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Self-driving cars raise new DWI questions

The prospect of “driving” a “self-driving” car raises the question of whether you can be charged with drunk-driving a self-driving car. Either you’re driving or you’re not, right?

Answers seem to be trickling in gradually from around the country, often as police officers and courts are faced with real-life situations.

Study shows risk for car crash injuries higher among women

Drivers in Texas may be surprised to hear that automotive safety tests rarely take the anatomical and physiological differences of women into account. Crash test dummies are modeled on men, and the female crash dummies tend to be the same, the only difference being their smaller size. Yet there are differences in fat distribution, for example, and muscle strength that would certainly lead to different test results if researchers kept them in view.

The lack of specific safety data for women means that many safety measures and safety technologies may not be providing maximum protection for women drivers and car occupants. A study published by Traffic Injury Prevention has found that women run a 73% greater risk for injuries in front-end collisions than men do, even when women wear three-point seat belts. In addition, women run double the risk that men do for injuries to the legs, abdomen and spine.

Cars are a very real danger to pedestrians

A car crash is often portrayed as two vehicles violently colliding at a high speed. The portrayal may come with a warning about wearing a seatbelt, or paying attention while you’re behind the wheel in order to minimize the risk of a bad accident.

Increasingly however people are getting around without the use of a car, especially in a busy city where someone might walk from one thing to another. It’s been particularly dangerous recently in Austin, which recorded a record number of pedestrian deaths in 2018, according to a report by the American-Statesman.

July 4 sees highest DUI fatality rate of any major holiday

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that between 2010 and 2017, there were 1,192 DUI-related deaths on July Fourth. The DUI fatality rate on this holiday comes to 42.4 per day. Among all the major holidays in the US, Independence Day is the most dangerous with regards to drunk driving. Texas residents should know that Memorial Day comes in second with a fatality rate of 39.5 and 1,105 deaths in those eight years.

Compared to the average summer day, where the DUI fatality rate is 26.1, the Fourth of July raises one's risk for a fatal DUI crash by 57%. The NHTSA reports 184 deaths over the Fourth of July weekend in 2017. This is more than any equivalent period of four to five days in summer, where the average number of DUI-related deaths is 117.

Study: over 300,000 truckers in U.S. are habitual drug users

Based on a statistically valid sample of 3.5 million truck drivers in Texas and across the U.S., the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security conducted a survey to determine how well the industry is rooting out drivers who are habitual drug users. It turns out that some 301,000 truckers are currently on the road who would either fail a hair analysis or refuse to undergo it.

Currently, a urine analysis is the only drug test that the U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes. As a result, but many in the trucking industry, being free to add other requirements to their hiring process, have made hair testing mandatory. Urine testing alone is not effective: The Alliance survey has found that 9 out of 10 drug users go undetected that way.

Truck accident cases more complex than car accident cases

While filing an auto accident claim can be a complicated matter, filing a claim after a truck accident is even more so. Texas residents should know that the severity of injuries may contribute to the complexity of the case. Trucks, being large and having a longer stopping distance, will collide with more force. In some cases, occupants of passenger vehicles die in these collisions.

Truckers follow federal regulations that govern, for example, how long they can drive. Anyone who wants to file a claim against a trucker needs to be familiar with these rules. Also, to determine liability, it's crucial to determine ownership, and this can cause issues. Many truckers are owner-operators, while some use a company's truck. If improperly loaded cargo contributed to a crash, the party to which it belonged must become involved.

How does distracted driving compare to other accident causes?

Distracted driving is largely considered an epidemic. This type of dangerous driving causes a large number of accidents, injuries and fatalities every year. But how much of an issue is it compared to car accidents as a whole?

Here are a few statistics about distracted driving you should be aware of.

Drunk driving still remains a major problem on America's roadways

Even though drivers in Texas and elsewhere are all taught the dangers of drunk driving, more than 10,000 car accident fatalities in 2018 had drunk driving as a major factor in the accident. While the U.S. House of Representatives met in March to discuss the issue, which has been an ongoing crisis for decades, the hearing was sparsely attended by the media.

Joining the panel of witnesses was Helen Witty, the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She told her story of the death of her 16-year-old daughter, who was skating on a bike path near her home when she was hit by a teen driver. The driver had been under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. Witty's daughter was just one person who died that day as a result of drunk driving: On average, 100 people each day die in car accidents throughout the country. Of these accidents, alcohol is one of the leading factors in addition to speeding and not wearing a seat belt.

Safe driving discussion for parents and teens

When Texas teenagers approach driving age, parents worry. Talking to teens about driving safety today can involve many topics, including what the National Safety Council's senior director of public relations calls the dangerous Ds: drugged, distracted and drowsy driving.

Most high schools in the country have some students who use drugs or alcohol, and that does include prescription drugs. Even if a teen doesn't use any drugs or drink alcohol, he or she might have friends who do. NSC says parents should remind their teenagers that riding with a drunk or drugged driver is as dangerous as being a drunk or drugged driver.

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