If you've been injured in a car accident, the process for recovering for your injuries may seem pretty straightforward: Wait until you heal, negotiate a little with the other driver's insurance company, sign a few papers and settle your claim.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a new rule this month regarding communication between motor vehicles. Vehicle-to-vehicle technology allows for the sharing of important information such as speed, direction and location of nearby cars and trucks. When combined with things like driver warnings and auto-braking, this technology can help prevent accidents that even attentive drivers could suffer. The NHTSA is proposing the rule in the hopes that setting up a standard format allows competing vehicle makers to create compatible vehicle-to-vehicle technology.
Earlier this year, the Illinois government made two changes to the law that may affect the incidence of drugged driving. First, possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana was changed from a criminal offense to a civil issue. Those possessing smaller quantities of cannabis are now subject to a fine of no more than $200. They no longer face criminal penalties, including jail time. The second change involves the definition of driving under the influence of marijuana. That crime is now defined as driving with 5 or more nanograms of THC in their blood, or 10 or more nanograms of THC in their saliva. The previous law allowed prosecutors to charge a driver with drug impairment if there was any amount of THC in their blood.
Laws concerning driving under the influence of alcohol have evolved substantially over the years. Significant pressure from the federal government was required to compel all 50 states to adopt a blood alcohol content level of .08 as the legal limit for DUI. Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the states change the limit to .05 BAC. A recent study suggests that even that change may not be enough. According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego, even very small amounts of alcohol increase the chances of a collision. The study showed that drivers at a .01 BAC were more likely to get into an accident than sober drivers.
Dangerous behavior once associated with young people has begun to spread to older drivers. Smart phone ownership has risen sharply among people over 30. Along with it has come an unfortunate increase in the percentage of older drivers who admit to distracted driving. The increase in distracted driving is likely to result in an increase in car accidents caused by drivers who are paying attention to their phones instead of the safe operation of a motor vehicle. The increase was tracked in a survey conducted by State Farm.
Several studies have confirmed a phenomenon known as illusory superiority. That is the phenomenon that causes relatively high percentages of people to identify themselves as above average. In terms of driving, roughly 80 percent of people consider themselves to be above average drivers. Some studies have gone so far as to suggest that the less competent the person, the more likely they are to overrate their abilities. Those who cause car accidents may be among the most confident in their driving abilities.
Sooner or later, most drivers will make a mistake that could lead to an accident. Driver error is a common cause of car wrecks. Drivers can be distracted, exhausted, irritated or confused at exactly the wrong moment, leading to a serious crash. Eliminating driver error would drastically reduce the number of auto accidents that occur every year on American roads. The National Transportation Safety Board is hoping that connected-vehicle technology can help. Cars that communicate with one another, with the road, and with drivers may prevent thousands of accidents every year.
The Illinois House of Representatives has passed a bill to ban the use of handheld cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. The measure is intended to reduce the distracted driving accidents caused by drivers paying attention to their phones, rather than to safe driving. The bill now goes to Governor Pat Quinn. If he signs the bill into law, Illinois will become one of the earliest states to take this step in combating distracted driving.
Texting and driving is a crime in most states, including Illinois. The practice has been banned due to the sharp increase in the chances of a car accident coming from a driver who is distracted by his or her cell phone. The behavior is often attributed to young people for whom cell phones have become an integral part of life. A recent study shows that, while teens certainly text and drive with alarming frequency, adults are actually greater offenders of texting behind the wheel. Teens may simply be mirroring the behavior of their parent's generation.
Illinois is again considering becoming one of the handful of states that ban the use of hand-held cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. The majority of states, including Illinois, already ban texting while driving as a behavior associated with distracted driving accidents. A proposal to ban hand-held cell phone use was defeated in Senate last year. A new proposal was endorsed by a state House committee earlier this month. If the bill is passed by the full House, it will go to the state Senate where a similar bill was defeated last year.