Archive for the ‘Auto Accidents’ Category

Bicycle Accidents in Indiana Target of New Proposed Laws

January 27th, 2015 by admin

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 726 cyclists died and another 49,000 were seriously injured in accidents where the cyclist was hit in a motor vehicle traffic accident in 2012.   While not a huge number statistically, the fact that most bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles cause serious injury to those riding the cycle mean that these accidents are serious dangers and of particular concern, given that children and young adults (like college students) are often those who are sharing roads with cars and trucks while riding their bikes.

It’s a situation worthy of legislative concern.  In fact, there are two new laws being proposed by Indiana lawmakers this year that are targeting the dangers to people riding bicycles of serious injury and death in bicycle traffic accidents. Both would work to increase criminal laws for drivers who share the roads with bicyclists.

 

 

New Indiana Laws to Fight Against Serious Traffic – Bicycle Accidents

Each proposal would make it a Class C misdemeanor for a driver of a car, truck, SUV, minivan, or other motor vehicle to overtake a bicycle rider or bicyclist without keeping a minimum of THREE FEET between their vehicle and the bicycle when overtaking the bike and not waiting to return to their original lane until they were a safe distance from the bicycle.

What does this mean? If someone is convicted of a Class C misdemeanor in Indiana, they can be jailed for two months and fined $500.00. This is not law, yet — but it’s a good step toward helping keep people riding bikes safe on Indiana roads.

To track these new proposed bike safety laws:

Senate Bill 36

Citations Affected: IC 9-13-2-14; IC 9-21-8-5.

Synopsis:

Vehicle clearance when overtaking a bicycle. Provides that it is a Class C infraction for a person driving a vehicle overtaking a bicycle to not allow at least three feet of clearance between the vehicle and the bicycle and not return to the original lane until the vehicle is safely clear of the bicycle.

Effective: July 1, 2015.

House Bill 1233

Citations Affected: IC 9-13-2-14; IC 9-21-8-5.

Synopsis:

Vehicle clearance when overtaking bicycle. Provides that it is a Class C infraction for the operator of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle to not: (1) allow at least three feet of clearance between the vehicle and the bicycle; and (2) return to the original lane until the vehicle is safely clear of the bicycle. Revises the definition of “bicycle” for purposes of the motor vehicle code.

Effective: July 1, 2015

NTSB Most Wanted List for 2015: Fed’s Top 10 Biggest Dangers in Transportation Today

January 15th, 2015 by admin

The National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) has released its 2015 Most Wanted List, where the federal agency targets those issues it considers the biggest dangers facing America on the roads in transportation safety.

The NTSB has compiled its Most Wanted List for over ten years now, to bring public awareness and to drive change in areas where there are unacceptable risks being faced by Americans on U.S. roads.

From the Most Wanted List are these accident dangers which we see causing serious injury and wrongful death all too often in Indiana and Illinois:

1.  Commercial Trucking Safety

Commercial trucking is integral to our economy, but crashes, injuries and deaths involving commercial trucks have been increasing over the past several years. The NTSB has a long history of calling on the regulators to improve their oversight of operators, drivers, and vehicles. To manage their safety risks, trucking companies must go beyond securing regulatory compliance from all their employees, and proactively identify operational hazards and potential solutions.

 

 

 2.  Distracted Driving

Since 2003, the NTSB has found distraction from portable electronic devices (PEDs) as a cause or contributing factor in 11 accident investigations. Those crashes resulted in 259 people injured and 50 people killed. The first step toward removing deadly distractions will be to disconnect from non-mission-critical information. All modes of transportation need to rise to today’s distraction challenges.

3.  Safety of  Mass Transit (Buses, Subways, Etc.)

Every day, millions of people take some form of mass transit to or from shopping, work, classes, or other destinations. Mass transit comprises light rail, commuter rail, subways, ferries, streetcars, buses and trolley buses. Although each system has unique equipment, operating environments, and challenges, all can benefit from strengthening their organizational safety cultures. Deploying advanced technologies will also make mass transit safer.

