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Pee Dee Personal Injury Law Blog

How long can a driver safely look away from the road?

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which led the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety to release the results of a recent study testing how accurate the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recommendations on driver attention might be. According to the Liberty Mutual, NHTSA recommends that drivers look away from the road for no more than two seconds at 70 mph. But is that really safe?

Consider this: At 70 mph, your car travels about 100 feet per second. So, during those two seconds you've glanced away, your car has gone about 200 feet -- or two-thirds of the length of a football field. Can you afford to look away that long?

Latest NHTSA study shows how much alcohol use increases crash risk

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just finished the largest-ever study documenting the risks associated with drunk or drugged driving. While the results on alcohol and driving weren't entirely surprising, there was an unexpected result in terms of marijuana's role in traffic accidents.

For the Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk study, researchers interviewed and tested some 9,000 drivers in Virginia Beach, Virginia, over the course of 20 months. More than 3,000 of those drivers had been in car accidents; the others constituted a control group of drivers who had not. The non-crash drivers were chosen because they happened to be driving through the same area at the same time of the day, on the same day of the week, and in the same direction of traffic as those who had been in crashes. All of the drivers were tested for alcohol and drugs, although marijuana was the only drug used commonly enough for the findings to be considered statistically significant.

NTSB issues new warning about instability of 15-passenger vans

The large vans that are popular with nonprofits and church groups are in the news again after a tragedy last week in Florida. According to reports, a group of 18 people were overloaded into a 2000 Dodge Ram Wagon last Monday, headed for a church trip. The 15-passenger van was driven by an experienced school bus driver with a good record. Unfortunately, as they traveled down a dark rural road, the driver apparently missed a stop sign at a T-intersection. Subsequently, the van plunged into a ravine. Eight people were killed, including the driver. Ten others were injured; four of them so seriously that they were still in the hospital as of Friday.

Unfortunately, accidents like this one are all-too-common. While specific data wasn't easily available for South Carolina, the problem is pretty serious nationwide. According to federal data, between 2004 and 2010 there were 521 people killed in accidents involving 15-passenger vans.

The very basics of South Carolina boating safety

We've discussed before how South Carolina stacks up in terms of boating safety -- a mixed bag of good and bad. So, what issues contribute to boating accidents? Alcohol does, of course, and everyone agrees that it's safest to wear a life jacket, even on larger boats where it's not technically required. Also, we should keep overloaded boats and pilot error in mind.

The core issue may simply be that some boaters just don't treat an afternoon out on the boat as seriously as they should. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources provides a list of tips on how to boat more safely -- starting well before your hull hits the water. Here are a few of the top tips:

Do you really know what your teen driver is doing behind the wheel?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention, more U.S. teens die from involvement in motor vehicle accidents than from any other cause. For teen drivers, inexperience is a major factor and can result in a teen making unwise and dangerous decisions while driving.

Researchers from Oregon State University recently conducted a study in which they aimed to identify causes of distracted driving among teen drivers and also gauge teens' perceptions about these dangers. While researchers likely expected teens to own up to engaging in distracting behaviors like talking to back seat passengers, tuning the radio and texting; their research yielded some interesting results.

Dangers of drunk driving magnified during St. Patrick's Day celebrations

This weekend thousands of Myrtle Beach residents will celebrate St. Patrick's Day and many more will take part in Irish-themed festivities on Tuesday. When it comes to St. Patrick's Day, everyone becomes Irish and dons their best green attire. For many people who commemorate the holiday, alcohol plays a major role in their celebration.

By now, everyone knows not to drink to and drive. It's illegal to operate a motor vehicle after drinking and individuals who choose to do so many not only face DUI charges, but could also potentially cause or be involved in a motor vehicle accident in which others are injured or killed. Holidays, like St. Patrick's Day, during which alcohol plays a major role, pose special dangers for South Carolina drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

Car accidents spike Monday after daylight saving time

As residents across South Carolina prepare to turn their clocks ahead for daylight saving time, many will likely lament losing an hour of precious sleep. While one missed hour of sleep may seem insignificant, research and statistics prove that such disturbances in one's sleep pattern can adversely impact an individual’s ability to process information, focus and stay awake.

According to a survey by the Better Sleep Council, more than 60 percent of U.S. residents reported feeling the ill-effects of DST. One place people seem to especially notice the loss of sleep is when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. According to the Fatal Accident Reporting System, fatal crashes spike 17 percent the Monday following DST. What's more, the lingering effects of DST-induced drowsiness may last for days after the time change.

Car accidents and the resulting financial and personal losses

In a recent blog post, we discussed steps individuals who are involved in a car accident should take. Some of these tips are meant to help individuals prove another driver's negligence and can greatly benefit an individual who plans to take legal action.

For example, when interacting with other involved parties at the accident scene, it's important not to say or do anything that may implicate one as being at fault. Additionally, it's important to obtain a copy of the police accident report which provides details about the cause of the accident and includes records of any resulting citations.

Tips for motorcyclists on how to avoid becoming a statistic

Individuals who own and ride motorcycles often speak about the thrill they experience upon hitting the open road and feeling the wind against one's body. Motorcycles are more popular than ever and while many may consider riding a motorcycle as a fun way to travel and take in the landscape, it is also inherently dangerous.

During 2010 alone, more than 4,500 people in the U.S. were killed in motorcycle accidents. With no airbags, steel frames or seat belts; if involved in a crash, a motorcyclist's body is often the first point of contact. The resulting injuries are almost always serious in nature an often result in an individual suffering debilitating or fatal injuries.

Older drivers and the importance of self-regulation

According to the Population Reference Bureau, the U.S. baby boomer generation currently totals about 76 million men and women. As individuals born between 1946 and 1964 continue to retire and age, a significant percentage will likely experience some degree of decreased physical and/or cognitive functioning.

Aging is a part of life and, when it comes to driving, impairments related to one's vision, reaction time and ability to process information quickly can result in a driver making errors and causing or being involved in a car accident. Thankfully, there are steps older drivers can take to avoid being in a car accident and 2013 statistics show that, during the last 18 years, the motor vehicle fatality rate for drivers age 70 and older has decreased by 30 percent.