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Myrtle Beach Legal Blog

Researchers warn of risks of drowsy ridesharing drivers

Hailing a ridesharing service might provide convenience to people in South Carolina, but the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has issued a warning about the risks of driver fatigue. The academy cited the long and late at night hours often worked by ridesharing drivers as threats to public safety. These drivers, who work as independent contractors, also do not undergo any medical screening that might detect conditions associated with drowsy driving, like obstructive sleep apnea.

An associate professor of medicine who helped to author the academy's report said that the low pay and salary incentives from Uber or Lyft motivate drivers to put in dangerously long hours. These drivers might not realize that their exhaustion reduces their ability to drive safely.

Seatbelt use could protect against liver injuries

Some of the most severe car accident injuries that people in Myrtle Beach may experience are caused by blunt abdominal trauma. Every year, over 2 million Americans go to the emergency room as a result of injuries caused by a crash. The total cost to the health care system hovers around $1 trillion each year. This is in addition to the costs to accident victims' physical health, mental well-being and financial stability. Because the damages caused by a crash can be so severe, many people want to take all of the precautions they can to protect themselves. Researchers say that wearing a seatbelt may not prevent liver injuries entirely, but it can lower the risk of suffering severe damage.

One study examined over 50,000 people who had experienced liver damage in an auto accident. According to researchers, accident victims with severe liver injuries were two times as likely to lose their lives as those with mild to moderate liver issues. Seatbelt use is generally associated with reduced fatalities in crashes. However, they are usually linked with preventing head injuries rather than reducing the impact caused by blunt abdominal trauma.

WHO report highlights importance of road safety

There were 1.35 million traffic-related fatalities globally in 2016, according to the Global Status Report on Road Safety. This means that traffic accidents caused more deaths than HIV/AIDS. In addition, it's the No. 1 cause of death among those between the ages of 5 and 29. Since the United Nations wants to halve road deaths by 2020, advocates are taking steps to makes the roads in South Carolina and throughout the world safer.

For example, 140 countries that were part of the WHO report had a national plan to increase road safety. Furthermore, 123 countries had laws that aimed to reduce speeding, drunk driving or other risk factors for fatal accidents. However, not all countries have laws that comply with established best practices. Furthermore, some countries that do meet best practices as they relate to drunk driving laws don't set specific blood alcohol limits.

Small Business Owners Need to Protect against Slip and Falls

Slip and fall accidents often result in personal injury lawsuits brought against small businesses and their owners. Such accidents can occur indoors or outdoors and are often the result of a customer tripping over an object or slipping on a wet or damaged surface. Torn carpet, broken sidewalks and icy steps are examples of conditions that may precipitate a slip or fall.

Business owners have a duty to keep their premises safe. Otherwise, they may be held legally responsible for accidents that occur. However, not all slip and fall accidents are the fault of the business and its owners. For instance, a customer may become distracted and trip over an object that was easily avoidable.

First Step Act could move toward justice reform

For people in South Carolina who have interacted with the federal criminal justice system, the First Step Act could be of serious interest. The bill has been endorsed by a wide and unusual coalition of supporters, ranging from President Donald Trump to longtime criminal justice reform advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union. The First Step Act is widely regarded as a compromise proposal, and it has received a number of criticisms. Some say that the bill is too weak to address real flaws in the system. For those who could be affected by the legislation, it is important to understand its provisions.

One of the more immediate impacts of the bill could be felt by those with older convictions on crack cocaine charges. In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act to address the vast disparity in sentences between those convicted of powder and crack cocaine offenses. This disparity had disproportionately affected African American defendants. However, people convicted before 2010 were not affected by the reform. If the First Step Act becomes law, those affected could petition a judge for release; however, prosecutors would also be allowed to weigh in on the request.

A few safety tips for motorcyclists coming to our state

South Carolina draws millions of visitors annually. Many come to vacation in Myrtle Beach, and several others attend our popular fall and spring motorcycle rallies.

However, unfamiliar roads can pose unexpected dangers for motorcycle riders. Here are some tips to help keep you safe.

Bicycle taxi crash leads to DUI charges

One South Carolina woman has been charged with DUI after she was captured on video colliding with a bicycle taxi after driving strangely in Charleston. The crash was captured by another driver's dashcam on the evening of Oct. 30. After the woman crashed into the bike taxi driver, two other cars chased after her Honda Pilot, boxing her in and holding her there before police arrived on the scene.

According to the video and to information gleaned from a 911 call made by a witness, the 24-year-old woman seemed to attempt to change lanes in order to pass by the bicycle taxi. However, she sped up quickly before braking harshly, nearly hitting the bicycle-drawn compartment. She then tried to pass the car recording the dashcam video, this time hitting the bike before driving away quickly.

NTSB calls for standard roadside drug test for drivers

The National Transportation Safety Board has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to encourage the development of a standardized roadside test that police officers in South Carolina and around the country can use to determine if drivers are impaired by drugs. The NTSB says that the lack of such a test is one of the reasons drug-impaired driving is surging in the United States. Other factors include a deepening opioid crisis and more liberal marijuana laws.

Toxicology tests performed on motorists killed in traffic accidents reveal that the problem of drug impairment on the roads has grown worryingly in recent years. Evidence of drug use was found in only 30 percent of these tests in 2006, but that figure grew to 46 percent in 2015, according to the NTSB. The agency is also calling for comprehensive training programs to be put into place to help police officers better identify drivers who may be under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs.

The rise in large truck traffic deaths

South Carolina motorists who are concerned about road safety should know that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released data that shows the number of 2017 fatalities involving large trucks, or vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, rose by 9 percent. In comparison, the overall number of road fatalities fell by 1.8 percent during the same time period.

The number of people who died as a result of motor vehicle crashes in 2017 was 37,133, a drop from the 37,806 that was reported for 2016. Meanwhile, those who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in which large trucks were a factor totaled 4,761 in 2017, a number that represents an increase of 392 year-over-year.

Distracted driving on the job may be common

Many people in South Carolina are aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Texting or surfing the internet while behind the wheel can lead to serious and even fatal car accidents. Nonetheless, despite public awareness campaigns and increased law enforcement attention to the problem, it still continues to be a growing threat to roadway safety. One study by Motus indicates that the mobile workforce may also contribute to the distracted driving danger. As smartphone ownership has increased among workers spending time on the road, expectations for their connectivity have grown. In addition, car accident rates have risen at the same time.

As of 2013, 55 percent of mobile workers owned a smartphone, and in 2017, that number grew to 77 percent. During that same five-year period, car accidents increased in number from 5.7 million to 6.4 million, a 12.3 percent increase. According to the study, mobile workers make 49 percent more car trips than other workers, taking to the road more frequently than other Americans do. In addition, mobile phone use while driving is at its highest point in the mid-afternoon, one of the busiest times of the workday for remote workers. The researchers concluded that each mobile worker travels around 1,200 miles each year while distracted by a smartphone.

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