create quality workplace safety cultures

It is a contractor's responsibility to make sure that its workers have access to the training and tools necessary to keep them safe. A study revealed that most contractors in Connecticut and throughout the country use supervisors to conduct training courses. Typically, supervisors are trained through a 30-hour course offered by OSHA. However, this course may not necessarily be adequate on its own. The Foundations for Safety Leadership training module is lauded as a quality training tool by contractors that have used it.

However, few contractors know that this program is available to them for free. Therefore, a representative from the Center for Construction Research and Training and Procore said that promoting awareness of the program should be a top priority. Online safety training tools are also expected to be used more frequently by contractors in coming years. This is in spite of the fact that many contractors say that they don't use it today.

Preventing falls in the workplace in three steps

Falls are the cause of many worker deaths in Connecticut, as elsewhere in the U.S., and falling is a factor in 33% of all construction worker deaths in particular. Work-related falls cost the nation about $7 billion every year in workers' compensation claims and medical treatments, yet fall protection violations are the most widespread of all OSHA violations.

To help employers prevent fall injuries and death, OSHA and three other agencies have created a simple three-step guide. The steps are to plan ahead, provide the right safety equipment and train workers on the use of that equipment.

NIOSH recommendations to protect workers on construction sites

Workers in Connecticut may be protected under new laws released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The aim of these regulations is to better protect indoor environmental quality during renovation and construction.

These conditions affect both construction workers and building occupants. In addition to noise, building work can release gases, vapors, odors, dust and other contaminants. These could cause such issues as dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, congestion and sinus problems. Furthermore, people can develop asthma and asthma-like symptoms from mold, damp and construction materials. There are certain steps employers can take to improve air quality for employees. Among those steps are making sure that contractors understand how renovation and construction will affect occupants, including the creation of contaminants, and having a system in place so that both construction workers and occupants have their exposure minimized.

Despite benefits, red light camera use wanes

Connecticut residents should be aware that red light-running crashes are leading to more and fatalities. There was a 17% increase in such fatalities between 2012 and 2018, and incidentally, that same period saw a decline in the number of communities with red light camera systems from 533 to 421. The benefits of red light cameras are well-known, so it is clear that their decline is at least one factor in the increase.

Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows, for instance, that large cities with red light cameras see 21% fewer fatalities from red light-running accidents than do large cities without cameras. This is a lot when one considers how in 2016, there were more than 800 such fatalities nationwide. In general, cameras also cut down on the number of red light running violations by 40%.

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