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What Causes Everyday Freeway Traffic?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

One of the things Dallas is infamous for is bad traffic. Commuters around the country spend, on average, 42 hours of the year sitting in traffic. Congested freeways can cause wasted gas, driver frustration, road rage, and fender benders. Even minor car accidents such as rear-end collisions can cause painful personal injuries like whiplash. Learn what causes daily traffic – and what the government could potentially do to solve the problem.

Overloaded Roads

The main cause of daily highway traffic is too many people on the road. Most major highways in the United States are decades old. Back then, the populations in most major cities were smaller. Highway designers did their best to accommodate current and future levels of traffic, but today many roads simply are not large enough. Overloaded highways in major cities can lead to bumper-to-bumper traffic, as too many vehicles try to funnel through an inadequate number of lanes.

Many city governments have begun construction projects to widen and expand major highway systems. The Texas Department of Transportation – Dallas District, for example, is currently holding public hearings to discuss the widening and reconstruction of U.S. 380. Widening the road could leave more room for drivers without having to wait in line to proceed. This is just one example of many such efforts to accommodate more vehicles on some of the busiest roadways in the region.

Rush Hour

In a city like Dallas, drivers may notice that major highways do just fine at accommodating people…at certain times during a day. Driving through Dallas at 6:00 a.m. will look much different than a few hours later, when most commuters are traveling for work. Traffic congestion typically is a problem because too many people need to drive at the same times each day for work. Both the average workplace and school system requires people to travel and run errands at about the same times each day.

Every major metropolitan region in the world has the same issue with rush hour traffic. To solve this issue, one would need to disrupt the current economic system. More workplaces would need to offer flexible schedules, work-from-home opportunities, or change their operating hours altogether. Although efforts such as carpooling can help reduce the number of people on Dallas’ highways, the only way to solve rush hour completely would be to change the established foundation of society.

Most Popular Way to Travel

Even with the downfall of heavy traffic, most commuters prefer to drive in their own vehicles to and from work rather than take public transportation. This is often for both comfort and convenience. Most employees in Dallas live in rural or low-density areas. To reach these areas by public transportation, many would have to take multiple buses and wake up significantly earlier. Using public transportation may also not be as comfortable as a private car, or seen as safe to some commuters. Private vehicles thus remain the most popular form of transportation.

Inadequate Following Distance

At the heart of stop-and-go traffic is a problem with the amount of space between vehicles. As the space between two vehicles shrinks, the following vehicle has to hit the brakes to avoid a traffic accident. Theoretically, if this space never shrinks, drivers would never have to hit their brakes on highways – and daily traffic would not exist.

Individual drivers can help make the steady flow of traffic smoother by maintaining adequate following distance. Changing driver behaviors to avoid tailgating could prevent drivers from having to come to complete stops, and could relieve a great deal of heavy traffic congestion. It could also prevent fender benders that cause even worse traffic jams. By increasing following distance, just one driver could have a measurable impact on daily highway traffic for everyone else.

Posted by admin at 4:37 pm

Who Is Liable in a Massive Car Pileup?

Friday, March 8, 2019

Any driver involved in a massive car pileup, such as the recent 131-car pileup in Wisconsin, the largest in the state’s history, faces a great deal of uncertainty regarding liability. With so many vehicles involved in a single incident, cleanup can take days, investigations can last for several weeks, and drivers may wait months for their insurance claim payouts. If lawsuits arise from such an incident, the uncertainty surrounding liability can cause litigation to drag on for months or even years.

Who Pays for a Pileup Accident?

With so many vehicles involved in a single incident, determining the exact cause of the incident can be extremely challenging if not impossible. Additionally, if an investigation were to uncover a single liable party for all the other drivers’ damages, no one carries enough insurance coverage to pay for all those drivers’ losses. In many pileup accident cases, investigators ultimately decide that fault cannot be determined.

When an investigation takes too long to determine an exact cause and identify the liable party or parties behind a pileup, the affected drivers may face significant financial strains due to vehicle repair costs, medical expenses for injuries, and lost income from missed time at work. These economic burdens become worse when an investigation cannot determine a cause of the accident or if an accident places liability on multiple parties.

Insurance for Pileup Accidents

If a pileup accident occurs in a no-fault state, drivers simply file insurance claims against their own auto insurance policies. Every no-fault state requires drivers to purchase and maintain personal injury protection coverage to use after an accident. Most no-fault states only allow accident victims to take legal action if they suffer severe injuries or if their damages exceed the scope of available coverage.

