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Category Archives: Auto Accidents

Motorcycle Deaths on the Rise

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

According to a recent report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), an estimated 5,000 motorcyclists lost their lives on U.S. roads in 2012.  This figure is near an all—time high and represents a 9 percent increase from 2011.  Motorcyclists are one of the few roadway user groups where no progress has been seen over the past decade, the GHSA report noted.Motorcycle

The projected number of motorcyclist deaths for 2012 is based on state-by-state data for the first nine months of the year. Similar projections in previous years mirrored the final numbers.

Data comparison for the first nine months of 2011 and 2012 revealed the number of motorcyclist deaths increased in 34 states last year, decreased in 16 states, and stayed the same in the District of Columbia. Increases were noted in every region of the country and were quite high in many states. For example, motorcyclist deaths rose 32 percent in Oregon and 29 percent in Indiana.

The report also found that the number of states with compulsory helmet laws had dropped from 26 in 1997 to just 19 states in 2012.

The report outlined a number of ways to reduce motorcyclist deaths. These include: increasing helmet use; reducing speeding and impaired riding; providing rider training to all who need or want it; ensuring proper licensing of riders; and encouraging all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists.

 

SOURCE: Governors Highway Safety Association, news release, April 24, 2013

Recent Survey Results on Distracted Driving

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Melissa D. Carter. Posted on .

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released survey results on April 5, 2013 showing that Americans continue to use electronic devices while driving, despite laws and evidence that such distractions cause lack of focus while driving and can lead to collisions, injuries and even death.

The survey revealed that, at any given daylight moment, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones, or some form of electronic devices, while driving.  This number of users has held steady since 2010, despite awareness and anti-texting while driving laws.  The NHTSA also found that more than 3,300 people were killed in 2011, and 387,000 were injured in collisions involving a distracted driver.[1]

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood states, “There is no way to text and drive safely.  Powering down your cell phone when you’re behind the wheel can save lives – maybe even your own.”

Click here to view a short documentary created by EndDD concerning teen distracted driving:

To prevent distracted driving, the Department of Transportation recommends drivers:

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive;
  • Be a good role model for young drivers and set a good example;
  • Talk with your teens about responsible driving;
  • Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving;
  • Always wear your seat belt; the best defense against other unsafe drivers.

 


[1] http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/NHTSA+Survey+Finds+660,000+Drivers+Using+Cell+Phones+or+Manipulating+Electronic+Devices+While+Driving+At+Any+Given+Daylight+Moment

 

Teen fatalities involving teen drivers decreased between 2008-2011

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

Teen DrivingA new national safety study released in April 2013 reported teen driver-related fatalities have dropped by almost 50% over the last six years.  The number of teen passengers killed in crashes involving teen drivers fell 30 percent in the United States from 2008 to 2011.

The joint report by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance showed positive news in that 54 percent of teen passengers reported that they always used seat belts.  Other encouraging trends among teen passengers between 2008 and 2011 included:

  • A decline in the risky behaviors of teen passengers, ages 15 to 19.
  • The number of teen passengers killed in crashes and who were not wearing seat belts fell 23 percent.
  • The number of teen passengers killed in crashes where a teen driver had been drinking dropped 14 percent.

Despite the progress outlined in the study, a number of risky behaviors remain serious problems. These include texting or emailing while driving, drinking and driving, and low levels of seat belt use.

The study found that one-third of teens admitted to texting or emailing while driving. Speeding was a factor in more than 50% of fatal crashes involving teen drivers in 2011, similar to 2008.  The number of teens who died in crashes and had a blood alcohol level higher than 0.01 rose from 38 percent in 2008 to 41 percent in 2011.

The study cited a number of key areas that have the greatest potential to reduce teen traffic crashes and deaths, including reducing distractions from passengers and technology; improving skills in scanning, hazard detection and speed management; and increasing seat belt use.

The study, called “Miles to go: Focusing on Risks for Teen Driver Crashes,” is the third in an annual series.

SOURCE: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, news release, April 4, 2013

Washington’s Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking Continues the Fight

Categories: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury Resources

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

I had the distinct privilege and honor to attend the monthly meeting of Washington’s Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking (RUaD) this last Friday in Olympia.  A special guest was State Rep Roger Goodman and he presented for an hour talking about DUI legislation.  I was seated between Amy Ezzo, Washington’s Director for MADD and a representative from the Washington State Patrol.  Around the room were various representatives from the liquor control board, DSHS, the Attorney General’s office, as well as various other representatives of state agencies.  It was truly inspiring to be amongst these talented individuals, all of whom are working together to reduce underage drinking in the state.

