Articles Tagged with impaired driving

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Distracted Driving Injury AttorneysDing!

You glance down at the phone to read a text. Then, you look back at the road ahead.

Ding!

You glance down to read another text. When you look back to the road this time – the car in front of you is stopped! All you see are red brake lights. It’s too late.

Crash!

That’s how quickly distractions can result in car crashes. A crash at normal roadway speeds creates a huge risk of serious personal injury. We hear some version of this story almost every week. A story of distraction while texting, selecting songs, or other uses of a cellphone. Continue reading →

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Untitled-design-3-300x300A recent insurance journal headline reads, Positive Drug Tests In US Workforce Highest In Two Decades. According to the article, positive drug test rates increased another 4.6% in 2021. The rate shows a 31.4% increase from its all-time low just 10 years ago. In isolation, those statistics are troubling. Let’s talk a little more about the potential impact of increasing employee drug use on accidents and injuries. An increase in drug impairment means an increase in dangers among employees on worksites. It also means an increase in dangers to the public, especially on our roads and highways. Today, I’ll address a couple areas of concern as well as one area of potential long-term good news.

Do Changing Marijuana Laws Impact Workers Compensation Claims? And Other Personal Injury Claims?

I’ve written several times about the potential impact of changing marijuana beliefs and laws on work-related accidents. In Alabama, our work comp law bars claims where (1) the worker was impaired; and, (2) that impairment proximately caused the accident. That second requirement – the impairment proximately caused the accident – is likely to be a key issue in more future cases.

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Blackwell Law Firm - Personal Injury AttorneysI recently wrote a post asking the question, Is Drug Use Among Truck Drivers Increasing? I discussed several issues in my article. To be fair, during the recent covid pandemic, law enforcement agencies across northern Alabama reported increased DUI arrests for all drivers. Non-commercial drivers. So, it’s likely that impaired driving increased during the pandemic among all drivers.

As I discussed in my prior post, the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) now has a clearinghouse database for information related to commercial drivers with alcohol or drug issues. That’s great. We need a safety database where potential drivers who fail pre-employment drug screens or who test positive for impaired driving after an accident, can be listed. We definitely do not need a patchwork system where a bad driver can simply go elsewhere to be rehired.

The clearinghouse has only recently become fully mandatory for reporting. That’s why I concluded in my prior post that the data is too limited to determine whether impaired driving is really increasing.

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Huntsville Truck Injury AttorneysThe U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently released detailed data on truck driver drug testing. The data shows drug violations among truckers increased in 2021. One truck driver website reported the information as follows:

Violations reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse were up 10.2% in 2021 compared to 2020, according to FMCSA’s December 2021 monthly report.

Several other news sources reported the results with alarm. Any increase in drug or alcohol use among commercial drivers is alarming. Impaired driving is a major cause of needless highway accidents, injuries and deaths. Yes, data showing a 10% jump in one year is alarming. But, I would read the results with caution. I’ll explain below why I don’t read too much into this current data.

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Huntsville Truck Accident LawyersImpaired Driving. I’ve discussed the danger of impaired driving many times on this blog. Years ago, impaired driving meant drunk driving. Alcohol was the primary problem. With years of hard work by law enforcement and advocacy groups, we saw significant decreases in dangerous drunk driving.

However, in the last couple decades, drugged driving has eclipsed drunk driving. Now, we face a huge safety issue due to drivers impaired by drugs. Often, the drugs are prescription medications. We all know the huge problem created by narcotic pain medications. Too many drivers are also impaired by illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines.

When I write a blog about truck driving safety, I often receive some backlash from upset truckers. Any critique of trucking is viewed as an attack on all drivers. That’s certainly not my intention. Truck driving is a difficult and solitary job. We have many safe, professional and dedicated drivers who work to deliver the products and services we all need. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of representing countless truck drivers hurt in a work-related accident. Like every profession, a few bad apples cause all the problems. We have too many needless injuries and deaths in this country from those few bad apples.

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Alabama Personal Injury AttorneysThe Claims Journal recently published an article titled Traffic Returning to Roadways, But Claims Patterns May Shift Permanently. I frequently read the articles on their website — You can learn some fascinating traffic and claim research straight from insurance sources.

