As Florida car accident attorneys, we are always saddened to hear of a rise in car accident related injuries and deaths. This is why it is difficult to report that recent data demonstrates that the number of car and truck accidents resulting in wrongful deaths dramatically rose for over the past year, reaching a decade’s high; all in the face of added vehicle safety equipment and so-called self-driving vehicles.

The rise in deadly crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that the increase to nearly 38,000 victims last year, is due to a number of reasons including speeding and the lack of seat belt use. The steady increase in accident deaths reverses what had been a steady drop from 2007 through 2014. While the researchers expected deadly car accidents to decrease given the increased use of so-called autonomous driving being installed in many vehicles, what they did not anticipate was that distracted driving, caused by drivers’ use of advances in vehicle technology are actually making it easier for drivers to be distracted.

Also, speeding and driver carelessness were responsible for a nearly 5% rise in deadly car accidents. Sadly, pedestrians being struck and killed by drivers rose nearly 10% over the past year. As expected, drunk driving accidents were to blame for nearly a 2 percent rise.

Nursing homes should be held accountable when they disregard their residents’ rights. Many years of lobbying by the nursing home industry convinced  the Florida Legislature to enact numerous laws which eroded residents’ rights, and made it more difficult for injured residents to hold those negligent accountable for their actions. The legislature failed to mandate nursing homes accept responsibility for their residents, by allowing them to play a shell game with each facility’s ownership and by allowing residents’ rights to be limited by arduous mandatory arbitration agreements. Hopefully the legislature will not allow the tragedy in Hollywood to go unaddressed. When nursing homes know they may be held accountable for their carelessness, they will take the actions needed not only to protect their bottom line, but more importantly, to keep their residents safe. Check our recent appearance on CBS4, where we discussed this issue.

 

As car accident attorneys helping seriously injured accident victims throughout Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Palm Beaches, we are not surprised that a recent survey determined that Florida has the worst drivers in America. The study reviewed crash and police information accumulated from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which reviews the number of wrongful deaths per miles driven in each state; the number of driving under the influence (DUI) arrests per state, as reported to the FBI; the ratio of insured versus uninsured motorists in each state; and Google’s analytics regarding the number of searches about speeding tickets and traffic tickets in each stated.

As everyone who suffers through the daily drive upon Florida’s highways, including the Florida Turnpike, I-75, I-95 and SR 826 knows, the study could only have one “winner” once it analyzed all the data. Incredibly, while most drivers think they drive well, the data reveals that that is not the case. In Florida, that data shows that our reputation is well earned. Florida’s drivers “won” for the 2nd year in a row, a dubious honor as the nations’ worst. Florida’s honor is attributed to the number of deadly car accidents, ranking 9th in the nation and we also had the 9th greatest number of internet searches for traffic tickets. Surprisingly, Florida ranked at the bottom regarding the number of DUI arrest.

In addition to being the state with the worst drivers, Florida also has the most dangerous road, U.S. 1. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, U.S. 1 has a fatality rate of 2.8, with more than 1,011 car accidents with more than 1,000 wrongful deaths over the past ten years. Not too far behind I-95 running through Broward and Miami-Dade Counties with a fatality rate of 1.73 accidents per mile.

While many drivers take precautions to drive safely in hopes of preventing being seriously injured in a car accident, many vehicle owners overlook a critical safety feature of their vehicles which puts them in a great risk of being involved in the accident they are hoping to avoid. That safety feature is the vehicle’s headlights. Improperly maintained or installed headlights create a danger not only for a driver, but for preventing pedestrian accidents – as they may not been in enough time to avoid being stuck.

Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety demonstrated that the majority of headlights on a number of small SUV, including the Jeep Wrangler, Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan Rogue had poorly performing headlights. Even so-called luxury vehicles such as the Mercedes C-class had poorly rated headlight systems.

Incredibly, it is actually old federal regulations which are the cause of numerous vehicles with poorly rated headlights. While many manufactures actually want to install items including adaptive beams, regulations prevent them from installing the same technology they have on vehicles being sold around the world. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has failed to take action on a number of manufactures requests to install newer headlight systems, such as curving headlights which actually turn themselves into a turn a vehicle is making. In fact, Toyota’s request which they made over four years ago, are still pending.

As we are entering the summer driving season, there are a number of steps you can do to help you avoid a problem on the road. As personal injury attorneys, we are here to help those seriously injured in car accidents, but it is our goal to help drivers avoid accidents and problems. The following is a list of the top five ways to prevent a problem and what to do in the event you have a car accident, vehicle defect or engine trouble while driving.

  1. Check your battery. According to the AAA, one of the top reasons motorist need help is due to a dead battery. To avoid an unwanted problem, particularly if your battery is more than three years old, have it checked at a local repair shop to make sure its strong enough to last for your trip. In addition to the car’s battery, make sure your cell-phone battery is charged, as you can’t charge a phone battery off of a dead car battery.
  2. Keep a flashlight in your vehicle. This will be an invaluable tool in the event you have a problem after dark. With the advances in technology, there are now many flashlights which can also double as a phone charger. As the prices have come down, there is no reason not to keep a flashlight in your glovebox.

While it may seem like common sense, many prospective car buyers do not realize the dangers associated with driving a small vehicle as compared to the safety of driving a larger vehicle. Research shows that drivers of small vehicles are more likely to be in a deadly car accident than those driving large vehicles. These drastic safety differences between the safest and most dangerous vehicles becomes more concerning when there are so many drivers on the road, such as this past Memorial Day weekend, when nearly 40 million were on the roadways who unfortunately have hundreds of car accidents.