 

From the president of the National Safety Council:

“The NTSB’s Most Wanted List appropriately highlights two critical safety issues: distracted driving and prescription painkiller use,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of NSC. “Our desire to be constantly connected, even while behind the wheel, results in far too many deadly crashes, while the proliferation and misuse of prescription painkillers results in 46 overdose deaths per day. The Council thanks NTSB for keeping these important issues on its Most Wanted List, because continued attention and education are key ingredients of culture change.”

Were Your Car Crash Injuries (1990 – 2015) Caused By Defective Takata Air Bag?

January 13th, 2015 by admin

The Japanese company Takata Corporation has been providing air bags to car manufacturers all around the world for many, many years now. It’s only within the past year or two that it’s been revealed that these Takata air bags are defective products that can cause serious injury or even death.

People have been hurt in accidents all over the world from these air bags.  Apparently, it’s been happening for over 20 years.

Image: airbag that has properly inflated without incident.

Meanwhile, for literally DECADES, these air bags have been hurting and killing people. It’s not known right now how many people suffered over the years from these exploding air bags. Injuries caused by the exploding air bags have been attributed to all sorts of things — even criminal assaults in some cases, since the slashing injuries suffered by the victims can look similar to knife wounds.

How Takata Air Bags Hurt People

The Takata air bags are known – now – to cut drivers and passengers with sharp metal and plastic pieces that hit like battlefield shrapnel within the car’s interior as the air bag’s metal holder breaks apart when the air bag explodes. How?

It’s believed that the air bags are defective because too much air is pushed into the air bag when it is signaled to inflate. The enormous volume of air being forced into the air bag result not only in the air bag blowing apart, but also destroying its metal and plastic case. The metal and plastic component breaks into bits, which are carried in the explosion’s force into surrounding objects: seats, dashboard, interiors, and the bodies of any passenger as well as the driver.

Takata has not confirmed this. Takata claims that it’s still investigating what is happening in these air bag explosions. It has pointed a finger at weather factors, like humidity and moisture, contributing to the problem. Takata has not agreed to a national recall of its product.

Honda Hit With Historic $70 Million Fine

Meanwhile, the federal government has been pushing the manufacturer for that national recall. And the federal government is demanding millions in fines from car makers, too.

Honda was recently fined $70,000,000 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for failing to promptly act regarding the Takata air bags endangering its buyers.

This $70 Million Fine was the largest fine that the NHTSA ever imposed on a car maker by the agency.

Were You Hurt or in a Crash Caused by a Takata Air Bag?

From NHTSA, there is an online list of the BMWs, Chryslers, Dodges, Fords, Pontiacs, Hondas, Acuras, Mazdas, Mitsubishis, Nissans, Saabs, Infiniti, Subaru, and Toyotas, that are at risk of accident and injury because of a Takata air bag and anyone driving one of these vehicles is urged to take immediate action. Go to SaferCar.gov to find out if your car, or the car in which you were hurt, has a Takata airbag problem.

And if you were involved in an auto accident where you or a loved one suffered knife-like cut injuries and they were explained away as being caused by something else, then you may need to investigate whether or not the Takata air bag was the real cause of the accident and if there are legal claims to advance based upon the product defect.

 

Red-Light Cameras and Rear-End Crashes: Chicago Debate

December 23rd, 2014 by admin

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 40% percent of all crashes in this country are intersection accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2004 found that 9,100 people died and 1,500,000 people were injured in intersection-related crashes.

RLRs Cause Accidents

What’s happening here? It seems that most of these accidents happen because one of the drivers is running a red light and crashes into the car who is moving through the intersection with right of way.

This is called an “RLR” and the traditional response to RLRs has been to have police monitor dangerous intersections to try and prevent drivers from running the light. However, having police officers sitting there either as a deterrent (where traffic can easily see the patrol car parked there) or having police officers actually ticketing drivers who speed through red lights, isn’t enough. There are too many intersections, for one thing. For another, it’s not cost effective for many communities to have their police officers sitting on traffic detail.

