November 5, 2013

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week: Rest to Prevent Car Accidents

Although it does not receive as much publicity as distracted driving or drunk driving, Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer Joseph Lipsky want to make sure you are aware that driving while over tired, or drowsy driving, is a dangerous problem which results in too many preventable car accidents annually. In hopes of reducing those crashes caused by sleep deprived drivers, the National Sleep Foundation declared this as National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

A review of Florida traffic accident reports shows that over the past year, there were more than 280 thousand car accidents or truck accidents in Florida, that means that about 770 times every day, someone has a car accident on one of our roads, including I-95 and the Florida Turnpike. In fact, there were over 50 thousand car accidents in Miami alone last year. Of those thousands of accidents, the likely that drowsy driving played a role as a driver had slower than needed reaction.

The NHTSA believes that more than 1500 people suffer wrongful deaths and more than 70,000 people are seriously injured in crashes in which drowsy driving played a role. Those most likely involved in driving while sleep deprived include men, under the age of 26 and those working in the medical filed who into the evening. In fact, drivers who work a "night" or "midnight" shift have a 6 times greater risk of causing an accident.

Too often over the past 20 years, we had to help a client overcome the destructive results of a truck driver who continued driving, beyond their statutorily regulated hours, and caused a crash. We remind everyone that if you are overtired, and have to open your car window, or play the radio loudly, in an effort to help you stay awake while driving; make our roadways safer by pulling off the road and taking a nap, before something bad happens.

May 13, 2013

Drowsy Driving Causes Many Florida Car Accidents

As Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys we are too familiar with the personal injuries and wrongful deaths caused by distracted driving . However, there is an equally dangerous behind the wheel activity which does not get as much publicity as distracted driving, and its something too many drivers do, drive while drowsy. In fact, according to governmental studies, more than 1000 people die each year in car accidents and truck accidents caused by a drowsy driver.

One of the reasons drowsy driving is difficult to reduce is that police are unable to determine when an accident is caused by a drowsy or sleeping driver. Unlike drunk driving accidents, in which police can measure whether someone is under the influence, or a distracted driving accident, in which cell phone records may reveal what a driver was doing at the time of a crash, there is no way to measure how sleepy a driver was when an accident happened.

And while the commercial trucking industry is subject to various limits on the number of hours a driver may operate a vehicle before being required to sleep, those limits are often exceeded because those drivers keep their own logs.

Because drowsy driving is an activity that most motorists have done, thinking they were alert enough to drive, this problem it is difficult to educate against. As for legislation, only one state has passed a law penalizing drowsy driving. Other states have taken measures to awaken drowsy drivers by installing rumble strips and other physical lane restraining devices to alert drivers who may be drifting out of their lane of travel of travel. Despite folklore, activities including loud music, talking or eating do not cause a drowsy driver to be more alert.

As Miami personal injury lawyers we believe that the results of the Centers for Disease Control study which found that nearly 5% of all drivers briefly fell asleep at least once a month, are alarming and require greater driver education, particularly among new drivers of the dangers that such drowsy behavior may cause.

April 10, 2013

Number of Distracted Drivers Increases

The cause of the ever increasing number of deadly car accidents throughout Florida, particularly in larger cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale is well document in a recent study by the Centers For Disease Control about distracted driving. The study found that almost seventy percent of drivers admitted to using a cell phone to talk or text while behind the wheel during the past month. This rise in the dangerous use of so-called smartphones while driving presents a danger to everyone on the roadway; and despite increased efforts to educate drivers, this conduct continues to result in deadly car accidents every day.

The study confirms the government's suspicions, that texting behind the wheel is increasing, as prior studies demonstrated that one quarter of drivers admitted to texting while driving, and now, that number has risen over thirty percent. As personal injury attorneys representing seriously injured victims of car accidents, saying we are alarmed at this twenty-two percent increase in two short years is an understatement.

This driving while using a smart-phone use is the reason why wrongful deaths caused by distracted driving are increasing, while the overall amount of traffic deaths is dropping. In fact, according to the report, in 2011 such wrongful deaths caused by distracted driving increased almost two percent, while other types of traffic deaths dropped by the same amount.

We agree with the study's characterization of the conduct which results in these crashes and deaths as not being accidental, as the driver who decides to use his phone while driving, does so consciously, not by accident. We also agree with the Centers for Disease control in urging drivers to put down their phones until they are able to stop off the roadway. Remember, using a smart-phone while driving is anything but...smart.

