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Category Archives: Auto Accidents

Drivers Often Unaware of Motorcycles, Increasing Risk of Collision

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

Many drivers involved in a collision with a motorcycle state after word that they didn’t see the motorcycle.  A recent study recently published in the journal Bike travelAttention, Perception & Psychophysics examined why drivers might say that.

According to researcher Vanessa Beanland of the Australian National University, “The fact that motorcycles are less common than cars might make it harder for car drivers to see motorcycles.”

Using a driving simulator, the study tested the ability of 40 adult drivers to detect and respond to motorcycles and buses on the roads.  During the simulation, half of the participants were shown a high number of motorcycles and a low number of buses, while the other half of the participants were shown the reverse.  All participants were told to be on the lookout for both motorcycles and buses. The study found that the drivers’ attention favored whichever of the two vehicles they saw more of during the simulation, and this affected the speed at which they detected the vehicles.

Participants who saw motorcycles more often were able to detect them an average of 167 feet farther away than those who saw motorcycles less often.  Driving at a speed of 37 miles per hour, this additional distance gave the drivers an extra three seconds to respond.  At the same speed, drivers who saw buses more often had an extra 4.4 seconds to react.  The findings suggest drivers often fail to see motorcyclists partly because motorcycles are not common on roads.  Researchers concluded that drivers have more difficulty detecting vehicles and hazards that are rare, compared to those objects seen more frequently.



Speeding Is a Problem On US Roads – Particularly for Young Drivers

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a new survey recently that sheds some insight into attitudes on speeding.[1]    According to the NHTSA data, speeding-related deaths account for nearly 1/3 of all traffic fatalities per year, taking close to 10,000 lives.  Almost half of the driver surveyed, 48%, reported that speeding was a problem and that something needed to be done to reduce speeding on U.S. roads.  Yet, of those surveyed, more than 25% admitted to speeding “without thinking.”  Another 16% felt that driving over the speed limit is not dangerous for skilled drivers.

Not surprisingly, those with the least amount of driving skills admitted to speeding more than any other age group.  11% of the drivers in the 16-20 year old age group reported at least one speeding-related crash in the past 5 years – compared to 4% of the population as a whole.  This is statistically significant given that young drivers may not have been driving for all of the past 5 years.

NHTSA also recently launched its “5 to Drive” campaign that challenges parents to discuss the 5 biggest beneficial impacts in the event of a crash:

  1. No speeding;
  2. No cell phone use or texting while driving;
  3. No extra passengers;
  4. No alcohol; and
  5. No driving or riding without a seat belt.[2]

If you or someone you know was involved in a motor vehicle collision where speed was a factor, the experienced attorneys at Adler Giersch, PS are ready and willing to help you. 

Alarming Increase in Traffic Fatalities Involving Marijuana Use

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

The legalization of marijuana is an idea that is gaining momentum in the United States.  But there may be a dark side to pot becoming more commonplace.

A recent study has determined that fatal motor vehicle collisions involving marijuana use have tripled over the past 10 years.  The study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health report, found that one in nine drivers involved in fatal crashes test positive for marijuana.  According to Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, and co-author of the study, “If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.”

The conclusions of the study were based on crash statistics from six states that routinely perform toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle collisions: California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. The data included over 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a collision between 1999 and 2010.

The study found that alcohol contributed to about the same percentage of traffic fatalities during the same time period.  However, drugs played a gradual increasing role in fatal collisions.  Marijuana proved to be the main drug involved in the increase, contributing to 12 percent of 2010 traffic fatalities compared with 4 percent in 1999.  Overall, drugged driving accounted for more than 28 percent of traffic deaths in 2010, up from just over 16 percent in 1999.  According to the researchers, the increase in marijuana use occurred across all age groups and in both sexes.

Authors of the study noted that the combined use of alcohol and marijuana dramatically increases a driver’s risk of death.  “If a driver is under the influence of alcohol, their risk of a fatal crash is 13 times higher than the risk of the driver who is not under the influence of alcohol,” Li said. “But if the driver is under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, their risk increases to 24 times that of a sober person.”

In an endnote to the study, the researchers acknowledged several limitations with their conclusions.  One is that marijuana can be detected in the blood up to one week after use. Therefore, “the prevalence of nonalcoholic drugs reported in this study should be interpreted as an indicator of drug use, not necessarily a measurement of drug impairment.”