Solution? The Red Light Camera.

 

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According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), red light cameras supplement police efforts in preventing crashes caused by red light running.

Which meant that lots of communities — like Chicago — installed these traffic cameras at intersections in an effort to combat RLR accidents. Go here to see the online map of locations where red light cameras have been installed in the Chicago area.

Chicago Controversy Over Effectiveness of Red Light Cameras

Now, there is a question of how effective this new technology really is in preventing wrecks and stopping RLRs. In an editorial, the Chicago Tribune argues that the red light program isn’t working.

Worse, a new research study suggests that not only do the red light cameras fail to stop people from running red lights, they are contributing to more CHICAGO REAR-END COLLISIONS. Read more about that study here.

Candidates running against the current Chicago Mayor are calling for the red light cameras to be suspended.

So, what happens with the red light camera strategy in Chicago and other parts of Illinois and Indiana? Well, for one thing — if that study is true, then rear end crashes at red light camera locations may have an argument that the rear-end accident was NOT caused by the rear driver but instead had the driver in front contributing to the crash because of the RLR technology.

December Holiday Drunk Driving Campaign in Indiana and Illinois

December 18th, 2014 by admin

This week, the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign began and it will run through New Year’s Day 2015. The federal effort will be coordinated with state and local law enforcement efforts to keep car accidents involving drunk driving from happening during this festive holiday season.

 

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Drunk Driving Kills People: Drive Sober Campaigns

These campaigns are working, hopefully: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of drunk driving deaths fell 2.5% last year (in 2013). Still, deaths caused by people driving under the influence is still a very serious problem in this country: in 2013, a person died every 52 minutes from a drunk driving crash.

“We will continue to be relentless in our effort to curb drunk driving because each life is precious,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Too many lives are still being cut far too short because of drunk driving. We can stop these tragedies by making the decision not to allow ourselves or our loved ones to get behind the wheel after drinking.”

 

Illinois

According to the Illinois statistics, approximately 47% of Illinois motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol. This year, the State of Illinois is participating in the Drive Sober campaign during the last two weeks of December 2014.

Indiana

Indiana reports 5,152 alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2012, which resulted in 158 fatalities, 246 serious bodily injuries, and 1,866 other injuries (a total of 2,112 non-fatal injuries). This means that just about every other day in Indiana, someone dies in a drunk driving crash – or around 3 people a week. That’s a sad statistic for our state. The Drive Sober campaign is also in effect for the remainder of this month in Indiana.

Drunk Driving Safety Tips

  • Plan a safe way home before you start partying.
  • Choose a designated driver, who agrees to stay sober during the evening.
  • If you may be drunk or buzzed, then use the SaferRide app, or otherwise get a ride home (call a taxi, call your mom).
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, call the police. You may save a life.
  • If someone is about to drive away drunk, then stop them. Take their keys. Get them a ride home.
  • Don’t get in a car with someone who may be intoxicated.

2014: SaferRide App

The NHTSA has a free app, SaferRide, that is available online (including Android / Google Play) which allows you to call for a cab or a pal for a ride home that gives them your location automatically. You can get the app here.

 

Wrongful Death and Serious Injuries in Car Crashes From Drunk Driving

Each year, victims die in car crashes that are the result of things like road hazards, driver errors, or product failure (like those ignition failures made the subject of the current GM car recalls). However, the most tragic traffic fatalities are those that could have been easily prevented – like those where drunk driving caused the crash.

Personal injury law does provide ways for those who are victims of drunk driving to seek justice after these tragedies. However, the best justice is to keep these tragedies from happening in the first place. Let’s all do our part to stop drunk driving in our communities.

Phones in The Car: Drivers Distracted Even If Not Using The Phone, Just Able to See It

December 16th, 2014 by admin

In 2012, drivers being distracted by cell phones in their vehicles caused 12% of the deaths in traffic accidents that year. That’s on record. However, it is believed that the reality is much more significant, since many drivers fail to admit they were on the phone at the time of the crash — or they perished in the wreck and are not able to explain what happened.

