Staying Safe on Snowy & Icy Winter Roads

Parked Cars On A Snowstorm Winter DayAs the winter weather continues to pummel portions of the country, we must be prepared to drive on snowy and icy roads. The winter season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for drivers across the country, especially when it comes to driving in the middle of a winter storm. The more you know about staying safe, the better off you will be when you hit the roads during a snow or ice storm.

Utilize a Winter Survival Kit

You should make sure there is enough room in the trunk of your car for a winter survival kit. The kit should include a blanket, an ice scraper, gloves, a hat, a flashlight with extra batteries, a shovel, salt, and jumper cables. You should check the contents of the kit each winter and make sure the flashlight and cables still work so you are not left out in the cold.

Clean Your Car

A handful of states have laws that require motorists to clean their vehicles before driving them during the winter months. This means that they must be free of snow and ice before hitting the roads. When a vehicle travels at a high rate of speed with snow still on it, the snow will blow off the car and potentially blind other drivers. Make sure to clean all the snow off your car, even the roof, before heading out this winter.

Take Care on Bridges and Overpasses

Motorists tend to forget that bridges and overpasses freeze quicker than normal roads. This is the reason that signs are posted stating, “Bridge ices before road.” Motorists who forget this will continue at the same speed over a bridge or overpass, running into potential problems such as sliding or spinning out on the road.

Avoid Cruise Control

Never use cruise control when driving on wet, snowy, or icy roads during the winter months. It has become commonplace for many motorists to use cruise control on long trips or when driving to and from work. It prevents you from speeding and keeps your legs from becoming fatigued. If you use cruise control during the winter months, you run the risk of making a skid much worse. When a vehicle spins while on cruise control, the wheels will spin rapidly because cruise control will still attempt to maintain the set speed. You can avoid this issue by not using cruise control until the weather turns warmer.

Leave Extra Space between Vehicles

Outside of the winter months, it is important to leave enough following distance between vehicles. It is important to add extra space to that during the winter months. Tailgating during the winter can lead to fender benders or even major accidents.

Some winter accidents involving tailgating are not serious, but serious injuries can occur while dealing with the accident as other vehicles could slide or plow into you while on the side of the road.

Have you been involved in an accident due to snow or ice? If so, contact the law office of Carey, Danis & Lowe at 877-678-3400 or by filling out the contact form on our website. We will get back to you within 24 hours to schedule a consultation.

Safe Travels During the Holidays

Traveling during the holidays can fuel the excitement for the pending celebrations and family members that will be at the destination. However, overcrowded roadways, inclement weather, and negligent driving can pose serious risks for increased vehicle crashes. A few simple precautions can reduce your risk of being involved in a holiday accident.

Prepare for Long-Distance Travel

A properly maintained vehicle is more likely to make it to the destination without incident. Before putting the car on the road, have the tires, wipers, fluids, and oil checked, pack emergency supplies, and make sure maps or a navigation system is available for directions. The driver should pull over when studying a GPS or map to avoid distracted driving. Schedule stops along the way to avoid eating while driving or becoming fatigued, which has also been linked to car accidents.

Exercise Caution While Driving

All drivers have a duty of reasonable care to other drivers and pedestrians. Travel during the holiday season warrants even more caution due to driving conditions that are not present at other times of the year. Overcrowded roads, speeding vehicles, and ice and snow can contribute to hazardous driving conditions and increased accidents. To help avoid being involved in an accident, do the following:

  • Drive during less crowded times, such as early morning or late at night
  • Keep a safe distance from a leading car
  • Follow legal speed limits
  • Stay alert and pull over when fatigue may compromise driving
  • Abstain from alcohol and other substances before and during driving
  • Properly secure items in the back of a truck or on a trailer
  • Create an emergency plan with the passengers in the vehicle in case of an accident

Do Not Participate in Negligent Driving

Be a responsible driver. Distracted driving can be as dangerous as driving while under the influence. When driving, avoid:

  • Talking on a cellphone
  • Texting
  • Watching videos
  • Arguing with a passenger
  • Changing radio stations or manipulating the volume
  • Reading maps
  • Turning to talk to someone in the backseat
  • Traveling with an active, loose animal that could interfere with driving
  • Allowing children to toss toys or move about the vehicle

In the Event of an Accident

Despite your best efforts, you may still be involved in an accident due to the negligence of another driver. If you have sustained injuries during your holiday travels and would like to seek compensation, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe. The attorneys at Carey, Danis & Lowe are well-versed in accident laws and can determine the best course of action to take to recover some of your financial loss. Sustaining a personal injury during the holidays can be particularly overwhelming for the victim to handle. Contact us today or fill out our online contact form and the attorneys at Carey, Danis & Lowe will help relieve your stress by taking an instrumental part in negotiating the terms of any compensation to which you may be entitled. With them handling your claim, you can focus on making the most of your holiday.