In fault-based states, drivers who only carry the minimum auto insurance coverage may not have collision coverage to pay for damages to their own vehicles. Most minimum insurance requirements in fault-based states require drivers to have bodily injury liability coverage, total accident liability coverage, and property damage liability coverage in specific amounts. Drivers have the option of purchasing collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and various other types of additional coverage through most insurance carriers, but more leads to higher premiums.

Dealing With Insurance After a Pileup Accident

An insurance company will launch an investigation into a policyholder’s claim for coverage after an accident. The investigation following a pileup accident can take a very long time to reach any conclusions. All auto insurance policyholders must remember that an insurance company only owes a duty to pay for a claim under the terms of the policy, meaning the claim must be a covered event and the insurer will only pay up to the upper limits the policy allows.

For example, a multi-car pileup accident could total in the millions of dollars when you add up all the driver’s damages including medical expenses, vehicle damage, and other losses like pain and suffering and lost income. When an insurance company receives multiple claims against a policyholder for a single incident, the company will generally look for any reasons available to shift blame away from their policyholder and minimize liability for the accident.

Why You Need an Attorney

Dealing with any type of pileup accident is a stressful and frustrating ordeal, and having the right attorney in your corner can make a significant difference in your recovery. Your car accident attorney can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and also launch a separate investigation into the accident and consult with expert witnesses to support your claim if necessary. An attorney may also offer guidance to help you handle your personal finances while you wait for an insurance payout.

Posted by admin at 9:10 am

Dos and Don’ts When You Witness an Accident

Monday, February 25, 2019

Witnessing a car accident can leave you with many questions. You could be wondering if you could have done more to help the victims, or ensure you followed the proper procedures. Consult this quick guide to being a car accident witness for some dos and don’ts for the scene.

• DON’T feel like you must stop. The law does not require you to stop at the scene of an accident. However, most people feel it is the right thing to do.

• DO make sure you are in a safe place after you witness an accident. If you are a pedestrian, you must stay in pedestrian areas like sidewalks. Even medians and shoulders can be dangerous if traffic continues to pass by. If you are a driver, pull your vehicle to the side of the road, ensure rescue vehicles have room to navigate, and turn on your flashers or distribute hazard markers. Stay a safe distance from the scene unless you are rendering aid to victims.

• DO dial 911. Even if you are unsure of the extent of the injuries of the parties involved, if vehicle damage has taken place, the police will make a report. Give as much detail as you can regarding your location and the nature of the accident.

• DON’T rush into the scene. Sometimes, your assistance will be helpful, but make sure you are not in danger of injury yourself due to broken glass and sharp metal. If you choose to enter the scene and render aid to victims, do so cautiously.

• DON’T offer medical assistance unless necessary. It is best to wait for emergency personnel to arrive on-scene. It often takes only a matter of minutes for EMTs to arrive, and most first aid situations can wait.

• DO offer other forms of assistance. Perhaps victims could use a kind word, a cell phone to call relatives or insurance companies, or a paper and pen to exchange information. Offer what you feel you would need if in the shoes of the victims.

• DON’T fear liability. In the event that help has not arrived and someone is in urgent need of first aid you know you can handle, Texas has Good Samaritan laws in place. As long as you are rendering emergency aid in good faith, you are not likely to be liable for civil damages.

• DO exercise caution. Accident scenes are often tense situations. Property has occurred, and tempers and emotions can run high. While the presence of a witness may help keep emotions in check, be careful when inserting yourself into the situation. Keep your own safety in mind, primarily.

• DON’T allow a driver to leave the scene without exchanging information. You do not need to physically restrain a driver – see the above note about keeping yourself safe – but it is good practice to jot down identifying characteristics and license plate numbers. If an at-fault driver attempts to leave the scene, you can remind them of the consequences of doing so and record their vehicle and license plate description.

• DO cooperate with police. If you have chosen to stop and witnessed the accident itself, provide every detail you can to the police. Stay on the scene until your statement is complete and police have released you to continue traveling.

Overall, many people choose to stop and help when they witness a car accident. Keeping these tips in mind can help ensure you are doing what you can for the victims and police while keeping yourself safe from harm. You are not necessarily a medical professional, a mechanic, or a police officer, but Good Samaritans can provide some help and may even save a life. Just remember your own limitations and leave the tough work to the emergency personnel.

