Older Driver Safety in California
Older driver safety is an important topic in California. With the impending increase in baby-boomer-older drivers on the roadways, it’s important to make sure drivers are healthy enough to drive safely. A decline in physical and cognitive skills can impact the ability for an older driver to safely navigate the roadways, even if they’re staying close to home, on familiar routes. Additionally, age-related vision deterioration also needs to be a serious consideration when discussing driving skills and road safety.
Age-Related Decline in Driving Skills
Although age alone isn’t the lone predicting factor for safe driving abilities, it is important to understand that perishable driving skills can be greatly reduced in association with age-related declines in both physical and mental abilities. It’s no secret that our vision begins to deteriorate with age too, and what’s more important than being able to see where you’re going when you’re behind the wheel? Although it’s hard to admit, even a slight loss of vision can mean the difference in driving safely and making a dangerous choice to get behind the wheel. A decline in vision, at any age, can turn a quick trip to the grocery store into a deadly journey.
Traffic Safety Facts: Older Drivers
• In 2012, 17 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. were among people ages 65 and older.
• People age 65 and over made up only 14 percent of the total U.S. resident population in 2012.
• 5,560 people age 65 and older were killed in traffic crashes in 2012.
• In 2012, an estimated 214,000 people age 65 and older were injured in crashes.
Independence and the Older Driver
Obviously, one of the most important factors in any older driver’s desire to stay behind the wheel is independence. Losing our independence as we age is difficult, to say the least. For many people, they’ve been totally independent for 50, 60, 70 years or longer. They’re not ready to give up the keys, and subsequently, their independence.
When to Speak with an At-Risk Older Driver
If you’re concerned about an elderly loved one’s ability to drive safely, it’s time to have the talk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers loved ones a variety of resources to loved ones who want to make sure the elderly drivers in their lives are safe. Don’t wait for something bad to happen before talking to somebody you care about.
Elderly Woman Drives into Residence
On Monday morning, an elderly woman in Santa Barbara struck a tree and drove into a home by accident. According to Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk, the 95-year-old woman mistakenly struck the accelerator while backing out of her driveway. She hit a tree in a neighbor’s yard across the street, which knocked down cable wires. She then hit the accelerator again, this time in drive, and drove through the front of her own residence.
She reportedly suffered minor to moderate injuries, and was transported to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. The front of her home, including the kitchen, sustained major damage, and a building inspector was on the scene to assess the safety of the structure.
Fatal Crash Involving Parked Semi Truck
On Monday, a fatal crash involving a parked semi truck happened in Chula Vista. According to Fox Channel Five News, a driver lost control of his Infinity Q30 in the northbound lanes of Interstate 805. The car struck the back end of a semi truck, breaking its rear axle. The car became wedged under the tractor-trailer, and the driver of the Infinity died on the scene.
At this time, there’s no word on why or how the driver lost control of the car. Traffic was backed up for miles as first responders, investigators and crews worked the scene. The team at Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. sends their deepest condolences to the family members and friends of the victim.
CHP’s The Importance of Truck Driver Safety
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has recently issued a press release regarding the importance of truck driver safety. Their message, “Truck Drivers are an Important Cog in the Wheel of Transportation” is aimed at raising awareness for the safety of truck drivers and other motorists on California Roadways. Semi trucks, tractor-trailers and big rigs of all kinds can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds, so it’s absolutely critical for all roadway users to drive safely and courteously.
The CHP is also recognizing National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, September 14-20, 2014. Commercial truck drivers are responsible for large heavy loads, and they need to their goods safely to their final destinations.
The Commercial Trucking Industry in California
• About 700,000 commercial drivers are licensed in the State of California
• Roughly 3.2 million professional truck drivers are licensed nationwide.
• California has 51 Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facilities
Stricter Rules and Regulations
Since semi trucks and tractor-trailers are so much larger and heavier than traditional passenger occupant vehicles, commercial truck drivers and owners have much stricter rules and regulations to follow. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the commercial trucking industry to improve roadway safety across the country. Truck drivers have strict rules about how many hours they can be on the road and how much rest they get in between shifts. Fatigued drivers can be dangerous, and even deadly behind the wheel of a semi truck.
After a Crash Involving a Semi Truck
Although commercial trucking companies and drivers are required to adhere to stricter laws and regulations for safe roadway operation, not all operators are driving responsibly. Crashes involving semi trucks can be devastating, if not fatal to motorists in other smaller vehicles. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a big rig, it’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer with truck accident case experience. The investigations are often much more in depth, due to the additional rules and federal regulations involved. There may be multiple insurance companies involved, and victims may be in the hospital and out of work. Contact the experienced team at Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. for a free case consultation today.
Victims Identified in Highway 154 Wreck
Officials with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) have released the identities of the two Santa Maria women who were killed on Highway 154 over the weekend. According to Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk, Olivia R. Sandiego and Carmelita Conner were killed when their cars collided on Saturday afternoon.
For still unknown reasons, a Toyota sedan heading eastbound crossed the centerline and struck a westbound Ford F-150. An additional vehicle also left the roadway, striking a tree, to avoid the initial collision. Two other people also suffered from serious injuries, and there’s no word on their current conditions. This crash is likely still under investigation with the CHP. The team at Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. sends their deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Sandiego and Conner.