Jury Awards $18.5 Million to the Estates of Two Men Killed in Trucking Accident

Trucking accident verdicts and settlements in wrongful death lawsuits will not bring back missed loved ones, but they can help support the families of the deceased financially and, in some cases, persuade trucking companies to change their policies in an effort to increase highway safety. This is the case in one recent trucking accident verdict.

In 2011, a fatal accident occurred on Interstate 94 in Indiana, resulting in the deaths of Daniel Van Dyke, 44, and Richard Hannah, 47. Van Dyke, the driver of one of the vehicles involved, is survived by his wife. Hannah, Van Dyke’s passenger, is survived by his wife and two sons.

Icy conditions caused a vehicle in front of the two victims to spin and become disabled. Van Dyke and Hannah, had to stop and were rear ended by a semi hauling 21 tons of marble. The semi was driven by a Celadon Trucking Services Inc. employee, Earnest Johnson.

The lawsuit was brought by the wives of Van Dyke and Hannah. According to the plaintiffs’ claims, the deaths of Van Dyke and Hannah were allegedly a result of Johnson’s reckless/negligent driving. They claimed that Johnson was driving too fast for road conditions. The semi’s EOBR recorded Johnson’s speed to be 65 miles per hour, with the cruise control on, just before impact.

The trucking company, Celadon, claimed that the accident was unavoidable because invisible ice was present. Furthermore, they claimed that the driver of the other vehicle and Van Dyke failed to maintain proper control of their vehicles and, thus, were contributorily negligent.

The jury found the semi driver, Johnson, 60 percent at fault and the trucking company, Celadon, 40 percent at fault for the trucking accident. Van Dyke’s estate was awarded a total of $7.5 million and the jury awarded Hannah’s estate $11 million. In addition, Celadon has voluntarily changed its policies regarding cruise control and its employees are no longer allowed to use cruise control during inclement weather.

 

NTSB Makes Recommendations Regarding Straight-Truck Safety

In order to increase highway safety, the National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that the government require drivers of medium-duty straight trucks to get a commercial driver’s license. Reportedly, a study conducted over a five-year period from 2005-2009 found that a disproportionate amount of fatalities involve this type of truck.

In addition the NTSB is recommending that straight trucks are made subject to safety rules similar to those that apply to tractor-trailers. For example, requirements for blind spot technology, underride protection, underride guards, and enhanced conspicuity.

Single-unit trucks are defined as large trucks with cargo units that are not detachable, all axles on a single frame, and a gross vehicle rating exceeding 10,000 pounds. According to Deborah A. P. Hershman, the NTSB Chairman, “Crashes involving single-unit trucks resulted in about 1,800 deaths each year during 2005-2009 and also caused thousands of injuries. These trucks are ubiquitous in our communities, yet they are exempted from many safety rules. We must do better for our citizens.”

The NTSB is unable to force the DOT and DOT agencies to create new rules, but it can make recommendations. The NTSB made recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These recommendations included modifications that would help drivers detect cyclists and pedestrians, improve visibility on unlit and dark roads, and prevent smaller vehicles from underriding the sides and rear of these trucks.

In addition, according to the NTSB’s findings, adverse effects of crashes involving these trucks have been underestimated because they are often misclassified and undercounted in state and federal databases. Therefore, the NTSB also recommended improved state and federal data on trucking accidents involving medium-duty straight trucks. The NTSB also recommended that though the state Crash Outcome Data Evaluation Systems and Trucks in Fatal Accidents are slated to be discontinued, they are needed to provide an accurate picture of the safety of large trucks.

Increasing Highway Safety: New Trucking Regulations Now In Effect

On July 1, 2013, an announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stated that new federal regulations had gone into effect that day, aimed at reducing driver fatigue and increasing safety. According to Ray LaHood, the U.S Transportation Secretary, “Safety is our highest priority. These rules make common sense, data-driven changes to reduce truck driver fatigue and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and roads.”

Though the new rule retains the current 14-hour work day and 11-hour daily driving limit, under the new hours-of-service rule:

  • The current maximum average work week will be reduced from the current 82 hours to 70 hours per week.
  • Truck drivers who have reached the limit may resume once they have rested for 34 consecutive hours. This 34 hour period must include two nights, spanning the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • During the first eight hours of any shift, truck drivers are required to take one, 30 minute break.

Egregious violations of the rule could mean serious penalties for companies and drivers. Passenger carriers and companies that allow drivers to violate the driving limit by over three hours may be fined $11,000 for each offense. For the same violation, drivers may have to pay civil penalties of up to $2,750 per offense.