November 28, 2012

Drivers Causing Rear End Crashes Can Blame Who They Hit

The Florida Supreme Court recently overturned fifty years of legal precedent by ruling that a driver who causes a car accident by running into another vehicle from behind can argue, and a jury may consider, that the driver who was struck was also at fault, or comparatively negligent. Essentially this ruling means that careless and distracted drivers, such as those texting while driving, can argue that the vehicle they struck came to an unexpected stop without warning.

The Court felt that the legal doctrine of comparative negligence should apply to rear end car accident personal injury cases when there is evidence, no matter how unsubstantiated, for a jury to consider if the driver of the stopped vehicle was at fault. Thankfully the Court's decision made clear that it does not overturn the presumption of negligence when a injured person is properly stopped at a red light or stop sign.

In setting aside 60 years of law, in which the person who caused a rear end crash was presumed to be at fault, the Supreme Court opened the flood gates of unnecessary and extensive litigation. This ruling will certainly cause an increase in litigation as insurance companies will argue that their drivers could not stop in time because an injured victim stopped without warning.

As personal injury lawyers helping innocent victims of car accidents throughout Florida, including in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, we are distressed with our highest Court's decision to allow clearly at fault drivers to argue that those they hit were at fault.

October 3, 2012

Increase in Deadly Car Accidents from Distracted Driving

As personal injury attorneys representing injured victims of car accidents through the State of Florida, we are continually amazed that drivers continue to disregard the basic fact that distracted driving is dangerous. The National Highway Safety Administration recently updated their ongoing data as to the number of wrongful deaths and personal injuries caused annually by distracted drivers.

Incredibly, in the past year more than 3000 people died, and over 400,000 were injured, in car, truck and motorcycle accidents in which a driver was "distracted." The NHSA defines distracted driving as something which causes a driver to do something other than just drive, such as using a phone to call or text or eating. Of course, texting or sending an email is the most dangerous of such activities as the driver's eyes are taken off the road for an extended amount of time. Yet last month alone, over 200 billion such texts were made in the United States; and that number is increasing exponentially every year.

In particular, are motorists younger than twenty are the most frequent of such distracted drivers, as more than ten percent of all deadly accidents involving such driver involved a distracted driver. Yet despite this verifiable data, our legislatures continue to refuse to pass laws banning or even restricting such deadly behavior. We certainly hope that the Florida Legislature finally confronts this danger and finally does something to protect our citizens and visitors.

May 21, 2012

Goverment Plan to Reduce Deadly Truck Accidents

On behalf of our clients who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to trucking accidents, we commend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for their 5 year plan to lessen the number of truck accident deaths by implementing additional driver qualifications and by increasing their regulations over other industries involved in truck based shipping. The “Safety 1st Culture” program will affect all areas that, in the words of the FMCSA may have a “detrimental effect on safety through their actions.”

The FMCSA's plan includes stopping carriers with bad safety records from reincorporating under another name, insuring that drivers are properly qualified to drive commercial vehicles, assisting law enforcement and lessening high-risk behavior by both owners and operators.

Unfortunately in order for the FMCSA to be able to regulate shippers, they will need Congress to provide them with that authority. Regardless of the difficulties that they face, as Florida based personal injury attorneys we applaud all agency driven efforts to make our roads safer.

February 3, 2012

To Reduce Truck Accidents Feds Ban Commercial Drivers from Cell Phone Use

As personal injury lawyers representing seriously injured victims of truck accidents throughout the State of Florida, we are certainly glad that the Federal Motorist Carrier Safety Administration imposed a ban on cell phone use by commercial drivers. The ban began on January 1 of this year, and applies to all drivers of commercial vehicles who have commercial driver's licenses. The ban applies to all CDL licensed drivers in every state.

The intention of this new regulation is to improve safety on highways by reducing distracted driving, which will hopefully reduce the number of distracted driving caused car and truck accidents. According the the Department of Transportation, there is a three-fold increase in truck accidents when a driver is using a cell phone, whether for talking or texting. The regulation also applies to cellphones with two-way radios.

The penalties for violating this new regulation include a sixty day driver's license suspension after a second violation. As attorneys helping victims of commercial car and truck accidents, we applaud the Federal Government's actions in trying to make our roadways safer.

