Articles Posted in Auto Safety

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People who are injured as a result of a defective vehicle (or vehicle part) may have grounds on which to assert a successful product liability claim. stretcjer

This has become an increasingly common plaintiff strategy in recent years, in large part because so many auto manufacturers have been shown to make, market and sell dangerous cars or defective parts. In some cases, motor vehicle industry executives know about the danger their products pose as sold, but do nothing to warn the public of those perils until regulators force their hand.

Most recently, we’ve seen this with the faulty Takata airbags, the dangerous GM ignition switches and Toyota’s rapid and uncontrolled acceleration issues. Each of these problems has led to a host of lawsuits, many of which are still pending.

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We’ve got to keep an eye on the elderly drivers in our family and now that concern has prompted the proposal of an additional new-car rating from officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

To help keep older drivers safer behind the wheel, advocates are proposing a new safety rating for older drivers. It’s the “silver” rating and it’s going to be used to assess the safety and accessibility of vehicles for senior citizens, according to The Washington Post.
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Our Broward car accident lawyers understand that users would still access the current 5-star rating — in existence now since 1978. There will just be more features and ratings available. And this is especially important when we’re looking at older driver. We understand that it’s just the test of time. With age comes deteriorating senses. We’re slowly seeing a decline in our sight, hearing and flexibility. It’s a fact of life, but we have to learn how to embrace it by making sure we’re safe at all times.

So where have all these older drivers come from? According to researchers, it’s all a part of the “silver tsunami.” We’re referring to the tidal wave of older baby boomers now hitting the doors to retirement. As a matter of fact, the AARP reports that less than 20 percent of all licensed drivers in the country are currently 65 and older. But that’s a number that’s going to get much bigger in the near future. Data shows that there is going to be well over 55 million elderly drivers on our roadways in 2030, compared to less than 40 million today.

So why the silver rating? Older riders are more likely to be injured or killed in the event of an auto collision. With age, our bodies are frailer and more susceptible to injury. This is why it’s so important that we’re all equipped with a vehicle that fits us and meets our needs. With this new rating, elderly drivers will be able to choose a vehicle that’s safe for them.

The only worry there is that vehicles will be stereotyped and the ratings will backfire. No one wants to be caught in an “old person car.”

But what are these features that can benefit our aging drivers? There’s easy-grip steering wheels, push button start systems and even automatic seat belts. And with each feature, we’re helping to decrease their risks for injury or death in the event of an accident.

And that’s a pretty serious deal, considering there were 5,401 people age 65 and older were killed and 185,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2011. According to the NHTSA’s latest statistics, 17 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States were among people age 65 and older. In the state of Florida, there were close to 450 traffic fatalities among those over the age of 54 in 2011.
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One Fort Lauderdale pedestrian is counting his blessings today, as he escaped death from a two-car accident. According to the Sun Sentinel, it was all caught on the intersection’s red-light camera.
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The accident happened at roughly 5:00 p.m. at the intersection of State Road 84 and South Federal Highway. According to the company that provides the intersection cameras, the footage was released to show officers just how beneficial the equipment can be when investigating accidents.

But does the good outweigh the bad? Our Lake Worth car accident lawyers understand that these red-light cameras have been in question for quite some time now. Some believe that they’re helping to make our roadways safer, while others argue that they’re only increasing the risks for intersection accidents. The truth of the matter is that red light runners cause hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries each and every year. In 2011, there were more than 700 people who were killed and another 120,000 who were injured in these kinds of accidents. About half of these fatalities were bicyclists, pedestrians and occupants in other vehicles.

While these cameras help to stop red-light runners, they’re also increasing the risks for a rear-end accident. Drivers are quick to stop at intersections now in fear of getting a traffic citation. But the problem here is that they’re stopping short and we’re seeing more rear-end accidents.

Wondering where the red-light cameras are in the state of Florida? Check the Photo Enforced website for all the details.

A study released this year by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) found that the number of accidents declined at intersections with red-light cameras in 41 jurisdictions – but increased in more than 10. When you break it all down, the number of T-bone accidents are declining, but the number of rear-end accidents are increasing.

According to Florida Today, many believe that these cameras are only installed to help reel revenue for the government. It’s true, there’s a lot of money to be made with these cameras.

More than 2 million police-reported traffic accidents happened near an intersection in the U.S. in 2009. These accidents account for more than 40 percent of all reported accidents for the year. These accidents resulted in more than 81,000 serious injuries and close to 7,500 fatalities.