According to Anne S. Ferro, Administrator for the FMCSA, “These fatigue-fighting rules for truck drivers were carefully crafted based on years of scientific research and unprecedented stakeholder outreach. The result is a fair and balanced approach that will result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health. Most importantly, it will save lives.”

While many truck drivers are against the new trucking regulations, claiming it will cost them money, the FMCSA claims that over 85 percent of truck drivers will not be affected. Furthermore, the FMCSA stated in its press release that the estimated outcome of the rule will be 19 lives saved, 560 injuries prevented, and 1,400 crashes avoided each year.

 

Witnesses Crucial in Trucking Accident Litigation

A recent trucking accident, which occurred in Gwinnett County, Georgia, highlights the danger many semis pose to highway safety, and the need for witnesses to be diligent in reporting what they see when an accident occurs.

On July 8, 2013, at around 1 p.m., Rabina Adnan, a 34-year-old wife and mother of two was killed on I-85. Adnan, her husband Syed Iqbal, and their two children were traveling along the highway in a Nissan Pathfinder. Though the exact circumstances of the accident are currently unclear, investigators believe a semi came into the lane in which the SUV was traveling and either struck the SUV or forced it into another truck. Adnan was ejected when the SUV rolled over. Adnan, the only one not wearing a seatbelt, was the only fatality.

Gwinnett County Police are asking if anyone has any information about the truck that may be at fault in this accident. According to Gwinnett county Police’s Jake Smith, a witness followed the truck he believed was involved and gave the police the truck’s information. However, he lost sight of the truck for a short period of time. Smith stated, “From the investigator’s preliminary investigation of the vehicle, there was not anything distinct as far as damage or marks on the tractor trailer that would lead him to believe that the truck definitely was part of the accident” and, as a result, the driver has not yet been charged.

However, according to Smith, “It’s possible that the truck changing lanes simply forced the Pathfinder over. Rather than being struck by the 18-wheeler, it simply moved and was forced into the boxed truck.” Reportedly, the family’s SUV is so damaged that it is difficult to tell if it was struck by the semi prior to rolling over.

In cases such as this, witness testimony can be crucial in establishing fault in a trucking accident. Usually, the more time that passes between an accident and when an experienced trucking accident attorney’s investigation begins, the more difficult it is to gather this kind of evidence. If you or a loved one is the victim of a trucking accident, contact an experienced attorney immediately.

Cable Barriers May Not Prevent Semi Crossover Accidents

In an effort to increase highway safety, Missouri has been installing high-tension guard cables in Interstate medians for the last ten years. However, these cable barriers are not designed to handle the force of a semi and do not stop some semi crossovers.

In June, 2013, a trucking accident in Evansville, Indiana, involved similar cable barriers. A Schnucks semi traveling eastbound crossed the cable barrier-protected median, and struck a westbound tanker. A car was unable to avoid the Schnucks semi and struck the back end of the truck. Five were hospitalized and one was killed. According to George Ballard, the Gibson County Sheriff, the cables didn’t break, but were still attached to the semi when it crossed through the median and passing lanes.

The cable systems in Missouri cost around $105,000 per mile to install and are being installed on routes that have traffic volumes of over 20,000 vehicles per day. Metal guardrails, on the other hand, cost around $200,000 per mile. In 2005 and 2006, the cable systems were installed on Interstate 55 from Sikeston to Oak Ridge, MO. The cable systems were installed along Interstate 70 in 2006.

The Gibraltar cable barrier system used by MoDOT is produced by a Texas company. They are comprised of ¾ inch woven steel cables that weigh around 1 pound for each foot. These cables are connected with large anchors to square steel pipes, mounted in concrete, eight feet away from the traffic lane. Turnbuckles allow the tension to be adjusted on the cables. These cables are kept at a tension of 5,000 pounds, but because heat can cause the cables to expand, which lowers the tension, the cables must be monitored and adjusted.

According to Andy Meyer, the construction materials engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, “Five thousand pounds of tension allows it to hopefully absorb the impact of a car or light truck.” Meyer also stated that “There are still a lot of vehicles that are too big, or traveling at such a speed, or bouncing around such that the median is unable to completely stop them.” Therefore, while the cable barriers may increase highway safety by reducing crossover accidents in cars and SUVs, they aren’t as likely reduce crossover trucking accidents.

Semi Driver’s Medical Condition Was Catalyst for Chain Reaction Accident

On July 5, 2013, just after 10 p.m., a semi driver suffered a medical condition that left him unconscious, posing a significant threat to highway safety. As a result, a chain-reaction accident occurred on I-805 in National City, California. According to California Highway Patrol officials, the accident involved one semi and three passenger vehicles.

