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Hartford Law Blog

Road rage is a significant problem

Many Connecticut drivers may be among an overwhelming majority of respondents who reported serious road rage, aggression or anger in the past year in a 2016 survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The study also found that 90 percent of drivers thought their safety was endangered by aggressive drivers and that almost two-thirds thought drivers were growing more aggressive.

Drivers who were ages 19-39 and male drivers were among the most likely to drive aggressively. Drivers in the Northeast were also more likely to be aggressive than those from other parts of the country in terms of yelling, honking or gesturing at other motorists. The study found that overall, 51 percent of respondents said they had tailgated on purpose and almost half said they had yelled or honked at a driver in annoyance. Around one-third said they had gestured angrily at other drivers, and just under one-fourth said they had tried to stop another car's lane change. Leaving the car to confront a driver and deliberately running into another vehicle were reported by 4 and 3 percent respectively.

Steps to take after a motor vehicle accident

Connecticut motorists may wonder what to do if they are in a car accident. If an accident is not their fault, there are a few extra steps that should be taken for protection.

The first thing to do is remain calm. An injured person should get medical attention immediately and check on others if possible. Injured people should not be moved unless it is necessary. It is best to move the cars out of the way so that they do not cause another accident.

Drug possession in Connecticut carries varying penalties

People facing drug charges in Connecticut may be dealing with a array of possible charges and potential penalties. These penalties for personal drug possession can depend on a number of issues, including the type of drug, the amount possessed, where the possession took place and whether the charge is a first offense.

This vast difference in potential penalties is well-illustrated when comparing a first offense for possession with three or more convictions for narcotics possession. In the first case of drug charges for a small amount of marijuana, the penalty is a $150 fine. For a second offense, a defendant could face up to 25 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. All drug charges are generally subject to an enhancement if they take place within 1,500 feet of a school or day care center.

FMCSA implements new commercial driver's license rules

The trucking industry in Connecticut and around the country is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. New commercial driver's license requirements were scheduled to go into effect in early 2017, but regulatory reviews ordered by President Trump caused the new FMCSA rules to be delayed by more than five months. However, the review process has now been completed, and the revised licensing requirements became effective on June 5.

Interested parties like driver training services and freight moving companies are being given almost three years to comply with the new rules, which will apply to truck drivers who receive their commercial driver's licenses on or after Feb. 7, 2020. Changes to the current requirements include the introduction of a core curriculum and mandatory behind-the-wheel training. A registry of FMCSA approved commercial vehicle driving instructors has also been compiled.

Connecticut State Police arrest 2 men with heroin

State police arrested two out-of-state men after a traffic stop in Tolland uncovered in excess 400 bags of heroin. According to the police report, a state police patrol on Interstate 84 noticed an eastbound Hyundai sedan tailgating. After noting that the passenger was not wearing a seat belt, officers stopped the vehicle on Interstate 84 near exit 69.

Officers reported seeing brownies in the car's glove compartment, which they suspected to be laced with THC. They summoned a K-9 narcotic detection unit to the scene. Consequently, a police dog signaled the presence of narcotics. Officers initiated a search of the vehicle and found a cardboard box in the passenger compartment that contained over 200 bags of heroin. They then arrested the two men, ages 40 and 46. A search of the 40-year-old man produced more bags.

Intense 72 hours of inspections promote truck safety

Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance organizes a nationwide 72-hour inspection spree to check the status of trucks and buses. Truckers from Connecticut can expect inspectors to focus on load securement in 2017. Level I inspections from the alliance include checks of cargo tie-downs, but inspectors want to impress upon the trucking industry the importance of preventing the shifting or loss of cargo in transit.

To pass inspection, the CVSA advises truckers to make sure that their tie-downs are in good working condition. Inspectors look for damage that could cause a load to break loose. Common problems include an inadequate amount of tie-downs, loose straps and improperly secured truck equipment.

Tiger Woods charged with a DUI

Connecticut golf fans might have heard that Tiger Woods has been charged with a DUI in Florida. The incident occurred on May 29 around 3 a.m. in Palm Beach County near the star's home.

Officers with the Jupiter Police Department stopped Woods on a six-lane highway called Military Trail. He was booked into custody at the Palm Beach County Jail at 7:18 a.m. and was released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m. Woods released a statement about the incident in which he stated that it did not involve alcohol. Instead, he said he had a strong reaction to his prescription medications.

Study examines children and auto accidents

Researchers are constantly sifting through the data of fatal car accidents. Drivers in Connecticut and throughout the U.S. should pay attention to these statistics, particularly when it involves children under the age of 15. The numbers show that while the number of deaths in an auto accident vary state-by-state, a greater number of deaths happen in the South. Most are linked to a failure to properly use or failure to use restraints in rural crashes.

The study shows that between 2010 and 2014, approximately 16 percent of children under the age of 15 who were in a fatal car crash died. There were 18,116 such accidents and 2,885 deaths. More than 1,500 fatalities were in the South. The Northeast was found to be the safest with 189 deaths. In the Midwest, the number was 585.

Truck drivers and sleep apnea

Truck drivers in Connecticut should expect to encounter more regulations regarding sleep apnea. This is due to the United States Supreme Court's decision to not review a case in which a driver alleged that a truck carrier violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring that he be tested.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical disorder that causes breathing to be interrupted during sleep. OSA is the most frequently occurring type of sleep apnea. Contributing factors of the condition include poor physical fitness, inadequate diet, obesity, poor sleep patterns and smoking. Medical complications that arise from OSA include cardiovascular ailments, complications with surgery and medicine, vision problems and fatigue. The risk of OSA associated with truckers is that it can cause them to become drowsy behind the wheel and get into an accident.

Truck underride guards could save lives in Connecticut

Collisions with a tractor-trailer or elevated straight truck can send small vehicles under the larger truck and shear off the top half of the vehicle. Since the point of impact is much higher, this can injure and kill passengers without activating standard safety equipment, such as airbags and safety harnesses. However, regulatory agencies are working to address this issue with the use of rear-mounted guards that lower the point of impact. Recent tests confirm the benefits of side-mounting underride guards as well.

The tests were run by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which produced a video showing the difference guards can make in a tractor-trailer crash with a passenger automobile. In a straight collision, such as may occur during a truck jackknife, the midsize vehicle is prevented from going under the trailer, and there is activation of the front airbag.