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. Cognative – 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.