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Articles Posted in Traffic Crashes

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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.

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.
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Every New Years Eve, people throughout South Florida make resolutions on how to improve themselves or their lives in the upcoming year. As 2013 approaches, our Miramar personal injury attorneys urge you to consider making a resolution to be a safer driver. To help you to fulfill your resolution, we’ll be doing a four part series on some of the top causes of car accidents including speeding, distracted driving & bicycle and pedestrian accidents. 1091826_speeding_2.jpg

Resolve to Be a Safer Driver in 2013
Car accidents happen every day throughout the United States, and hundreds of those accidents occur each day in Florida. In fact, according to 2010 statistics published in the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Traffic Crash Statistics report:

  • There were 235,461 car accidents throughout the state.
  • There were 338,112 drivers involved in the Florida car crashes that occurred
  • An average of 645 crashes happened each day
  • 2,444 people died in car accidents
  • 195,104 people were injured in car accidents

As this list shows, car accident deaths are very common in Florida and every driver is at risk. To decrease your chances of becoming involved in a crash, you need to follow safe driving rules and you always need to be a responsible driver who exercises care on the roads. This means avoiding dangerous behaviors and making smart choices behind the wheel.

Avoiding Dangerous Driving Behaviors
There are many bad decisions and dangerous driving moves that you can make that increase the risk of becoming involved in an accident. Two of the most dangerous behaviors, however, include speeding and driving while you are distracted.

Speeding was a contributing factor in many of the reported 2010 Florida traffic accidents. In 118 of the fatal accidents that occurred, the crash occurred because the driver exceeded a safe speed limit. In another 2,440 crashes that caused injury, exceeding a safe speed limit was listed as a contributing cause. Exceeding the stated speed limit, on the other hand, was a contributing cause in 94 fatal crashes and 517 injury crashes.

Speeding is divided into two categories for statistical purposes because it is possible to get into a speeding crash even if you did not actually exceed the posted limit. This is because you are expected to slow your speed so you can operate the vehicle safely given the current conditions of the road. In wet weather, when there is low visibility and when there is heavy traffic, you may need to drive slower than the maximum limit in order to be safe.

Distracted driving is another major contributing factor in car accidents. Driver distraction was specifically listed as a contributing factor in seven of the fatal crashes in Florida in 2010 and in another 1,474 of the injury crashes. These numbers may not reflect the full extent of the distracted driving problem either, since drivers may not admit that they were distracted when they caused a crash.

Because speeding and distracted driving cause so many crashes and are so dangerous, we’ll be taking a look at these top causes of traffic crashes in our New Years Safe Driving series. We’ll also be taking a closer look at the pedestrian and bicycle accidents that are occurring and at how these can be avoided. Preventing these types of crashes has, unfortunately, become a major priority since NHTSA 2011 data on traffic accidents indicates that the number of fatalities among cyclists increased by 8.7 percent throughout the U.S. from 2010 to 2011, and the number of pedestrian fatalities increased by 3 percent during the same time period.

To fulfill your New Years safe driving resolution, check back for the next blog on avoiding speeding accidents.
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St. Patrick’s Day is Saturday and we know of a lot of locals who will be hitting the town in celebration of that wild Irish holiday. As most of you know, St. Patrick’s Day is known for its green beer, pots-o-gold and lucky little leprechauns. While the lucky leprechauns and the pots-o-gold may not be contributing to drunk-driving auto accidents in Palm City and elsewhere, the green beer surely is.
To help to fight the dangers associated with green beer and drunk drivers, the Florida Highway Patrol is out in full force since Saturday and will continue it’s campaign through St. Patty’s Day, combing our roadways for unsafe drivers. In addition to drunk drivers, FHP troopers are looking for drivers who aren’t buckled up, drivers who speed and drivers who engage in reckless driving. All of these efforts are a part of the state’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).

Our Palm City injury attorneys understand that drunk drivers plague our roadways year round. Unfortunately, we see a lot more of them during holiday weekends and especially near St. Patrick’s Day. We’re asking all drivers not to rely on the luck of the Irish and rely on their own responsibility and preparations to keep them safe and out of drunk-driving accidents during this year’s Irish festivities.

“Having a designated driver and planning ahead will make your trip safer,” said FHP Director Col. David Brierton.

Brierton adds that he and the rest of his troopers are exercising a zero-tolerance policy over this holiday campaign and for the rest of the year as well. Residents are warned — do not drink and drive!

Florida’s roadways witnessed close to 18,000 alcohol-related accidents in 2010. These accidents produced about 800 fatalities and another 12,000 injuries. These are all injuries and deaths that could have been avoided, considering alcohol-related accidents are 100 percent preventable.