Posted by admin at 7:59 am

Top 25 Contributing Factors for Texas Car Accidents

Monday, February 4, 2019

Many of us have seen over a hundred reports of severe car crashes in the news or in person on the road. On average, according to The Association for Safe International Road Travel, the United States reports about 37,000 fatal traffic accidents per year with an additional 2.3 million traffic accidents that resulted in a serious or life changing injury.

Car Accident Statistics of Texas

In Texas, one of the largest states in the U.S. with a staggering population of over 29 million, The Department of Transportation reported that a substantial traffic accident had occurred every 59 seconds in the year 2017. On top of that, a traffic related fatality had occurred every 2 hours and 21 minutes. According to the NHTSA, a total of 3,711 fatal car accidents had occurred in the state of Texas alone in 2017. For that year, Texas held the highest count of statewide crash fatalities.

Texas Car Accident Totals 2017

Why So Many Car Accidents?

What causes the millions of traffic accidents the United States experiences every day? What are the contributing factors or behaviors that cause fatal or severe traffic accidents almost every minute in the state of Texas?

We researched The Department of Transportation’s traffic reports of the contributing factors of car accidents in Texas. From the data, we were able to see the top 25 contributing factors for all traffic collisions in the year 2017. We’ve also included the data for car accidents that resulted in death.

Top 25 Contributing Factors to All Car Accidents and Fatal Accidents in Texas

Driver Behavior Fatal Crashes Total Crashes
Speed (Over the Limit) 500 139131
river Inattention 294 89037
Failed To Drive In Single Lane 605 37488
Not Applicable 130 33917
Failed To Yield Right Of Way – Left Turn 120 31986
Other 338 31453
Failed To Yield Right Of Way – Stop Sign 114 26790
Followed Too Closely 16 24963
Unsafe Speed 437 23793
Faulty Evasive Action 249 23123
Failed To Yield Right Of Way Private Drive 37 18637
Under The Influence – Alcohol 544 13847
Distraction In Vehicle 70 12660
Turned When Unsafe 55 10639
Fatigued Or Asleep 160 9704
Had Been Drinking 208 9049
Failed To Yield Right Of Way – Open Intersection 12 8406
Wrong Lane 6 6323
Illness 82 3726
Failed To Pass Left Safely 16 3719
Turned Improperly – Wide Right 3 3580
Impaired Visibility 44 3476
Under Influence – Drug 227 3108
Failed To Yield At Sign 8 2936
Failed To Stop At Proper Place 1 2829

The data shows us that the top 3 contributing factors with the highest totals were:

  • Speeding over the limit (139,131)
  • Driver’s inattention (89,037)
  • Failure to drive in a single lane (37,488)

According to the department’s data represented in the table, Speeding over the limit was the most prominent cause for general traffic related accidents. It’s also one of the top 3 causes traffic fatalities in 2017, with failure of driving in a single lane as the number 1 factor of car accident deaths in Texas.

We noticed that other speed related factors had showed up in the top 25 table with “unsafe speed” totaling 23,793 accidents

Looking closer at the contributing factors of fatal crashes, the 3 highest contributing factors of accidents resulting in deaths were:

Texas Fatal Car Accident Statistics

  • Failure to drive in a single lane (605)
  • DUI – alcohol (544)
  • Speeding over the limit (500)

What is “Failure to Maintain in a Single Lane?”

To define this behavior of fatal traffic accidents, failure to maintain in a single lane (FTMSL) is a common highway offense where a driver fails to keep the vehicle inside of the lines of the lane divider or edge line.

Not referring to vehicles safely making a lane change, FTMSL refers to drivers who veer or drift out of their lane either because they are distracted, intoxicated or driving negligently. Drifting into another lane can lead to severe side swiping accidents especially when driving on the freeway at a fast speed surrounded by other vehicles. FTMSL combined with other factors such as speeding or distracted driving can lead to devastating consequences and severe punishment in the state of Texas.

What if I’m a Victim of an Accident?

The Department of Transportation says a traffic related accident occurs almost every minute in the state of Texas. If you have unfortunately experienced a car accident due to the negligence of other drivers and suffering from the damages, it’s best that you seek immediate help from an expert in traffic law.