October 28, 2011

Aggressive Driving Causing More Car Accidents in Florida

As personal injury attorneys helping victims of car accidents in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches, we are not surprised by the findings of a recent report which indicated that instances of aggressive driving have increased almost ten-fold over the past decade. According to Florida Law Enforcement data, citations issued for aggressive driving increased from about 4,000 in 2003, to more than 23,000 last year.

Aggressive driving involves instances of swerving between lanes of travel, tailgating and excessive speeding. The increase in such tickets is the most pronounced over the past two years, with an increase of almost 90%. The increase may be an indication of our generally impatient population.

Florida drivers who commit 2 or more aggressive driving violations are labeled "aggressive." Those "aggressive" drivers are likely to be assessed greater points against their licenses, resulting in increased insurance costs and the likelihood of having their license suspended.

Not surprisingly, the American Automobile Association determined that more than fifty percent of all wrongful deaths from car accidents and truck accidents were caused by an aggressive driver. For that reason alone, we ask everyone driving on Florida roadways to please slow down.

October 10, 2011

Florida Sees Decrease in Drunk Driving Car Accidents

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), car accidents involving drunk driving decreased by thirty percent over the last 5 years. Interestingly, the study links the drop in drunk driving, not to greater police enforcement, but to the current poor economy, as the costs associated with drinking at commercial establishments proves to be too expensive.

Yet, despite the significant drop, almost one in fifty of the drivers interviewed admitted that they did drove drunk during the past month. The study noted that at least three hundred thousand people drive drunk every day. Not surprisingly, men between the ages of 21 and 34 are the ones most likely to drink and drive.

The CDC's study comports to similar one conducted by the NHTSA which also showed a decrease in drunk driver, albeit a smaller reduction. Despite these decreases, someone is either killed or injured on our roadways every hour. Clearly, there is still more work to do to save lives.

September 8, 2010

Bus Accident in West Palm Beach County Requires Strange Rescue

In what sounds like a television episode, a recreation vehicle in western Palm Beach County, which was transporting more than a dozen senior citizens, crashed into an embankment on S.R. 80, resulting in personal injuries to two passengers. According to Palm Beach County officials, the single vehicle collision was the result of speed and the wet condition of the roadway.

While the accident itself was not unusual, how the paramedics rescued the occupants was. The crash left the bus stopped at an angle, making it difficult for the elderly occupants to be removed. So, Fire Fighters had to hitch the bus to a fire rescue truck for stability. Then rescuers placed the passengers on a stretcher affixed to a ladder and pulled the passengers out through a window to safety. Sounds like a job for CSI.

January 29, 2010

Truck Drivers Banned From Texting To Prevent Accidents

In some good news for drivers throughout Florida, in hopes of preventing deadly truck accidents, the federal government enacted new regulations prohibiting commercial truckers and bus drivers from texting while driving. These overdue restrictions go into effect immediately.

While no one knows who many accidents are caused by commercial driver texting while driving, it is a certainty that such behavior is dangerous and creates a high-risk of accidents. Considering drivers who text generally take their eyes of the road for more than 4 seconds, there a known likelihood of increased collisions.

The federal ban comes on the heals of the actions of many state laws which are being enacted to hopefully curtail this deadly practice. As personal injury lawyers practicing in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach, we are always glad to hear of laws which help protect fellow Floridians from deadly accidents.

The texting ban is supported by the American Trucking Associations and American Bus Association.

July 21, 2008

Disabled Truck Drivers Cause Many Deadly Accidents

According to a recent government report, many truck accidents, especially those resulting in wrongful death, particularly in Florida, are caused by truck drivers with diagnosed disabling medical conditions. Even though many of the drivers receive social security disability payments, for seizures, heart attacks or loss of consciousness, thousands of those same truck drivers also have valid commercial driver's licenses.

One such example is of a Florida bus driver who suffered from lung disease, who admitted he occasionally blacks out. The driver, despite not having a medical certificate, has a valid licenses through 2010. The bus driver apparently has received disability benefits for over fourteen years, as he losses his breath when walking.

Unfortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, who is responsible for overseeing such truck drivers, admitted it has not complied with regulators' proposals, such as determining if truck drivers are medically safe to drive. We can only hope that Congress will act to insure that the necessary regulation of such truck drivers is implemented before someone else is seriously injured or killed.