It’s not about running a red light, or skidding to a stop to avoid a red-light ticket. It’s about entering intersections with the safest intentions. There’s a lot going on in these areas and you’ve got to be on the lookout. Beware of traffic coming in other directions. Expect the unexpected. You can’t rely on the safe driving habits of others at these points of traffic conflict. Make a proactive effort to pass through these crossroads as safely as possible, abiding by all traffic devices.
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Four major automobile manufacturers have issued a recall on nearly 3.5 million vehicles sold worldwide – including in the U.S. – due the fact that the passenger airbags pose an injury risk.
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Our Weston injury lawyers understand that this is in fact the largest-ever recall involving airbags. In all cases, the airbags were produced by a company called Takata, which is the world’s second-biggest supplier of both airbags and seat belts.

Many auto manufacturers these days end up using similar or common vehicle parts in order to reduce their costs. However, that means that when there is a recall on one of these parts, many different companies are affected. This may save the companies money, but it presents a huge risk to public safety.

This recall is the largest since Toyota – which has gained a reputation over the last several years as a serial recaller – issued one in October for 7 million vehicles over a defective power window switch. Prior to that, the company had to pull some 19 million vehicles across the globe between 2009 and 2011, due to problems with unintended acceleration.

The car makers – Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan – report there are no injuries or deaths reported due to these defective airbags, which allegedly have the potential to catch fire.

Airbags are credited with saving countless lives by rapidly inflating and cushioning the blow in the event of a crash. But in the U.S., rules changed back in the late 1990s, to require a reduction of force deployment, because numerous injuries were caused by those early models due to the intense impact of rapid inflation.

In this case, the airbags that are situated in the front passenger seat may fail to properly inflate. The propellant used in the inflator, the company said, is defective. So not only is there the airbag not working and a fire being sparked, but passengers may also be hurt by metal fragments that might either shoot up toward the windshield or down into the passenger well area.

The vehicles include popular models such as the Toyota Corolla and Camry, the Honda Civic and the Nissan Maxima. All were produced between 2000 and 2003.

The airbag manufacturer said it learned of the problem following two crashes with similar airbag issues – one in Japan and one in Puerto Rico. Those were back in late 2011. The company tried to replicate the issue, but had no success. The following fall, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported three more faulty airbag incidents occurred – one in Maryland and two more in Puerto Rico.

It wasn’t until October of 2012 – one full year after it first learned of potential problems – that Takata conceded the propellant used in the airbags may have been improperly compressed, which could be the root of the problems. A few months later, it also found that certain parts made at a plant in Mexico had been exposed to natural elements during production that could weaken effectiveness.

This company produced the 2.8 million Honda driver-side airbags that had to be recalled in model years 2008 through 2011.

The company also produced some 8 million seat belts that had to be recalled back in 1995.
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In March, CBS reported that six people were inside of a van near Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport when a hit-and-run accident occurred. The accident happened on the southbound return loop at the airport and the six people in the van suffered minor injuries as a result. 924119_van.jpg

Our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys know that rollover accidents often cause serious injury or result in death. A rollover crash involves the vehicle turning upside down and those inside of the car could be hurt in a number of different ways including suffering serious brain injury as the car tumbles. The six drivers in the Fort Lauderdale rollover accident were lucky that their injuries were relatively minor, as not everyone involved in a rollover crash manages to walk away from the accident. There are, however, some things that you can do in order to try to avoid a rollover accident and to keep yourself safe if one does occur.

Tips for Staying Safe to Avoid Rollover Accident Dangers
In order to avoid becoming hurt in a rollover accident, you should:

  • Ensure that the driver and every passenger in the car is wearing a seatbelt. The seatbelt will keep you in your seat even as the car tips over instead of flying around he car and potentially striking your head very hard as a result.
  • Make sure that your car is not overweight or overloaded. If your car weighs a lot, and especially if it is a top-heavy car to begin with, you significantly increase the chances of a serious auto accident occurring that results in the vehicle rolling over. Manufacturers will have load ratings for pickup trucks and other vehicles designed for moving or hauling and you should stay within those ratings.
  • Avoid speeding. If you are going too fast, there is a greater chance that your car is going to roll over. As many as 40 percent of all roll over accidents can be attributed to a driver going too quickly.
  • Monitor your tire pressure. You should check the pressure in your tires at least one time each month. Low pressure can up the chances of a rollover accident occurring.
  • Don’t overcorrect. When you panic as you are driving and encounter an obstacle or a potential danger, then you may be likely to turn the wheel too hard and overcorrect. This can result in your car rolling over, especially if you were driving quickly at the time.
  • Choose a safe, new vehicle. Many newer vehicles have Electronic Stability Controls and/or are designed in a way that is specifically designed to prevent rollover. An older car may not have the same safety features and may be more likely to tip in the event of an accident.

