Articles Posted in Traffic Crashes

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Florida’s distracted driving laws are weak, failing to protect motorists or deter violators, and are driving up auto insurance rates. brokenphone

That’s according to several reports released recently, including a three-part series by WTSP 10 News in Tampa. It’s well-established that Florida has one of the weakest anti-distracted driving laws in the country. It was one of the last states to pass a measure outlawing texting while driving, and it’s one of just nine states to make the offense secondary, meaning officers can’t stop a driver based solely on observing a violation of F.S. 316.305. Fines for violations are just $30 (littering carries a $100 fine), and they don’t result in any points on one’s driver’s license.

Approximately 3,500 Americans were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2015, and the number climbs each year. However, Florida leaders aren’t preparing to change that anytime soon, prompting WTSP reporters to delve into their reasoning why.  Continue reading →

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Our nation’s streets, roadways and thoroughfares are an increasingly dangerous place to be. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the number of highway deaths in the first six months of this year spiked 10.4 percent – to 17,775 – as compared to the first six months of 2015. And last year marked the biggest yearly percentage increase in traffic deaths in five decades.

One of the main culprits? Distraction.phone

Specifically, our gadgets, and in particular, those that are intended for use in a moving vehicle. There is hands-free calling, which research has shown is no safer than use of handheld devices, despite the disparity in Florida law and in laws across the country. There is an app on Snapchat that allows drivers to post images of the the driver while recording his or her speed. There is an app called Waze that gives users points for immediately reporting traffic crashes and snarled traffic. Then of course there is the Pokemon Go app that has prompted drivers to search for virtual creatures along their route. All of this collectively amounts to a much different landscape of distraction than just a decade ago when we first starting talking about, “distracted driving.”

Back around 2005 or so, the nation was talking about how problematic it was that so many people were using their cell phones to send text messages. At the time, most people didn’t even have the smartphones we’re so familiar with today. Now, according to a Pew Research poll conducted in 2015, half of users say they, “couldn’t live without” their smartphone. Text messages continue to be the most popular feature, but internet use, video calls, email, video and music are also popular features.  Continue reading →

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Broward County Transit is coming under fire for its continued employment of a bus driver who in two decades of service has racked up:

  • 25 written warning slips
  • 16 accidents
  • 30 days of unpaid suspensionbus

Troubles with his employment started little more than a week after he was hired, and have continued through this year. In 2013, he caused a four-vehicle pileup on Interstate 95 that resulted in serious injuries to one of the women involved. Broward county commissioners recently signed off on a $75,000 settlement to resolve her personal injury claims against the county for negligent hiring, supervision and vicarious liability.

The driver, 62, is still on the job and isn’t set to retire for another five years. Continue reading →

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There is an erroneous stereotype that holds old drivers are bad drivers.carcrash9

The reality, however, is quite the opposite. A new report issued by the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety indicates drivers over the age of 65, when compared to other age groups, are less likely to text and drive, more likely wear to their seat belts and rarely drink and drive.

That makes them among the safest drivers on the road. However, they are more likely to be killed if involved in a crash. The reasons for that are nuanced and individual circumstances often have much to do with it. It’s worth analyzing though, particularly as we consider that within the next decade, 25 percent of all drivers in the U.S. will be 65 or older.

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Auto insurance carriers are some of the most notoriously difficult to negotiate with following a crash resulting in injury. Often, they will extend low-ball settlement offers in lieu of policy limits, even when it seems clear full coverage is warranted.That’s if the carrier doesn’t deny the claim outright. road1

Policies are often drafted with many contingencies and exemptions, and the language can be extremely confusing to someone unfamiliar with contract and insurance law. Insurers bank on your lack of knowledge, which is why it’s so important to have an experienced lawyer advocating for you at the start.

In the recent case of Smith v. Maryland Casualty Co., before an appellate court in Missouri, an insurer dug in their heels to deny coverage to a crash victim under a commercial liability policy.

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The Broward County Transit has been operating for years, deploying 300 buses to cover more than 400 square miles with connections to both Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, as well as the Tri-Rail. busdriver

This is a lot of area to cover daily, and for the most part, drivers do a good job of getting passengers safely to their destination.

However, sometimes accidents occur. In 2013, a 14-year-old boy trying to get to school was left permanently brain damaged when he was trying to board and the bus accelerated before the doors had completely closed and prior to all passengers taking their seats. While prosecutors did not find the action rose to the level of culpable negligence or recklessness (as required for a criminal prosecution), there was evidence to support findings of inattentiveness and carelessness – violations of the Bus Driver Administrative Code.

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A Fort Lauderdale firefighter was killed after he stopped on the side of the road to change a flat and was struck by an oncoming vehicle on Interstate 95. The case is a reminder to drivers not to text and drive and to avoid other distractions while driving to prevent similar accidents. Drivers who must pull over to change a flat, handle maintenance, or in the event of an emergency should also remember the danger of pulling onto the shoulder. According to media and accident reports, a 48-year-old driver struck the SUV in her Hyundai Sonata in the southbound lane just north of Yamoto Road in Boca Raton.

self-driving-google-car-2A 911 call detailing the scene of the accident was made available to the media. In the recording, it is clear that the driver was overwhelmed with grief and shock as she begged the dispatcher for help. Immediately, the driver recognized that she veered off the road and “hit a man.” When the emergency rescue team arrived, the driver was standing over the victim, who was still breathing but unresponsive. Throughout the six-minute 911 call, the driver begged the dispatchers for help while they tried to keep her calm.

