Labor Day Safe Driving Tips

National Safety Council estimates nearly 400 fatalities in car crashes during Labor Day weekend.For many people, Labor Day means a road trip to celebrate the final days of warm weather with family and friends. AAA predicts more than 1.4 million Ohioans will travel at least 50 miles from home during the holiday weekend, with national estimates just under 35 million.

Unfortunately, the busy holiday traffic also means an increase in motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Safety Council (NCS), about 395 people will be killed and another 42,300 will be injured in car crashes during Labor Day weekend. Of those, NCS estimates 144 lives could be saved if all drivers and their passengers wear seat belts.

Don’t be a statistic

“Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer activities – it should be a time of celebration,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman president and CEO of NSC. “Unfortunately this weekend will be a time of tragedy for hundreds of families that experience a preventable fatality on our roadways.”

  • Don’t drink and drive. Designate a non-drinking driver or plan for alternative transportation, such as a taxi
  • Turn it off. All drivers should refrain from using cell phones – handheld or hands-free – because there is no safe way to use a cell phone while driving
  • Eyes on the road. Do not manipulate in-vehicle infotainment systems or electronic devices, including GPS systems, while the vehicle is in motion
  • Buckle up. Make sure all passengers use their safety belts and children are in safety seats appropriate for their age and size
  • Take your time. Allow plenty of travel time to avoid frustration and diminish the impulse to speed
  • Use your head. Drive defensively, check your blind spots and exercise caution, especially during inclement weather

From all of us at Elk & Elk,

Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!

 

 

Source:

National Safety Council estimates nearly 400 fatalities in car crashes during Labor Day weekend” August 25, 2014 | nsc.org

NTSB Most Wanted List 2014

Are you one of this country’s ‘Most Wanted?’ If you’ve been using your cell phone or other portable electronic device while driving, then you’ve been engaging in distracted driving—one of the top priorities for the national Transportation Safety Board.

Each year, the NTSB releases its Most Wanted List, which represents their advocacy priorities. It is designed to highlight the most critical changes needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives. This year, the agency is pursuing a number of goals, including the elimination of distractions in all modes of transportation—highway, aviation, railroad, marine, and even pipelines.

While this may seem like a daunting task, you can do your part by making the commitment to drive phone-free and encouraging your friends and family to do the same. Check out our infographic to learn more.

Distracted Driving Infographic

 According to the NTSB website, cell phones and other electronics are a “cultural epidemic.”

“With the expansive increase in portable electronic devices (PEDs), including cell phones, messaging and navigation systems, and entertainment devices, as well as the growing development of integrated technologies in vehicles, the NTSB is seeing a disturbing growth in the number of accidents due to distracted operators; often these accidents have deadly consequences. . . In short, operator distraction due to PED usage is a cultural epidemic that too often has tragic consequences.”

The complete NTSB Most Wanted List includes the following goals:

  • Address Unique Characteristics of Helicopter Operations
  • Advance Passenger Vessel Safety
  • Eliminate Distraction in Transportation
  • Eliminate Substance-Impaired Driving
  • Enhance Pipeline Safety
  • Improve Fire Safety in Transportation
  • General Aviation: Identify and Communicate Hazardous Weather
  • Implement Positive Train Control Systems
  • Promote Operational Safety in Rail Mass Transit
  • Strengthen Occupant Protection in Transportation

 

 

 

 

Distracted Driving Puts Pedestrians, Cyclists at Risk

A distracted driver hitting another motorist seems to be in the news daily. However, it’s not just drivers and occupants of vehicles who are in danger. A new report reveals that the number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed by distracted driving has risen dramatically.

From 2005 to 2010, the number of pedestrians struck and killed by distracted drivers in the United States went up nearly 50 percent, from 344 to 500. For cyclists, the numbers of those killed rose from 56 to 73 – a 30 percent increase.

cross walk

Sadly, statistics related to distracted driving may actually be underreported since it is difficult for law enforcement to prove. Although safety features in cars are helping to reduce the number of motorist deaths, bicyclists and pedestrians remain vulnerable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrians were one of the few groups of road users to experience an increase in fatalities in the United States in 2011, totaling 4,432 deaths.

‘Tis the Season

While we should always focus on our driving and refrain from texting or other distracting behaviors, the holidays pose a special risk. This time of year brings an influx of drivers and pedestrians to many areas as we all rush around, buying gifts and preparing for parties. The attorneys at Elk & Elk remind you that one text or call could wreck it all. Please commit to distraction-free driving.