For this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, the FHP is asking everyone to refrain from drinking and driving — no matter what! If you’re planning on drinking, make sure you’ve designated a sober driver before you even leave the house. Keep an eye on friends and family members, too. Make sure that no one close to you is going to endanger their own life by getting behind the wheel after drinking. Remember, intoxicated drivers should call a taxi, ride a bus, call a loved one for a ride or stay where they are. Whatever you do, make sure that neither you nor your friends or family members drive after drinking, regardless of how little that has been consumed. Every ounce of alcohol affects the brain’s ability to function.
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Families are wrapping up their summer vacations just in time to head back to school. West Palm Beach car accident lawyers know there are several things to consider if you want to keep your child safe as they return to the school grounds for another year of education.

The National Safety Council and leading student bus transportation provider First Student, recently released a list of back to school tips to protect students from having encounters with motorists, as well as, tips for teen driving safety, pedestrian safety, backpack safety, playground safety and bus safety.
In order to reduce the risk of child injuries in Miami, Margate and elsewhere in the state, parents should teach their children about transportation and school safety. Children can be carefree and that, coupled with motorists driving distracted or not fully paying attention, can make roadways and school zones quite dangerous in the upcoming weeks and throughout the school year. Remind your children of the following safety tips as they travel to school by foot, pedal or bus.

-Cross the street only at an intersection or where a crossing guard is located.
-Walk in large groups or with an adult. Children under 11 must have an adult with them to cross the street.
-Walking is better than running when you cross the street. It gives motorists time to see and stop for you and helps you to avoid a fall in the middle of a street.
-Practice riding your bike to gain more experience by riding in an empty parking lot or a side or dead-end street that has no traffic.
-Before crossing the street, wait for a driver’s signal so you know that they see you.
-Wear protective equipment like helmets or elbow pads to reduce the risk of injury in a crash.
-Walking behind a bus is dangerous so always cross in front.
-Refrain from putting your head, arms or hands out of the window on a school bus. Remain seated until the bus comes to a full stop.
-Cross the street 10 feet in front of the bus, but only when the bus driver signals it is ok.

Motorists can do their part by using extra caution around school zones and bus pick-up areas. It is against the law to pass a school bus that is stopped on a roadway so look for flashing yellow lights and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and a swinging arm stop sign signal alerts motorists that a child is being picked up or dropped off.

Motorists should use extra caution knowing that children are walking or biking to and from school each day. Always yield the right of way to pedestrians in a school zone, slow down to the posted speed limit, and don’t be impatient by revving your engine or honking your horn, which could scare pedestrians or bicyclists and cause an accident.

“The Council is proud to partner with First Student on this back-to-school safety initiative,” said NSC President and CEO Janet Froetscher. “Research has shown distracted drivers ‘look at’ but fail to ‘see’ up to 50% of the driving environment, which can include student pedestrians and bicyclists. The back-to-school season is a good reminder to be responsible drivers as we all share the roads.”
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Summer is a time to relax, a time to slow down and a time for vacation. But during the summer months, drivers in our state are at an increased risk for a car accident in West Palm Beach or elsewhere in Florida.

Our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys ask that all drivers on our roadways pay extra attention to their surroundings on our roadways this summer. Enhanced driving habits can help to keep you and your loved ones safe during the busy summer traveling months.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were nearly 236,000 traffic accidents reported in our state in 2009. Nearly 2,600 people were killed in these accidents. Another 197,000 were injured. Nearly 500 pedestrians and 100 bicyclists were killed on our roadways as well. A hefty number of these fatalities occurred during the hot Florida summer months.

Reader’s Digest offers these five important safety tips to remember when you’re out driving this summer:

Be on the lookout for wild animals: During the summer months you’re at a greater risk of hitting an armadillo, an alligator, a panther or another wild animal. Make sure you’re aware of your surroundings at all times.

“Drivers need to understand the type of area they are driving in and be aware of any signs or markings indicating the possibility of animal crossings,” says says Dan Bleier, a spokesperson for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

You are urged to turn on your high beams and be extra cautious from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to midnight to reduce your chances of striking one of these animals.

Be extra careful in the wet summer weather: Cars are likely to hydroplane on wet pavement. A number of accidents are caused simply because a driver neglects to adjust their driving behavior to accommodate the current weather condition.

A little extra caution is bound to slow your trip down, “but being involved in a crash could end your trip entirely – or worse,” says Bleier.

Always use your headlights when visibility is poor, make sure you keep the interior of your windows and windshield clean and make sure that all of your lights and turn signals are working properly before venturing out.

-Make sure you’re well rested before jumping behind the wheel. According to the AAA Foundation, two out of every five drivers report that they have fallen asleep while driving at least once before. One out of 10 drivers admits that they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel within the past year.

“About one in six fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver,” says Belier.

If you’re feeling sleepy, switch with a passenger. If you’re driving alone, pull over in a safe place and take a nap. You should never drive on less than 6 hours of sleep. Make sure that you take a break every 100 miles or every 2 hours.

Keep an eye out for two-wheeled travelers: motorcyclists and bicyclists. Because they’re smaller than a passenger vehicle, they’re often times overlooked and ignored in traffic. They can be harder to spot in your mirror.

“Drivers should leave extra stopping space between themselves and riders because they (riders) have far less protection than those inside of other vehicles,” Bleier says.

