Articles Tagged with highway

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Commercial Truck On HighwayIn 2015, large commercial trucks were involved in more than 400,000 police-reported crashes on our nation’s roads and highways. Over 4,000 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes. Many other crashes caused serious and permanent personal injuries. Truck safety is an important issue for all drivers. Truck safety is a frequent topic of discussion on this blog. In past posts, I’ve discussed trucking topics such as the medical certification process for truckers, trucker health issues, current highway safety regulations and the danger of distracted driving among commercial drivers.

In the last two decades, our cars and trucks have become much safer. Available designs and technologies have improved vehicle safety for everyone. When it comes to commercial trucking, several available technologies could promise to increase safety significantly. What are a few of those available safety technologies?

Lane Departure Warning Systems

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Photo by R. BauerA recent truck crash in Indiana highlights the importance of “Move Over” laws. The Indiana case involved a tow truck driver preparing to tow a disabled vehicle from the right shoulder of the Interstate. While helping stranded travelers and their disabled vehicle, an oncoming eighteen wheeler suddenly plowed into his tow truck. The tow truck driver had his yellow lights activated. The approaching tractor-trailer could have moved into another lane away from the tow truck. Yet, it did not.

Did the eighteen wheeler stop after the crash? No. The trucker fled the accident scene leaving the severely injured tow truck driver. One of the stranded passengers was a nurse. She saved his life. Yet, because of his severe injuries, the tow truck driver still required a leg amputation at the hospital.

I’ve written previously about the dangers emergency responders face on our highways. Police. Paramedics. Tow truck drivers. Utility workers. These individuals work to protect us. Their jobs often place them close to high traffic areas.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Helping Accident Victims
Elderly driving is a sensitive topic. It is a very sensitive topic for many families dealing with elderly relatives. We all value our independence and freedom. Driving is a key part of living independently. Yet, the topic has been on my mind lately. I have been preparing two car accident cases for trial involving serious crashes caused by elderly drivers. In one, the elderly driver crashed into five separate cars on a highway in Huntsville. She should have stopped driving long before the car crash.

I understand the difficulty in talking to our elderly loved ones about their driving. How do you tell your parents or grandparents it may be time to consider driving alternatives (or giving up their keys completely)? I’ve had those conversations with several elderly relatives. Many of my elderly relatives live in and around Decatur, Alabama. One by one, we have had the conversations necessary to prevent them from hurting themselves or someone else on our roads.

How does aging affect safe driving? The aging process can affect safe driving in many ways. Here are a few:

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Blackwell Law Firm -- Help For The Injured
Distracted driving is a major cause of needless highway injuries and deaths. Months ago, I wrote that parents must lead by example in order to reduce the rate of teenage distracted driving. My prior post is Distracted Driving: Parents Must Lead By Example. In that earlier post, I wrote:

Our public safety officials have worked hard to educate young drivers on this issue. However, education of our young drivers is much less effective if we don’t lead by example. It is difficult in a busy world to not be distracted while driving. Yet, we must work hard to practice safe habits that our children will see and absorb.

A new survey reveals parents may be a large part of the problem. According to the new survey, “parents are the most distracted drivers on our roads.” Ford Motor Company surveyed drivers in New Zealand and Australia. According to the results:

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truck-945364_1280-300x183The U.S. Department of Transportation is halting its effort to better diagnose and evaluate truckers suffering from dangerous sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a major safety issue among commercial truck drivers as well as railroad workers. Here is the lead paragraph from a recent Bloomberg article discussing this sudden announcement:

The Trump administration is halting a year-old effort to seek better ways to diagnose truckers and railroad workers who have sleep apnea, a health condition linked to deadly accidents.

What is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder. A person suffering sleep apnea will have interruptions in his or her breathing during sleep. How can sleep apnea affect driving? Truckers must be very alert while driving on our highways. By impacting sleep, the disorder can greatly affect daytime alertness, performance and fatigue. Our firm has seen the tragic results of these problems in past cases.

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Would speed limiting devices in commercial trucks save lives? Yes. We believe these devices would prevent many needless personal injuries and deaths on our highways. At our firm, we have helped many families hurt in commercial truck crashes. We have seen the tragic results of collisions involving huge commercial vehicles.

We believe speed limiting devices in commercial trucks are a good idea. Most trucking industry professionals also recognize the benefit of these devices. What do others think? A recent article in the Insurance Journal starts with the following:

Years of pleas from parents whose son was killed by a speeding tractor-trailer, buy-in from some truckers and the promise of fewer highway deaths convinced U.S. officials in September to propose requiring speed-limiting devices on all large rigs.

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photo by Montgomery County Planning Commission
The Problem Of Distracted Driving

Distracted drivers cause many deadly car accidents on Alabama highways. Despite efforts to educate the public (and especially young drivers), accident statistics continue to show a growing problem. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) reported:

a 14 percent increase in traffic fatalities over the past two years — the largest two year increase in more than 50 years.

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Photo by KSAT 12
In recent days, we again saw the deadly toll of distracted driving on our highways. A church choir in Texas was returning from its annual retreat when the unthinkable happened. A pickup truck suddenly veered from its lane and into the path of their bus. The two vehicles collided head-on. According to news reports, thirteen senior citizens from the same church died in the crash. One church member survived the crash itself but currently remains in critical condition from her injuries.

The photographs and video of the crash scene are difficult to view. The vehicles look like mangled pieces of steel destroyed by the impact. But, this was not an accident. It was avoidable. The pickup truck driver chose to disregard completely the safety of others and caused the deadly crash. What choice did this driver make? He chose to drive distracted for miles down the highway putting many lives in danger. He chose to put his attention on texting instead of the roadway.

Distracted driving leaves a path of destruction across the highways of Alabama and all other states. In Alabama, we recently saw a driver receive jail time for a deadly distracted driving crash. In Georgia, a commercial truck driver plowed into a car of nursing students causing another deadly crash.

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Photo by Mark Goebel
In June, I wrote a post discussing distracted driving by commercial truck drivers. You can read the post here: Distracted Driving And Commercial Trucks — A Deadly Combination. That post discusses a terrible distracted driving case where a truck driver crashed into a group of nursing students.

The crash killed five nursing students and severely injured others. Afterwards, the trucking company quietly settled claims from the families of the nursing students killed. However, one of the severely injured nursing students and her lawyer prepared for trial.

In January, a jury awarded $15 Million to this surviving nursing student. The student suffers from a traumatic brain injury caused by the crash. I have two instant takeaways from the jury verdict.

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You were a passenger in a car. The driver of that car caused an accident. You suffered personal injury. Now, the insurance company has denied your claim. Why? The insurance company says you cannot make a claim because of Alabama’s Guest Passenger Statute.

Many people are not familiar with this Alabama law. It is an old law. Most other states repealed similar laws long ago. Many people learn of this law only when the insurance company denies their car accident injury claim. What should you do? First, do not accept the insurance company denial without consulting an attorney. It’s important you consult an attorney who specializes in personal injury claims. And, it’s important that attorney has actual trial experience. Many of the lawyers advertising on billboards and television for personal injury claims only want cases they can easily settle.

While the Guest Passenger Statute does bar many claims, it is not absolute. A skilled attorney will understand this law and whether it truly applies to your claim.