 

More and more research is being done on the impact of using a phone in the car by drivers.  There are laws being passed regarding talking on the phone while the phone is being held. There are laws being passed in some states regarding hands-free (speaker) phone communications by drivers.  Texting while driving is considered even more dangerous than talking while driving and many laws are in effect to ban this practice.

However, a new study from the University of Southern Maine takes things one step further and makes the dangers of accidents caused by phones even more scary. According to the research, many drivers are distracted and more likely to cause an accident if they have their phone with them in the car, even if they are not texting or talking on it.

According to the researchers, cell phones nearby, where you can see it, is enough to distract you from driving as well as all other sorts of tasks — like doing work or studying. The result? Apparently, people are so connected to their phones that part of their brains are continually aware of the gizmo even they are not actively using it at the time.

Bottom line: Drivers in Indiana and Illinois who are using their cell phones are more likely to be in a crash not just when they are talking or texting, but apparently they are also a bigger danger for all of us on the roads with them if they toss their phone on the seat next to them, or on the dashboard, and can simply SEE the phone there in the car with them.

It becomes even more important for police reports and accident scene investigations to notice and note where the location of cell phones are in accidents now. Distracted driving may or may not involve a crime, but it is an element of proving fault in a car accident where injury damages are being claimed.

Is Your Minivan Safe? Warning as New Crash Tests Study Released

December 11th, 2014 by admin

If you drive a minivan or know someone who does, then you need to read the results from the latest research study by the Institute for Highway Safety. There are some scary results here for some very popular minivans out on Illinois and Indiana roads — including three that are considered to be very unsafe.

How bad? According to the researchers, “some of the worst possible outcomes for this type of crash.”

Who did the research?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent non-profit organization that studies motor vehicle accidents in the United States and tries to find ways to make driving in America safer. True, the IIHS is funded by auto insurance companies — but their profit concerns are all about making cars safer so they don’t have to pay as much in claims. Even if we take the IIHS study with a grain, it’s important to consider their findings. So here goes:

You can read their full report here.

Chrysler Town and Country (2008-15), Dodge Caravan (2008-15), Volkswagen Routan (2009-12), and Nissan Quest (2001-2015)

Four minivans (Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Caravan, Volkswagen Routan, and Nissan Quest ) were tested for what happens when they were in a crash with another vehicle (or a tree, or a utility pole) as the minivan is going 40 MPH. Each of these minivans “collapsed” in the crash.

Here’s a scary result: the crash test dummy’s head fell from the air bag and hit the dashboard in the Town and Country test.

The worst was the Nissan Quest. From the IIHS release:

The structure was pushed in nearly 2 feet at the lower hinge pillar, and the parking brake pedal moved 16 inches toward the driver. The dummy’s left leg was trapped between the seat and instrument panel, and its right foot was caught between the brake pedal and toe pan. Following the tests, technicians had to cut the entire seat out and then use a crowbar to free the right foot. ….The forces measured all along the dummy’s left leg, from the thigh to the foot, were very high, in some cases exceeding the limits of the sensors. ” ’A real person experiencing this would be lucky to ever walk normally again,” Zuby points out. A broken right femur also would be possible.…’”

Toyota Sienna (2015)

The Toyota minivan (Sienna) was “weak” but the crash test dummy survived the impact so the Toyota Sienna got a rating of “acceptable.” That is the 2nd highest rating. Sorta like a “B” on the report card.

Honda Odyssey – Only Minivan With Highest Safety Rating

Only one minivan — the Honda Odyssey — got the highest safety rating from IIHS in these safety tests. The minivan did suffer damage, but the crash test dummy was protected during the impact. Result: the rating of “good.”

Minivans Sold To Families: Shouldn’t They Be Safer?

In the United States, the minivan is synonymous with the American Family. It’s what mothers use to take the kids to soccer practice. It’s what dads drive when the family goes to the movies on Friday night. Sports gear gets thrown in the back of the minivan; most every minivan you’ll see on the roads will have at least one infant car seat in the back.

