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Pee Dee Personal Injury Law Blog

Are in-vehicle voice-activated systems the solutions to distracted driving?

Today, for many people in the U.S., technology permeates nearly every aspect of life. This is especially the case when it comes to how people find information and communicate with one another. The prolific use of personal computers, cellphones and tablets has forever changed how people find and share information and ideas and, for many, the use of these types of devices to complete a variety of daily tasks has become second-nature.

However, mobile devices like cellphones and personal tablets can be highly distracting when used by a driver who is attempting to compose a text message or look up a phone number. In fact, texting while driving has been deemed so dangerous and distracting that 44 states now have anti-texting laws.

When can a wrongful death lawsuit be filed?

In the wake of a loved one's death, family members are likely to feel great sadness. These feelings of sadness are often intensified and accompanied by others including anger and grief when a loved one's death is sudden and the result of a motor vehicle accident. In cases where a loved one is killed in an accident caused by another driver's negligent actions, surviving family members may choose to take legal action.

Family members may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit in cases where a loved one was killed by a drunk driver, a driver who was speeding or a driver who ran a red light. Compensation sought in a wrongful death lawsuit chiefly relates to the financial losses suffered by surviving family members.

The dangers of aggressive driving

Many South Carolina drivers have likely witnessed or perhaps even engaged in a driving behavior that would be classified as being aggressive in nature. While most drivers would likely cite driving behaviors such as running a red light, failing to stop at a stop sign and drunk driving as being extremely dangerous in nature; many fail to acknowledge that speeding, tailgating and failing to signal are also dangerous driving behaviors that frequently contribute to car accidents.

While certain driving behaviors that are classified as being aggressive in nature may be perceived as being more dangerous, approximately one-third of all motor vehicle accident fatalities involve a driver who was speeding. Yet, despite the dangers associated with speeding, the behavior is widely accepted and practiced by drivers throughout the U.S.

South Carolinians and visitors reminded of safe boating practices

With more than 470,000 miles of lakes, rivers and ocean coastline, South Carolina residents readily enjoy boating and swimming. While certainly enjoyable, recreational boating is not without its dangers and last year the state's Department of Natural Resources reported that a total of 28 people died in South Carolina boating accidents.

Alcohol plays a factor in many boating accidents that result in injuries and fatalities. It's legal to have an open container on a boat and boat passengers frequently enjoy sipping an alcoholic beverage while crusing a lake or river. The driver of a boat, however, should not drink alcohol as doing so is illegal and impairs a diver's ability to think clearly and react in emergency situations. 

As drivers age, safety issues should be addressed

As the millions of men and women who make up the baby boomer generation age, many will continue to drive well into their 80s and beyond. For these individuals and their family members, there are certain safety issues that must be discussed and addressed.

Many baby boomers have driven their whole lives and strongly value the freedom and independence that having a car and driver's license affords. There are, however, physical and cognitive signs that may indicate an individual should limit when or where they drive or even give up driving altogether.

The sobering statistics about motorcycle accidents

With no airbags, seatbelts or reinforced steel protective frames; when a car or truck hits a motorcycle the first point of contact is often a motorcyclist's body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2001 to 2008, more than 1.2 million people received emergency medical care after being involved in a motorcycle accident and "more than 34,000 motorcyclists were killed" in traffic accidents. 

Today, U.S. drivers drive at higher speeds and are more distracted than drivers of previous decades. These two factors combined make South Carolina roads and highways a dangerous place for motorcyclists. It's important, therefore, that motorcyclists take steps to protect themselves and reduce the likelihood of causing or being involved in a serious or fatal accident. 

Would Your Car Protect You in an Accident?

99547449-300x237.jpgSafety features in new cars are credited with helping to protect people from death or serious injury in traffic accidents. Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its vehicle safety ratings, raising its standards for "good" or "acceptable" ratings. Only 39 vehicles earned the organization's safety awards for 2014. As a group, the subcompact cars performed poorly in crash tests. The Insurance Institute required vehicles to have "good" ratings in roof strength, head restraint, overlap front, and side tests to make its Top Safety Pick list. They also had to earn a good or acceptable rating in a recently-introduced small overlap front test. This test assesses a car's ability to withstand a crash in which 25 percent of its front end on the driver's side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph, as would happen if a car hit a light pole or clipped another car. These crashes can be tragic as they bypass the structural elements of the vehicle, a senior IIHS research official told KABC in Los Angeles. The occupant compartment can collapse if a vehicle is not structurally prepared for these accidents. Among the vehicles making the Top Safety Pick list with a "good" rating in the small overlap test were the Honda Civic (2-door), Subaru Impreza, Subaru XV Crosstrek and Volvo XC90. The Institute's Top Safety Pick+ list is even harder to make and includes having a front crash prevention system, like automatic braking or forward collision warning. This technology helps drivers avoid rear-end crashes common with distracted driving. Vehicles on the Top Safety Pick+ list with "good" ratings in the small overlap test were the Honda Civic (4-door), Mazda 3, Honda Accord (4-door), Acura RLX, Volvo S60, Volvo S80 and Volvo XC60, Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander, Mazda CX-5 and Honda Odyssey, among others.