Source: Trends in Alcohol and Other Drugs Detected in Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States, 1999–2010, American Journal of Epidemiology, Jan. 2014.

Long Road Trips for the Holidays

Categories: Auto Accidents, Practical Tips You Can Use

By PI-Advisor. Posted on .

The winter road trip: long, family-packed car rides for holiday gatherings or ski-trips into the mountains.  It is a time for scenic beauty, family memory making, but also a potentially dangerous time with snow, ice and slick road conditions.  Here are a few pre-cautions to take before you hit the road to ensure you and your loved ones are prepared for the long trip this season:Winter Driving

  1. Before taking off always check road and weather reports, especially if driving over mountain passes and isolated areas.  If you must travel through bad weather, be prepared for longer travel times and road closures.   The Washington State Department of Transportation has a mobile app for iPhones and Android for statewide access to traffic alerts, cameras, ferry schedule and more.
  2. Check traction on tires and pressure levels.  Good tires are important to winter driving.  Always have chains in your vehicle, especially if the vehicle is not all wheel/four wheel drive.  In Washington State, the penalty for not using chains when advised is a $500.00 fine.  Lastly, know how to install chains before leaving on your trip.
  3. Visibility is also key to winter driving.  Check headlights, blinkers and brake lights before trips.  Wash your car before any trip to ensure windows are clear and headlights are bright.  Ensure windshield wipers are working proper and windshield wiper fluids are topped off.
  4. Have an emergency kit in your car including flashlights, extra batteries, flares, jumper cables, first aid kit, water, and non-perishable food.  Many local auto supplies store have preassembled emergency kits.
  5. Before long road trips, have your vehicle checked by an automobile mechanic, including fluid levels and brakes.  Breaking down on the side of the road in bad weather means increased risks and increased wait time for help.
  6. Pack extra blankets, clothes, gloves, food and water.

For more tips on winter driving, visit for their complete list.

Most drivers will make it to their driving designation without any issues.  However, it’s always best to prepare for the worst to stay safe this winter season.  And while this last tip may not be on AAA’s list of winter road trip tips, we recommend bringing a good soundtrack.

Drunk Driving Deaths Up for the First Time in Six Years

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

As we head into the holiday season and New Year, it is more important than ever to keep drunk drivers off the road.  Recent data that was just released indicates that 10,322 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2012.[1]  This means that every 51 minutes, a life was lost due to an automobile crash involving a drunk driver.  This represents a 4.6% increase in drunk driving deaths when compared to 2011.  More troubling is that over half of these crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher – nearly double the legal limit of .08.

Drunk driving fatalities were on the decrease in preceding years.  The 2012 year was the first increase in drunk driving fatalities since 2006.  Drunk driving deaths accounted for a staggering 31% of all traffic fatalities for 2012.

Washington State was one of the few bright spots in the study.  Drunk driving deaths in Washington decreased 7.6% when compared to drunk driving deaths in 2011.

Obviously more needs to be done concerning education and awareness of drunk driving so that we can stop this upward trend and work towards a goal of zero deaths related to drunk driving.  If you see anyone who is impaired attempting to drive a vehicle, stop them.  The life you may be saving could be yours or someone’s close to you.

Sobriety Checkpoints: Like It or Not, They Work

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

The idea of sobriety checkpoints are a controversial issue here in Washington State, despite the fact that they seem to work.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, those states that have sobriety checkpoints reduced alcohol-related fatal, injury and property damage crashes each by about 20%.[1]   This same study also found a correlation between the frequency/publicity of sobriety checkpoints and a reduction in alcohol-related fatalities: the more checkpoints that are conducted, the lower the amount of driving deaths caused by impaired driving. iStock_000018130522XSmall (2)

Washington is only one of 12 states that do not allow sobriety checkpoints.[2]  Sobriety checkpoints are currently not legal in Washington State and it may very well take an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize these checkpoints.  This idea is gaining in popularity after recent highly publicized cases involving deaths and serious injuries due to impaired driving, such as the recent case in North Seattle where a mother and her infant son were severely injured and the grandparents were killed as they were crossing the street when they were hit by an impaired driver.  Just this week, Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, said that his staff is drafting language for a new bill to authorize the checkpoints, which would stop drivers even if they have done nothing wrong.  Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, has said that he plans to hold a hearing on the proposal.[3]

If you see someone driving erratically, call 911.  If you, a friend or family member has been injured as a result of impaired driving, the Attorneys at Adler Giersch, PS are ready and willing to help you.

