Daylight Savings Time Linked To Car Accidents

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Depending on the time of year, changing the clocks for Daylight Savings Time (DST) is viewed as either a blessing or a curse. During Autumn, it's wonderful to earn an extra hour of sleep when DST comes around, but when it come time to "Spring forward" is when problems arises. Research shows that it can take people a couple of weeks to adjust to the spring time change - which is essentially the same as subjecting everyone to jet lag. Losing that hour of sleep can lead to drowsy driving and may potentially cause a sleepy driving car accident if drivers fall asleep at the steering wheel. The lack of sleep can also hinder a driver's alertness on the road. These side effects help explain why 40% of pedestrians were killed in 2015, following the end of DST. 

It's also a misconception to think that just because we gain an hour of sleep in the Autumn, that this phase of Daylight Savings Time is without its drawbacks. One factor researchers believe to be behind the increase in traffic deaths during "fall back" time, is the lack of natural light that is available in the morning. Darker roads are more difficult to maneuver, and may increase the chances of a motor vehicle accident.  

“Even though it’s dark, you’re still behaving like it’s light,” says Lawrence University economist David Gerard, addressing sleepy driver behavior following the first weeks after DST.

How To Adjust To Daylight Savings Time

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Experts suggest that people should prepare a few days before Daylight Savings Time by getting in a few extra hours of sleep, especially for those who already only get around 3-4 hours of sleep every night.

"A lot of these accidents occur because we don't have residual sleep [reserves] to survive that insult," Richard P. Allen, a John Hopkins neurologist, said to Vox Media. "When we're running nearly empty on our sleep-wake status, it doesn't take much to push it into a negative area." 

With evidence that supports the link between DST and dangerous drowsy driving accidents on the road, it’s no wonder states such as Arizona and Hawaii have opted out of participating in the time change. Most of Africa and many areas in Asia have also refused to observe the time change. Daylight Savings Time might seem like a harmless hour out of our days, but taking steps to be more awake while driving are vital to help minimize health risks from abnormal sleeping patterns and the car accidents that follow. Since Autumn daylight savings is coming up in three days, on Sunday, November 5th, now might be the time for Michiganders to start catching a few extra zzz's to prepare!


Daylight Savings Time has come a long way from power saving initiatives during WWI, but it can still negatively affect people's health. The disruption to a person's biological rhythm can cause harm to themselves or to someone else in the event of a drowsy driving car accident. If you or somebody you know has been injured by a sleep-deprived driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Daimler's Autonomous Future Truck

Visitors to The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog may have been keeping up with news on autonomous technology from companies like Ford, Toyota, and Google. A company that we haven't yet mentioned however, is Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. Daimler is also a member of the autonomous car industry and was one of the first to begin the automated transportation revolution with its development of self-driving trucks. The world of semi-trucks was transformed with the creation of the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck. The truck's design includes automated driving capabilities that will allow drivers to operate the heavy, cargo-bearing vehicle much more easily, efficiently, and comfortably. Diamler-created autonomous technology, called Highway Pilot, has set the Future Truck apart from competitors, allowing it to be the safest semi-truck of its kind. Daimler had previously planned to release the Future Truck in 2025, giving driver-less car onlookers a not-so-far away glimpse into what roads may look like in the near future.
 

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Mercedes-Benz Highway Pilot Autonomous Technology


The Future Truck uses Highway Pilot software to autonomously control driving. Daimler envisions a workplace similar to a living room for truckers, where they can relax as they control driving with an iPad. Highway Pilot uses sensors to observe areas in front of the vehicle and to take over control in certain situations, such as during sudden stops. Highway Pilot allows the humans to do all the thinking, without incurring any risk, and leaves the driving to the truck itself. 

Another characteristic of the Future Truck is vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Self-driving trucks will be able to pull over for emergency vehicles or slow down with traffic congestion, using data from the inter-vehicle signals. The trucks will be also be able to switch lanes and react to broken down vehicles on the shoulder, even steering and braking through construction zones with the help of its communication features. 

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Daimler has embraced the opportunity to transform the future of long-distance driving with the development of their Future Truck. Klaus Riff, Deputy Head of Prevention for G Verkehr–Transport Industry Professional Association, confirmed for Daimler that truck drivers face extreme demands everyday, due to factors like sustained attention, tight schedules, and high traffic density. Not only are individual drivers likely to benefit from automated technology, but entire business models will be rearranged. Business Insider mentions how labor costs will be controlled differently and workloads will be streamlined, affecting businesses and consumers with these steps towards more advanced trucks. 

Daimler's Highway Pilot technology was officially tested in October 2015 with the Mercedes-Benz Actros truck, making it the world's first series-production truck to operate autonomously on a motorway. A top German politician, Winfried Kretschmann, and Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Board Member of Daimler AG responsible for Trucks and Buses, rode on the maiden journey of the Mercedes-Benz Actros with the Highway Pilot system, further displaying Daimler's commitment to ease of driving and safety precautions.