Ways to keep pedestrians safe

On average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes. To raise awareness, the NHTSA has launched a new campaign entitled Everyone is a Pedestrian.

Drivers can…

  • Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
  • Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
  • Be cautious when backing up – pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.

Pedestrians can…

  • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk.
  • Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
  • Look left-right-left before crossing a street.

 

Source:  Fatalities of Pedestrians, Bicycle Riders, and Motorists Due to Distracted Driving Motor Vehicle Crashes in the U.S., 2005–2010” by Jim P. Stimpson, PhD; Fernando A. Wilson, PhD; and Robert L. Muelleman, MD; Public Health Reports, University of Nebraska Medical Center, November-December 2013.

5 to Drive: National Teen Driver Safety Week

October 20-26, 2013 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. To mark the occasion, Elk & Elk is issuing a special challenge this week to the parents of all teen drivers with a special “5 to Drive” campaign encouraging parents to always set the rules before their teens hit the road.

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens in America. More than 2000 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes in 2011 – with almost half of those teen drivers being killed in those crashes.

Even more alarming, there was a 20-percent jump in teen driver fatalities in just the first six months of 2013.

Five ways to a safer teen.That’s why Elk & Elk is joining with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other highway safety partners across the country to encourage parents to get the facts and to start the conversations—during National Teen Driver Safety Week and every week—to help keep their teens safe behind the wheel.

Parents have spent their entire lives trying to protect their kids, but then they hand their teens the keys to a 2-ton machine, and expect them to know what to do. We want to remind parents that they still have a lot to teach their teen drivers, and they should talk it out and always set the rules before their teens hit the road.

Each day during National Teen Driver Safety Week parents are encouraged to visit www.safercar.gov/parents for more information and key reminders about the “5 to Drive” – five specific rules designed to help save the lives of more teenage drivers and soon-to-be teen drivers.

The “5 to Drive” reminders that parents are encouraged to regularly share with their teens include:

  1. No Cell Phones While DrivingTeens texting or dialing while driving have proven to be recipes for disaster. In 2011, 270 people were killed in crashes involving distracted teen drivers. REMEMBER, One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.
  2. No Extra PassengersResearch shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teens in the car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior when traveling with multiple passengers increased to three times. REMEMBER: No extra passengers in the car.
  3. No SpeedingIn 2011, speeding was a factor for 35 percent of the fatal crashes of teen drivers. REMEMBER, Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.
  4. No Alcohol – Although all States have zero-tolerance laws for drinking and driving under 21, 505 people died in crashes in which 14- to 18-year-old drivers had alcohol in their systems. Nationally in 2011, 27 percent of teen drivers killed had some level of alcohol in their systems. Parents should show zero tolerance for any sign of impaired driving. Teens need to hear it again and again: REMEMBER, No Drinking and Driving.
  5. No Driving or Riding Without a Seat BeltTeenage belt use is not what it should be. In 2011, over half of the teen occupants who died in passenger vehicles were unrestrained. Teens, and all adults for that matter, need to buckle up every trip, every time, day and night, no matter the distance. REMEMBER, Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time – Front-Seat and Back.

While some might say such rules are fairly obvious, a recent survey shows that only about 25 percent of parents have serious talks with their kids about the key components of safe driving. The “5 to Drive” are designed to address the major contributing factors in fatal crashes involving teens.

We hope more parents will use National Teen Driver Safety Week as a way to get started in having direct and regular conversations with their teens about safe driving. Too many teen lives are being needlessly and tragically lost, and the numbers are only going up. So it is time for parents to swing into action and use the ‘5 to Drive’ before their teens hit the road.

For more information about national Teen Driver Safety Week and the new “5 to Drive” campaign, please visit www.safercar.gov/parents.

Cell Phone Distractions Cause Countless Accidents

As a driver, you must be fully aware at all times in order to avoid accidents and stay out of harm’s way. Distracted driving can cause an accident anywhere — whether you are cruising on the highway or just driving around town.

Drivers can be distracted in a myriad of ways, such as fiddling with the radio, reading a map, eating, grooming and of course, texting on a cell phone. Cell phones have become an increasingly common distraction; with some estimates as high as a thousand deaths per year from cell phone related car accidents.

It is every driver’s responsibility to take steps to ensure the safety of not only themselves, but also passing motorists and pedestrians. Most accidents occur because of someone’s negligence or from a momentary lapse in judgment. In 2011 alone, over 3000 Americans were killed in distracted driving crashes and cell phone usage is a huge part of this issue.

