Archive for Car Accident Attorney

Speeding, Careless Driving Up as Traffic Levels Come Down

Bikers, Walkers Must Be More Vigilant

Traffic levels right now are the lowest in decades with millions of Americans staying close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, more people are walking and biking to get out of the house and take advantage of less congestion. All good, except that some drivers see empty roads and highways as an invitation to speed or drive distracted.

Here are just a few concerning examples from around the nation. The California Highway Patrol has issued almost double the number of tickets compared with last year for driving over 100 mph. In Nevada and Rhode Island, state officials note pedestrian fatalities are rising. Utah has seen a 30% to 50% drop in highway traffic and a slight decrease in the number of collisions, but troopers are seeing higher speeds and more fatal accidents.

The lesson for us all – walkers, bikers and drivers – is not to let down our guard because roads and highways seem less crowded. Keep these basic walking/driving safety tips in mind at all times, but especially now:

Tips for Drivers

  • Don’t block any crosswalks when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn.
  • Watch your speed – less traffic doesn’t make it any less dangerous to drive recklessly.
  • Take extra care to look out for pedestrians or cyclists, especially in residential areas.
  • Watch for unexpected street closures. Many cities are selectively closing roads to create more space for walkers and bikers.
  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly. And leave three feet between your car and the cyclist.
  • Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling. Young bicyclists especially have a tendency to do this.
  • Check side mirrors before opening your door when parked.

 

Enjoying more family bike rides? Make sure helmets are properly fitted.

Kids and Bike Helmets

Tips for Pedestrians

 and Cyclists
  • Whenever possible, walk on the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic.
  • Follow the rules of the road, obeying all traffic signs and signals.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks. If no crosswalk is available and your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic.
  • Stay alert – avoid cell phone use, especially when crossing the street. Keep your eyes out for cars at all times.
  • As mentioned above, several cities are closing streets to vehicle traffic or adding temporary bike lanes. Check your city website for more information.
  • If you are riding a bike, you should be wearing a helmet. Download this guide from the National Safety Council to select and fit the right helmet for yourself and your kids.
  • And, of course, keep your social distance! Even outside, the CDC recommends we stay six feet away from others. It’s up to all of us to share the trails, share the road and share the good weather safely.

Robot Car Technology Challenges Law and Insurance

Where We Are Today

Most cars now already feature some form of self-driving technology, from cruise control – first developed in the 1950s – to electronic stability introduced in the mid-1990s to recent innovations like automatic braking, lane departure alerts and self-parking. The latest technologies, like Autopilot from Tesla and Drive Pilot from Mercedes-Benz, automatically steer, adjust speed and brake. Instead of relying on eyes, ears and a brain for control, autonomous vehicles depend on data from cameras, radar and LIDAR – high-tech sensors that detect light – all fed into an on-board computer.

Since we share the road with both old and new vehicles, all with a mix of technologies, the Society of Automotive Engineers created a six-level ranking system. Level Zero, One and Two vehicles still require human drivers to monitor the driving environment. Level Three, Four and Five vehicles put the computer in charge of monitoring the driving environment. Only Level Three vehicles, like the Tesla, are commercially available today. But traditional manufacturers, along with new players like Google and Uber, are testing fully autonomous Level Five vehicles and predict they will be available to the public in the early 2020s.

What Autonomous Vehicles Mean to You

Tesla Model S
Tesla has rejected responsibility for crashes even when its Autopilot system is engaged.

The most encouraging prediction from the transition to driverless cars is a dramatic reduction in auto accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 37,000 people died in auto accidents in 2016 and millions more were injured. NHTSA estimates that 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error. A self-driving car that is never tired, distracted or impaired could dramatically reduce accidents, saving 30,000 lives or more each year.

The reality, however, is that Americans will still suffer injuries and deaths from auto crashes as self-driving technology is perfected. No technology is foolproof, especially when it involves the highly complex sensors and artificial intelligence central to self-driving cars. We’ve also learned the hard way that automakers deny responsibility or cover up manufacturing defects to protect profits. And even if Level Five automation is available to the public in 2020, it will be another 15 to 20 years before all vehicles on the road have the latest self-driving technologies.