Police stated that the driver tried to avoid hitting the victim by veering to the right, but drove into the victim who was next to his car. The driver went to aid the victim as she called 911 and though he tried to speak, she could not understand what he was saying. When other eyewitnesses pulled onto the scene, many called 911 to report the tragedy. All of these reports will be relevant in a criminal or civil matter. At least one eyewitness said the driver “panicked” and hit the victim. No charges have been filed, but the case remains under investigation.

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Florida state troopers and local law enforcement agencies are bolstering their presence on Interstate-75 in April as part of the national “Staying Alive on I-75” initiative, which seeks to slash deaths by 15 percent along one of the nation’s longest highways.
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Dozens of fatal crashes occur along the highway every year, attributed to a variety of risky behavior by drivers, including intoxication, fatigue and general recklessness. However, our Broward car accident lawyers know a growing problem in recent years has to do with behind-the-wheel distractions, which is why it’s going to be a top focus for troopers.

I-75 is one of the lengthiest stretches of highway in America, measuring some 1,800 miles from the east coast of Florida up through five other states, ending in Michigan at the border of Ontario. Troopers and law enforcement officials in other states are on board with this effort as well.
Continue reading →

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Association has issued a consumer advisory to drivers of 15-passenger vans to guard against rollover crashes, particularly during this warm weather season.
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Our Jupiter personal injury lawyers know the message is timely because these type of vehicles are often rented or used in the summer time for family vacations, summer camp outings or senior trips.

The main problem is that they are too often overloaded. Also, because these vehicles handle very differently from other types of passenger vehicles, they are at increased risk of rollovers. Those who drive 15-passenger vans don’t need a special type of license, which is unfortunate because many of those who get behind the wheel of these behemoths often don’t have a great deal of experience in operating them – which makes them more prone to improper actions such as over-correcting.

Just this month on the Florida Turnpike, the Associated Press reported that one passenger was killed and 19 other people injured – all from a Miami-area church group – after the 15-passenger van, into which they had piled, rolled over numerous times while traveling through Kenansville, just south of Kissimmee.

Investigators say the van was overcrowded and had a tire problem. Not only was the vehicle overloaded – including a number of small children – it was also crammed with a lot of luggage.

It appears that shortly after 7 p.m., the rubber from at least one of the tires on the vehicle began to separate. This resulted in the van rolling over toward the median.

It’s unclear how many times the vehicle rolled, but we know the tragic result: One person, a 46-year-old woman, was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Several of the children in the van were hurt. Three people were flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.

This is exactly the kind of thing that the NHTSA wants to warn against.

Improperly inflated tires are reportedly one of the top causes of rollover crashes with 15-passenger van. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon issue. A recent NHTSA survey reportedly estimated that 30 percent of all 15-passenger vans in the U.S. have at least one tire that is “significantly” under-inflated, meaning by 8 psi or more.

The NHTSA advises the following for any individual, organization or company planning a trip with a 15-passenger van:
–No matter what, never overload one of these vehicles. Not only does doing this increase the chance of a rollover, but it decreases stability during handling maneuvers.
–The steering components and suspension should be appropriately inspected according to the manufacturer’s recommend schedule. Any parts should be replaced as necessary.
–Keep the vehicle well-maintained. Drivers should be experienced in operating one of these vehicles.
–Make sure that the van is properly equipped with tires that are both the right size and correctly load-rated.
–Before every trip, the tires should be checked for any signs of damage or wear and to ensure that each tire is inflated properly.

And finally, the most important thing passengers can do is make sure to wear a seat belt – every time, no exceptions.
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Bus drivers in Broward County aren’t getting the training, or punishment needed to correct poor driving. And that’s a management plan that’s putting you at risk.
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According to the Sun Sentinel, a newly-released audit shows that the number of preventable traffic accidents among public buses increase by close to 90 percent over the last four years. Some of the drivers involved in these accidents should have been reprimanded or fired, but they just weren’t. Even though transit officials say that re-training can help to prevent these kinds of accidents, officials aren’t doing much of that either because they say it’s just too costly.

Our Pompano Beach personal injury lawyers understand that the state started charging to check driver’s license suspension records. Ever since then, county officials stopped checking the licenses of their local bus drivers — leaving drivers with suspended commercial driver’s license to operate freely. In comparison to other large transit operations in the state of Florida, Broward’s rate of accidents is just about in the middle. The system in Miami-Dade ranks must worse than ours, but does that mean we can slack in safety?

There have been a number of cases involves county bus drivers with long accident histories and it has pushed the issue into the spotlight. An investigation kicked off last October found that a local driver had been involved in more than 20 accidents — officials deemed 12 of them preventable. By the book, he was supposed to be fired back in 2007. But he was still allowed to operate, with innocent passengers in his care.

There are three ways to help to reduce the risks of accidents, according to County Auditor Evan Lukic. He says officials need to keep tabs of who is getting into accidents, make sure they’re disciplined after these accidents and make sure they’re properly trained so that it doesn’t happen again.

Broward County isn’t doing any of the three. It’s just letting dangerous bus drivers wander the roadways, putting the public at risk, paid for by tax dollars.

“How much longer does the public have to wait?” County Commissioner Lois Wexler said.

Over half of the bus drivers in the county haven’t been involved in a single accident in the last four years. But the ones who are getting into accidents, are getting into a lot of them — and they’re some serious collisions, too.

Lukic found that there were even bus drivers who were driving without a valid driver’s license. Under the regulations, drivers are required to report when their driver’s license is expired or has been suspended. The ones who didn’t report this were supposed to get in trouble — but they didn’t. There were two drivers in particular who should have been fired for failing to meet the 10-day reinstatement requirements. But that didn’t happen either.
Continue reading →

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