Law Office of Michael R. De La Paz

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San Antonio Personal Injury Blog

Hands-free cellphones and cognitive distraction

Although drivers in Texas are able to legally use a hand-held cellphone while behind the wheel, statistics show the dangers of engaging in this deadly practice. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2016 alone. The number of people injured and killed in these types of tragedies continues to increase as people cannot put their cellphones down while driving. Some people use hands-free cellular devices as a safe alternative to hand-held cellphones. Yet, studies show that even these cellphones can lead to devastating crashes.

In a study released by AAA, researchers measured the amount of cognitive distraction drivers experience when they engage in different tasks and attempt to drive at the same time. Researchers looked at drivers’ eye movement, heart rate, response time and brain activity to evaluate how distracted they were when accomplishing the following tasks:

  •          Composing an email using voice-activated technology
  •          Maintaining a conversation using a hand-held and hands-free cellphone
  •          Holding a conversation with a passenger in the vehicle
  •          Listening to the radio
  •          Listening to an audio book

More hours behind the wheel mean increased chance for accidents

As you have likely noticed, there are many people driving at any given time. Even if you are driving in the middle of the night, you have probably noticed there are plenty of other vehicles on the highway and interstate with you. This is not just your imagination – studies indicate there are more cars on the road than ever before.

Americans are driving more, which means they may be facing a higher risk of involvement in a car accident. Simply put, the more time a person is in the car, the more likely it is that he or she will eventually be in a collision of some kind. With this in mind, you understand why it is critically important to consider ways to make Texas interstates, highways and roads safer for everyone. 

Tesla under investigation after two troubling car accidents

Texas readers know Tesla is a popular car company that sells vehicles that come with advanced technological systems, such as an autopilot system and automatic emergency braking system. In many Tesla models, drivers have the option to engage the autopilot system. However, a recent accident is raising questions regarding the safety and effectiveness of that driver assistance system.

Although this specific accident took place in another state, you may find it interesting to note that it resulted in two federal agencies launching investigations into the popular automaker and its vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board sent teams to look into this accident and determine what happened. The two groups are likely attempting to determine if the driver had the autopilot engaged at the time of the crash.

Auto crashes and seasonal allergies

In many parts of the U.S., seasonal allergies are right around the corner. Those who are adversely affected by pollen may dread this time of the year, and their symptoms may flare up in all sorts of ways. Unfortunately, allergies can do more than just cause a sufferer to struggle with a runny nose and itchy eyes. In fact, seasonal allergies can even increase the chances of a car crash, for multiple reasons. Whether you have allergies or another driver is struggling with this condition, it is important to be aware of these risks during the springtime.

Someone who suffers from seasonal allergies may have debilitating headaches, which could affect their driving abilities. Moreover, they may be deprived of sleep because their symptoms keep them up at night. Furthermore, many people who suffer from seasonal allergies take medications that could cause them to become drowsy, and this is especially dangerous if they get behind the wheel. Sneezing, reaching for tissues and taking one’s hands off of the wheel to rub the eyes can also be very distracting.

Toxic exposure risks faced by oil rig workers

A Texas oil field is a tremendously dangerous place to work, and if you make your living in this type of environment, you may have firsthand knowledge of the occupational hazards associated with your profession. While hazardous working conditions are part of the job, your employer has a duty to mitigate your on-the-job risks as much as possible, and this includes reducing your risk of toxic exposure. At the Law Office of Michael R. De La Paz, we understand that toxic exposure can lead to serious chronic health issues, and we have helped many workers who suffered injury or illness because of dangerous work environments pursue appropriate recourse.

According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, your chances of experiencing exposure to toxic chemicals and substances are considerable when you work on an oil rig. While the side effects and symptoms you are likely to experience after toxic exposure will vary based on the type of exposure you experience, you may suffer headaches, nausea, respiratory issues, skin irritation and eye problems in the aftermath of toxic exposure.

Top dangers of working in the oil field

For Texas employees who work in the oil field, the on-the-job dangers are higher than in many other occupations. From fires to vehicle crashes, workers need to be aware of the risks of the job and take extra precautions to prevent serious accidents.

According to Marketplace.org, the rate of fatal work injuries for oil field workers is five times higher than in other industries. Some of the risk factors include heavy equipment and long working hours, although transportation-related issues cause the most fatalities. Unsafe roads, lack of seatbelt use, machismo attitudes and driver fatigue are some of the reasons for fatal crashes, sometimes killing multiple workers at one time. To combat crashes and keep track of how vehicle operators are driving, some companies are using monitors that track the speed and aggressiveness of the drivers.

Facing the truth after a brain injury

It is probably an understatement to say that your life will never be the same after the accident that resulted in your loved one's traumatic brain injury. Nevertheless, as difficult as it may be to think about, knowing what lies ahead may be the best way to prepare for the future.

You can be certain that if your loved one's injury is moderate to severe there is a limit to the level of recovery he or she will obtain. This means you will likely be dedicating your time, efforts and finances to your loved one's care. Understanding the common course such an injury follows may help you seek the assistance you need for the long term.

What should you do if you see a reckless driver?

Even though you are confident in your ability to drive safely and are committed to following traffic laws and avoiding distractions while you are operating your vehicle, driving in Texas can still be dangerous if you encounter other motorists who are not as vigilant as you. Protecting yourself and your safety is primarily your responsibility, but understanding how to react around dangerous drivers is also important to potentially avoid a collision if someone else is driving recklessly. 

Reckless driving can manifest itself in many ways including speeding, swerving in and out of a lane, tailgating or making violent gestures to other drivers. Each of these behaviors has the propensity to create a major danger that could result in you or someone else getting hurt in a collision. When you notice a reckless driver, you should do your best to get out of their way and pull over to the side of the road to report the situation to authorities. Never, under any circumstance, should you try to deescalate the situation on your own or make eye contact with the driver. 

Scooters place riders, pedestrians at risk

You may have wondered why someone didn't think of it sooner. Renting electric scooters through an app on your phone is the newest craze spreading through cities across the country. The concept is simple. You locate the nearest e-scooter on your app and use a special code to unlock it. Then you ride it wherever you need to go, lock it with your app and leave it for the next rider.

There are many things to love about e-scooters. You don't need to obtain a special license, pay for car insurance or worry about parking. They are convenient, fun to use and good for the environment. However, according to recent data, they are also a growing danger, whether you are riding one or walking near them.

A third of American teenagers say they text and drive

Teen drivers across Texas and the nation already pose a threat to everyone on the roadway because they lack experience, but many of them are also engaging in dangerous behaviors behind the wheel that make them even more substantial highway hazards. The results of a new survey indicate that texting and driving is still very much a problem among teen drivers on the nation’s roads, despite the fact that the dangers of doing so are well-publicized. At the Law Office of Michael R. De La Paz, we understand that distracted driving often results in catastrophic injuries and fatalities, and we have assisted many people who suffered injury or lost loved ones in distracted driving-involved car crashes.

Per Reuters, 38 percent of about 101,300 teens involved in a recent survey on teen driving practices reported that they had texted while driving at some point, with survey results also revealing that laws banning the practice have little effect on this population. The teens surveyed came from 35 different states, and the vast majority of them came from states that had outlawed texting messaging for drivers under 21.

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