Distracted Drivers: Threats on the Road

Feb 12

Even before the 1900s, accidents involving automobiles were already happening; some of these accidents caused damage to the vehicle, some resulted to driver and passenger injuries, and a few resulted to the horrible death of certain individuals.

As early as 1925, state authorities already saw that cars are bound to crash and cause damages to properties and injuries on people. It was for this reason why car liability insurance became a mandate – so that at-fault drivers will not default on paying victims the compensation they have a legal right to seek.

Majority of car accidents, however, are mere results of human negligence or recklessness; of bad road behavior or failure to perform one’s duty in making sure that roads and highways do not pose dangers to motorists or that cars are not defectively designed and do not contain defective parts.

Though car crashes are totally preventable, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is alarmed that more than 30,000 still die every year because of these. And while traffic authorities have increased their vigilance against drivers who speed, who drive recklessly, or even when intoxicated, another group of threats on the road is slowly increasing, most of whom are made up of teens and young adults – distracted drivers.

Distracted driving happens when a driver engages in an activity that will take his or her focus from the task of driving. This distracting activity may be carried out by the driver himself/herself or by someone else inside the car with the driver or someone outside the car. Due to distractions, it is, therefore, easy for drivers to fail to anticipate and react to possible road hazards. Currently, the use of cell phone while driving is the worst and most dangerous kind of distraction for drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year thousands of car crashes, which injure 1,153 individuals and kill at least 9 others, occur due to the use of cell phone, whether texting or talking with someone. The use of cell phone, however, is not the only form of distraction that drivers get engaged in. There are so many others which have become so normal that drivers no longer realize these as distractions; their effects, however, are often tragic.

According the website of Williams Kherkher,  some of the most common forms of driving distractions, which so many drivers are guilty of, include: eating and drinking; adjusting a GPS device, compact disc player or car radio; using a laptop; reading a map for directions: talking or arguing with a car passenger (the more passengers there are in a car, the greater the distraction); reaching for an object (especially from the back seat); playing with or being distracted by a child; getting distracted by a pet or an insect; grooming; lighting a cigarette; smoking; and getting lost in thought.

Victims of car accidents may have grounds to pursue legal action against the party responsible for their injuries. It is not impossible for car accidents to cause severe injuries that can result to financial losses, pain and suffering for victims. It is for these losses and sufferings that victims have the right to seek compensation.

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Advanced Crash-avoidance Features do not Lessen Drivers’ Duty to Focus Fully on the Road

Nov 22

Records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that 90% of all road crashes, which go beyond five million every year, is due to bad road behavior, such as driving while intoxicated, speeding, driving recklessly, ignoring traffic signs and signals, making improper lane changes, not focusing on the road, and either texting or talking with someone over the phone.

Using a cell phone, while driving, is now the worst form of driving distraction in the US. In 2012, distractions while behind the wheel resulted to 3,328 fatal crashes and 421,000 injuries, an increase of 9% from the 387,000 figure in 2011 and, while all other 2013 road accident data from the NHTSA showed declines in death and injuries (these include records on the different types of vehicle crashes and the causes of these crashes, and injuries involving pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists), distraction-affected crashes resulting to injuries remained to increase.

As defined by CDC, driving distraction is any activity that takes away a driver’s attention on driving. The real scary thing about this is that anyone is prone to distractions, including drivers who are always concerned about safety. There is a very long list of actions that can distract a driver, so many of these are too simple that people usually never realize the risk of accident they present. Distractions include conversing with a passenger, eating, looking at a map, adjusting a GPS or the car radio, turning the radio’s volume to full blast, fixing a tie, reaching for something from the backseat, playing with a child, putting on makeup, driving angry, and so forth.