Truck Monitoring Systems Improve Safety

Some truck drivers say don’t like the technology in their vehicles that monitors them on the road. But the high-tech systems, designed to improve efficiency, may also bemaking highways safer.Crashes involving large trucks in 2012 killed 3,921 people and injured 104,000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. As of 2010, commercial trucks represented 4% of registered vehicles and 8% of total miles driven but were involved in 11% of traffic fatalities, according to a report in the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Prevention.In other words, large trucks are involved in a disproportionate number of fatal traffic accidents compared to their presence on the highway.

Aiming for Efficiency

Much of the new technology in trucks is designed to make the transport of goods more efficient, according to a recent report in Forbes. No longer does dispatch have to use the radio or telephone to track down a shipment or find out why a trucker is delayed. Onboard systems using satellite and cellular technology can pinpoint the location of a truck, how fast it’s traveling and where it’s been.Sandy Hodes, senior vice president for Ryder System Inc., a leading truck rental and leasing company,told Forbes that the tracking systems are the future of trucking. They can deliver minute-by-minute information back to headquarters and can pinpoint why a shipment is late or what was happening in the moments leading up to an accident.RydeSmart, from Ryder, tracks trucks using an iPad or iPhone, assessing fuel-tax information and hours of service in an effort to comply with new standards from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.Another on-board system,SmartDrive Systems, uses video-based technology to detect when truckers are following other vehicles too closely, speeding or braking hard. GreenRoad, a Web-based safety product,provides truckers with feedback on their safety, displaying green, yellow, or red lights. The maker of this product says it can reduce the costs associated with truck accidents by 60% for a company.Hodes says companies are battling to improve productivity while staying within the stricter drive-time guidelines. No longer can they force drivers to take risks like long hours behind the wheel in order to delivera shipment on time. Now, speed and safety must be balanced.

Size Makes Trucks Deadly

In 2012, 317,000 commercial trucks were involved in some kind of car crash, indicating a serious problem.The sheer size of commercial trucks makes them deadly when they involved in a high speed collision. It’s no wonder that when a truck is in a collision with asmaller car, the occupants of thesmaller vehicle are much more likely to be seriously injured. Among those killed in truck accidents in 2012, 73 percent were occupants in other vehicles.Truckers may not like the technological scrutiny. But traffic fatalities are unacceptable, particularly when they can be prevented with onboard technology.

"Buzzed" Drivers Pose Serious Accident Risks

175901719-300x200.jpgMost people believe there is some continuum of drunkenness. There is pass-out drunk on one end of the scale, drunk and tipsy somewhere in the middle, and something known as "buzzed" for those who may have only had a single drink or two. But a new study says that even those at the buzzed end of the spectrum are at risk of causing serious car accidents. In South Carolina, as in the rest of the U.S., a driver is considered intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Most people think that means they are perfectly capable of driving as long as they don't exceed the legal limit. But the blood alcohol limit is far from the perfect measurement of sobriety or safety. As reported by Reuters Health, researchers with the University of California San Diego looked at a national database of more than 570,000 auto accidents between 1994 and 2011. What they found was that there is no real "safe" level of alcohol consumption before getting behind the wheel.

New Rules Planned for Child Safety Seats

134716722-300x199.jpgWhen it comes to keeping your child safe in the car, cautious driving is paramount. Yet even the most careful driver can be involved in a serious accident. A child safety seat could determine whether your child remains safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to make sure car seats are up to the task of protecting children in auto crashes. NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman announced the agency's plan to toughen standards for car safety seats, according to a report by the Associated Press. The agency will test car seats for the first time on their ability to withstand side-impact crashes. Traffic safety researchers estimate the proposed changes would save the lives of five children each year and prevent car accident injuries to 64 children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that an estimated 1,200 children under the age of 15 were killed in auto accidents in a recent year, and 171,000 were injured. Many of these injuries and deaths may have been prevented with proper use of safety seats. One study found that more than 618,000 children ride in vehicles without child safety seats or age-appropriate boosters at least some of the time. This is significant because proper use of these seats can reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. Booster seats can reduce the risk of serious injury by 45% for children ages 4 to 8.