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Westlake Village Personal Injury Blog

All Motorcycle Helmets are Not Created Equal

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While many studies show that wearing motorcycle helmets saves lives, many riders still dispute the claim. Others, in states where helmet use is optional, choose to take the risk of riding without a helmet. In California, the law does not afford the option of riding helmet free, but there are several different styles of helmets to choose from. How much protection from a traumatic brain injury do these helmets provide?

California law requires that all helmets sold for use by motorcycle riders meet or exceed the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218. States that implemented similar helmet requirements, have shown a significant reduction in motorcycle head injuries of 50%. Most of these states require the same Department of Transportation approval as California. Meeting that standard does not guarantee the maximum protection, it only means the product passed certain testing requirements.

Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Large Commercial Vehicles

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The results from truck accidents are far more devastating on average than other motor vehicle accidents. In the U.S. one person is killed or injured in a truck crash every 16 minutes. 98% of the fatalities are people in the smaller vehicles as opposed to the occupants of the trucks. Despite these numbers, truck drivers on the average are patient and safe drivers.

When truck accidents occur involving a passenger vehicle, it is the fault of the passenger vehicle driver in 75% of all cases. Only 16% of truck accidents can be attributed to the driver of the truck. Why do truck accidents happen and how can they be prevented?

Drivers on most highways and roadways are forced to share the road with large commercial vehicles. In California, the number of these vehicles is disproportionate to other states due to the large ports where cargo arrives from around the world. Understanding the dynamics of a large truck is important for drivers of passenger vehicles to safely share the roads with these behemoths.

New Imaging System Predicts Recovery in Concussion Patients

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Thanks to a new advanced imaging system, patients, who recently suffered concussions, were accurately assessed for the likelihood of complete recovery by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health Systems. Also highlighted were the brains mechanisms for repairing or compensating for injuries in the study in the American Journal of Neuroradiology. Information that could lead to faster therapeutic development was provided in the study.

Every year, 2.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 75% of which are concussions. Objective biomarkers or tests for diagnosing concussions were non-existent. The only available method was symptom assessment. These symptoms which may include slurred speech, memory loss, confusion, seizures or loss of coordination, can last for seconds or not appear for days or even weeks following trauma.

The Danger of Overloaded Truck Crashes

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The risk to drivers of passenger vehicles sharing the road with large trucks is obvious, but overload one of those trucks, or load it improperly, and the potential for a catastrophic event increases manifold. An overloaded semi-truck, or 18-wheeler, places an undue burden on its brakes, frame, suspension and tires. An overweight truck has an extended stopping ability, especially while traveling downhill and can easily jackknife on a wet road surface. Overloaded or improperly loaded trailers are prone to rollovers and even splitting open, dumping their contents onto a busy highway. The driver of an overweight truck may not be aware of weight of the load until it becomes time to suddenly stop or take evasive action. He may fail to apply the brakes soon enough or lose control and rollover.

Why Are Overloaded Trucks on the Highway?

The maximum cargo weight of a trailer truck is determined by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is calculated by the limitations of the brakes, powertrain, frame and suspension. Unfortunately, it is common for semi-trucks on the road to be a combination of a tractor and trailer that have never been hooked together, making it virtually impossible to accurately calculate the GVWR. Very often the driver is an owner/operator who simply signs off on the load, hooks up and drives off. There are weigh stations along most major interstate highways, which are in place to check the vehicles gross weight. These stations are often closed. Should the station be manned and open, and a truck is determined to exceed the GVWR, the driver is ticketed and sent along with his overweight load.

Motorcycle Accident Safety - Does Size Really Matter?

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Which is safer? A touring bike or a sport bike? This has been a subject for debate since the surge in popularity of high speed sport bikes. Is a rider more likely to be injured on a Harley Sportster 1200 or a Kawasaki Ninja 250? Which tires are safer? Thin or fat? In the world of motorcycle safety does size really matter?

It would make sense to argue that the smaller and lighter sport bike is safer since it is more maneuverable and can accelerate faster, to escape a potentially dangerous situation. If a car swerves into the path of a sport bike, the biker can use those features to avoid a collision. On the other hand, most cruiser or touring bikes produce a louder and throatier sound, compared to the high revving whine of a sport bike, which makes the cruiser more audible, alerting other drivers to their proximity. The cruiser is more likely to maintain its lane and less likely to ride in another vehicle's blind spot. Another fact to consider is that the sport bike, as well as the riders clothing, are generally more brightly colored than that of the cruiser, increasing visibility. Adding up all the facts; it would be apparent that the sport bike would have a slight edge in the overall safety debate. Then why are sports bikes involved in the greatest number of crashes? The reason is speed.

