Platooning: The Latest Development with Large Trucks

Platooning: The Latest Development with Large Trucks

Technology can change our lives quickly these days, sometimes in surprising ways. If you’ll be driving west or southwest of Maryland soon, you might notice one tractor-trailer “tailgating” another closely enough to be alarming in states like Indiana, Tennessee, or Georgia. This new wrinkle in the commercial trucking industry is called “platooning.” Platooning uses wireless communication technology to control the brakes of the rear truck, so that when the front truck stops, the rear one does, too, more or less instantaneously. The time lag is often less than ten milliseconds. For this reason, one truck can follow another at frighteningly-small distances (as little as 30 feet) while traveling at highway speeds. For perspective, the average large SUV is 17 feet long. Are These Trucks Self-Driving? Platooning does not use self-driving trucks. Both vehicles rely on drivers to remain in full control and completely involved in the driving process. Trucks in a platoon, however, can be equipped with new driving technologies such as automatic braking and collision avoidance systems. Because the rear truck can’t see what’s ahead, a video link between a camera on the front truck and a screen in the rear truck shows the driver what’s going on. The[…..]

Who’s Responsible for the Duck Boat Disaster?

Who’s Responsible for the Duck Boat Disaster?

On July 19, 2018, a tour boat known as a “duck boat” capsized during a storm on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri. Among the two crew members and 29 passengers on board, a total of 17 died—16 passengers and one from the crew. One woman lost nine of her family members in the tragedy. The sinking near Branson is far from the first duck boat fatalities in the U.S. Over the past 20 years, almost 40 people have died in duck boat accidents, either on the road or in the water (a duck boat can navigate both). Thirteen people died when a duck boat sank on a lake near Hot Springs, Arkansas, in May, 1999. What is a Duck Boat? Duck boats come from the military. During World War II and the Korean War, the U.S. military used DUKW (duck) boats to move goods and troops over both land and water. The boats are amphibious, meaning they can move smoothly from land to water and vice versa. The boats were never intended to have a long life span, and yet a number of them are still in use as commercial tourist transportation. It has been determined that the duck[…..]

Why Do Motor Vehicle Accidents Happen?

Why Do Motor Vehicle Accidents Happen?

We may think we know the reasons that crashes occur: speeding, drunk driving, and cell phone distraction would probably top many of our lists. But these reasons may not be the real reasons, and not knowing exactly what is causing crashes is hindering our efforts to prevent further deaths and injuries. With 40,000 persons dying in motor vehicle collisions every year across the U.S., and with serious injuries numbering into the millions—4.6 million, to be exact—we have a lot of lives we need to keep safe from harm. So what is the true problem? The National Safety Council (NSC) calls the problem incomplete crash data. Why is Crash Data Incomplete? Did you know that accident report forms are different in all 50 states, and that some states ask more questions or provide more fields than others? It is the lack of questions and fields that leads to incomplete data. A police officer might list running a stop sign as the reason for a crash, but the real reason could be distraction due to the driver’s reaching for a buzzing cell phone on the passenger seat. Or, the real reason could have been fatigue, because the driver fell asleep and never[…..]

What Are the Odds?


When something unusual occurs, we may wonder out loud, “What are the odds?” As it turns out, when it comes to how people die, we can determine what the odds are of certain types of death for an entire population. We don’t mean to be morbid, but the truth is, everyone dies eventually. Perhaps you’re afraid of dying in an airplane crash or from a terrorist attack, or maybe because of a lightning strike. According to the CDC, about 2.6 million people died during 2014 in the U.S. That’s about 824 persons per 100,000 in the population. Remember that these odds are enormous generalizations across all ages and health conditions. For example, you do not necessarily have high odds of dying from cancer if you don’t have certain genetic or lifestyle risk factors—or if you die young from an accident. (Most cancers happen to us when we live a long time.) What We Aren’t Worrying About There are many causes of death, and some of them don’t worry us as much as they probably should. What kills a large number of us is disease and addiction. Judging from the way some of us treat our bodies, we probably aren’t worried[…..]

Falls, Fires, and Food Poisoning Are Not Festive

Food Illness

Some of us truly love the holiday season and feel tremendous joy at this time. But as our spirits rise, so do the risks of accidents. Hanging decorations that require ladders, putting up flammable trees, hosting parties that result in lack of sleep and DUI risks, contracting winter illnesses, and experiencing stress over any number of issues and responsibilities can turn you into the Grinch. Here are some tips to help you finish the holiday season as whole and happy as you were when it began. The Risk of Falls The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that approximately 15,000 people went to the emergency room during November and December of 2012 for injuries related to decorating. The most common reason for injury was falling. Suggestions for making this season fall-free include: Use appropriate caution when on a ladder. If you don’t climb one regularly, you might want to review 1 in 6 of us experience a food-related illness from contaminated food every year. The riskiest foods—and possibly the ones you might consider passing up—are seafood, undercooked meat and poultry, and eggs and egg dishes. If you are throwing a party, prepare the food yourself, observing food preparation safety[…..]