A certified Dallas car accident lawyer will be able to help victims of traffic accidents find the right compensation for medical fees, roadside services, lost wages, pain and suffering or any serious life changing outcomes. There is help out there no matter how severe the damages are. Learn more by contacting your local injury law firm and speaking with a representative who can assess your needs.





Posted by admin at 11:35 pm

How to Prove a Driver Was Distracted

Friday, December 28, 2018

Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous, and it is essential for every driver to understand the risks of distracted driving in Texas. A distracted driving attorney in Dallas can help a client understand his or her options for legal recourse after a distracted driving accident and recover compensation for the resulting damages. The National Safety Council reported that 3,450 people died in 2016 from distracted driving-related crashes and hundreds of thousands of drivers are engaged in distracting behaviors on American roads at any given moment.

Types of Distracted Driving

The most common form of distracted driving seen on Texas roads is cell phone use. Many states have adopted strict laws forbidding the use of electronic devices and cell phones behind the wheel, and several states have enacted laws specifically for texting and driving. Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous distractions for any driver as it encompasses all three major types of distraction behind the wheel:

  • Visual distraction. This applies to anything that diverts a driver’s gaze away from the road ahead.
  • Manual distraction. This applies to anything that requires the use of the driver’s hands when he or she should be operating the steering wheel and vehicle controls.
  • Cognitive distraction. This applies to anything that preoccupies a driver’s mind when he or she should be focusing on driving.

Texas law forbids the use of cell phones while driving, but how does an injured driver prove that the driver who caused his or her accident was using a phone or engaging in other distracting behaviors at the time of the accident?

Proving Distracted Driving

Several types of evidence may come into play in a distracted driving lawsuit in Texas. A good distracted driving attorney in Dallas may attempt to subpoena the defendant’s phone records to prove he or she used a cell phone at the time of the crash. It is also possible that a witness to the accident observed the at-fault driver on the phone at the time of the accident. When it comes to other types of distractions, such as eating behind the wheel, applying cosmetics, or arguing with a passenger, physical evidence from the crash scene as well as testimony from passengers may be crucial.

Physical evidence from the scene of an accident will play a crucial role in any car accident-related lawsuit. It is important to gather as much evidence as possible from the accident scene before the police and emergency responders clear away potentially valuable evidence. If you or a loved one are in an accident with a distracted driver, it is important to try and take as many photos as possible of the accident site if possible.

Expert Witnesses

In some distracted driving cases, an attorney in Dallas could call on expert witnesses who have relevant backgrounds to testify as to whether a defendant was distracted at the time of an accident. An expert witness would provide the court with a professional interpretation of the evidence involved in the case. However, plaintiffs need to remember that a defendant’s attorney may also call on expert witnesses to counter the claims of a plaintiff’s expert witness.

Police Reports and Traffic Camera Data

The officers that respond to a car accident will develop a report of their initial findings, including statements from the drivers involved and any witnesses who saw the crash occur. The police report may hold evidence of distracted driving, so it is essential for the plaintiff’s attorney to secure a copy of the police report for use in trial.

Many Texas roads also have traffic cameras that may have recorded an at-fault driver using a cell phone or engaging in other distracting behaviors at the time of the accident in question. A plaintiff’s attorney may be able to secure traffic camera footage for use in trial to prove the defendant’s distracted driving caused the accident in question.

Posted by admin at 10:34 pm

See Over 24,000 Alcohol Involved Texas Crashes in 10 Seconds

Sunday, June 25, 2017

It’s no secret that driving after consuming alcohol is dangerous to yourself and to others around you. Unfortunately, we’ve represented several people in our great state who were harmed by drunk drivers and their lives were changed forever. We hear “Don’t drink and drive” all the time but sometimes when you hear a message so often, you don’t pay as much attention to it anymore. Sometimes a message is more impactful when it’s presented visually. Working together with data visualization company, 1 Point21 Interactive, we wanted to take a deeper look at alcohol involved accidents in the state of Texas over the past 4 years. Together we analyzed data from the Texas Department of Transportation for 2012-2015. The map above shows all the alcohol involved car crashes in the state of Texas in 2015. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 24,635 crashes this past year alone.

The 10 Largest Cities in Texas

Generally speaking, the larger the population the more alcohol involved crashes there will be in a city (although that’s not always the case). We wanted to find out which cities residents are involved in the most crashes involving alcohol, so we looked at the number on a per capita basis. Below are the results of the cities with a population of 250,000 or more.