Parents buy minivans because they are convenient — but they also drive minivans because they believe these vehicles to be safer for their families than many sedans or SUVs. It’s shocking to learn that these vehicles aren’t passing basic safety testing at a 40 MPH rate. What happens when the minivan is in a collision on the freeway, where interstate speed limits are much higher?

When someone suffers an injury or tragic death in a minivan accident, they need to be aware that not only are there possible claims to be pursued against the driver who was negligent and at fault in the wreck but there are also potential “products liability” claims to consider regarding the design and manufacturer of the vehicle itself. Expect to see lawsuits advancing where victims of minivan accidents rely upon this study and others in their injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims.

Drive Safely This Thanksgiving Holiday: Tips to Keep Your Family From Danger as You Travel

November 25th, 2014 by admin

This week, despite the cold, stormy weather expected all around the nation, lots of families in Indiana and Illinois will be bundling up the kids and packing up the vehicles to drive across town, or across the state or country, to spend Thanksgiving this Thursday with loved ones. Sadly, for some folk in the United States, there will be the unexpected tragedy of traffic accidents and serious injuries resulting from car accidents on the roads — it’s a statistical reality.

For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2012, there were 416 deaths in traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of these fatalities were attributed to failure to use seat belts (60% of passenger car and light truck occupants) and surprising to no one, drunk driving caused many of this holiday statistics (42%).

 

 

 

Tips for Staying Safe While Traveling this Thanksgiving Holiday

Here are several things that we all can do for ourselves and our families to keep everyone safe from harm and free to enjoy this Thanksgiving weekend:

1. Wear Your Seat Belts

Everyone in the vehicle should be buckled up; this is especially true for the children.

2. Kids Under 13 Years Old Not in Front Seat

Keep smaller children in the back seat, where they are safer in the event of a crash.

3. Don’t Use Your Phone While Driving

Distracted driving (text, handheld, hands-free) can cause crashes even in the best weather conditions. Put your phone in the glove box if it helps keep you away from the temptation to text or talk.

4. Get Your Car Checked Before You Head Out

Make sure that your car is in good working order before you start your trip. Are your tires properly inflated? Are they still within the age limits of the car maker’s recommendations (old tires can kill). Do you have any car recall issues?

5. Prepare for Bad Weather

Know your route and the weather forecasts. If you are going to be driving through road hazards like snow or rain or sleet, then give yourself extra time to get there. Have emergency items ready if needed: things like flares and flashlights, snacks, water, and blankets are vital if you are stuck or stranded on the road.

Fatigued, Tired Drivers Said to Cause 20% of All U.S. Traffic Deaths: Drowsy Drivers at Fault?

November 6th, 2014 by admin

A new study has been released by “Triple A,” or the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, regarding traffic accidents and this study finds that 21% of deaths in car crashes are due to drivers who are tired or sleepy and operating a vehicle. That’s a lot of people driving with fatigue.

The AAA study is also reporting a higher number for fatigue driving risk that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its monitoring of the problem. This new study suggests that drivers on the road who are too sleepy to be driving is a much bigger problem that many may have perceived to be the case until now.

From AAA:

According to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one-in-five (21 percent) fatal crashes involve driver fatigue. These results help confirm what safety experts have long suspected: the prevalence of drowsy driving is much greater than official statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) currently indicate. As daylight saving time ends and evening commutes darken, AAA urges drivers to recognize warning signs of driver fatigue and take action to avoid tragedy during this holiday season.

“This new research further confirms that drowsy driving is a serious traffic safety problem,” warned Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Unfortunately, drivers often underestimate this risk and overestimate their ability to combat drowsiness behind the wheel.”

It’s Hard to Determine if Fatal Crash Caused by Fatigue

Meanwhile, the National Sleep Council points out that it is not easy to determine after the fact whether or not a driver in a fatal collision was driving drowsy at the time of the accident. Investigators of crash sites can’t easily calculate how alert (or not) a driver when the crash happened. There are ways, however, to find out if a driver actually fell asleep at the wheel, such as (1) one-car accidents and (2) the absence of skid marks.

