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Lexington Injury Law Blog

FMCSA studies effect of long commutes on truckers

As affordable housing grows more remote from metropolitan areas, and as the number of workers increases, a corresponding increase in commuting times can be seen. This is true in Kentucky and throughout the United States. Long commuting times have an especially negative impact on commercial truck drivers as they give drivers less time for rest and put them at risk for health conditions like heart disease.

For example, a study analyzing 4,297 adults from 12 metropolitan Texas counties found that drivers with long commutes tend to be overweight, less physically fit and more likely to have high blood pressure. Lack of sleep also leads to fatigued truckers, which can endanger those they share the road with.

Dangerous drivers may remain on the road

It is possible for a truck driver to be taken into custody or charged with drug offenses without an employer finding out about it. In some cases, Kentucky or any other state that issued a commercial license may not be notified of the charge either. One man renewed his CDL 10 days after admitting to police that he used heroin after being found unconscious in his rig.

Roughly two weeks after doing so, he was in an accident after overdosing on heroin. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, over 40 percent of drivers who were killed in truck accidents and could be tested had illegal drugs in their systems. In addition to being addicted to heroin or other illegal drugs, drivers may also become addicted to Oxycontin or Percocet. Those are generally legal drugs that drivers may initially take to help with legitimate health issues.

Feds investigating Volkswagen airbag recall

Kentucky Volkswagen owners should be aware that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether the automaker's 2015 recall to fix an airbag problem went far enough. The investigation was announced on the federal agency's website on Nov. 17.

The recall addressed an issue with a steering system electrical component known as the clockspring, which could fail and turn off the vehicle's horn and driver side airbag. The issue affected more than 400,000 vehicles, including the 2010-2014 CC, 2010-2013 Eos, 2011-2014 Golf, 2011-2014 GTI, 2012-2014 Jetta SportWagen, 2011-2014 Jetta sedan, 2010 Passat sedan and Passat Wagon, 2012-2014 Passat sedan and 2011-2014 Tiguan.

AAA study finds value in sophisticated truck safety systems

The latest commercial vehicle safety systems could prevent up to 63,000 serious accidents involving semi-tractor trailers each year, according to a recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. More than 4,000 road users were killed and a further 116,000 were injured in truck accidents in 2015. However, the study suggests that these figures could be significantly lowered if every tractor-trailer throughout Kentucky and the rest of the U.S. was equipped with lane departure warning systems, video-based safety monitoring equipment, emergency braking technology and air disc brakes.

The biggest safety gains could be achieved by installing video-based safety monitoring equipment on every large commercial vehicle. According to the AAA study, this kind of technology could prevent 293 deaths and 17,733 injuries each year. A further 6,000 truck crashes could be avoided every year if all tractor-trailers were equipped with lane departure warning systems, which the research team say would save 115 lives and prevent 1,342 injuries.

Fire concerns prompt the recall of about 1 million BMWs

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced two recalls on Nov. 2 that involve about 1 million vehicles around the country manufactured by BMW. The recalls address two issues that have been linked to a series of fires involving parked BMW vehicles, and cars and SUVs manufactured between 2006 and 2011 are covered. BMW says that its dealers in Kentucky and across the U.S. will have the parts necessary to perform the recalls by Dec. 18, and owners will not be charged for the work.

When reports emerged in May about more than 40 parked BMWs catching fire, the German carmaker denied that a product defect or manufacturing issue was to blame. Some of the vehicles involved had been idle for several days before going up in flames according to the reports, which BMW blamed on nesting rodents, arsonists or vehicle owners who relied on untrained mechanics or failed to properly maintain their vehicles.

FDA links EpiPen failures with 7 deaths in 2017

Many Kentucky residents who suffer from severe allergies rely on EpiPens to deliver potentially life-saving doses of epinephrine. EpiPens are designed to administer the drug quickly and simply to stave off anaphylactic reactions, but recent media reports reveal that the Food and Drug Administration has linked the device to seven deaths during the first nine months of 2017. Malfunctioning EpiPens have also caused at least 35 people to seek hospital treatment, according to the FDA.

The FDA has reported issues with EpiPens in the past, but the problem seems to be getting worse. The FDA received four reports about EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. failures in 2012 and 12 in 2013. However, 67 reports were received in 2014. The pharmaceutical company that manufactures EpiPens says that the defect responsible for the problems is extremely rare, and they point out that higher failure rates can be expected when products like EpiPens are used by individuals with no medical training under highly stressful conditions.

Subaru considers recalling 275,000 vehicles

Many Kentuckians like Subaru cars because of their features and fuel economy. According to news sources, the company recently admitted that it conducted inspections that did not meet the Japanese ministry's standards for over 30 years and might recall as many as 275,000 cars.

News sources report that Subaru's inspections during the manufacturing process did not comply with the rigorous inspection standards that were required by the Japanese government. The company admitted that it used unlicensed inspectors during its process while the government requires that the inspections are performed by licensed inspectors.

Judge strikes down law providing for medical malpractice review panels

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd has ruled that the new law mandating that medical malpractice cases must first be presented to medical review panels is unconstitutional.

This decision is a boost for people who have suffered injuries in the care of providers. Medical review panels add an additional obstacle to people seeking justice due to substandard care.

Trucking accidents caused by drivers' poor health

Kentucky drivers that share the road with commercial truck drivers should be aware that truckers with three or more medical conditions are two to four times more likely to cause an accident. According to a recent study, the risk of a crash occurring increases as a truck driver's health decreases.

It can be extremely difficult for truck drivers who sit behind the wheel for long hours to keep healthy. They often have to deal with poor sleeping conditions and rely on less nutritious meals in addition to living a sedentary lifestyle while on the road. The medical records of more than 49,000 commercial truckers indicated that about 34 percent of the drivers had signs of at least one serious medical condition, such as low back pain, heart disease and diabetes. These particular conditions have previously been linked to poor driving performance.

Manufacturer improves safety technology for trucking industry

Strong demand for air brakes has prompted Bendix to expand its assembly facility in Kentucky. The company promotes its air disc brakes as an important safety element in the trucking industry's future. This product can shorten the distances needed by large trucks to stop.

The company also made an announcement at a recent industry convention about its Intellipark system. This system detects if a driver leaves a truck cab without activating the parking brakes and then automatically initiates the air brakes to prevent the truck from rolling away. This automation addresses the rollaway safety issue that troubles many fleets. According to a Bendix survey, 60 percent of trucking fleets experienced a rollaway accident within the last two years.

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