By following these tips, you should hopefully be able to avoid becoming involved in a rollover crash. If you do get involved in such an accident and are hurt, you may be able to hold the car manufacturer liable or you may be able to hold the driver responsible for the crash liable. In some cases, both may be to blame.
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While summer undoubtedly claims the top spot for teen driver crash rates, snowbird season in Florida means the winter months find our roadways a chaotic mix of slower senior motorists, tourists unfamiliar with the area and newly-licensed youth. driverglance1.jpg

Our Royal Palm Beach injury lawyers know that simply having an influx of some 1 million people for three to six months out of the year is inevitably going to increase the number of accidents. What’s more, the state’s tourism industry reportedly drew nearly 90 million visitors to the state in 2011, many of them visiting during the winter, when the northern states are battling cold weather.

While older folks do tend to have more troubles with vision and reaction time, they also are generally more cautious. And tourists of course need to use every precaution to map their routes before heading out, check the weather reports and understand that just because they’re on vacation doesn’t mean the regular rules of the road don’t apply.

But often, it comes down to teens – the group with the highest fatal crash numbers in the country. It’s incumbent upon parents to drive home to their teens the importance of remaining alert, unimpaired and careful each and every time they pick up the keys and walk out the door.

A recent accident in Lake Worth involving a car full of teens resulted in one death and three serious injuries requiring hospitalization. While the details are still being sorted by authorities, we do know that the 18-year-old driver reportedly drifted off the roadway, sideswiped a tree and then slammed into a second tree, causing two passengers to be ejected from the vehicle. Tragically, a 19-year-old boy died at the scene.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teenagers are four times as likely to be involved in a traffic accident when compared to adult drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are in fact the leading cause of death for teenagers, each year claiming about 5,600 lives of those between the ages of 16 and 20. Many more are injured, as some 800,000 drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 were involved in traffic crashes in 2008.

Perhaps even more troubling is that even when you factor in inexperience, the vast majority of these wrecks are preventable.

We recognize that parents can’t be there to monitor their teen driver’s every move. However, creating a system of accountability early on can make a huge difference in not only keeping them safe now, but also establishing a foundation for better habits as they grow older. In fact, studies have shown that parental interest and involvement when their teen is first learning to drive plays a huge role in reducing the chances of a future crash.

We understand parents these days are incredibly busy, but this is one investment of your time that can make all the difference. The main points you want to drive home are these:
–Always remain alert to your environment, including the weather, unsafe drivers nearby and hazards on the roadway.
–Part of this means no distractions – no phone, no make-up, no eating, no chatting with friends.
–Never ever drive when you have consumed alcohol or drugs or when you may be too tired. Let them know you will always come and get them if need be.
–Keep your emotions in check behind the wheel. Pull over if you need a minute to compose yourself.
–Recognize when the weather or some other factor requires that you pull over.
–Never try to show off or take any intentional risk while you’re driving.
–Have respect for everyone else on the road, including other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
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It wasn’t a safe year for motor vehicles here in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were close to 700 safety recalls filed in the country that affected close to 20 million vehicles, vehicle equipment and child car seats.

The NHTSA was there along the way, helping to identify defects that weren’t reported by manufacturers. The agency identified close to 10 million vehicles and close to 100,000 items of vehicle equipment, including child safety seats and tires, that were recalled for defects.
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“Every day millions of motorists are safe on our nation’s roadways because of the work and dedication of our defect investigation and compliance teams here at NHTSA,” said Ray Lahood with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Our Jupiter car accident attorneys understand that staying up to date with recalls is critical in ensuring your safety out there on our roadways. One of the best way that consumers can do this is by visiting Safercar.gov. On this federal website, you can specifically look up the vehicles in your household or you can browse a list of the latest recalls. You can also sign up for Recall Alerts to get the information sent directly to you as it’s released.

Officials with the NHTSA’a Office of Defects Investigation as well as the Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance look for these kinds of recalls. They’re constantly reviewing information to find potential safety defect trends. Some of these sources include fan sites, bulletin boards, auto websites, early reporting data, consumer complaints, popular magazines, trade publications and even technical service bulletins.

Throughout the last 3 years, officials with the NHTSA have been able to release more than 400 recalls, involving more than 20 million vehicles and products.

The NHTSA wants to thank you! In 2012, there were close to 42,000 consumer complaints reported to the Administration regarding potential safety defects. There were close to 49,500 reported in 2011 and more than 65,000 reported in 2010.