The Cause and Effect of Blunt Force Head Trauma

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When you hear the phrase, blunt force head trauma, you may immediately relate it to violent crime. The term is frequently used by the news media when the extent of a head injury has not been determined. Typically, the story would contain a line such as "the victim was transported to the hospital with signs of blunt force head trauma." However, these injuries are instigated by any blow to the head where there is no skull penetration.

Common Causes of Blunt Force Head Trauma

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of blunt force head trauma, followed by sports injuries, falls and physical assaults, per the National Institutes of Health. The wearing of seatbelts while driving and helmets when riding a motorcycle, bicycle or skateboard can significantly reduce the chance of a head injury. Wearing protective headgear while participating in sports can also reduce the chance of blunt force head trauma.

Brain Injuries May Be Present in Football Players as Young as Eight Years Old

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It's so cute watching little kids wearing big, colorful football helmets, bright jerseys and running around on a field being tagged and sometimes tackled. As harmless as their level of play may look, their young developing brains are being subjected to jarring blows. They are taught early to depend on their gear to protect them from taking hits, but how much protection does that helmet provide? A study shows that children between the ages of 8 and 13 are already at risk of permanent brain injury.

The chief of neurology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, Christopher Whitlow, conducted a study of male football players between the ages of 8 and 13 years of age. That study recorded "head impact data," using a Head Impact Telemetry System to measure force. The recording revealed that the boys who received the most head injuries displayed a change in neurological activity. The greatest change was in a measurement of connective activity called fractional anisotropy.

Even though concussions were not present, the diminished fractional anisotropy, apparent in their brain activity, resembled that of mild brain trauma sufferers.

Preventing Motorcycle Accidents Through Driver Awareness

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The increase in motorcycle popularity in the US. is expected to continue to rise. In 2011 there were 8,410,255 motorcycles registered nationwide accounting for 3% of registered vehicles. However, in California, motorcycle accidents accounted for 17% of all road fatalities. The LA Times reported on May 16, 2016, that the number of deaths from motorcycle crashes decreased by 7% in California in 2015 compared to a nationwide increase of 10% that same year. Despite that encouraging report, California has the second highest number of motorcycle fatalities in the country, trailing only Florida, a four-season, helmet optional state. The most disturbing fact, regarding motorcycle crashes, is that they are almost always preventable through driver awareness and caution.

Bikers should be aware of the inherent dangers of riding. The odds of becoming a crash fatality are 27 times greater than traveling in a passenger vehicle. Estimates show that there were over 5,000 motorcycle fatalities in 2015 in the U.S. That was the third straight year where the number of bikers killed surpassed the 5000 mark.

Driver Fatigue is the Leading Cause of Truck Accidents

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Truckers are often under pressure to continue driving, despite being fatigued. It is an alarming trend that has continued despite strict federal regulations. In truck crashes, that are the fault of the truck driver, fatigue is the number one cause, accounting for 35-40% of all truck accidents. A sleep deprived driver may be forcing himself to drive, due to the pressure of a delivery deadline or an arduous schedule. That fatigued driver may be as impaired as a driver that is under the influence of alcohol.

Truck driver fatigue is the result of any or all the following; lack of sleep, working overtime or loading/unloading heavy cargo. A fatigued driver is often dependent on coffee or one of those heavily caffeinated drinks which are available at any rest stop. These stimulants may mask the true level of fatigue until the driver becomes mesmerized by the roadway and suddenly nods off. Then there is a driverless, out of control 20 to 40-ton truck, is traveling headlong towards disaster.

Traumatic Brain Injury Caused by Whiplash

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced recently he would be taking a break from Sprint Cup racing, following several concussions which were the result of crashes. The last mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) he suffered affected his vison and his balance. These MTBI's were not the result of a head injury, but whiplash. Most people are unaware that it does not require a high-speed crash to cause whiplash and a mild traumatic brain injury.

A typical whiplash accident would involve a driver who is struck from behind, while waiting at a traffic light or to pay a toll. A distracted driver rear ends the stopped vehicle causing the driver's head to snap backwards, over the headrest and then lurch forward towards the steering wheel. In the best case, the driver of the rear-ended vehicle had a shoulder harness and lap belt buckled and their head never struck the steering wheel.

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