Operators Still Blamed for Crashes

In a collision involving autonomous vehicles, the question of liability is murky at best. Is the operator at fault, the manufacturer, the software designer? Unfortunately, the trend has been to blame the operator, with manufacturers suggesting that humans should be ready to take over when self-driving systems hand over the controls. Research shows, however, that humans are not well adapted to re-engage with complex tasks, like driving in an emergency situation, once their attention has been allowed to wander.

As more and more vehicles become completely driverless, it makes less and less sense to hold their human operators liable. Instead, we see strict liability as the best solution, where manufacturers take full responsibility for crashes when the robot system is driving. This same principle already applies to common carriers like bus companies, airlines or train operators, where passengers are completely dependent on the carrier for their safety. Auto insurance as we know it today would be eliminated under this scenario, because who needs an insurance policy if they’re not driving?

In the Meantime …

Self-driving technologies and eventually fully autonomous cars will likely be a reality sooner than later. Consider these tips along the way:

  1. Do your research: Cars that already have automated safety technology, such as back-up cameras or automatic braking, are already on the road today. Before you purchase a new car, review safety ratings for both the mechanical and the computer-driven technologies already on board.
  2. Stay vigilant: Just as you would if you were driving a car with no automated features, keep your attention on the road. It’s tempting to believe that once self-driving cars are introduced, you can relax your focus. Don’t exclusively rely on automated features to keep you safe.
  3. Support accountability: There are laws currently being written about liability and safety when it comes to driverless cars. Support the laws and lawmakers that insist on strict liability for autonomous vehicle manufacturers.

Road Safety Tips for Teen Drivers Heading Back to School

Distractions, Inexperience and Risky Behavior Spell Trouble

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. It is estimated that on average, six teenagers die every day in the United States from a car crash. As teens head back to school, you should know how to keep them, and others, safe.

PedestrianTeens who text and drive are outside of their lane  about 10 percent of the time.

The Stats

A teen driver on the road is more likely to cause a car crash than any other driver. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. Young men are two times more likely to get in a crash than young women.

If your teen driver has recently received his or her license, inexperience can spell disaster out on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers ages 16 to 17 are twice as likely to get in a car crash compared to teen drivers ages 18 to 19.

Teens are also less likely to practice safe driving behavior, such as using seat belts or maintaining a safe following distance. In 2015, only 61 percent of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else. [Download report.]

The Risks

Teens are also much more likely to drive distracted. Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related crashes, and 42 percent of teens admit to texting while driving. Carpooling seems like a convenient way to get to school, but teens riding with other teen drivers increase the risk of distraction with every additional teen passenger. Here are all eight of the CDC danger zonesmost often linked to teen crashes:

  1. Driver Inexperience
  2. Driving with Teen Passengers
  3. Nighttime Driving
  4. Not Using Seat Belts
  5. Distracted Driving
  6. Drowsy Driving
  7. Reckless Driving
  8. Impaired Driving

The Parents

So, what can parents do to prevent teen driving tragedies?

  • Most important, lead by example. Forty-eight percent of young drivers have seen their parents talking on a cell phone while driving, and 15 percent of those have seen their parents texting while driving. Show your kids how to drive responsibly by driving distraction free, wearing your seatbelt and following all speed limits and traffic laws.
  • Set limits. Multiple teen passengers and late-night driving lead to more crashes. Limit the number of passengers for your teen drivers and set a curfew.
  • Buy a safe car. The car your teen drives should be reliable. Purchase from a reputable dealer, and check all cars at Safercar.gov for recalls. Make sure your young driver knows what to do if a car breaks down.
  • Practice driving with your teen. Provide your teen driver with 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least six months. Practice on a variety of roads, at different times of day, and in varied weather and traffic conditions. Stress the importance of continually scanning for potential hazards including other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Create a Parent-Teen driving agreement. Put your driving rules in writing to clearly set limits, as well as the consequences for not following those rules