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Des Moines Personal Injury Law Blog

Do universal helmet laws save lives?

Many motorists in Iowa take certain measures to ensure their safety on the roadways. For drivers and passengers, this often means using a seatbelt. For motorcyclists, this usually means wearing protective clothing and a helmet. Many riders will wear a helmet even when the law does not require it. Only three states in the nation, Iowa included, do not have legislation that requires either all bikers or bikers below a certain age to wear a helmet. This causes some to question whether helmet laws are effective at reducing serious and even fatal injuries in the event of a motorcycle crash.

Do universal helmet laws save lives? Universal helmet laws require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, while partial helmet laws are age specific, usually for those under the age of 18 or 21. Because the highest rate of injuries and deaths from a motorcycle accident are among riders 20-to-24-years-old, studies have looked at the rates of states with universal helmet laws versus those with partial helmet laws, or none at all.

Motorcycle-RV collision in Iowa injures motorcyclist

Although fall weather is settling in throughout the state of Iowa, motorcyclists are still seen on roadways throughout the state. Even on cooler days, drivers should still expect to encounter these small vehicles on all road types. When a driver fails to take note of motorcyclists around them, they could collide with the rider, resulting in a serious or even fatal motorcycle accident.

Authorities in Iowa were recently dispatched to a motorcycle collision in LeClaire. According to preliminary reports, the accident involved a motorcycle and an RV. Police believe the collision occurred when the motorcyclist was traveling down a rural road and encountered an RV that was backing into a private driveway.

The dangers of commercial truck accidents

As a previous post highlighted, a large number of tractor-trailers travel on all types of roadways in Iowa and other states across the nation. This makes truck safety an important issue; however, to understand why these measures are imperative, the dangers that large trucks could pose on the roadways should be understood.

A recent study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration considered the rate of fatal and injury causing truck accidents occurring that year. When looking at the decade before, the number of fatal commercial truck accidents decreased from 4,721 to 3,906 from 2003 to 20013. While this is a 17 percent drop, roughly 327,000 police-reported truck crashes were reported in 2013.

Can new technology reduce truck accidents?

Because large trucks are necessary and helpful in the world of interstate and intrastate commerce, residents in Iowa often encounter semi-trucks and tractor-trailers on the roadways throughout the state. While improvements have been made to these large vehicles, and new federal trucking laws have been passed over the last few years, accidents involving trucks still occur. This is a very concerning matter because truck accidents do not only cause large accident sites but are also likely to involve injured victims and fatalities.

Can new technology reduce truck accidents? Current truck safety systems in place, such as active brake assist, electronic stability control and forward collision warning, are all types of technology that have been implemented to increase truck safety. While these help to improve the safety for the driver and others traveling on the roadway, technology affects the entire driving experience and this condition needs to be addressed in the evolution of new trucking technology.

Helping victims following an Iowa truck accident

The importance and influence the trucking industry has on interstate and intrastate commerce in Iowa and elsewhere has led to the high numbers of large trucks on the roadways throughout the nation. While tractor-trailer trucks can travel from one destination to another without any errors or mishaps, the reality is that it only takes a small error to cause a truck accident. Violations of federal trucking regulations often lead to serious and even fatal truck collisions, making it important for victims and their loved ones to consider the responsibility of trucking companies and the truck driver.

Claims following a truck accident are often complex, and victims may not be aware of all the liable parties following a truck crash. Our law firm has helped past clients navigate their claims, assisting them an aggressive pursuit for justice. With over 25 years of experience, the law firm of Galligan & Reid, P.C. has devoted much time to helping clients understand their rights and actions available to them.

Holding a drunk driver liable following a drunk driving accident

Being involved in any type of motor vehicle accident can be a very serious event for residents in Iowa and elsewhere. In some situations, it may not be entirely clear what caused the collision; however, in others, it can easily be determined that the negligence of a driver was the cause. With regard to drinking and driving, when a driver fails to drive below the legal blood-alcohol limit, he or she could be held responsible for the accident resulting from their intoxication and any injuries, losses and damages arising from it.

When individuals consider the penalties that a drunk driver could face after a drunk driving accident, most highlight the criminal aspects of the incident. While there is a great possibility that the driver will face criminal charges and penalties for his or her negligence behind the wheel, the driver could also endure civil liabilities. In fact, an injured victim can use the evidence and information associated with a criminal action in a civil action against a drunk driver in an effort to hold a drunk driver liable.

How can bicycle safety be increased?

Riding a bicycle is both a way to enjoy time outside and a means of transportation. No matter the reason Iowa residents choose to ride a bike, the fact is that this activity comes with some risks. Depending on where a biker is riding, he or she might be traveling on the road, in a bike lane or even on a sidewalk. No matter what surface a cyclist is traveling on, he or she is likely to travel near automobiles and traffic. Because of this, the risk of an automobile-bike crash is present, which makes it important for both drivers and bicyclists to exercise safety.

How can bicycle safety be increased? Increasing safety for bicyclists is about understanding the causes of bicycle accidents, safety features and accident prevention. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 900 bicyclists were killed in 2013 and around 494,000 went to the emergency room due to a bicycle-related injury. Bicycle accidents are most likely to occur in urban areas and in non-intersection areas on the roadway. Additionally, people between the ages 15 and 29, and adults older than 45-years-old are the age groups with the highest rate of bicycle deaths.

Concerns regarding the high rate of bike-car crashes in Iowa

Although the summer months are coming to an end, Iowa residents often continue with their outdoor activities such as bicycle riding. In fact, many residents will continue to travel by bike well into the winter months. Because of that, it is always important for bicycle safety to be considered. Bike riders should understand the rules of the road and where and how it is safe for them to travel. Additionally, drivers should always be cognizant of bicyclists traveling on or near the roadways throughout the year.

Many Iowans have expressed concern regarding the increasing numbers of bike accidents in Des Moines and throughout the state. In one incident, a 50-year-old Des Moines woman was riding her bike in front of her husband's bike, which was pulling their 5-year-old son in a car behind his bike. It was around 4:05 p.m. when a vehicle that was turning into a parking lot collided with the woman's front wheel of her bike.

Hours of service violations and truck driver fatigue

As previous posts have highlighted, federal trucking regulations have been passed to address safety concerns regarding large trucks that travel on roadways in Iowa and states across the nation. Additionally, these regulations provide mechanisms to ensure that trucking companies and truck drivers comply with certain safety standards. Even though the violation of these rules could subject the driver and company to fines and other penalties, certain rules get violated frequently, causing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to consider ways to better enforce these rules.

The hours of service rule a critical safety rule. Despite that, the FMCSA maintains that the "30 minute rule" included in the federal hours-of-service rules is frequently violated. This rule provides that a commercial truck driver must take a 30 minute break after driving for eight consecutive hours. The FMCSA reported that this rule is the fourth most frequently violated rule out of the 40 different types of driver violations that it tracks.

What are the six levels of DOT truck inspections?

Federal trucking regulations require truck drivers and trucking companies to meet certain standards such as regular maintenance of the vehicles. Additionally, truck drivers are required to have special licensure and up-to-date medical information. In order to ensure that the vehicle and driver are complying with these regulations, the Department of Transportation conducts inspections. A driver and truck could encounter one or more levels of inspection to verify compliance.

What are the six levels of DOT truck inspections? The first level is a standard inspection and includes looking at important documents that a driver should have as well as an evaluation of the vehicle. This ensures that everything is up-to-date, up-to-code and safe for travel. A level two inspection involves everything in a level one inspection as well as a walk-around inspection of the vehicle. The professional inspecting the vehicle will examine everything that would not require him or her to get under the truck.

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