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Billings Personal Injury Law Blog

Trucker safety

Truckers on Montana highways have a weighty responsibility. They are not just carrying our food supply and commercial products across the state. They are also shouldering the duty to do so safely, taking care to watch out for the motorists in much smaller vehicles traveling the roads beside them. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has some suggestions for commercial drivers, and at the top of the list is awareness. Not unlike any other driver on the highway, truckers should maintain a strong awareness at all times. Paying attention to what is ahead, noticing construction zones and speed limit changes along the way. 

What should I do to stay safe on my bike this summer?

Is there anything better than going for a bike ride on a splendid summer day in Montana? Hardly. But it is important to keep safety in mind even when you are squeezing in a quick ride before heading off to work for the day. 

Consumersafety.org discusses some tips for avoiding bicycle accidents while riding this summer. Keeping safety at the top of mind will help you remember to follow the advice.

Tired truckers: Understanding hours of operation

Truck drivers play an important role in the United States, distributing goods across Montana and throughout the United States. It can, however, be a dangerous practice for truckers who drive long hours and are continuously behind the wheel navigating alongside other vehicles. In some cases, truckers may drive for hours and days on end without taking adequate breaks or sleeping. Not only does this dangerous practice put their own lives at risk, but it increases the chances of causing a major catastrophic truck accident.

In order to minimize the occurrence of truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued Hours of Service regulations. These regulations force truckers to take breaks and restricts them from driving over a certain number of hours at a time. Truckers must take a 30-minute break for every eight hours they spend on the road. Furthermore, they cannot drive more than 11 consecutive hours once they have taken 10 hours off. Counting rest breaks, truckers cannot drive beyond the 14th hour following that 10-hour sleeping break. Finally, truckers can only drive up to 60 hours every seven days and then must spend 34 consecutive hours off duty.

Top 5 ways to reduce ER medication errors

At the Law Firm of Edmiston & Colton in Montana, we know that medical errors occur far too often, whether in your doctor’s office or in a hospital. Medication errors account for a high percentage of Emergency Room medical errors.

U.S. News reports that over 141 million people visit an ER each year. If you are one of them, here are the top five things you can do reduce the chances of becoming a medication error victim.

Aggressive driving can be deadly

Not only is aggressive driving a problem on Montana roadways, it is also an issue for drivers throughout most of the United States. People’s lives can get stressful and some take their anxiety and anger out on the road. When people become stuck in traffic day after day, are late to an important appointment or just irritated with other drivers in general, they may snap and take their rage out on an unsuspecting motorist. Aggressive driving behaviors put the lives of motorists at risk, as well as the lives of everyone else on the road.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 15 states in the country have laws against aggressive driving. Montana legislation warns that motorists who are driving unsafely may be pulled over, even if they are not speeding. AAA studied more than 10,000 claims of reported road rage and discovered that the number of aggressive driving incidents increased by 51 percent between 1990 and 1996. This number has grown since then and may be low as many cases go unreported.

Fourth of July fireworks and auto crashes

During the Fourth of July, many people celebrate the holiday by lighting fireworks or attending a large display. While these celebrations can be a lot of fun, they may also increase the likelihood of an auto collision in different ways. For example, someone may be distracted by the fireworks or attempts to look for a parking space, causing them to drive in front of oncoming traffic or collide with a vehicle in front of them. Moreover, these celebrations can lead to alcohol intoxication, which is dangerous for anyone who gets behind the wheel, and traffic congestion as well.

Drunk drivers are especially concerning during July Fourth and have caused many fatal accidents over the years. Many people enjoy watching firework displays while enjoying a drink or two, but some make the poor decision to drive around even though their blood alcohol content level has surpassed the legal limit. Alcohol is not the only reason why crashes happen during this holiday, either. In many cities, firework displays can make the roads chaotic before, during and after the fireworks. It is important to be particularly vigilant if you plan on attending a firework display.

What are the implications of medical misdiagnosis?

Medical misdiagnosis is one type of malpractice that affects people throughout Montana and across the United States. When you go into an outpatient clinic or the emergency room, you expect to be treated and given a diagnosis by medical professionals. However, there may be a time when you are given the wrong diagnosis or are not given a diagnosis at all. Not only can this lead to further problems as the undiagnosed condition worsens, but you may experience significant effects from the treatment you are taking for the wrong diagnosed condition.

For example, a medical professional could misread a cloud on a lung x-ray to be pneumonia when in all actuality, it is cancer. As you receive treatment for pneumonia, the cancer may worsen or even spread to other parts of the body. Another instance may occur where you have a body part removed in error because it was thought to be causing the problem. If the doctor would have performed the correct tests, however, he or she would have found that the problem originated from another area.

4 safety tips for cycling on rural roads

Now that summer is in full swing in the Billings area, you may be spending more time cycling down the rural roads and enjoying the scenery. However, as with riding down any road, it is important to always be on guard and watch for cars. In fact, it is typically best to never trust a motorist to put your safety first.

Unfortunately, the country roads that crisscross the state generally do not come with bike lanes. In some cases, they have an almost non-existent shoulder to put a buffer area between you and the cars and trucks traveling through the area. Whether you are a seasoned cyclist or training for your first race, it is important to brush up on safety tips in order to decrease your chances of becoming involved in an accident.

Identifying the common causes of truck accidents

Truck accidents occur at an alarming rate in Montana and across the United States. People are seriously injured and killed in tractor trailer accidents more often than some may think. When people understand the common causes of truck accidents, they may be able to avoid becoming involved in an accident and could save lives in the process.

Hazardous drivers are one major precursor to truck accidents. In some cases, motorists are not aware that these heavy vehicles cannot stop as fast as smaller vehicles. Drivers who pull out in front of trucks run the risk of causing an accident. Also, trucks should be given room to make wide turns and drivers should avoid pulling up next to them. Finally, motorists should keep out of truck drivers’ blind spots to ensure truck drivers can see the them at all times.

Are hands-free cellphones really safe?

If you are a Montana motorist, you know that there are currently no bans on driving while using a hand-held or hands-free cellphone. In many states across the nation, however, using a hand-held cellphone to talk, text or message while behind the wheel is against the law. A number of motorists have started using hands free cellphones in an attempt to stay in compliance with the law and continue using a cellphone while behind the wheel. These cellular devices are marketed as being safer to use than hand-held cellphones. Yet, studies show that the amount of cognitive distraction caused by using a hands-free cellphone is not considerably less than using a hand-held cellphone.

The study published by AAA involved researchers testing the amount of cognitive distraction drivers experienced while they were engaged in different tasks while behind the wheel. These tasks included listening to the radio, listening to an audio book, talking to a passenger in the vehicle, using a hands-free cellphone, using a hand-held cellphone and sending an email using a voice activated device. As participants operated both a simulator vehicle and an actual vehicle equipped with monitoring devices, researchers measured driver response time, brain activity, heart rate and blood pressure.

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