RUaD has been working tirelessly to raise awareness and support legislation that targets underage drinking since its inception in 1998.  Here are some alarming facts pulled from the RUaD website on students and drinking:

  1. 40% of 12th graders reported having a drink in the last month.
  2. 23% of 12th graders reported riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking.
  3. 12% of 12th graders reported driving a car after they had been drinking.
  4. 19% of 12th graders reported drinking 3 or more days in the past month.
  5. 25% of 12th graders reported drinking 5 or more drinks at least once in the past two weeks.
  6. 36% of 12th graders reported getting alcohol from friends, 31% reported getting alcohol at a party and 19% reported giving money to someone to buy alcohol for them.

Now, for the good news:  parents are the #1 influence on their kids on this issue.  So, it is important to keep this dialogue with your kids current, as the percent of kids who think you would catch them if they drank alcohol dropped from 72% in 8th grade to 37% in 12th grade.

For more information about underage drinking, go to their website at http://www.starttalkingnow.org/.

Big Considerations are Needed When Driving Micro Cars

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

For me, watching motorists drive in some European cities can be amazing and frightening at the same time.  Drivers are not only darting in and out of narrow streets, but they do so in heavy traffic near dense crowds of pedestrians.  For many Europeans, the car of choice is the so-called “micro car” that fits so well into the European lifestyle.  These tiny cars usually only fit two occupants and are designed without any back seat or real trunk.  However, they also make parking a snap and keep fuel costs low.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve all seen how many of these micro cars have made their way to U.S. roads.  In Washington State in particular, it’s hard for me to drive for more than a few minutes without seeing at least one micro car zipping by or neatly parked in a busy downtown area. It’s easy to see why, too: these cars cost less to buy, to insure, to fuel up, and owners can remain environmentally friendly while still enjoying the unique look of their rides. More recently, I’ve noticed how micro-cars are becoming the vehicle of choice for car-sharing services that allow customers to pay to drive “a la carte.”Smart Fourtwo Passion Coupe parked in driveway

But how well do these car translate into driving on this side of the Atlantic?  It turns out that despite some favorable crash-test results, how well these cars fare in a crash has largely to do with what the other person is driving, the point of impact, and where the crash takes place.   For example, a 2008 study conducted by the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded that the popular Smart Car For Two rated highly when it came to protecting occupants in front and side crashes.[1] Despite having less size to absorb the energy from a crash, the vehicle’s structure, airbags, and restraints were designed to help occupants “ride down” an impact as much as possible. [2]

However, it’s important to note that even the IIHS conceded that “all things being equal in safety, bigger and heavier is always better,” and that front-end crash tests were only done with vehicles with similar size and weight. Many cars in the micro class rate below average when it comes to overall protection from the common rear-end collision, due in part to the height difference in bumpers with other vehicles, particularly SUVs and trucks.  The IIHS also indicated the risk of death is higher in crashes of smaller, lighter vehicles. For vehicles 1-3 years old during 2006, minicars experienced 106 driver deaths per million registered vehicles compared with 69 driver deaths in large cars.”[3]

In weighing the pros and cons for your driving needs, remember to take these considerations into account before driving a micro-sized vehicle:

  • Do you drive in the city or the suburbs? You are more likely to encounter smaller vehicles travelling at slower speeds in urban areas.
  • How far is your commute? Fewer miles traveled at lower speeds leads to fewer and less severe crashes.
  • Does your micro car offer every advantage possible to help reduce injury? Look for safety features such as: electronic stability control, 4-6 airbags in the cabin, and anti-lock brakes.

 



[1] http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr051408.html

[2] “Ride down” refers to the total movement of the human body during a collision including distance travelled and objects struck within the vehicle.

[3] http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr051408.html

Obese Drivers More Likely to Die in Auto Collisions

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

It’s not like we need another reason to get and keep excess weight off, but here it is.  A new study finds obese drivers are up to 80% more likely to die as a result of a motor vehicle collision compared to normal-weight drivers.

“Our findings suggest two things: first, that there is something about obese vehicle occupants that causes poorer outcomes. That thing is probably a higher prevalence of comorbidities — other health conditions — related to obesity that inhibit survival and recovery from severe injury,” said study co-author Thomas Rice, a research epidemiologist with the University of California, Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research & Education Center.

Second, earlier research has shown that the proper interaction between seat belts and the human body is inhibited in the obese, Rice said.  He stressed the importance of proper seat belt use, especially among the obese. “It is critical that the lap belt be positioned as low as possible on the lap and as close to one’s pelvis as possible,” he said.