Signs of a Fatigued, Drowsy Driver

From AAA, here are some signs that a driver may be driving dangerously because they are really tired and need some rest:

  • The inability to recall the last few miles traveled;
  • Having disconnected or wandering thoughts;
  • Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open;
  • Feeling as though your head is very heavy;
  • Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips;
  • Yawning repeatedly;
  • Accidentally tailgating other vehicles;
  • Missing traffic signs.

Accident Crash Claims and Fault of the Driver

When an accident happens and an insurance company is being asked to pay large sums of money in damages to an accident victim, rest assured that these insurance companies are going to be looking long and hard on studies like these to try and limit their liability through the legal element of “fault” in a negligence case.

If a driver can be shown to have driven when they were too fatigued to operate a vehicle, or if they can be shown to have been distracted at the time of the crash as another example, then the defendant can argue the “proximate cause” of the crash was the driver’s irresponsibility at the time of the crash.

Distracted Driving Status Report Released: Dangers Abound from Driver Distractions

November 4th, 2014 by admin

From Itasca, Illinois, the National Safety Council released its take on a new Status Report that has been published by the the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently. In it, the Insurance Institute took distracted driving data from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and analyzed it in tandem with traffic accident data reported to U.S. insurance companies alongside the various state laws that ban different types of distracted driving (texting while driving, chatting on phone while driving, etc.).

The NSC is a non-profit organization dedicated to researching and reporting on safety issues and it’s been around since 1913. The IIHS was created by the three biggest car insurance companies back in 1959, and ten years later became an independent research organization.

Read the IIHS Status Report here.

NSC on Latest Distracted Driving Report: What About Risks of Hands-Free?

It comes as no surprise that the National Safety Council supports making all kinds of distracted driving from the use of smartphones or other electronic devices illegal. As the NSC opines, “… it’s abundantly clear that using an electronic device while driving makes you four times as likely to crash, handheld or hands-free.”

Of particularly interest is the NSC taking to task the IIHS for not recognizing that hands-free cellphone use can be just as distracting and dangerous as talking on the phone while holding the phone in your hand. From the NSC analysis:

The report also queries why insurance claims haven’t decreased when handheld cell phone use has declined. While the enforcement of handheld laws does seem to be reducing handheld device use, IIHS acknowledges that drivers could be switching to hands-free. Therefore, we would not expect to see much reduction in claims because studies have shown that hands-free is not risk-free.

Underreporting of Cell Phone Distractions Means Numbers are Low

Both the NSC and the IIHS point out that the Status Report’s findings are limited by a lack of complete information regarding how many accidents and crashes are caused by cell phones. Unreporting is a big problem here, and the real dangers of distracted driving are assumed to be bigger than the numbers show.

The NSC ballparks that 26% of all traffic accidents are caused by distracted drivers on their phones.

Everyone Agrees that Distracted Driving in Other Forms Needs to Be Considered, Too

Both the NSC and the IIHS agree wholeheartedly on one thing: it’s not just cell phones that are distracting drivers on American roads and causing wrecks. Accidents can also be caused by drivers who are distracted by all sorts of things: dealing with music selections; eating food while they drive; putting on make-up; checking the navigation system; etc.

From the CDC:

Nine people die every day in our country from distracted driving and around another 1150 are injured daily. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines three types of distracted driving:

  1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
  2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
  3. Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.

Obviously, it’s not just using a cellphone that can cause any of these three kinds of driving distractions. However, the real danger of using a cellphone, handheld or hands’ free, in a car is that the conversation can cause all three of these kinds of distractions to occur at the same time.

Bottom line: Just don’t use your phone while you are driving. It’s safer that way. And if you are in a crash, then the fact that the other driver was talking on their phone at the time of the accident, even hands free, can be of major importance as you pursue justice for your injuries.