Professional drivers and authorities list down three major types of driving distractions, namely:

  • Visual, which involves taking one’s eyes off the road;
  • Manual, which is taking the hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive, a case wherein a driver’s mind wanders off

Driving requires undivided attention on the road. This is to enable a driver to veer away from anything that may cause an accident without losing control of the vehicle. Recently, various advanced crash-avoidance features have been installed in cars which hope to prevent or avoid accidents, or help reduce the severity of an impact. Some of these features are improved seat belts and air bags, the All-wheel drive, which maximizes traction by distributing power to both front and rear wheels, the Electronic Stability Control, which helps drivers maintain control of their vehicles even during extreme steering maneuvers, the Automatic braking, which allows a car to brake automatically to prevent a crash or lessen its impact, and Reverse backup sensors, which automatically beeps if a driver is about to hit something while backing up.

Despite these advanced safety features, a San Antonio personal injury attorney would mention that auto accidents remain a top cause of serious injuries and wrongful death in the US, primarily because of distracted driving, which is an act of negligence and which makes an erring driver totally responsible for the pain, suffering, and losses that victims sustain in an accident.

This suffering, which the Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm explains in an article in its website, does not only include the physical and emotional pain experienced by victims, but the growing financial burden resulting from medical costs and other damages as well.

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Eliminating Possible Unseen Causes Truck Accidents

Nov 18

More goods are again being imported into the US, resulting to availability of more products, a wider array of goods to choose from, and maybe even more jobs that will help augment many families’ monthly income – thanks to this nation’s continuously improving economy.

One clear sign of this economic growth is the increased presence of large, 18-wheeler trucks or big rigs on US roads and highways, many of which travel long distances carrying loads of products that need to be delivered. But, as pointed out in an article on the Ausband & Dumont website, while these trucks may be said to be making major contributions in “filling our nation’s transportation and distribution needs,” these also serve as major threats on the road, the cause of half a million accidents every year. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck accidents cause more than 100,000 injuries and 4,000 deaths annually.

Many drivers blame fatal truck accidents (as well as the continuous increases in the number of these accidents) on commercial truck drivers who the victims say act like the commercial drivers believe that they have the right of way, are careless on the road, and often failing to consider the presence of smaller vehicles.

The tide of blame, however, takes a totally different course when considering truck drivers’ opinion or results of various studies and surveys. One big rig driver for instance, who has been on the road for almost 30 years, cites the failure of many car drivers to use turn signals. Even the Automobile Association of America’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, though surprising as it may be, says that 75% of the accidents involving trucks and cars are the fault of car drivers – the same view held by majority of the 800 poll respondents, who said that passenger vehicle drivers drive more dangerously near and around trucks, making unsafe lane changes, tailgating, speeding, cutting in front of a truck and then immediately slowing down.

Trucks move/maneuver much slower than cars, therefore, it needs more room; these also have blind spots or areas where smaller vehicles are not visible to their drivers. Now, while it is true that car drivers need to learn how to drive safely around cars (a topic not included in required tests and books when applying for a driver’s license), truck drivers, on their part, as professional drivers, should be more watchful and be more considerate to drivers of smaller vehicles (trucks always adjusting to smaller vehicles, however, can have consequential effects on the business operation of those in the trucking industry). But to actually reduce the number of preventable tragic accidents, acting responsibly and observing laws are necessary in order to eliminate possible unseen causes of these accidents and so ensure safety in the trucking business.

Without doubt, responsible actions and observance of laws will always ensure: production of truck tires and other vital truck parts that comply with federal standards; construction of good roads and proper maintenance of these; hiring or qualified drivers, making sure that they are further trained, and keeping bad ones off the road; and, making sure that truck loads are equally distributed and properly secured.

“The inherent danger that large 18-wheelers pose,” as explained in the website of the law firm David Ravid and Associates, “makes it imperative that all of the proper safety measures are taken and that these trucks are well maintained.” There are many different reasons why truck accidents occur; however, one sure thing is that when accidents do happen, the ones most seriously harmed are drivers of smaller vehicles, pedestrians, etc.

While it is a sad fact that the harm resulting from a truck accident can no longer be undone, victims should also never be allowed to suffer the financial consequences of such accident.

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