Serious Risks Arise with Older Drivers

by Arthur Elk

 mar_article2If you or a loved one are getting older, it’s time to think about driving and the dangers it may pose. As an accident attorney with experience in this area, I know that there are risks with older drivers in terms of causing accidents and being the victim of an accident.

There is good news and bad news for the aging population of American drivers. First the good news: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the increase in older drivers did not lead to an increase in accidents for that age group. The Associated Press reports, “drivers aged 70 and older are less likely to be involved in crashes than previous generations.”

Unfortunately it’s not all good news. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that compared to drivers in the same age group, drivers younger than 30 and older than 70 are more likely to have contributed to a crash (for example, by running a stop sign).

Another concern for older drivers is the fact that a car accident is more life-threatening and dangerous to their health. NHTSA reports that older people are more vulnerable in a crash. The International Research Council on Biomechanics of Injury says a 50-year old female has about a 10% risk of serious injury in a frontal crash, whereas an 80-year old has a 40% risk.

As a car accident attorney, I know that many accidents can be avoided. If you know an aging driver, talk with them about the risks of driving and what they can do to avoid them; it could be a life-saving conversation.

For more information, please read our in-depth article, Too Old to Drive? – Senior Drivers: Assessing ability and legal actions.

Should You Store Your Car for Evidence after an Accident?

by  Arthur M. Elk

crashIf you have recently been involved in an automobile accident and your car has been totaled, you might be tempted to simply rid yourself of the remaining metal scraps. However, your vehicle might contain important evidence related to the crash. In some cases, you may be required to have it placed in a storage facility while an investigation is ongoing. Unfortunately, you may also be responsible for paying the fees associated with storing the vehicle.

In addition to investigating your claim, a car accident attorney can help ensure the towing company does not engage in any deceptive or unfair practices. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) offers these important tips to avoid towing and storage scams:

  1. Be prepared – You may already have access to reliable, reputable towing services via road side assistance benefits through your auto insurance carrier. Auto clubs and even credit card issuers also offer this benefit.
  2. The choice is yours – When your car is in an accident, you should always have the opportunity to call your own tow truck and choose where your car goes, whether that is a body shop or even your driveway.
  3. Get an itemized statement of charges – The towing company should give you an itemized statement of charges, and include clear information about how you can get your car back. Look for how much is being charged for storage per day, what kind of charges are listed, as well as a physical address (not a P.O. Box), hours and phone number of the storage yard.
  4. Watch what you sign – Sometimes towing companies will include language preauthorizing a number of days of storage, or even repairs at a certain shop. Towing companies don’t usually make such authorizations a requirement of providing the service.
  5. Be wary of “Good Samaritans” – Many tow scams start with a “passerby” who offers to call a tow truck to be “helpful”.
  6. Don’t just leave the car – If you leave your car by the the side of the road, or park it in a lot, then leave the property, you’re setting yourself up for a bad experience.
  7. Safeguard personal information – Do not provide tow truck operators with your insurance information or personal lien holder information.
  8. Be familiar with the law– Know that there are laws that say what a towing company can and can not do when towing your car from an accident scene, or other situations, a little homework can save you a lot of
    aggravation, and a lot of money.

Sometimes, it can take anywhere from 10 days to 2 weeks to get a police report filed properly before a dispute over the collision may begin. While keeping your car in storage will preserve any evidence that needs to be reviewed during a case, the price tag that comes with it can run high, especially if the case drags out for a long period of time. Rely on a car accident attorney to help make sure that the person responsible for the accident foots the bill.


Chrysler fights Jeep recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants Chrysler to recall 2.7 million Jeeps and take them off the road until they no longer pose a risk of fire in a rear-end crash. CNNMoney reports,

“NHTSA says that the plastic gas tanks on the 1993 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2002 to 2007 Jeep Liberty are too susceptible to spilling gas when hit from behind, and that can cause fires. It says it knows of at least 37 accidents that caused fires and resulted in at least 51 deaths. Safety advocates such as the Center for Auto Safety, believe that the deaths from the defect are much higher.”

Chrysler is refusing the recall, claiming the SUVs are safe and that the NHTSA’s analysis was incomplete.  If they do not comply with the recall by June 18th, the NHTSA will hold a public hearing – which could result in an involuntary recall.

The problem

The gas tank in these vehicles is located behind the rear axle.  Do to the SUV’s height, in an accident; some cars may slide under the Jeep’s rear bumper, striking the gas tank. At the time the Jeeps were sold, an optional steel skid plate was available – which would reduce most of the risk – but not all owners purchased it.

Long time coming

The Center for Auto Safety asked the NHTSA to investigate the problem back in 2009, which they did. They obtained a once-confidential memo dated August 24, 1978 in which details of potential issues with the gas tank placement were discussed – including the possibility of fiery deaths. Last year they expanded their investigation and released a document stating that “rear impact related tank failures and vehicle fires are more prevalent in the late model Jeep Grand Cherokees than in non-Jeep peer vehicles.”

What to do

Safety advocate Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety encourages owners of these vehicles to have a qualified automotive professional install a steel skid plate over the tank. “I would advise consumers to do this; it would eliminate the most common failure,” said Ditlow. “Just save your receipt, you could get the money back once there is a recall.”

 Elk & Elk cares about your safety.

Please remember to drive at a safe distance and always keep your eyes on the road.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by someone’s negligence, you can call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For information about how our Ohio car accident lawyers can help you obtain compensation for your damages after an accident, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online.