Proof of the dangers and higher mortality rates associated with driving a small vehicle are evident in a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. According to the head of research, “physics matter. The bigger the vehicle, the safer you are in an accident.” Additionally, many larger vehicles tend to be more expensive than entry level ones, meaning they generally come equipped with more safety equipment which also helps their drivers survive even highway car accidents. Some of the more prominent safety and accident prevention technology in more expensive vehicles include automatic braking, additional airbags and pre-tensioning seat-belts.

The IIHS went through 4 years of car accidents which resulted in nearly 3,000 wrongful deaths, which was a significant increase compared to the prior four year period, and analyzed that data over 200 models of vehicles, each of which have at least 100,000 models on the roads. The eye-opening results demonstrated that the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio had the highest death rates, with over 100 Hyundai Accent drivers’ deaths. As you can imagine, Hyundai, in trying to explain away the results, claims their vehicle meets all US safety standards.

Florida wins again, but again this definitely not good news to pedestrians. According to a recent study, Florida has the honor of having the greatest rate of pedestrian wrongful deaths from car accidents in America.  Incredibly, pedestrians in Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines and Parkland are four times more likely to die in a car accident than in places like Boston or even New York. And while the study blames pedestrians for being distracted by their phones, being intoxicated and crossing outside of marked crosswalks, more attention is being placed upon the roadways themselves.

Florida’s older roadways, which were not designed for active populations, often times play an integral role in pedestrian accidents. Specifically, pedestrian friendly sidewalks and crosswalks are lacking along many roadways which are shared with cars driving at what used to be considered as highway speeds. Pedestrians seeking to cross roadways usually have to walk great distances to access a crosswalk, often 1000 feet away.  While common sense should cause pedestrians to use those crosswalks, most people cross where they are, rather than walking 1000 feet out of their way.

Those of us who live in more westerly cities, which were originally built decades ago when most of the land was agricultural, know that many roads were built without any adjoining sidewalks. Now as the population has shifted towards the suburbs, many residents now confront dangerous roadway conditions on a daily basis. The Florida Department of Transportation has begun to address our outdated roadways but taking efforts to reduce driver speeds, such as by making narrower vehicle lanes and placing trees closer to the roadways.

Although April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, we, as Florida car accident lawyers know too well that that distracted drivers causing car accidents is an unnecessary problem which is plaguing Florida’s roadways. In fact, according to a recent report, Florida ranks 2nd worst, after only Louisiana, among all states, in the number of admitted distracted drivers, with more than ninety percent of all drivers admitting to using a phone while driving.

While the report, generated by EverQuote, is eye opening for many government regulators; we driver know too well the growing number of inconsiderate motorists who disregard other’s safety and drive while using their phone – any trip down I-95 or I-595 will result in seeing dozens of drivers with a phone in one hand. In fact, Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported nearly fifty thousand car accidents involving distracted driving upon our roads over the last year which resulted in nearly 4,000 personal injuries and more than 200 wrongful deaths.

According to EverQuote, although most drivers believe they are safe drivers, they don’t even realize how frequently they use their phone, to read a text or tweet, while their car is in motion. The company used an app which monitored vehicle operations to determine how poorly distracted drivers operate their vehicles. Considering that even reading or sending a text message results in a driver’s eyes leaving the road for nearly 5 seconds, a car traveling at 45 m.p.h. will actually travel more than 300 feet before the driver is able to get their eyes properly back on the road upon which they are traveling.

A recent study by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic and Safety sheds new light on the lasting effects of distracted driving that smartphone use has on drivers, even when they only use their phone while the car is stopped. While most people believe that it is safe to text, read email or talk on their phone while they are stopped at a red light, research demonstrates that even such limited cellphone use results in what researchers are calling a hangover effect.

Considering the increasing number of car accident related wrongful deaths, it is imperative that all motorists understand how dangerous any smartphone while behind the wheel is. The AAA’s study revealed that a driver’s mind remains distracted for nearly half a minute after simply sending a text while their vehicle is stopped. The driver’s mind remains focused on the message they just sent, rather than on driving their vehicle.  The researchers refer to the post cellphone use as inattention blindness, and essentially blocks out other stimulus, such as other cars, traffic signs and even pedestrians.

This finding is concerning, particularly since car manufacturers and technology companies are rapidly making “advances” in allowing motorists to more readily remain on-line, such as with heads-up displays. While allowing motorists to see information on their windshield, rather than looking at the dashboard or phone, sounds safer, that motorist is equally as distracted. The AAA is actually recommending that all vehicles have technology which prohibits a driver from using smartphone technology with the car is moving.  And, while voice activated technology may aide motorists, not all vehicles have seamless technology integrated into them, which may actually cause a well intending motorist to become more distracted.

According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the most dangerous drivers on Florida’s roadways are so-called Millennials. Not surprisingly, the reason these 19 to 24 year olds cause so many car accidents is because they regularly are distracted drivers who text while driving, feel speeding is acceptable and regularly run red lights. Incredibly, Millennials are more dangerous and take more risks behind the wheel than even new 16 to 18 year old drivers.

The actual statistics are truly concerning. The AAA’s study revealed that sixty percent of Millenial drivers actually admit to sending a text or email while operating a motor vehicle.  That admitted rate is nearly twice as high as all other age groups of drivers.  Also, almost 50% of Millenials admitted to running a red light, one they could have easily stopped for, a rate that is almost 25% greater than other age groups.

Millennials also admit to regularly driving more than 10 m.p.h. over the posted speed limits in school zones. That behavior which endangers children and demonstrates a disregard of some of the most costly traffic ticket consequences is a rate which is more than double that of all other age groups of drivers. We, as Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers, share the same concerns as the AAA; that a large population of drivers is willing to regularly take unnecessary risks which needlessly increase the chance of being in a deadly car accident. Considering fatal car accident deaths rose more than 7% over the last year, this accepted recklessness should be truly concerning to Florida drivers.

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