There are three main types of distractions:

  1. Manual – taking your hands off of the wheel
  2. Visual – taking your eyes off the road
  3. Cognitive – taking your mind off driving

All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety, but because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most dangerous distraction.

Insurance companies are paying close attention to the link between cell phone use and car accidents and many auto insurance websites warn of the dangers of distracted driving. If you are at fault for a car accident caused by cell phone use, or are ticketed for talking while driving, you’re likely to see your insurance premium rise. The best way to avoid a higher premium is to avoid an accident — and potential driver distractions — altogether.

Although Ohio has implemented laws banning texting while driving, accidents due to distracted driving still occur. In cell phone lawsuits, records from cell phone carriers help us determine whether cell phone usage caused the accident. Was the person texting or making a phone call? Was the phone engaged in some other type of activity like using the internet or its GPS function? It takes an experienced Ohio accident attorney to answer these questions and help you recover if someone else’s negligence has caused you harm.

Driving while texting or talking on a cell phone is dangerous. There is nothing that can’t wait until you’re safely pulled over. Please do not allow a cell phone to be a distraction, possibly causing you or others serious pain and harm.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above, explore this blog and visit our educational website at elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Arthur M. Elk

Texting a Driver May Make You Liable

Cell-Stop-Sign-10x15

People who send text messages to motorists may be found liable for accidents that occur from texting and driving. In Kubert v. Best, a New Jersey appeals court found that a person who texts someone that is driving can be held liable for personal injuries sustained by others who are involved in an accident caused by the driver.

“We hold that, when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time,” Judge Victor Ashrafi wrote in the unanimous opinion.

Shannon Colonna, a co-defendant in the case, had sent text messages to Kyle Best while he was driving his Chevy pickup truck. Mr. Best subsequently crossed the center line and sideswiped a motorcycle – causing serious injuries to the driver and his passenger. Although Colonna was not found to be liable (it was not clear if she knew the driver would read the text message) the court’s ruling has opened the door for future claims against remote texters.

Narrow Ruling

It should be noted that the court’s decision imposes only a limited duty on those sending texts. “The mere sending of a wireless transmission” to a person operating a motor vehicle is not enough. It must also be shown that the remote sender knew or had reason to know that the recipient was driving and likely to read the text message while driving.

The Court reasoned that this limitation is necessary because “the act of sending such messages, by itself, is not active encouragement that the recipient read the text and respond immediately, that is, while driving and in violation of the law.”

Better safe than sorry

While this was a New Jersey case, it’s no secret that driving while texting and other forms of distracted driving is a widespread problem.  Nationally, there were 387,000 injuries and 3,331 deaths in 2011 due to motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Other judges and lawmakers across the country are likely to consider this case when making future rulings or drafting new laws.

Just how dangerous is it to text? Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field – blind.

  • If you are driving, let your friends and family know that you’ll be behind the wheel and unable to answer their messages.
  • If you know someone is driving, or do not immediately receive a reply to your text – wait for them to arrive at their destination. Sending repeated texts demanding a reply could cause an accident – for which you may be partially liable.

Source:

Can you really be liable for texting a driver?” by Doug Gross, CNN, August 29, 2013.

Back-to-School Safety: Teen Driving

photo_894_20060124For many parents, the phrase “back to school” brings to mind #2 pencils and loose-leaf notebook paper. But for parents of older kids, the announcement of a new school year beginning evokes a very different (and terrifying) image: their teen behind the wheel.

It should come as no great surprise that most teens prefer driving to school. Some studies estimate that nearly 80 percent of teens get their license just so they don’t have to take the bus.

Parents should take the time to sit down and go over these teen driving safety tips before handing over the keys on the first day of school.

  • Pay Attention. Distracted driving accounts for thousands of deaths every year.
    • Do not talk on the phone or text while driving. Drivers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to get into an accident.
    • Do not fiddle with the radio, MP3 player, or navigation system.
    • Refrain from eating or drinking, checking your appearance in the mirror, or talking to passengers.
  • Limit Passengers. The more friends your teen has in the car, the more likely they are to be involved in an accident. (In Ohio, 16-year-old licensed drivers are not permitted to transport more than one person who is not a family member at any time, unless the driver’s parent or guardian is in the vehicle as well.)
  • Do a trial run. Many teens think they know where they’re going, but things are different without mom or dad in the passenger seat. Encourage your teen to look at a map before they go anywhere. It’s also a good idea to make sure they know multiple routes in case construction or an accident causes a road closure.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. If your teen has been a night owl all summer, encourage them to start going to bed earlier so they are alert in the morning. Drowsy driving can decrease your reaction time, impair your vision or judgment, and can increase your chances of getting into a car crash.
  • Leave early. Encourage your teen to arrive at school at least ten minutes before the first bell rings. Teens who feel they may be late are more likely to speed, tailgate, or drive erratically. The parking lot will also be less congested earlier in the morning.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Remind your teen to never start the car until they are certain everyone is wearing a safety belt (front and back seats.)
  • Keep your cool. Don’t try to compete with aggressive drivers; just stay out of their way. Teens may be tempted to race, tailgate, or “get back at” drivers who cut them off or offended them in some way. Remind your teen that emotional driving can be extremely dangerous. The U.S. Highway Safety Office reports that each year, tens of thousands of automobile accidents can be linked directly to the expression of road rage or by aggressive driving.