[1] Countermeasures That Work: A Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Safety Offices, 6th Ed. 2011 DOT HS S11 444.

[2] Checkpoints are permitted under the United States Constitution.

Older Professional Drivers More Likely to Die in Motor Vehicle Collisions

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

Older workers who drive as part of their job have a significantly higher fatality rate as a result of motor vehicle collisions than younger workers.

A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted workers 65 and older are three times more likely to die in motor vehicle collisions than workers aged 18 to 54.  The risk for older drivers begins to increase at 55, and then increases much more at 65 and older. 

According to the CDC report, more than 11,500 workers aged 18 and over died while driving for work between 2003 and 2010. Among these deaths, 26.9 percent were among those aged 55 and older.  The traffic death rate varied with race and ethnicity, with the highest rates among older American Indian/Alaskan Native drivers, more than four times that of younger drivers.  The traffic death rate for older white and black drivers was three times that of younger drivers, while Hispanic drivers aged 65 and older the death rate was twice that of younger drivers.

The risk is not restricted to workers employed in typical transportation occupations, such as drivers of tractor-trailers or delivery trucks.  The risk cuts across all industries and occupations.  Workers in transportation and warehousing accounted for a third of the deaths. The traffic death rate was highest for all age groups in that category, but highest (21.2 percent) for those aged 65 and older, the report noted.  By occupation, the rates were highest among those working in transportation and material moving.  These jobs accounted for 50 percent of all the deaths, with workers aged 65 and older accounting for 22.9 percent of deaths.

Most deaths were caused in collisions between vehicles, and 48 percent of these deaths were of drivers aged 65 and older.  Among those aged 65 and older, 23 percent of the accidents happened while driving a car, 22 percent while driving a tractor trailer and 15 percent while driving a pickup truck.  Drivers over 65  accounted for 9 percent of the deaths involving off-road or industrial vehicles, compared with 2 percent for younger workers.

The report was published Aug. 23 in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.


Adult Seat Belt Use Statistics

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

Did you know:Seat belt

  • Approximately 6,400 adults are injured in a motor vehicle collision each day in the United States?
  • More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments for injuries from crashes in 2009.
  • In one year alone, deaths and injuries to drivers and passengers from crashes cost $70 billion in medical and lost work.
  • Young adults age 18-34 have the highest crash-related injury rates of all adults.
  • 7.3 million more adults would have worn their seat belts in 2008 if all states had primary enforcement seat belt laws achieved 88% use.*

Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for people between the age of 5 and 34.  Seat belt use by adults is the most effective way to reduce injuries and death caused by motor vehicle collisions.

  • Seat belt use reduces serious injuries and deaths in crashes by 50%. Air bags provide added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts in a crash.
  • Seat belt use is higher in states that have primary enforcement laws (88%) than in those states that do not have them (79%).
  • In 2009, about 12,000 more injuries would have been prevented and about 450 more lives saved if all states had primary enforcement seat belt laws.

Between 2002 and 2008, the percentage of adults who always wear seat belts increased from 80% to 85%.  Still, 1 in 7 adults do not wear a seat belt on every trip. Primary enforcement seat belt laws have a significant impact on getting people to buckle up.*  In 2010, 19 states–where 1 in 4 adult Americans live–did not have a primary law.

Be smart. Be safe.  Buckle up!