Autonomous Truck Regulations

Automated trucks, just like autonomous cars, have not been developed without closely monitored regulations. Four states in the US currently allow the operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads under certain conditions. Those states are Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan. Europe has been facing more strict restrictions. Vehicle safety tests in the EU have been designed for cars with someone behind the wheel, meaning the Future Truck and other driver-less cars like it, fail these tests. Politico reported last year that there were no plans to review this law, setting Europe back from the US and other countries where autonomous driving has been tested on roads. 

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Additionally, policies have regulated truck driver workweeks, working to help reduce motor vehicle fatalities that drowsy driving from a combination of lack of sleep and long hours on highway roads may cause. Semi-truck drivers carrying cargo may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 hours off duty, and according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), may only drive 60/70 hours on duty in 7/ 8 consecutive days. With the release of the Future Truck, truck drivers will be able to rest more often and therefore go longer distances in faster times. Human error will be minimized since trucks will be driving themselves. 
 
Daimler’s automated semi-trucks will soon be approaching reality after years of planning, and the world will finally experience a new type of long-distance travel. Planes, trains, and automobiles are all slowly becoming autonomous, and the transportation industry is just on the brink of a revolution. Daimler and Mercedes-Benz have been a step ahead of the pack, and only have to look eight more years ahead to see The Future Truck front and center. 

Source: Daimler


The future of semi-trucks is looking autonomous and automated. In the present time however, while trucks are still being operated by humans, automobile drivers should take caution  when driving near trucks, as their size makes it harder for them to react quickly to vehicles around them. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a semi-truck or other large vehicle, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. 

Sleep May Help Heal Traumatic Brain Injuries

It has been reported that one of the leading complaints people dealing with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have is that they either cannot get enough sleep, or suffer from insomnia, or that they are constantly sleeping or feel sleepy. So, it comes as a bit of a surprise when a study conducted by the University of Montreal's psychology department found evidence that TBIs and patients' recoveries correlate with sleep patterns. Nadia Gosselin, the study's author, claims that the study shows that if hospitals took more time regulating a sleep routine for a patient diagnosed with a TBI, it could go a long way in their recovery process. Gosselin also adds that, "Making sure patients are exposed to sunlight or its equivalent during the day and at night rest in a dark, quiet environment," TBI patients may be able to maintain a sleep cycle.  

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But First, What Is A Traumatic Brain Injury?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury).  Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions."

Effects TBIs Have On Sleep And Health

Research has proven that when sleep cycles are disrupted, it can have an affect on mood swings, weight, memory, and other consequences. Hence, if someone is losing sleep due to a TBI, other serious health problems can correspondingly occur. Some of the more common diseases include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Additional problems linked to sleep deprivation are a lower libido, depression, and in extreme cases death. This doesn't include health problems that are usually a direct result of having a brain injury such as visual perception, motor function and problems with reading. spelling, and/or speaking. 

Sleep Routines May Help Heal TBIs

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As Gosselin mentioned, setting up a sleep routine tied to the time of day is a good way to get started on resetting the bodies internal clock. Designating a time to wake up to every day and a time to go to bed every night are the simplest ways to set a routine. And by going to bed at least ten minutes ahead of the scheduled time gives the body time to relax to help get to sleep better. It should be noted that eating and drinking drinking alcohol and/or caffeine at least five hours ahead of bed time will also help a person suffering from sleep problems fall asleep easier. Visual stimulants such watching TV, checking email on the laptop, or playing smart phone games, should also be avoided because they can keep the brain busy and essentially signal it to 'stay awake.'

After about 30 minutes of trying to fall asleep and failing to do so, sleep experts recommend that people don't try to force themselves asleep as this can potentially lead to a restless night. Instead, researchers suggest getting out of bed and doing something boring until they feel sleepy. 

Night time isn't the only time a sleeping pattern should be enforced. There are also a few tips that TBI victims can use to stay on track during the day. Staying active through a workout routine during the day is an essential to good sleep. If the body works and tires out during the day, the brain and body are more likely to be susceptible to falling asleep at night. Again, by limit the amount of visual stimulants TBI survivors are exposed, such as smart phone apps, TV shows, and YouTube videos, is also important during the day. If a nap must be had during the day, they should be limited to no more than 20 to 30 minutes a day. Lastly, those dealing with TBIs should increase the amount of time they are outside, especially on days when the sun is out. 

Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer

A cure has yet to be found for some types of traumatic brain injuries, however, most TBIs can be managed through treatments and medications provided through a licensed medical provider. As for prevention of TBIs, the best way to avoid a traumatic brain injury is to take every precaution from getting a head injury. For example, one of the most common ways people suffer from TBIs is by being involved in a car accident. A study conducted by the CDC in 2013, revealed that "Among all age groups, motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths (14%). When looking at just TBI-related deaths, motor vehicle crashes were the third leading cause (19%)."

For the most part, car accidents themselves are preventable since many of them occur due to human error. Though it's easier said than done, by following the rules of the road, by properly wearing seat belts, and by not engaging in distracted driving behaviors, the number of car accidents, and thereby the number of car crash traumatic brain injuries, may decrease. 