As parents, we can help our teens by modeling good driving habits and encouraging them to do the same for their friends.

For more information, visit Drive It Home, a program launched by the National Safety Council which offers specially created resources to help parents keep their teens safer on the roads.

Friends don’t let friends text and drive

By Arthur Elk

Often, when we talk about peer pressure, it is in a negative light. But peer pressure can have a positive spin, too.

In the battle to get teens to stop texting and driving, it appears that peer pressure may be the greatest weapon. According to a new national survey conducted by tire manufacturer Bridgestone America, it is becoming less socially acceptable to take risks while behind the wheel.

The nationwide survey polled more than 2,000 drivers ages 16-21 and found that teens are less likely to text, check email, watch videos or post to social media sites when their friends are in the car. Results of the survey showed that:

  • 95 percent of teens read texts and emails when on the road alone, 32 percent do so with friends, and only 7 percent when they are driving with their parents.
  • More than 90 percent said they post on social media sites when they are driving alone, 29 percent do so with friends and only 5 percent with parents.
  • 75 percent admit to watching a video when alone in the car, 45 percent do so with friends and only 7 percent with their parents.

The survey also found that most young drivers think their friends are more likely to take part in risky behavior than they are. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed believe their friends text and email while driving, but only 37 percent of those surveyed admit to doing that. Only 9 percent admitted to using social media, but they believe that 29 percent of their friends do so.

It is so important that young people understand the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving is responsible for more than 11 percent of all U.S. highway fatalities. A report issued in February by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that deaths among 16- and 17-year-old drivers grew 19 percent during the first half of last year – a far greater increase than for the general population. Experts believe that distracted driving played a large role in that increase.

At Elk & Elk, we are strong supporters of educating young people about the dangers of distracted driving. As parents, we cannot stress enough the importance of safe driving, no matter who is in the car. Your life can change forever, in a moment.

 

Government sets guidelines to minimize in-vehicle distractions

Earlier this week, a study was released that found that hands-free texting was just as dangerous as manual texting. Now the federal government is taking more steps to crack down on distracted drivers.

It’s easy to get distracted by all the devices in our vehicles. Your GPS is talking to you. You have to change the song on your stereo. Your smartphone is chirping at you every time you get a new social media notification. But all these devices can be deadly because they take your attention off the road, where it needs to be.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has issued distraction guidelines that ask carmakers to put stronger limits on how long drivers can use in-car electronic devices, including entertainment and navigation devices.

The guidelines include recommendations to limit the amount of time it takes a driver to perform a single function on the car’s audio/visual systems to two seconds.

The guidelines recommend that in-car electronic devices automatically have certain functions disabled unless the vehicle is in park, including:

  • Manual text entry for the purpose of text messaging and Internet browsing
  • Video-based entertainment and communications like video calling
  • Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages or social media content

The guidelines would be phased in over the next three years, giving carmakers time to rework their electronic navigation and entertainment systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s research has discovered that the visual-manual tasks increase the risk of being in an accident by three times. This includes the cell phone, but also factory-installed navigation systems and other screens. The cell phone is still the most dangerous screen, requiring 23.3 seconds to send a text message.

The NHTSA study also found that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk by 173 percent. Hands-free kits do not prevent distracted driving either, because they require a manual-visual interaction at least 50 percent of the time.

These new suggested guidelines from the NHTSA are a great step. However, in the end, it all comes down to personal responsibility. Each individual driver must make the choice to be a safe driver and to not let themselves be distracted by the electronic devices in their vehicles.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, you need an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our free online consultation form.

Elk & Elk wants to help end distracted driving

Managing partner Art Elk and the rest of the lawyers at Elk & Elk are serious about putting an end to distracted driving. Together, we can save lives, one person at a time. Help us spread the word about how each of us can do our part to drive safely.