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Teens less likely to drive distracted when school starts later

Studies have suggested that high schools may start too early in the day for teens' health and safety, namely safety on the road. Kentucky residents with teen drivers should know about one study, published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, that focused on teen car crash rates in Fairfax County, Virginia, both in the year prior to a change to school start times and in the year after.

Researchers found that licensed drivers aged 16 to 18 were in 31.63 accidents per 1,000 drivers in the year before the change; in the year after, that rate was 29.59. Specifically, the county had set back school start times from 7:20am to 8:10am. In other counties, where there were no changes to school start times, the rate of teen car crashes remained steady. The study notes that teens in the second year were less likely to drive distracted, forget their seatbelt or act in some other unsafe way.

What happens if you die without a last will in Kentucky?

Creating a last will can be a stressful and complicated process, which is probably one reason why so many people put off doing it. Some people mistakenly believe that they don't have enough assets to justify the creation of the last will, while others might wrongly assume that their loved ones will be able to follow their wishes without any written will or instructions.

In reality, if you die without a last will or estate plan on record, the state of Kentucky will have the ultimate say and total control over the distribution of your assets in your estate. Your loved ones may have to wait weeks or months for access to or control over assets and accounts.

How cars could be made safer

Some Kentucky consumers may choose cars in part based on the safety rating system that gives vehicles from one to five stars. However, this system has fallen behind those in other countries, and there are steps the government could take to improve it once again.

Joan Claybrook was the leader of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the 1970s when the New Car Assessment Program was created. This program, which involved using crash test dummies with new cars, became the 5-star system in the 1990s. In October, Claybrook, who works for the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, released a report pointing out how far behind the United States is compared to many other countries. Europe has many more safety tests than the U.S., and among the systems that could be tested are those for pedestrian detection. According to Claybrook, there is a lack of funding and political will to implement the changes she believes are critical to safety.

How to find out who was at fault in a multi-car crash

It can be difficult to prove who was at fault in a crash involving three or more vehicles in Kentucky, but the following outline may help clear things up. First of all, most multi-vehicle crashes are simply a series of rear-end collisions, and rear-end collisions normally arise because one of the drivers was speeding or tailgating.

Let's say that Driver B is following too closely to Driver A. Driver A needs to come to a sudden stop, and Driver B cannot brake in time to avoid a crash. Behind Driver B is Driver C, who was also tailgating and collides into Driver B. In this case, Driver A can hold Driver B responsible, and Driver B can do the same to Driver C despite being responsible for Driver A's damages.

Improving roadway safety with red light cameras

Over 800 people are killed every year in Kentucky and across the country in car accidents caused by drivers who run through red lights, and thousands more people are seriously injured. Despite it being common knowledge that running red lights is illegal, negligent drivers continue to put others at risk on a daily basis. A large percentage of those severely injured or killed in these crashes are pedestrians, bicyclists or occupants of other vehicles. Red light cameras are one method adopted by municipalities across the country in an effort to crack down on violations while also obtaining traffic ticket revenue.

The cameras are posted on traffic light poles and capture the images of cars that go through red lights, taking photos of their license plates. Red light violators will generally receive traffic tickets in the mail. The systems have come in for criticism, however. Some say that cities that install the cameras do not care about cutting down on motor vehicle accidents or improving safety, just increasing revenue. As an example, they point to Chicago where a widespread camera system linked to costly fines was combined with the lowest allowable yellow light timing under law. The introduction of the cameras was accompanied by an increased number of rear-end car crashes from drivers attempting to speed through the yellow lights and avoid a ticket.

Some safety systems could actually increase crash risks

While many people in Kentucky have been interested in automated driving systems because they could help to prevent deadly crashes, some experts are warning that these technologies create dangers of their own. A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers operating vehicles with certain types of advanced safety systems, such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, are more likely to be complacent about roadway safety. They put trust in the technologies to handle the driving for them, which can actually increase the risk of a serious car accident.

The AAA researchers noted that when drivers properly use these technologies, they make the roads safer and decrease the number of severe motor vehicle accidents. However, researchers said that drivers rely too much on the systems, believing them to be something like a self-driving car. Instead, they are meant to help active, involved drivers protect themselves. Many drivers do not fully understand semi-autonomous technologies. As a result, they may take their hands away from the wheel and their eyes and mind away from the road. These systems are not equipped to handle the roads like future fully autonomous cars may be. As a result, drivers may be unable to react quickly in case of an emergency.

What do truck drivers do while working that can cause a crash?

Anyone can make mistakes while driving, but certain people are in positions to cause more harm through their mistakes. Commercial truck drivers are subject to more rigorous controls for their behavior at the wheel, as well as a stricter standard in terms of education. Still, commercial drivers can and do frequently make mistakes that contribute to crashes.

In the majority of collisions involving a large commercial truck and a passenger vehicle, the passenger vehicle will absorb the brunt of the damage. The people in the smaller vehicle are more likely to wind up hurt or killed in a collision than the driver in the commercial truck, which may only reinforce certain dangerous behaviors because the truck driver doesn't incur the same degree of risk as the passenger vehicle's occupants do.

Legislation aims to mandate universal ignition interlocks

Around 30 people every day are killed in New York and across the country in car crashes caused by drunk driving. Despite large-scale police enforcement, drunk driving continues to threaten lives nationwide. Some members of Congress are looking for a technological solution to crack down on the problem, drawing inspiration from a common penalty imposed on drivers convicted of DUI. In many states, drivers who regain their license after a conviction for impaired driving must pay a state fee to have an ignition interlock device installed. This device prevents the driver from starting the car until they blow into it; like a small Breathalyzer, the interlock determines that drivers do not have alcohol on their breath.

It is expensive to install an ignition interlock device; for people with a drunk driving conviction, the costs can reach into the thousands of dollars for equipment, installation and removal after the mandatory period. However, this does not necessarily reflect the cost of the device used but rather the state's policies for drunk driving enforcement. Members of Congress want to see these devices become smaller, cheaper and universal. The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act (RIDE Act) of 2019 seeks to mandate technology to stop drunk driving in all new cars by 2024.

Opioids may play significant role in some fatal two-car crashes

Opioid use is widespread in Kentucky, as elsewhere, and the unfortunate thing is that many people choose to drive under the influence of these drugs. Opioids cause drowsiness and dizziness, especially in those who have not developed a tolerance to them, such as individuals who take them for acute injuries like burns and fractures. They are at the highest risk for a crash.

Though some experts say that opioid-related car crashes will decline as fewer opioid prescriptions are being written, one study says that the number of car crash initiators with opioids in their system has risen from 2% in 1993 to 7.1% in 2016. A second study, which was published in JAMA Network Open, has explored the possible role that opioid use has in fatal two-vehicle crashes.

Driving tips for a safe winter

Winter is coming, and Kentucky drivers will soon have to contend with slippery roads on a regular basis. Federal statistics show that snow and ice are contributing factors in over 1,300 deaths and nearly 117,000 injuries on U.S roads each year. However, according to traffic safety experts, there are several winter driving tips people can follow to reduce their risk of accidents during inclement weather.

Slowing down and leaving extra space between vehicles are two of the most important things people can do when driving in snowy, icy or slushy conditions. By lowering their speed and keeping their distance from other cars, drivers can give themselves more time to react and recover from slides and spin-outs. Another important tip is for drivers to properly prepare their vehicles for winter weather by making sure their tires, fluid levels and battery are in good working condition. They should also clean their headlights and windshields to ensure optimum visibility while on the road.

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