Here we go again, another “honor” for the State of Florida. According to a recent study, titled Dangerous By Design, seven of the top most deadly cities in America for pedestrians car accidents are in, you guessed it, Florida. As a Florida personal injury attorney for more than 25 years, Joseph Lipsky, knows too well, having helped dozens of pedestrians seriously injured in accident involving cars or truck, of the dangers pedestrians face when walking along or nearly Florida’s roadways.

The Dangerous by Design study came up with their so-called Pedestrian Danger Index, which is an analytical evaluation of the number of pedestrians who walk to work, and compared it to the number of car accidents in which pedestrians were seriously injured or killed. Nearly 5000 pedestrians were killed in car accidents or truck accidents over the past year, an alarming nationwide rate of 13 wrongful death victims every day. On average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in a traffic crash. Fourteen percent of all traffic fatalities and an estimated 3 percent of those injured in traffic crashes were pedestrians. To say that the ongoing rise in pedestrian deaths is an epidemic is clearly an understatement. Also of great concern is the fact that although minorities make up only about 1/3rd of the population, nearly 50% of all pedestrian deaths involve a minority. And as expected, the study confirms that those pedestrians 65 and older are fifty percent more likely to be killed by a car or truck.

While much of the blame for pedestrian wrongful deaths is squarely upon the shoulders of the drivers who hit them, the study found that engineers who are responsible for designing streets and sidewalks are also to blame, as they failed to take adequate preventative safety measures to protect pedestrians. Some of the features roadway designers routinely overlook include, wider medians, which allow pedestrians to safely avoid traffic, if they get stuck in the middle of a roadway; more marked crosswalks; and lowering roadway traffic speeds in areas know to have significant pedestrian traffic.

After steadily rising over the past two years, car accident deaths actually reduced over the last year, in a recent report by the National Safety Council, who computes that the number of car accident deaths will be about 1% less this year, still an appalling 40,100. Although, as a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer, Joseph Lipsky, knows that Florida’s legislature is again refusing to take needed driver safety action which will stem the tide of the rapid rise in deaths caused by a texting driver.

Despite public outcry, Florida’s legislature has yet again failed to take needed action make texting while driving a primary moving violation. A recent evaluation of nearly three million car accidents by the Sun Sentinel demonstrated that car accidents involving a driver who was texting at the time of the crash is rising steadily. A distracted driver was found to cause many types of car accidents which resulted in personal injuries and death. The most frequent types of crashes associated with a distracted driver were: swerving out of a lane of travel, running a stop sign, ignoring other traffic signs and signals and veering into oncoming traffic.

As police officers will attest, too often they pull over a driver whom they believe to be guilty of drunk driver, only to find that the driver is actually lost in a conversation on their cell phone. Yet despite the known danger, Florida’s legislature continues to prevent police officers from being able to stop a driver because they are texting while driving, requiring them to have another valid reason to first stop the car. This inaction keeps Florida in the minority, with only six other states, of not allowing texting while driving to be a primary traffic violation.

As Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers, we are always on the watch for news which our clients and friends can use to help prevent deadly Florida car accidents. Along those lines, a recent report demonstrates that drowsy driving, where drivers are too tired to safely drive a car or truck, is more widespread than previous studies assumed.

A recent study by the AAA shows that sleepy motorist are to blame for nearly ten percent of all car accidents.  “Drowsy driving is a bigger traffic safety issue than federal estimates show,” said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Drivers who don’t get enough sleep are putting everyone on the road at risk.” Plantation personal injury lawyer Joseph Lipsky could not agree more.

The AAA formulated their results after they studied nearly 4,000 drivers over a number of months. Through the use of dashboard cameras and other monitoring devices, the scientist followed motorists over a nearly three year period. The results of the study showed the driver being followed were involved in more than 700 car accidents. Drowsy driving was a contributing factor in almost ten percent of those car and truck accidents. And of those nearly 700 crashes, more than ten percent resulted in significant property damage or personal injury. Those results were much greater than the Department of Highway Safety Administration’s estimates that only 1-2 percent of car accidents involved a drowsy driver.

As Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer Joseph Lipsky knows, there is an ongoing battle with making rear-seat passengers wear their seat belts, often time with deadly results. A recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that while 90% vehicle occupants wear their seat belt while seated in the front seat, back seat passengers too often fail to use seat belts, resulting in nearly eight times as many car accident personal injuries. Even more concerning is the failure of tax, Uber and Lyft riders to use seat belts.

Although most drivers and occupants know that highway car and truck accidents are a leading cause of wrongful deaths, with more than 35,000 annually, a rate of nearly 100 deaths every day, they don’t realize that the rate of car accident deaths, particularly those attributed to a lack of seat belt use actually rose almost 5% last year. The studies also show that the likelihood of an unbelted vehicle occupant dying in a fatal car accident was higher for those unrestrained riders in the back, not the front of cars.

In fact, occupants routinely admit to not wearing their seat belts in the back of vehicles. The Institute’s study found nearly 25% of those surveyed admitted to not wearing their seat belt in the back seat versus the front. Many drivers don’t realize that an unbelted occupant is also a hazard for others in a vehicle, as the unrestrained person may slam into the other occupants causing serious injuries. Researchers at the University of Virginia found that there is a more than 100% increase in the likelihood a driver will be killed by an unrestrained occupant will seated behind them.

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.

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