“Do Not Disturb While Driving”

Operating a Smartphone

When you see a distracted driver on the road, perhaps you’ve wished for a magic “do not disturb” feature that would keep other folks’ minds on their driving. While no magic is involved, Apple has implemented a new iPhone function called Do Not Disturb While Driving with their latest operating system, iOS 11. If you have an iPhone or other Apple device, you may be able to update to iOS 11 and use the new function. iOS 11 was released on September 19, 2017. Helping Drivers Avoid Temptation Many people cannot resist the lure of text messages, even when they know they should not be looking. Do Not Disturb While Driving (DNDWD) addresses the problem. The “Do Not Disturb” function has been available on iPhones for some time, but the new function takes things a step further. DNDWD can be set up to detect automatically when you’re driving, hiding messages and keeping your phone silent to prevent distraction. You can also configure DNDWD to send an automated reply to a texter that informs them you’re driving. Suppose you have a passenger? They can indicate to the phone that they are not the driver in order to disable the “locked” aspect[…..]

Keeping Your Teen Alive: Drowsy Driving and Your Child

Teaching Teen To Drive

When you have a teenaged child who’s got the keys to a vehicle, it might seem as if the things you can worry about become endless. What if they speed? What if they text someone while driving? What if they get behind the wheel after having had something to drink? It turns out that the biggest risk for teens is dying in a crash because of drowsy driving: teens simply don’t sleep enough. A number of reasons contribute to this situation. Teens may be working, playing sports, or involved with other worthwhile activities. Or, they may be spending more time out of the house with friends, pushing their bed time later. However, one of the biggest reasons teens can’t get enough sleep is physiological. Teens actually need more sleep than the rest of us, and they have trouble falling asleep early enough to get the sleep they need. Early rising times for school or a job only exacerbate the situation. Did You Know? Did you realize that remaining awake for 18 hours straight and then driving approaches the impairment level of being legally drunk (having a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, level)? That’s one reason drowsy driving is so[…..]

When CSI is Really SCI

Maryland Auto Wreck Attorney

It was 1970 when serious accident investigation began at Volvo. They wanted to determine which were safer—lap belts or “three-point” seat belts. Engineers at Volvo formed a team and studied the results of crashes where the “three-point” seat belts were in use. It’s one reason we have the seat belt design we do today. In 2017, we have teams that involve both the automakers and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis’s (NCSA) Special Crash Investigations (SCI) Program. The SCI Program has provided detailed data to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) since 1972. Every year, more than 100 crashes are chosen for study. The investigators focus on certain data points concerning the road, the vehicles, the occupants and their injuries, and the safety systems installed in the vehicles. Basically, SCI is similar to CSI; Dr. Carl Schulman, a surgeon and injury prevention specialist at the University of Miami’s William Lehman Injury Research Center, has noted that “instead of a crime scene, it’s a crash scene.” How Does the SCI Program Operate? Cases are selected by the NCSA based on what the agency believes it needs to study. These days they often want to check the performance of emerging[…..]

PTSD Impacts Vehicle Crash Victims – Especially Children

Maryland Vehicle Accident Lawyer

We like to think that we have a certain amount of control over ourselves – how we think, how we feel and how we react to the things around us. In many aspects of our personal lives, we do have control. But our subconscious minds can be much more complicated and powerful than we realize. Recent research has shed light on one way our bodies respond to traumatic events. Specifically, one study examines how children are affected physically and emotionally after being involved in a vehicle crash. Before we look at the results of this study, let’s understand how our biology is shaped by traumatic events. Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder We are hardwired to respond to certain situations in ways that are simply beyond our control. Consider the reflex test that doctors give you, the test where they strike below your knee and your leg goes flying without any direction from your conscious mind. Likewise, our minds are conditioned by the experiences we’ve had and our brains then use certain defense mechanisms to protect us from future harm. Post-traumatic stress disorder is like the response we have to the reflex test. Built into our biology is a system that responds[…..]

Red Light Cameras Are Making a Baltimore Comeback

Why Do Motor Vehicle Accidents Happen?

After a contentious past, red light cameras, along with speed limit cameras, are coming back to the streets of Baltimore for the first time since 2013. It’s estimated that doing so will create $5 million in city revenue as well as catch those who would endanger public safety by running lights and breaking the speed limit. Previously, the cameras were shut down amidst a scandal of false readings. The abandoned cameras still sit where they were installed, unused. New cameras will be installed. The California Appeals Court ruled in 2015 that red-light cameras were unreliable. Their ruling was bolstered by videos demonstrating camera failures that ticketed motorists when no violation had occurred. If red light cameras are supposedly unreliable, why is Baltimore bringing them back? Red Light Cameras Save Lives One big reason why red light cameras are popular is that they save lives. In a 2016 study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety established that red light cameras save lives. Some of the study’s findings: Cities with red light cameras operating were found to have 21 percent fewer crashes that were caused by running red lights. Crashes of all kinds at intersections using signals were reduced by 14 percent.[…..]