Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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.

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.

Due to a dramatic rise in the number of Florida car accidents resulting in wrongful deaths, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recently brought back their Arrive Alive safety campaign. Fort Lauderdale personal injury Lawyer Joseph Lipsky knows too well that because of its weather, rising population and ever popular destination for tourists, Florida is always one of the most-deadly states for driving.

The updated Arrive Alive campaign is a statewide safety program which brings together the resources of all police departments and the Department of Transportation, who with the use of real-time data hope to stem the residing tide of deadly car accidents. The State moved forward with its initiative after recent statistics demonstrated a rapid rise in Florida car accident caused wrongful deaths, increasing from 2500 in 2014, to more than 3000 in 2016. Incredibly, nearly 150 people have needlessly lost their lives on Florida’s roadways this year.

Not surprisingly, Florida is not alone in experiencing a rise in deadly car accidents. Nationally, car accident wrongful deaths increased more than 7 percent of the same time period. Yet, multiple studies show that Florida’s roads, due to a lack of safety laws, remains a leader in dangerousness. Some of the needed safety laws include police enforcement of passenger seat belt usage, mandatory motorcycle helmet use and a ban on texting while driving.

Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer Joseph Lipsky reports an unsettling trend about a rapid increase in the number of wrongful deaths involving pedestrians.   The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (NHTSA) just issued their latest report of traffic deaths, and sadly they note that the number of pedestrian wrongful deaths rose by almost ten percent last year.  This surprising increase in pedestrian fatalities was the largest in nearly 20 years.

Last year over 5,300 pedestrians died after being struck by a car or truck, an increase of more than 500 from the prior year. This increase was greater than the percentage of all traffic/driver or passenger fatalities, which rose just more than seven percent. Incredibly, Fort Lauderdale was the 6th most dangerous city for pedestrian deaths. This rise in roadway wrongful deaths reversed an almost 10 year drop in the number of annual traffic related fatalities.  In fact, 2014 saw a nearly 10,000 drop in deaths from just 8 years earlier. The rise in pedestrian deaths tied in with a similar rise in wrongful deaths of motorcycle and bicycle riders, of almost five percent over the past 10 years.

While government sponsored safety efforts and rapid increase in vehicle accident prevention technology, have had a beneficial effect upon vehicle occupants, by increasing seat-belt use and lowering the rate of drunk drivers, the same advances and efforts have ignored pedestrian safety.

Miami car accident lawyer Joseph Lipsky knows most drivers are aware of the likelihood of car accidents caused by drunk drivers or distracted drivers. However, those same motorists are generally unaware of the dangers caused by drivers who get behind the wheel when they are drowsy or sleepy. Sadly, studies prove that motorists who drive with less than 5 hours of sleep are two times as likely to have a car accident when compared to drivers who get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Basically, the less sleep a driver has, the greater likelihood of having a car accident.

Research shows that the less sleep a driver gets, the greater likelihood they will be in a car accident. In fact, drivers who have slept less than 4 hours a night have four times the number of car accidents, a ratio approaching the dangers of drunk driving.  As the AAA states, anyone who has slept less than 7 hours over a 24 hour period should not drive a vehicle.

Earlier research demonstrates that nearly 20 percent of wrongful death car accidents in the United States involve a drowsy or sleepy driver. Last year, a total of over thirty-five thousand people died in car accidents across the United States according to research collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This was more than a seven percent increase in car accidents resulting in wrongful deaths over the prior year. The information used by the NHTSA came directly from car accident police reports which were limited to crashes in which at least one vehicle was towed from the crash location or where an ambulance responded to provide medical care to an injured driver or passenger. The drivers involved in those car accidents informed investigators about the amount of sleep they had in the prior twenty-four hours.

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