Injuries & Deaths From Alcohol Involved Crashes per 100,000 People, 2012-2015


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24,000 And Counting

On average, there are approximately three crashes related to a DUI every hour in Texas. This was emphasized by our study visualizing where all of the DUI-related accidents occurred in 2015, and then ranking the cities where most of them happen; Lubbock had the highest rate of these types of accidents, with 139 per capita. The rest of the top five, in order, consisted of San Antonio, Austin, Arlington and El Paso.

The Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) keeps detailed records of when and where every one of these accidents occur, and there are certainly times when they are more likely; that will be covered in just a moment. But it’s worth noting that Texas has some of the most strict penalties in the country for drinking and driving.

What Are the DUI Laws in Texas?

Texas has an implied consent law, as does every other state, and it means that if you are arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence, you must submit to a breathalyzer or a blood test. If you refuse, your license is automatically suspended for 180 days, no exceptions. This is average compared to the rest of the country in terms of how strict the punishment is, and your refusal can be used against you in a court of law. You can technically still refuse, unless the accident involved injuries and/or fatalities.

License suspensions and potential jail sentences vary greatly upon the amount of personal and property damage that was incurred by the accident, as well as the number of offenses. An important note about that is Texas has no “lookback” limits, meaning that even if your only prior offense happened 25 years ago, it would still count against you.

Fines can also have a broad range, and this all depends on whether you are over 21, have a passenger under the age of 15, have an open container in the car, and/or whether you are driving a commercial vehicle. Even for a first offense, the fine can be as high as $2,000, but if you have a child under the age of 15 in the car, it counts as child endangerment, and the fine could approach $10,000 for that. Jail sentences range from 3 days to a year in the first offense, the length of which also depends on the conditions listed above. Two DUI convictions within five years requires the installation of an interlock device.

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When Do Most DUIs Happen In Texas?

Our study showcases the top 10 cities with a population of greater than 250,000 where DUI crashes occur, but when exactly do most of them happen? According to Texas DOT, most of them happen on Sunday morning between 2-3 a.m., with 891 happening during this time in 2015 alone. Many can guess why; in big cities, the bars close around this time and people who have had too much to drink decide to drive home. This same time period on Saturday morning saw 869 DUI-related accidents, so the early morning hours on weekends are by far the most dangerous to be on the road.

The age group with the most DUI crashes in 2015 yields no surprises as well, with those between 21-25 accounting for 21.7 percent of total accidents. Those under 21 comprised 8.6 percent of statewide accidents, which was only the fifth most amongst all the age groups.

Texas is a large state with approximately 15.7 million registered drivers, second only to California. About twice as many crashes occurred in urban areas as they did in rural areas, but on a per capita basis, the study shows that smaller cities and large suburbs of the big cities can be just as dangerous as the large cities themselves.

Posted by admin at 11:40 pm

Can You Be Sued for Texting a Driver?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The age of technology has brought about some interesting questions regarding liability. Although people may not have a physical influence at the scene of a crime or accident, their electronic presence could impact one party’s ability to perform certain duties. Although it is not yet a criminal act to text someone who is driving, more people are beginning to question the liability of texters due to recent law suits.

The Case of the New Jersey Texter

In 2009, a New Jersey couple was badly injured by a driver whose truck drifted into their lane. After settling with the driver, the couple decided to go after his girlfriend as well because she texted him before the crash and was said to be the cause of his distraction. The court could not prove the driver’s girlfriend knew he was driving when she sent the text, and, therefore, she was not liable. However, this case led to many questions about the liability of those who text a driver.

What Does the Law Say?

The driver of a vehicle is responsible for operating under a “duty of reasonable care.” This means drivers must take an ordinary amount of care to ensure the safety of passengers and others on the road. If the prosecution proves a driver breached the duty of care, and that breach resulted in harm or injury to others, the driver is guilty of negligence.

In some states, the passenger of a vehicle must also act with reasonable care. If the passenger doesn’t take reasonable care, he or she could bear the guilt in an accident. It usually takes a great deal of investigation to prove liability in such a case. If a non-driver’s text directly affected the driver’s ability to act with reasonable care, the texter could be found guilty if a prosecutor proves he or she was aware the driver was operating a vehicle at the time. Because the texter is not physically in the vehicle, liability is even more difficult to prove, but it’s not impossible.