The article raises some interesting issues. Will post-pandemic traffic return to pre-pandemic levels? Will the shutdowns from the coronavirus cause lasting changes in our driving habits? Will our roads be safer or more dangerous after the pandemic? We may not fully learn the answers to these questions for months or years.

Some insurance companies are already predicting Americans will drive less on a permanent basis. Other researchers are predicting rush-hour driving will permanently decrease with telework and drivers staggering their trips to different times.

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DRUNK-DRIVING-A-LEADING-CAUSE-OF-HIGHWAY-ACCIDENTS-INJURIES-AND-DEATHS-IN-ALABAMA-300x169Impaired Driving. Is it increasing? In recent months, many families have faced tremendous issues. The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating. The risk of sickness. The loss of jobs and income. The ever-changing schedules for school and work. The isolation of social distancing. For years, I’ve seen the devastating impact of isolation in my injured clients suffering chronic pain and disability. With COVID-19, others are also now experiencing the impact.

When I read recently that several local Alabama law enforcement agencies have faced increasing issues with intoxicated drivers, I was not surprised. The crises facing many workers increases problems with alcohol over-consumption. During difficult times, issues with alcohol and drugs often increase.

Around Decatur, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department recently reported that DUI arrests have increased 54% this year compared to last year. In Lawrence County, the Town Creek Police Chief reported DUI arrests have increased over 40% compared to last year. I discussed these statistics with a current car accident client who is also a police officer and he indicated many of his fellow officers noticed increasing issues. You can read a short article in the Insurance Journal reporting this issue by clicking HERE. That’s a significant increase. And, it means many more dangerous drivers are on Alabama roads.

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Huntsville Car Accident Lawyers (Blackwell Law Firm)It’s Christmas season! This weekend, my teenage daughter and I went Christmas shopping. That’s an experience on so many levels. For one, she wanted to drive. She has a Learners’ Permit and is eager to use it. But, the weekend before Christmas is not the best time for a new driver in Huntsville. So, I drove. To curb her disappointment, I promised to take her driving after Christmas when traffic returns to normal.

I’ve written previously about holiday traffic. In a prior post, I asked and answered the question:  Do Car Accidents Increase During The Holiday Season?   A study by the University of Alabama reveals they do. Why? Christmas season brings a special mix of several traffic dangers all at the same time:

  1. Increased Traffic.
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BLACKWELL-LAW-FIRM-Alabama-Accident-and-Injury-Lawyers-256-261-1315-300x300Truck Driving Is A Solitary Profession

We spend much of our lives at work. For many of us that means going to the office, factory or construction site. We see and speak with other people throughout the day.

Truck driving is different. Truckers may spend long, solitary hours on the road. Miles and miles of highway pass as the hours turn from day to night. In past articles, I’ve written about some of the health problems commonly seen in truckers. Many of those health problems are tied to long, sedentary work days.

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Stop Impaired Driving. Prevent Needless Personal InjuryOn our law firm website, we have an entire page devoted to Impaired Driving Accidents. On that page, we discuss impaired driving from alcohol and illegal drugs. If you want more information, take a look. A recent Alabama Supreme Court case discusses an important issue in many alcohol-related accidents — Can a bar or restaurant be held responsible for the damage caused by a drunk driver? Laws that hold businesses liable for the injuries or damages caused by an intoxicated driver are called Dram Shop laws.

We have represented many Alabama families harmed by impaired drivers. Drunk driving crashes can be especially horrible. Often, the drunk driver is traveling too fast or the wrong way resulting in a high speed, head-on collision.

If you are injured, where do you look to recover your damages? In many Alabama car crashes, the impaired driver has little or no insurance. What happens when the reckless driver lacks insurance? Hopefully, you have uninsured / underinsured coverage (often called UIM) on your policy. Alabama law requires your policy to carry small minimum limits of UIM unless specifically waived by you. You should NEVER waive your UIM coverage. In fact, you probably have too little. This inexpensive coverage can be very important in the event of a serious accident.

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