Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over kickoff event

The Portage County Safe Communities Coalition kicked off their annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” event on Monday, August 17, 2015 at Robinson Memorial Hospital. The event featured local speakers who have endured personal losses due to alcohol-related crashes, local law enforcement and government officials.


Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over is a partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to curb impaired driving and save lives. August 21-September 7 (Labor Day), law enforcement partners nationwide will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messaging about the dangers of driving drunk, coupled with checkpoints and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce the toll of drunk driving.

“Portage County Safe Communities’ goal is to not only prepare the public for the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign, but also to remind everyone their choice to drink and drive creates a danger for all of us on the roadways,” says Lynette Blasiman, the Director of Portage County Safe Communities Coalition.

During the event, members of the Coalition recognized Troopers for a Safer Ohio and David Elk of the Elk & Elk law firm for their commitment to reducing drunk and distracted driving. Earlier this year, Elk & Elk was the Presenting Sponsor of the 2015 None 4 Under 21 and Choices Beyond event, which focuses on the long-term consequences of everyday choices and seeks to reduce preventable teen crashes due to drunk and distracted driving. “Unfortunately, as personal injury lawyers, we see the devastating effects of drunk and distracted driving every day,” says Elk. “It is our privilege to provide financial support and other contributions, enabling more than 2,000 Northeast Ohio high school students to attend this life-saving event each year.”

Airbags Exploding Like IEDs – Car Occupants Hit with Shrapnel

In an urgent message to consumers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recalled millions of vehicles due to defective airbags, which can spontaneously explode and seriously harm passengers.

According to government officials, owners of affected Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Subaru and General Motors vehicles should take “immediate action” to replace defective airbags, produced by Japanese manufacturer, Takata. The message is especially urgent for drivers in warm climates with high humidity.

In an interview with ABC News, auto safety expert Sean Kane said the problem with the Takata airbags is its internal inflator.

“[It’s] the canister which sits in the center of the airbag, it’s like a metal can,” Kane said. “When that’s ignited, it’s overpressurizing the canister and the canister is exploding, much like an IED [improvised explosive device], and sending shrapnel into the occupants of the vehicle.”

Kane also said that the explosions have resulted in “severe lacerations” and caused at least four deaths.

On its website, the NHTSA lists more than 7.8 million vehicles with model years from 2000 to 2006 – as well as the 2011 Honda Element — that have been subject to related recalls over the past two years and strongly urges owners to take them to their dealers immediately.

Failure to Warn

In an article dated September 11, 2014, The New York Times revealed that Honda and the airbag supplier have known about this life-threatening flaw for at least a decade:

The danger of exploding air bags was not disclosed for years after the first reported incident in 2004, despite red flags — including three additional ruptures reported to Honda in 2007, according to interviews, regulatory filings and court records.

In each of the incidents, Honda settled confidential financial claims with people injured by the air bags, but the automaker did not issue a safety recall until late 2008, and then for only a small fraction — about 4,200 — of its vehicles eventually found to be equipped with the potentially explosive air bags.

Consumers who are uncertain whether their vehicle is impacted by the Takata recalls, or any other recall, can check on On the site, you can search for recalls by vehicle identification number (VIN) and sign-up for NHTSA recall alerts, which go out before recall letters are mailed by the manufacturers to the affected owners.


Halsey, Ashley, III. “Airbag Defect Spurs Recall of 4.7 Million Vehicles.” Washington Post, October 20, 2014. Web. Accessed October 21, 2014.

Tabuchi, Hiroko. “Air Bag Flaw, Long Known to Honda and Takata, Led to Recalls.” The New York Times, September 11, 2014. Web. Accessed October 21, 2014.

New Mobile App provides recall information

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the release of a free mobile app that will provide real-time recall and vehicle safety information to consumers.  Using data from the NHTSA’s site, the “Safer Car” app allows users to search its 5-Star Safety Ratings for vehicles by make and model. Users will be able to access information about recalls, car seat installation, as well as file a safety complaint.SaferCar

According to their website, the new SaferCar app will allow consumers to receive important news and information from the NHTSA. Users may also subscribe to receive automatic notices about specific vehicles.

“Safety is our highest priority, and we’re always working to find new and better ways for people to access SaferCar, one of the most popular programs on our website,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This app takes advantage of the latest technology to ensure that consumers have the real-time information they need to buy safe, drive safe and stay safe.”

Product Information*

Several online reviews found that the app is easy to use, but recall searches only go back to 2000. The NHTSA’s website allows for more comprehensive searches, dating as far back as the 1949 model year.

The SaferCar app can be downloaded from Apple’s iTunes Store. It requires iOS 5.1 or later and is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Development is also underway for a version compatible with Android devices, but no release date has been set at the time of this posting.


NHTSA Unveils ‘SaferCar’ App for iPhones,” U.S. Department of Transportation, March 21, 2013.

 *Reference in this web site to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Elk & Elk Co., Ltd.


Grant to help fund new anti-texting-and-driving measures

Earlier this year, Ohio joined the growing list of states with bans on texting and driving, yet many states are discovering how difficult it is to stop texting and driving and enforce the bans.

A total of 38 states ban texting while driving, and many municipalities have their own texting and driving ordinance.  In many cases, the law only bans texting and driving, not all cellphone use. This makes it difficult for police, as they must prove someone is texting and not using their cellphone for some other, legal purpose. In Minnesota, police wrote only 1,200 tickets for texting in 2011. In Scranton, PA, police issued only 10 tickets in the first six months after that state’s ban took effect, and one of those was to a driver who admitted texting after a crash.

This difficulty has forced law enforcement agencies to seek out new avenues for cracking down on illegal texters. A new $550,000 federal grant announced last week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will allow police departments in Massachusetts and Connecticut to test a variety of anti-texting initiatives in the next two years. The measures – everything from ad campaigns to roving patrols – are designed to find “real-world protocols and practices to better detect if a person is texting while driving,” according to NHTSA chief David Strickland.

One new measure the grant will help fund is spotters on overpasses and other roadways who can identify drivers who are typing behind the wheel. There is already proof that a program like this can work.

Earlier this month, police in Bismarck, ND, wrote 31 distracted driving tickets in two days as part of a crackdown. Officers used unmarked, high-riding trucks or SUVs to peer down into cars and catch texters in the act. Because North Dakota bans texting and Internet browsing while driving, officers had to be able to see what drivers specifically were doing with their phones. One officer said they could have written twice as many tickets but didn’t have enough evidence.

The personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk have seen too many cases of drivers injured because of other drivers’ distracted driving. Because of these tragic situations, we are in favor of in steps to help keep drivers focused on the road and not on their electronic devices. Thousands of American motorists have fallen victim to distracted driving and everything must be done to end this epidemic.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, contact the personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk today. We will put our experience and resources to work to get you the results you need. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our convenient online consultation form.