Abide by the speed limit. Speeding may get your to your destination sooner, but it endangers you and other motorists on the roadway. As a matter of fact, speeding is one of the leading contributors to traffic accidents, regardless what time of year it is.

“Drivers are focused on getting to their destination quickly, rather than getting to their destination safely,” says Bleier.

Summer is a time for everyone to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. It’s no time to be dealing with a car accident or resulting injuries. Please travel safely during the next few months and do your part to help keep residents and tourists safe in the state of Florida.
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SUVs are now rated safer than ever with new features and design decreasing the risks of a fatal SUV rollover accident in Miami and elsewhere throughout the United States.

According to USA Today, drivers of these sport-utility vehicles are now among the least likely to die in a motor-vehicle accident. They are also found to be much safer than smaller gas-saving cars.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released a study that credits the improvement in these SUV safety features to electronic stability control. Stability control uses the engine’s power and the vehicle’s brakes to keep vehicles on the road. This technology was introduced more quickly on SUVs than other vehicles.

Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers recognize the benefits of this new feature as statistics show that the death rate for SUV drivers dropped nearly 70 percent. SUV drivers now see 28 deaths per million vehicles for the newer 2005-2008 models. SUVs used to have a reputation for having a high risk of being involved in rollover accidents. The risks are no longer as prominent as this new technology helps keep these vehicles on all four wheels.

“The rollover risk in SUVs used to outweigh their size/weight advantage, but that’s no longer the case,” says Anne McCartt, the institute’s senior vice president for research.

The recent car safety report wasn’t as forgiving for drivers of smaller cars. These cars have experienced a boom in popularity because of sky-high gas prices. The death rate for drivers of these small, four-door cars is 72 per million vehicles for 2005-2008 models, more than 40 deaths more per million vehicles than SUVs.

“This report explains why Americans equate size with safety, even though small cars today are safer than ever before,” says Wade Newton, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

After the report’s release, officials are worried that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could mandate new, and expensive, safety improvements to address concerns that these smaller cars will lead to more deaths.

“For years, small cars have represented the low end of the economic spectrum and received fewer safety and enhanced design features,” says Sean Kane of Safety Research & Strategies, which advises plaintiff lawyers, government and auto suppliers. “Undoubtedly, that has an effect.”

According to the IIHS report, drivers of these smaller cars are nearly three times more likely to die in a collision than an SUV occupant.

“The trend from the reported data is clear: The lighter the vehicle, the higher the likelihood that its driver will be killed in a collision with another vehicle,” says Mukul Verma, a veteran auto industry safety official.

Last year, of the 11.5 million vehicles sold, about 5.9 million were vans, SUVs or pickups, while 5.6 million were cars.

When vehicles are grouped by segment, minivans are rated the safest with a driver death rate of 25. SUVs come in second with a score of 28, followed by pickups averaging 52 driver deaths per million, and cars in last place with an average of 56, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It is important to take these statistics into consideration when choosing a vehicle for you or a loved one. Your vehicle can mean the difference between life and death during a car accident.
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USA Today is reporting on a national program that will assist first responders at accident scenes in gaining valuable information on crash victims.

Our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys know that elderly drivers are at a high risk for getting into a Palm Beach car accident. In 2009, 447 older adults died in car wrecks on our roadways.

The “golden hour” is the most critical time after an accident for a severely injured patient. The more medical information available on the victim the faster appropriate care can be rendered. The Yellow Dot program speeds up this process tremendously, especially for critically injured or confused crash victims that can’t or are having a hard time communicating.
The program is free and is quite simple. Stick the yellow dot to the rear window. This will alert first responders to look for a yellow folder in the glove compartment. The yellow folder will contain a photo, a list of medications, a medical history and other important information like who to contact if there is an accident.

Connecticut began the nation’s first Yellow Dot program in 2002. Various forms of the Yellow Dot program are in counties across at least eight other states: Alabama, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Virginia. Other states including Georgia are considering the program.

“It is very nice to see innovative programs to address the unique risks associated with older Americans and car crashes,” says Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Since older individuals tend to have more medical conditions, are on more medications and are generally more fragile, this sounds like a well-justified program, especially in light of the growing number of older Americans.”

A spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) agrees with the concept.

“It’s a promising approach,” says Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the GHSA. “Actually, this is one of the goals of automated crash notification systems. Eventually, when there is a crash, these key data such as medication needed will automatically be available to EMTs, etc. The Yellow Dot program may be a system that can be helpful in the meantime.”

In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported nearly 5,300 fatalities and an additional 187,000 injuries from traffic crashes regarding older adults age 65 and older.
Florida has a unique situation that attracts the older adults in the winter for part-time residence and its warmer climate attracts full-time residence for retirees from all over. Statistics from the NHTSA showed that Florida led the nation in traffic crash fatalities for the 70-74 age group (113), the 75-79 age group (72), 80-84 year-old age group (82) and seniors 85+ (63). Florida ranked third (547) behind California (599) and Texas (559) in the 55-69 age group.
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