Fuel Tanker Crash in San Diego
At about 10:00 p.m. on Thursday night, a fuel tanker crashed beside the roadway on State Route 905. According to NBC Channel Seven San Diego News, the incident happened in Otay Mesa, near the border. The tanker truck was carrying 8700 gallons of fuel at the time of the crash.
At this time, there’s no word on why the large tanker truck left the roadway. Thankfully, the truck did not overturn, and crews were able to unload most of the combustible fuel into another tanker truck on the scene. The truck actually left the highway and came to stop in a ditch before resting on an embankment. This was a one-vehicle crash, and first responders were thankful that the truck did not overturn and the fuel was moved safely to another tanker. The wreck could have been a lot worse.
National Child Passenger Safety Week
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently publicizing their campaign for National Child Passenger Safety Week (September 14-20, 2014). During this week, local and national media outlets throughout the country will be airing public safety announcements about the importance of properly securing children using age and size-appropriate restraint systems. Many communities will have Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians available to check car seats and provide free information to parents, caregivers and consumers. In fact, National Child Passenger Safety Week concludes on Saturday, September 20, which is also National Seat Check Day.
U.S. Child Passenger Safety Facts
• Automobile crashes are the number one cause of death for children ages one to 13 years old.
• From 2008 to 2012, over 3,390 children were killed in traffic crashes.
• An estimated 613,000 children were injured during that same five-year period.
• Every 34 seconds, a child under the age of 13 is involved in a car crash.
• In 2012, over one third of children killed in crashes were not in car seats, booster seats or seat belts.
• Seven out of 10 kids in child safety seats are not properly buckled in.
Choosing the Right Car Seat
Choosing the right car seat for your child will depend entirely on the child’s age and size. Safercar.gov offers parents and caregivers the safety guidelines, so you can choose the perfect car seat for your child. Children from birth to age three (depending on size) should be in rear-facing car seats. From there, children will move up to a forward facing seat and then a booster seat. As long as a child fits into the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements, he or she should be kept in a car seat or booster seat. Finally, parents and caregivers are encouraged to keep children in the back seat through at least age 12 for safety.
Where to Get Your Car Seat Checked
California Highway Patrol- San Diego
4902 Pacific Highway
San Diego, CA 92110
Call for Appointment
California Highway Patrol- Oceanside
1888 Oceanside Blvd.
Oceanside, CA 92054
Call for Appointment
Santa Barbara City Fire Department
121 W Carrillo St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Call for an Appointment
(805) 965-5254 Ext 3
SBCO FD No. 23 – Fire Station
5003 Depot Ave.
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Call for an Appointment
Pedestrian with Bicycle Struck in Santa Maria
On Saturday night, a pedestrian pushing a bicycle was struck and injured in Santa Maria. According to Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk, the incident happened at about 8:20 p.m. on Broadway, near Inger Drive. Although there’s no word on exactly how this crash happened, initial reports indicate that visibility may have been an issue.
The pedestrian was rushed to Marian Regional Medical Center, and later transferred to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment of an injury to the head. The driver of the car was 17 years old, and did remain on the scene to cooperate with authorities. The cause of this crash is likely still under investigation, but alcohol was not suspected as a factor for the teen driver. There’s no word on the victim’s current condition.
Ambulance Near Del Mar Rear Ended: Two EMT’s Injured
This week, two emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) were injured when their ambulance was rear-ended by a suspected drunk driver. According to Fox Channel Five News, the incident happened on Interstate 5 sometime before 1:25 a.m., near Del Mar.
Apparently, both vehicles were headed northbound, approaching Via De La Valle, when the apparent drunk driver rammed into the ambulance from behind. The suspect’s car caught fire after the impact, and firefighters with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department had to put out the flames. Two EMT’s were transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries, which were described as minor. The suspected drunk driver was arrested on the scene.
Three Feet for Safety: Bicycles in California
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has recently issued a press release to remind California motorists about the new law regarding the distance between automobiles and bicycles on roadways. On September 16, 2014, motorists will be required to allow at least three feet of distance between their vehicle and a bicycle when overtaking or passing a cyclist. If it’s not possible to allow three feet, drivers must slow down and wait to pass cyclists when there is no danger present. This law is designed to improve cyclist safety across the state.
Bicycle Accident Injuries and Fatalities
• In 2012, 153 bicyclists were killed in crashes in California
• Only one percent of all trips taken in the U.S. are by bicycle.
• Cyclists accounted for two percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2012.
• In 2012, 726 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes across the U.S.
• 69 percent of all cyclist deaths in 2012 occurred in urban areas.
Bicycle Safety for Children
The CHP is quick to point out that with kids going back to school, there are likely going to be more young-adult cyclists on the road, heading to and from school. The CHP is partnering with Safekids.org to increase bicycle safety for children in California. Listed below are some important bicycle safety tips for kids.
Bike Safety Tips for Kids
• Always wear a helmet.
• Remind children to ride on the right side of the road, as far right as they can.
• Teach children to use appropriate hand signals, and to obey all traffic signs and signals.
• Encourage children to make eye contact with drivers.
• Wear brightly colored clothing, and make use of reflectors and lights, especially at dawn or dusk.
• Always supervise children, until you’re sure they’re safe to ride on their own.
Keeping Roadways Safe
Sadly, cyclists, along with pedestrians, are one of the only roadway user groups who continue to see a rise in roadway crash fatalities and injuries each year. Hopefully, this new law will help to improve roadway safety for children and adults riding bicycles in San Diego and across the state.
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