* A primary enforcement seat belt law means a police officer can pull someone over and issue a ticket to the driver just because someone in the vehicle is not wearing a seat belt. A secondary enforcement law allows a police officer to issue a ticket for someone not wearing a seat belt only if the driver has been pulled over for some other offense.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention Vital Signs

Pedestrians at Higher Risk During Left Turns

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

A 2013 study released by Oregon State University reveals that about 4 – 9% of the time, drivers making a “permitted” left turn do not look to see whether there are any pedestrians in their path of travel. [1] (A “permitted” left turn is defined as one in which a left turn is allowed by a circular green light, a flashing circular yellow light, a flashing circular red light, or a flashing yellow arrow, as opposed to a “protected” left turn in which in which a solid green arrow gives a driver the complete right of way in a left-turn lane).

ped crossingThis estimate is much higher than previously thought.  The engineers conducting the research found that approximately one time in 10 or 20, a driver attempting a left turn did not even look to see whether there was a pedestrian ahead before initiating the turn.  As part of the study, the researchers used a full-scale driving simulator that monitored eye movements. The heavier the traffic, the less attention research subjects paid to the possible presence of pedestrians.  In essence, the study found that many drivers were simply faced with too many distractions while attempting a left turn on a traffic signal other than a basic left green turn arrow. These distractions ranged from focusing on narrow windows in which to complete a turn relative to oncoming traffic, to focusing on the traffic signal rather than the intended path of the vehicle.

Interestingly, the researchers concluded that permitted left turns are now sufficiently dangerous to pedestrians that states should consider prohibiting them. In fact, in Washington County, Oregon, traffic managers recently implemented this step after a high numbers of pedestrian-vehicle collisions.

Also of interest is the preliminary evidence to suggest that the currently-mandated type of signal in many states, which uses four heads instead of three, can still be sufficiently dangerous as to cause an immediate hazard to pedestrians in a crosswalk. However, the cost to implement a four-head signal is about $800 more than retrofitting the three-head version, which is widely used around the nation, prompting the question of whether many millions of dollars might be saved nationally by using the simpler signal.

As the amount of foot traffic increases in cities around Washington State, it is crucial for both drivers and pedestrians to take the utmost care in these situations to avoid the potential for serious personal injuries.

[1] Oregon State University (2013, April 2). Pedestrians at serious risk when drivers are ‘permitted’ to turn left. ScienceDaily. Retrieved

Lights, Camera, Action – Use of Dash Cameras On the Rise

Categories: Auto Accidents, Practical Tips You Can Use

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

Did you happen to see footage of the meteorite that entered Earth’s atmosphere several months ago? Did you ever wonder why most of the video footage of the event originated from ordinary citizens in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk? The answer has to do with one of the most important after-market components that Russian motorists add to their vehicles before they ever consider radar detectors or satellite radios – dashboard cameras. Unfortunately, drivers in Russia have a significant likelihood of being involved in a severe collision. In fact, in a 2007 study, Russian motorists averaged 25.2 traffic fatalities per 100,000 people. By comparison, motorists in the United States had 13.9 road deaths per 100,000 people in the same year, despite having six times more cars.[1]  Many Russian drivers opt to purchase cameras for their vehicles in order to maintain their rights and memorialize the facts.[2] The same principle applies in the U.S.

Most people involved in a motor vehicle collision quickly realize that a picture can truly be worth a thousand words. If that is the case, what is the value of a motion picture? The answer, often times, is priceless.  Regardless of whether the questions are coming from an insurance company, another driver, law enforcement, or an attorney, there is simply no substitute for being able to show first-hand what happened during a car crash.  This is largely why the idea of having a video camera mounted on the dashboard of a vehicle, or on top of the helmet of a motorcycle rider, is becoming increasingly common.  Video footage is the eyewitness whose memory does not decay with time, and whose bias or credibility cannot be questioned.

Personal injury attorneys can hire a number of experts to recreate what happened during a collision using calculations of time, speed, and distance. However, most of these experts would still agree that having first hand video footage of the event would be a tremendous advantage in reaching their conclusions.dash cam

While this technology became available to consumers about 10 years ago, there has been a spike in the number of cameras sold to motorists in recent years. The reason? Price. These days, it is easy to obtain a dash mounted video camera for your car for under $100. For an additional $100 you can obtain upgraded models that can record high definition video in total darkness, record what is happening behind and inside of a vehicle, pinpoint location by GPS, and can save recorded information automatically in the event of a collision.

These cameras can also help keep loved ones safe when they are borrowing your vehicle.  Are you worried about the driving habits of your teenager? Do you want to know whether your teen is texting while driving? Dash cam footage provides irrefutable answers and can help keep your children driving safely.

Ultimately, a video camera can help an injured motorist explain what happened before, during, and after a crash despite the toll that a physical or psychological trauma can have on that person’s recollection.