Reportedly, a 29-year-old Tijuana man was the driver of the semi, a 2005 Kenworth. The driver, whose name has not been released, suffered a medical condition and fell unconscious behind the wheel. The semi stalled in the third lane and was struck by a 2008 Ford Ranger, driven by a 31-year-old woman, who didn’t see the semi in time to avoid a collision.

Officials stated that the Ford Ranger spun into the other lanes and was struck by a 2011 Volkswagen. The Volkswagen was then rear-ended by a 1999 Toyota Tacoma. The semi driver was transported to Sharp Chula Vista Hospital and, within a short time, was pronounced dead. The driver of the Ranger was transported to Scripps Mercy Hospital with major injuries. Her condition is currently unknown, but the drivers of the other two vehicles were not injured.

One of the uninjured drivers reported that he saw the disabled semi in the third lane and its lights were off. Details on the semi driver’s medical condition were not released and the accident is under investigation.

New federal trucking regulations set to go into effect in May, 2014, could reduce the occurrence of accidents like this, though without knowing what medical condition caused the accident, officials can’t be sure. These new regulations will require many commercial-license-holding truckers to obtain their physicals from properly certified physicians. Trucking regulations previously allowed these exams to be performed by a multitude of providers, from medical doctors to chiropractors.

In many instances, a driver that was denied their medical card by a physician because of medical issues could go to other physicians until they found one that would approve them, perhaps because he or she did not fully understand the Department of Transportation’s requirements.

Safety Tips For Your Summer Road Trips

Summer is here, and for many families across the country that means they will soon be embarking on a road trip. Road trips can be fun experiences for family members of all ages, but it can also mean an increased risk of being involved in a trucking accident.

Almost 500,000 trucking accidents occur each year, many of which involve smaller passenger vehicles that are at a distinct size disadvantage, resulting in serious injuries or death.

For any driver embarking on a summer road trip, it’s important to be aware of choices that could affect loss recovery in the event of an accident. Trucking companies have lawyers that are well-versed in accident litigation, and it is vital that you don’t give them any evidence to deny a claim. Here are some tips to help ensure that, if you are involved in a trucking accident, you may be able to avoid liability and recover damages from an at-fault trucking company:

  • Get plenty of sleep: Driving while fatigued is a major contributing factor to accidents. So while it may be tempting to get just a few more miles in, make sure you are well rested.
  • Avoid telephone distractions: Make it a policy to never use a cell phone while driving. If calling, texting, or emailing is absolutely necessary, either pull over in a safe location or ask a passenger to do these things for you.
  • Avoid environmental distractions: While it’s important that kids be entertained on a road trip, be sure to choose activities and toys that won’t be a distraction to you.

Trucking accidents can be caused by a number of factors including fatigue, distraction, equipment failure, improper truck maintenance, drug or alcohol use, and driver inexperience. However, trucking company attorneys will attempt to prove that passenger vehicles were at least partially at fault in order to reduce or eliminate the financial compensation and/or damages their clients must pay. For this reason, following the above tips can be a critical part in getting you the financial compensation you deserve.

Paramedics and Patient Killed in Trucking Accident Involving Semi and Ambulance

Around 5 a.m. on June 6, a trucking accident occurred on Highway 32 in Ocilla, Georgia involving a semi and an ambulance. The patient and two medics in the ambulance were killed. The ambulance was eastbound, moving with its siren and lights on to alert drivers to clear the way for the vehicle. A westbound semi jack-knifed and crossed the center line, blocking the path of the ambulance, which struck the left side of the truck.

According to the Georgia State Patrol, Teresa Ann Davis, 44, and Randall Whiddon, 56, were the two medics killed in the accident. Charles Arvin Smith, 65, was the patient killed in the accident. The condition of the semi-truck driver, Rockwell Lott, is unknown.

Whiddon’s son stated that Randall Whiddon had served as the Turner County fire chief and EMS director until he retired in April 2012. Since then, the 35-year veteran had been working part time in Irwin and Coffee counties as an EMT. Theresa Ann Davis had worked at Coffee Regional Medical Center as an EMT for over a decade, according to George Heck, the hospital’s CEO.

According to police, the truck jack-knifed when another car traveling westbound ahead of the truck began to pull to the side of the road to make way for the ambulance. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the accident is being investigated by the Georgia State Patrol’s Specialized Crash Reconstruction Team. Witness statements and other evidence have been collected in order to determine if any citations will be issued or charges will be filed for the crash.

It is critical for highway safety that drivers yield to emergency vehicles when their lights and sirens are activated. There were 250 accidents involving ambulances in 2010, the majority of which were intersection accidents resulting from vehicles that failed to stop. Drivers should always be alert and aware of their surroundings so that they can identify an emergency vehicle’s lights and sirens within enough time to safely stop.