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New Mexico Legal Issues Blog

Volvo takes bold safety steps

The famously safety-conscious Volvo is best known for making vehicles that protect their occupants from injury. However, the Sweden-based vehicle manufacturer will soon use 21st-century technology to protect drivers whether they like it or not.

The manufacturer will use onboard cameras to monitor the eye movements of the driver as well as sensors to ensure that hands remain on the steering wheel. The idea is that the car or truck will gauge if the driver is taking their eyes off the road to look at a device or displays symptoms of driving while drowsy. The camera will also measure to see if the driver is too intoxicated to safely operate their vehicle.

Honda recalls one million vehicles

The Honda Motor Company has announced that it will recall 1.1 million Honda and Acura vehicles because of faulty air bag inflators. This is now the largest motor vehicle recall in history. Not to be confused with an earlier recall involving Takata airbags, this new recall involves the replacements of the previous recall in 2015, which involved propellant that could became unstable and explode upon impact. This led to the deaths of an estimated 220 or more people worldwide, including a dozen here in the U.S.

A new incident in January prompts recalls

Bipartisan bills could require trucks to install underride guards

Large commercial trucks can pose a serious danger to smaller passenger vehicles. Because of their size, they tend to cause severe autobody damage or inflict personal injuries to the other parties in a crash. In some instances, a small car may even slide underneath the side or front of a tractor-trailer, leading to catastrophic injuries or fatalities.

A bipartisan bill aims to prevent injuries and deaths from accidents in which cars slide under semi-trucks or trailers. The bill, known as the Stop Underrides Act, introduced recently in the U.S. Senate with an identical bill in the House, would require tractors and trailers to be equipped with front and side underride guards.  The measures' opponents argue that this would be a costly and unnecessary restriction for the trucking and trailer manufacturing industry. Advocates, however, say that it could save lives.

Complications from a fall can be fatal for elderly

One of the most common fears among the elderly is an injury from a fall. Seemingly countless people 65 and older have broken their hip or injured themselves in some way from a fall, but it is actually not the fall that is the problem. The bigger problem is the complications from the falls. According to a recent article in the New York Times, it is complications from falls that are the biggest cause of fatal injuries among the elderly. It is estimated that there is a death every 19 minutes directly tied to complications from a fall.

These complications often arise out of both physical and mental issues. Those initially injured or scared by a fall can become fearful and limit their activities, which can lead to further physical decline, social isolation, and even depression. This downward spiral can actually hasten death.

NTSB investigation of limo crash finally begins

We posted a blog story about the tragic crash of Ford Excursion stretch limo last year. The driver, 17 passengers and two pedestrians were killed when the vehicle lost control on a hill in upstate New York and went through a stop sign, across cross traffic, a parking lot where it killed the pedestrians before coming to a stop on an embankment. It was the worst transportation accident since 2005.

Normally the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates major crashes in the days following the incident and then publishes its findings within a few weeks. Unfortunately, the county prosecutor, the state police and NTSB were at odds over jurisdiction because it was at the center of the county’s investigation involving charges of criminally negligent homicide by the owner of the limo service. There is now news that a recent court date has cleared the way for the NTSB to begin, but the four-month gap since the crash likely means that some evidence is compromised.

Motor vehicle injuries estimates are in for 2018

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), someone in a motor vehicle here in the United States is injured every seven seconds. That statistic is used to get the attention of drivers and encourage them to be safe, but not enough of them are listening. The NSC estimated that there were 40,000 U.S. drivers and passengers involved in fatal crashes. This means that there were 1.24 fatalities on the road for every million miles traveled or 12.19 fatalities for every 100,000 people on the road. Here in New Mexico, the total was 387 fatalities, which is up 3 percent from 2017's 375. Numbers from state to state vary widely, but New Mexico is right in the middle.

The NSC also estimated the number of injuries that involved medical care. This number was 4,560,000 U.S. drivers and passengers. That is a ratio of 114:1. This total, like the fatalities total, is down one percent from 2017.

Combating accidents with new technology

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The objective is to highlight different safety initiatives, some of which are also the focus of the National Safety Council (NSC). 

The objectives

New study on electric scooters injuries

Those rentable electric scooters are showing up in cities across the country. While there has been anecdotal evidence of injured riders seeking treatment in emergency rooms, there is a new study from Southern California that takes a quantifiable look at the risk and damage. The study finds that there were 249 visits to the ER between September 1, 2017 and August 31, 2018.

Types of injuries

You’ve suffered from a food-borne illness. Can you sue?

Sadly, there has been no shortage of incidents of food-borne illnesses and food product recalls in the past six months. If you have been sickened, can you sue?

Personal injury lawsuits or product liability lawsuits are avenues available for anyone who has sustained medical costs or had lost income and other damages.

Drowsy driving is a major safety issue

Drowsy driving has been a road safety issue since the earliest days of motor vehicles. However, a recent survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) as well as other data gathered frame the issue as one that deserves growing concern. According to the AAA, one third of all drivers surveyed admitted that they had driven at least once in the last month when they were having trouble staying awake. This piggybacks on another study that says that 27 percent of Americans claim that they have trouble sleeping.

Sleep aids also an issue

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