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Trucking industry seeks revision of hours of service regulations

Sharing a roadway with excessively tired tractor-trailer drivers can be a frightening thought for many Connecticut drivers. Because of the weight and mass of large trucks and buses, accidents involving these vehicles can be deadly or cause serious personal injuries. Despite the risks to roadway safety posed by drowsy drivers piloting massive trucks, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is seeking to make changes to truck drivers' regulations for hours of work in order to make them more flexible.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates a 14-hour driving clock each day for truck drivers as well as a 30-minute rest break during their first 8 hours on duty. Under the proposal of the OOIDA, drivers would not be mandated to take the 30-minute break. Instead, they would be eligible to stop the 14-hour clock at any time during their shift for a voluntary rest break of up to three hours consecutively. Under the proposal, drivers would still need to take 10 hours off duty before beginning their next shift.

Collision avoidance systems shown to prevent car crashes

Many Connecticut drivers are aware that driving can be a dangerous activity, especially as drowsy and distracted drivers are found on the roadways. However, a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that collision avoidance systems like lane departure warning systems and blind spot alerts can save lives.

For the study, more than 5,000 accidents that took place over the course of 2015 were analyzed. The accidents included in the study involved situations that the lane departure and blind spot warning systems were designed to protect against. These were compared to accidents that involved vehicles with the warning alert systems installed. It was found that head-on and sideswipe accidents were 11 percent lower in vehicles that were equipped with the warning systems. Ultimately, it was estimated that more than 55,000 injuries would have been prevented in 2015 if all vehicles were equipped with these two warning systems.

Spousal support could be affected by tax law changes

From property division to spousal support, financial issues have been some of the most significant factors for Connecticut couples going through a divorce. Alimony payments are already a contested issue in many divorces, leading to lengthy negotiations and even court battles. Spousal support issues could become even more complex, however, following the adoption of changes to the U.S. tax code in Dec. 2017.

While each state has an individualized approach to spousal support, there has also been a uniform federal tax approach to the finalized payments. In federal tax law, the payer of alimony has been able to deduct those payments from their income taxes. Meanwhile, the recipient of spousal support reports the income and pays taxes on it alongside their other income. However, as of Jan. 1, 2019, this situation will flip as alimony payers will no longer be eligible for a tax deduction. On the other hand, support recipients will no longer need to pay taxes on the income received.

It takes two - except when you're in a single car accident

One misconception people have about motor vehicle accidents is that "It takes two" - two or more vehicles to justify a claim.

Some drivers are embarrassed to say they were injured while sitting along in their cars - as if it makes them appear foolish.

Contempt may precede a divorce

There are a few key communication patterns that may determine if a Connecticut couple is likely to get a divorce. However, showing contempt toward a spouse may be the most likely indicator that a marriage is not going to work out. Those who show contempt toward a partner may be saying that they don't respect them or think highly of them.

Actions that display contempt for another person include mocking, teasing or name-calling. When a person doesn't have respect for his or her partner, it may be difficult to strengthen a marital bond. At some point, an individual may begin to tune a spouse out, which may make it harder to communicate. Unless a couple learns how to change the way that they communicate, it may be difficult to save the marriage and avoid a divorce.

OSHA lost safety inspectors during 2017

Connecticut workers may be disturbed to learn that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration lost 4 percent of its federal inspection force during President Trump's first year in office. OSHA inspectors visit workplaces across the country to issue citations for safety violations. They also note hazardous conditions that may lead to on-the-job accidents.

According to media reports, OSHA lost 40 inspectors through retirement, resignation and other forms of attrition last year. Those positions remained empty as of Oct. 2, 2017, and the losses left the agency with less than 1,000 total inspectors. However, the U.S. Department of Labor told media outlets that "several" new inspectors have been hired and around 25 more are being recruited.

Treating trucks with respect can prevent accidents

More than 2 million tractor-trailers travel U.S. roadways, and sharing the road with vehicles that can weigh as much as 40 tons can be unnerving for motorists in Connecticut and around the country. Collisions with large and heavy commercial vehicles tend to end badly for passenger vehicle occupants, but remaining vigilant and eschewing ill-advised maneuvers can help drivers to avoid accidents and allow them to reach their destinations unharmed.

Few passenger vehicle drivers have spent time behind the wheel of a semi-tractor trailer, and they are not used to coping with large blind spots while maintaining control of cumbersome vehicles. Maintaining proper distances is crucial when navigating around trucks that require the length of almost two football fields to brake to a halt from 55 mph, and being stuck between two tractor-trailers is a particularly unenviable position to be in when evasive action is required.

Nationwide worker death rate increases in 2016

Connecticut residents may be interested to know that the number of people killed in workplace accidents across the United States went up 7 percent in 2016 over 2015. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the rate of workplace fatalities increased from 3.4 to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

More workers were killed in transportation accidents in 2016 than in any other category. One in every four workers who died did so in a transportation-related accident. The second highest cause of fatal injuries was workplace violence, which increased 23 percent. The number of workers who died from overdosing on the job increased by 32 percent. This is higher than usual as the rate of drug-related deaths has increased 25 percent annually since 2012, the federal agency said.

Holidays can be challenging for divorcing parents

For people in Connecticut dealing with divorce or separation, it can be an emotionally draining process at any time of the year. The winter holidays, however, can be a particularly challenging time for people coming to the end of a marriage, particularly parents who are working to share time with their children. Dealing with parenting plans and child custody issues while also navigating family dinners and religious celebrations can add stress to the holidays. However, divorcing parents can take some proactive steps to care for their children's emotions, and their own, during the holidays and on an ongoing basis.

A positive co-parenting relationship and a structured parenting plan can help children feel secure and supported. Otherwise, split time during the holidays can lead to kids feeling like they're caught between two families and two homes. At the same time, for a divorcing parent, this can also bring disappointment and loneliness when the child is spending time with their other parent during holiday events and traditions.

Divorce and splitting retirement accounts

When Connecticut couples divorce, one piece of property they may need to divide is a retirement account. This might be what is known as a qualified plan, including a 401(k), or it might be an IRA or another non-qualified plan. There are different regulations for dividing these types of accounts.

With a qualified plan, if a person withdraws a portion of the money and gives it to a spouse, that money will be taxed and may be considered an early withdrawal. This can lead to a significant reduction in the final amount. However, if the couple gets a document known as a qualified domestic relations order, the tax and early withdrawal penalty will be waived.

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