Traumatic brain injuries are serious conditions that require time and attention to heal, if they can be healed. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a traumatic brain injury due to a motor vehicle collision, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. We offer free consultations to car accident survivors so that they are not left in the dark on the legal process under Michigan law. 

Tired Driving Can Happen To Anyone, Even Professional Athletes

Denard Robinson Car Accident

Tired driving is a bigger issue than most people realize. Sleepy drivers pose many risks that don't seem to be as talked about as drunk or distracted driving. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy and 37% admit to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. These statistics include all Americans, even professional athletes. Recently, former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson drove his car into a pond.

Robinson, who is currently a National Football League (NFL) running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars, drove into a pond while asleep at the wheel over the past 4th of July. According to NBC Sports, The Florida Times-Union reported that Robinson was found asleep behind the wheel of a car by police responding to reports about a car crashing into a pond early on Sunday morning. Luckily, neither Robinson nor his passenger were hurt. According to the report, Robinson was screened by two officers and found not to be intoxicated. In a post to Twitter, Robinson indicated that he fell asleep at the wheel.


“I just wanted to let everyone know that I was involved in a single-car accident on Saturday night, and thankfully, everyone was safe and remained unharmed,” Robinson said. “I thank God every single day for the opportunities he has presented me with and I’m grateful every morning to wake up healthy. I should not have been driving that late or when I was that tired, but again, I’m just glad that everyone was safe. God Bless."

Denard Robinson Car Crash

In this scenario, Denard Robinson knew he was tired but felt as though he could continue driving without danger. The problem is that many people cannot tell if or when they are about to fall asleep. Others may believe that if they pinch themselves or drink coffee, that they will not fall asleep. Many others shrug it off and attempt to drive anyway if sleepiness comes on while driving. What these people don’t realize, however, is that when you are tired, or even just a little bit drowsy, you are putting yourself and others in danger.

When To Stop And Rest 

Here are some signs provided by the National Sleep Foundation that when experienced should tell a driver to stop and rest:

Tired Driving Accident Lawyer

•    Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
•    Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
•    Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
•    Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
•    Trouble keeping your head up
•    Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
•    Feeling restless and irritable

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers (aged 18 years or older) report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. However, these numbers are underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.

It is important for people to realize that no matter how much of a rush they are in, that if they are tired in any way, that they should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle. When taking long road trip, drivers should periodically stop, rest, and refuel as often as possible. It would even be beneficial to take long road trips with at least one other driver, so that each driver will be able to rest and take turns. Most importantly, if a driver become tired during a drive, they should immediately pull over and stop driving until they are 100% awake and energized. By following these steps and by being able to recognize tired driving, thousands of people will be able to avoid being involved in motor vehicle collisions.


Have you or anyone you know been injured by a driver that was driving tired or asleep at the wheel? If so, call The Michigan Law Firm today. Our attorneys are highly experienced in dealing with all types of motor vehicle accidents including those involving tired drivers. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation.

New Safety Features Combat Drowsy Driving

Auto companies are continuing to create safety features that prevent tired drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. Companies such as Mercedes, Nissan, and Toyota are looking to bring their safety technology and installing it in every vehicle in the future. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 5,000 people have died as a result of fatigued driving-related accidents. 60% of drivers in America have admitted to driving while drowsy. Drowsy drivers can be impaired in ways similar to driving under the influence of alcohol, as drivers tend to make poor judgement calls without realizing the possible effects of their decisions. 

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The first automaker to debut a safety feature that was aimed at curbing fatigued driving was Mercedes in 2009. Today, more mainstream vehicles are being equipped with this technology, such as Nissan’s “Driver Attention Alert System” and Toyota’s “Safety Sense P” system. Toyota told AutoGuide that 25 out of its 30 cars will offer the safety feature by 2017. 

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Nissan’s system monitors the driver’s behavior and sets benchmarks from there. If the driver begins to stray from that benchmark, the system will alert the driver that they are driving erratically. “Nissan’s DAA system adapts to each individual driver. DAA monitors steering input patters during a period of driving to establish a baseline. It continuously compares subsequent driving patters to a baseline using a statistical analysis of steering correction errors,” Paige Presley, a member of Nissan’s Technology Communications team said. The vehicle will alert the driver with a chime and message on the dashboard that recommends the driver takes a break. 

Toyota’s Safety Sense P (TSSP) have many different features that combat the potential mistakes drivers make when they are drowsy and behind the wheel such as a pre-collision system and a lane departure warning system. “Vehicles equipped with TSSP vehicle feature a sway warning system. They look at a number of inputs from the driver and can tell if the driver is driving abnormally,” Brian Williams of Toyota’s Safety Sense explained. 


While these safety features may help alert drivers that their tiredness may be leading to erratic driving behavior, the best safety feature comes from the drivers themselves. If a driver feels like they are too tired to drive, it is highly recommended that they pull off at the next opportunity and either take a nap or ask somebody to come pick them up. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an auto accident caused by fatigued driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys will work alongside you to identify your needs and find a solution that will get you the help you deserve. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.