The study examined used fatality data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 1996 to 2008.  During that time, details of more than 57,000 car accidents were documented. The study focused on collisions involving two cars resulting in a death. The data was refined further to include only collisions involving cars of similar size and type. In all, the final pool included more than 3,400 pairs of drivers.

Obesity was determined by body mass index (BMI), a measurement that takes both height and weight into account.  As the level of obesity increased, so did the odds of dying in the collision. Compared to normal-weight drivers, those at the lowest level of obesity were 21 percent more likely to die, those at the next level were 51 percent more likely to die and those who were most obese were 80 percent more likely to die.  Obese women had a greater risk of dying than obese men, the researchers noted, while underweight men were slightly more likely to die in a crash than normal-weight drivers.  These risks remained even for drivers wearing seat belts and even when the airbag deployed, the authors noted.

Although the study found an association between obesity and death rates in car crashes, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

SOURCES: Thomas Rice, Ph.D., research epidemiologist, Safe Transportation Research & Education Center, University of California, Berkeley; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn.; Jan. 21, 2013, Emergency Medicine Journal, online

 

Getting In A Car Accident: It’s Like Having a Second Job, Isn’t It?

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know how difficult your life can get.  Not only you do have to deal with painful injuries, but there are all of the doctor’s appointments that you need to go to and make time for.  It is not uncommon to have 4-5 doctor visits a week, if not more, following an accident.  This can be not only daunting, but overwhelming.

I can’t tell you how many times I speak with people who have been in an accident express their frustration and difficulty in keeping up with all of the appointments – it truly is like having a second job, as the hours can really add up in a week.  Many people simply give up care and stop going, because it can be just too overwhelming – which is exactly what the insurance company is hoping you will do.  The following pointers are meant to keep you on track so you do not lose faith.

Keep an electronic calendar

So far as I know, every cell phone out there has an electronic calendar on it that will allow you to enter appointments.  Use it to your advantage and make sure you are tracking and recording your appointments so you don’t miss any.   Also, make sure you set reminders to go off at least 30 minutes in advance.  Using an electronic calendar is also a good way to keep an accurate record of hours missed in the event you present a wage loss claim.

Group appointments together

To the extent you can, try to coordinate your care so that you are scheduling your appointments as close together as possible.  That way, you can limit the impact your appointments will have on your day.

Ask about alternate hours

Many offices have hours before and after typical 9-5 work days, so see what is available.  Also, some offices are open for limited times on weekends.  The more flexible the provider is, the easier it will be to get the care you need.  If the provider does not advertise they are open alternate hours, be sure to ask.  You never know.

Talk to your employer

People seem to have a tendency to keep their employer in the dark regarding an accident.  Some people feel like they will get treated differently, or they won’t get the “good” assignment, etc., but more often than not your employer will work with you to make sure you have the time needed to get to doctor’s appointments.   Remember, if you do miss time from work and are able to use sick time, PTO time or vacation time, keep a record of that as well because you will be able to claim that as part of your economic loss from the accident.  Even if your paycheck remains the same, the fact that you had to use benefits to keep it that way which you would not have used “but for” the accident, means the insurance company has to pay you back for that.

Remember, the worst time after an accident is typically in that first 3-6 months, so hang in there and make sure you are doing everything you can to keep those appointments.  If you miss appointments, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will make one of the following assumptions, neither of which are to your benefit: (1) you missed appointments because you really weren’t that hurt to begin with, or (2) you would have healed much quicker had you followed the treatment plan as recommended by your doctors – both of which can affect your claim.

If you are stressed and overwhelmed about getting the care you need following an accident, the attorneys at Adler Giersch, PS are standing by to help you.

Distracted Walking Increases Risk of Injury to Pedestrians

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

In previous posts, we discussed the growing concern and safety issues caused by distracted driving.[1]  There is another danger related to increased use cell phones and other mobile electronic devices: distracted walking.[2]  According to the Seattle Times, over 60,000 people are injured and 4,000 people die each year from vehicle-vs-pedestrian incidents.  There were 529 pedestrians injured in motor vehicle collisions in 2010, including 6 fatalities.  A recent study by the University of Washington which surveyed 1,000 pedestrians in 20 high-risk intersections found distracted walking may be a contributing factor to the growing number of pedestrian deaths caused by motor vehicle collisions each year.  The study found that 30% of pedestrians listened to music, texted or talked on the phone while crossing the street.  Pedestrians engaged in text messaging were four times less likely to look before crossing the street or obey traffic signals.  Those listening to music tended to walk faster and not look for traffic before stepping into the street.  It is easy to see that such conduct raises the risk of serious injury to pedestrians in any situation where motor vehicles are involved, including transit stops, railroad crossings and subway platforms.