Elements of Negligence

For the courts to find someone guilty of negligence, the prosecution must prove all elements of negligence. First, the prosecution must establish a duty of care based on the relationship between the defendant and plaintiff. All drivers assume a duty of care when they operate a vehicle, and it extends to those with direct impact over the driver’s behavior. Once the prosecutor establishes the texter has a duty of care, he or she must prove the texter broke that duty by sending the text.

If the prosecutor can prove a breach of duty, there also needs to be evidence that the breach caused the harm or injury. The law calls this a “cause in fact” or “but-for” causation. If the defendant could have reasonably foreseen the resulting harm, even if the actions did not directly impact the damages (such as texting from a different location), his or her actions fall under proximate cause, and the courts can still apply liability. Lastly, the law must legally recognize the harm, known as damages, resulting from the defendant’s actions to prove liability in a negligence case.

How to Avoid Liability

Even though it can be difficult to prove liability of a texter in a text-related accident, all involved parties should be careful. If you suspect the person you are texting might be on the road, don’t send the text. It is better to be overly cautious than to unwittingly cause an accident. Additionally, if you are the driver of a vehicle, don’t let new messages distract you from your responsibility to drive with care. As tempting as it may be, checking your phone while driving could cause harm to you, those around you and possibly your message sender.

Posted by admin at 8:39 pm

How do you calculate lost wages from a car accident?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A car accident resulting in injury tends to have a snowball effect; hospital stay, recovery time, surgery if necessary and extensive bills for all of the above are just a few of the problems with which you might have to contend. Another is lost wages from missed work. This can have lasting damage on your finances if not fully compensated, but your options to do so are not limited; one can be to sue the responsible party.

How Can I Calculate My Lost Wages?

This can largely depend on what type of job you have and how you are paid. If you work in a full-time salaried position, this calculation is rather simple. If you work on an hourly basis or your salary is largely dependent upon commission, it’s more difficult to calculate an exact figure.

If you have kept the same job and the same earnings, you could show your previous year’s tax return for an accurate estimate on how much you’re owed. If you have been working consistently before the accident, copies of recent pay stubs would also suffice. But if you have the type of job where earnings change from week to week depending on contracts, commission or the general scope of your work, you’ll need to show what you missed while you were away.

This is especially true if you are self-employed or work on a freelance basis. Showing proof of assignments and work you missed, the contract agreement for said work and/or what you had earned on similar projects in the past will all be important.

Wage loss doesn’t just include what you did miss, but also what you might have missed; future earning capacity and lost opportunities (such as a raise or promotion) can very well be included in your claim if you can verify them. Accurate calculation of lost wages depends on proper documentation; you’ll need:

  • Physician’s letter, describing the extent of your injuries, medications prescribed, suggested recovery and the total length of time you must miss work.
  • Employer’s letter, stating that you are in fact an employee there, and that you did indeed miss all of that time from work.
  • A copy of the police report.

The aforementioned paperwork, such as tax returns and previous pay stubs, will also be crucial for documenting your wages.

Wage Loss Insurance

It’s not a guarantee that your car insurance plan covers lost wages due to missed work. This usually happens if you choose the option with the lower deductible. Typical liability, uninsured motorist and personal injury protection plans will cover for lost wages, but as always, read the fine print to be certain.

Liability and uninsured motorist plans will cover 100 percent of lost wages. Personal injury protection can be very important, because even though it will only cover 80 percent of lost wages, it does this regardless of whether or not you were at fault.

In the event of a car accident, missing work can seriously hinder your ability to pay your medical expenses. Filing a lawsuit or claim for compensation against the responsible party can help you recoup what you had lost.

Posted by admin at 9:04 pm

What is Drowsy Driving?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The dangers that exist when behind the wheel are perilous and apparent; drunk and distracted driving garners much attention, and is something most drivers avoid themselves while remaining vigilant for it in others. One danger that we perhaps don’t pay enough attention to, however, is distracted driving, which, according to a AAA study, is just as likely to cause an accident as driving while intoxicated.

Fatigue Behind the Wheel

Lack of quality sleep can affect a lot of areas of your life, but driving is perhaps the most hazardous. Even if you’re awake, less than six hours of sleep per night can drastically increase your chances of being in an accident. Side effects of such little sleep include:

  • Impaired reaction time
  • Problems processing information and with short-term memory
  • Decreased performance and vigilance
  • Increased aggravation or short temper

If you’ve ever reached your destination and realized you don’t remember any of what you saw while driving there, yelled at another driver for a minor inconvenience or have felt yourself take an extra second to apply the brakes, this could be an indicator of lack of sleep.