Currently, there is no law prohibiting distracted walking in Washington, but some states, including Arkansas, Delaware, and Illinois, have attempted unsuccessfully to pass such measures in recent years.[3]  It is clear from the UW study and statistics from emergency departments nationwide that distracted walking is a very dangerous activity.  However, operators of motor vehicles are not relieved of their heightened duty imposed by the “Rules of the Road” to watch out for and avoid striking pedestrians, regardless of whether they are present in a crosswalk, or their attention is diverted by a cell phone or other electronic device, or some other distraction.

RCW 46.61.235 – Crosswalks

(1)   The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.

RCW 46.61.261 – Sidewalks, crosswalks; Pedestrians, bicycles

(1)    The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian or bicycle on a sidewalk.

Automobile drivers should always be on the lookout for all possible hazards.  As the popularity and prevalence of hand-held electronic devices grows, it is essential to exercise greater caution with pedestrians, especially if they are using an electronic device.  If you see a pedestrian using a cell phone or other device, it is very likely they are not paying attention to their surroundings.  Please be on the lookout for distracted walkers while driving.  If you have children, be sure to teach them when it is appropriate to use their hand-held, and when to hang up.

 



My Car Is “totaled” – Now What?

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

Getting in a collision is scary. In addition to getting the medical care you need, often the first task (and sometimes most daunting) is dealing with the property damage loss.  If your vehicle is “totaled” (meaning the cost of repair is more than the actual cash value of the car) then you will have to deal with an insurer to come up with a fair value for the vehicle.  Here are a few important things to remember:

  1. Insurers will value the vehicle at “fair market value” or “actual cash value.”  So, don’t take their word for it.  Do your homework and check local ads for similar vehicles in your area with similar mileage, options, condition, etc. If you think their offer is too low.
  2. If you are making a claim under your own policy and you can’t agree on a value, invoke the independent appraisal clause in your policy and get an independent appraiser to look at it.  If you are dealing with the at-fault party’s insurer, make a claim under your own policy (if you have that coverage) or you may need to consult with an attorney.
  3. The insurer also has to add in any applicable taxes, license fees and any other fees required to transfer ownership.
  4. If you just put on new tires or other accessories or items that add to the value then let the insurance company know about it.  They will likely give you credit for that – but remember it will not be dollar for dollar.  The key thing to remember is the “fair market value” of anything added to the vehicle.
  5. If you decide to keep the vehicle, the insurer will deduct the salvage value of the vehicle from the settlement amount.  You will also be issued a new title that indicates your vehicle is a salvage vehicle.

Pedestrian Safety Facts

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,378 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle collision nationwide, with another 69,000 pedestrians injured in 2008. This averages out to one motor vehicle collision-related pedestrian death every 2 hours, and a pedestrian injury every 8 minutes.1 Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passengers in a motor vehicle be killed in a motor vehicle collision on each trip.2

Pedestrians ages 65 and older accounted for 18% of all pedestrian deaths and approximately 10% of all pedestrian injuries in 2008. 1 One in five children between 5 and 9 years old killed in traffic collision was a pedestrian. 1 Alcohol-impairment, whether the driver or pedestrian, was reported in nearly half (48%) of traffic-related incidents resulting in pedestrian death. Of the pedestrians involved, 36% had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the illegal limit of .08.1

Higher vehicle speeds increase the chances of a pedestrian being struck by a motor vehicle as well as injury severity.3 Most pedestrian and bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas, at non-intersection locations, and at night.1

How can pedestrians avoid being injured or killed by a motor vehicle?

  • Pedestrians should be alert at intersections, where drivers may fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians while turning onto another street. 1
  • Pedestrians can increase their visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing light reflective clothing. 1
  • Pedestrians should cross a street at designated crosswalks whenever possible.
  • Pedestrians should always walk on a sidewalk, if present.  If no sidewalk is available, pedestrians should walk facing oncoming vehicle traffic. 1

References:

  1. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Pedestrians. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2008 [cited 2010 May 19].
  2. Beck LF, Dellinger AM, O=Neil ME. Motor vehicle crash injury rates by mode of travel, United States: Using exposure-based methods to quantify differences. American Journal of Epidemiology 2007;166:212B218.
  3. Rosen E, Sander U. Pedestrian fatality risk as a function of car impact speed. Acc Anal Prev 2009;41:536-542.

Source:  http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Pedestrian_safety/index.html