Fatigue cannot be measured or tested for after an accident like drunk driving can. It’s therefore tough to tell just how often driver fatigue is the main cause of an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 2.5 percent of fatal car accidents involve drowsy driving. However, because of the difficulty estimating drowsiness, that number could actually be anywhere from 15 to 33 percent.

Drowsy Driving Statistics

Of 19 states surveyed in a 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 6.1 percent of Texas drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel within the past 30 days, the highest rate of any state. It’s unclear why Texas was the worst of the states surveyed, but it’s well above the national average of 4.2 percent.

An interesting anomaly in the CDC study concluded that it’s not just how much sleep we’re getting, but how well we sleep. Those who get less than six hours of sleep and snore reported falling asleep at the wheel at a rate of 8.5 percent, compared to 5.2 percent for those who don’t.

Getting the recommended amount of sleep is easier said than done, but it’s imperative to recognize the signs of a drowsy driver, whether it’s yourself or someone else. If you notice the driver appears fatigues, offer to drive for a while. If you feel sleepy behind the wheel, pull off the road and close your eyes for a few minutes. If you have taken a medicine that may cause drowsiness, don’t drive until you know how it affects you.

Posted by admin at 9:01 pm

Have Distracted Driving Laws Reduced Crashes? 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Distracted driving poses a serious threat to our health. According to government research on driver behavior, in 2014 nearly 3200 people were killed and an additional 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents in which distracted driving was a factor.

Distracted driving is defined as any activity that can divert a person’s attention away from their primary task, which is driving. Examples of distracted driving include texting, talking on the phone, eating or drinking, applying makeup, reading maps, consulting a navigation system, even adjusting a radio. Since text messaging requires digital, cognitive, and visual input, it’s often seen as the biggest threat. And we text a lot – according to federal data, we sent nearly 170 billion texts in December 2014 alone. A lot of us text while driving – around 660,000 at any given time.

To reduce the number of distracted driving related crashes, lawmakers have passed sweeping regulations to address texting on the road. Today, nearly every state in the union prohibits it. But are they doing any good?

New York was the first to pass a handheld device provision in 2001. Not only are residents not allowed to text, but they’re not allowed to talk or use their devices (hands-free talking is allowed in some states). Currently, fourteen states have this provision, as well as the District of Columbia. Forty-four states prohibit texting while driving, but allow talking and use of a navigation system.

Texting-Related Bans Save Lives

A review of hospitalization data show that texting bans have led to a decrease in crash-related hospitalizations across all age groups, according to a study in The American Journal of Public Health. On average, such hospitalizations have decreased by seven percent. The improvement was most drastic among crash victims aged 22 to 64. Crashes among adolescents and teens, on the other hand, dropped only marginally.

Researchers in the study concluded that these reductions translate into annual prevention of 30 motor-vehicle hospitalizations per hospital (in states with a primary texting ban). This suggests that texting bans work and are improving public health.

Insurance Companies Tell a Different Story

Interestingly, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found conflicting information. While they found bans on hand-held phone use have curbed the behavior of texting behind the wheel, they haven’t produced a subsequent reduction in crashes. According to their analysis, cell phone and texting bans have not reduced the number of crashes reported to insurers, even with strong enforcement.

The institute’s research found that in places with a handheld device ban, such as New York, cell phone conversations dropped by as much as 76 percent. They also found, however, that motor vehicle crash claims haven’t been significantly reduced in the years following the ban.

There are several possible reasons for this – for example, drivers who were on their phones may have been distracted by something else. Another is that drivers may be switching to hands-free calling, which is legal but still provides a cognitive distraction. These drivers would still be distracted by the conversation, even when their hands are on the wheel.

What’s the Final Word on Texting Bans?

It’s important to note that one study analyzed insurance claim data, while the other analyzed hospitalization data. One possible explanation for the cell phone ban data discrepancy is that there are fewer serious crashes producing hospitalization although they may still result in an insurance claim.

Distracted driving still poses a threat to our health. Each year, there are several hundred preventable deaths related to cell phone use. Lawmakers must continue to recognize the efficacy of texting bans in reducing serious injury and encourage states without texting bans to adopt legislation. Together, we can reduce the number of distracted driving deaths.

Posted by admin at 5:24 pm