Since beginning in 1966, the NHTSA has been holding automakers accountable for their designs. Unfortunately, there are some that slip through the cracks and endanger motorists. Since the beginning, there have been more than 15,000 recalls including more than 500 million vehicles and 85 million items of equipment.

Still, there were many vehicles that were left on our roadways even after these defects were announced. Automakers don’t always do their job in notifying their customers about these problems. You may even remember the Toyota recalls. Toyota ended up owing more than $1 billion over hundreds of lawsuits because the acceleration problems they were having were not properly disclosed in a timely fashion.

If you know of any safety issues that you’re having, you’re urged to make a report. You can File a Complaint with Safercar.gov, too. Just visit the site and drop a line. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the latest recalls. Knowing about a problem and taking the proper steps to correct it can keep you safer in the event of an accident.
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We hear about it all the time — serious car accidents on the Alley.

Alligator Alley is a 100-mile stretch of road that connects Naples to Weston and the rest of the west coast of Florida. It cuts across the northern tip of the Everglades and is among the most remote roads in the United States.
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Our Weston injury lawyers understand that the Alley is 100 miles of straight, long, boring road. There are no billboards. No attractions. No external distractions. It’s just your eyes on the straight and narrow lanes of traffic. When driving this trip at night, there aren’t a lot of lights to help you to see or to help you to stay awake.

There are very little opportunities to make a U-turn without running the risk of getting hit. No roads. No exits. No gas stations. To make it even worse, there are only two staffed rest stops and one gas station located between the toll booth in Naples and Weston. If you run out of gas or you run into some mechanical problems, you’re virtually out of luck and you better have plenty of time on your hands to wait for help. Lastly, we think that people underestimate the risks of drowsy driving on this roadway. More than an hour of monotonous driving can really impact a driver’s concentration.

“It’s been frustrating to try and get resources out on the Alley when there is an emergency,” said Lt. Dave Erdman with Broward Fire-Rescue.

According to the Sun Sentinel, more than 30 percent of accidents on the Alley were due to careless driving. This was back when it was only two lanes. When it shot up to four lanes, the number of accidents involving careless driving rose to nearly 45 percent.

In earlier years, the number of accidents wasn’t as high as it is today, but that’s because there weren’t as many people using it. Instead, officers were only getting calls about tourists getting bit by snakes or travelers running into alligators.

Back then, the speed limit was only 55 miles per hour, too. Today it’s 70 miles per hour and as we’ve recently reported, speed is one of the top contributors in fatal car accidents across the U.S. — and the Alley is no different. Troopers say that they’ve often clocked drivers at 90 miles per hour.

No wonder we see so many accidents.

The truth of the matter is that Alligator Alley is a long journey and it’s a trip everyone should plan for. First off, you want to make sure that you’re well rested before you venture across the state. It’s a long, straight trip and you want to make sure you’ve got plenty of energy to keep your attention focused on the road. You’re also going to want to make sure you fill up your gas tank before you hit the toll plaza. Luckily there are signs on the side of the road reminding drivers of the last gas station before the toll.
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It’s a hard thing to do — give up your car keys as an elderly resident.

The truth of the matter is that seniors are doing everything that they can to hold on to their driving abilities and their independence. Unfortunately, that’s not always the safest move. There often comes a point when the safer option is to give up the keys because of problems and difficulties that come with age. According to Sunrise Senior Living, the loss of driving privileges can happen for a number of reasons, including not being cognitively fit for driving or having poor vision.
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The American Academy of Ophthalmology recently made an announcement that senior drivers with glaucoma are actually at much higher risks for getting into a traffic accident. Researchers looked into the frequency and rates of accidents for elderly drivers who had glaucoma and compared their findings to drivers of the same ago who had normal vision. According to the study, drivers with glaucoma were about twice as likely to get into an accident.

Our Miramar car accident lawyers understand that our vision typically worsens with age. It’s a fact of life and we all need to deal with it as best we can. Your best bet is to make sure you’re getting your vision tested regularly.

“We would like to create mandatory vision testing guidelines for glaucoma patients,” said Dr. Shiho Kunimatsu-Sanuki, leader of the study.

The Glaucoma Research Foundation reports that residents of all ages can be susceptible to this condition, but your risks are higher with age. One of the most unfortunate things about this condition is that there’s no cure for it. Roughly 10 percent of those with the disease never even get the proper treatment.

Left untreated, it’s common for individuals to go blind. According to recent reports, more than 2 million U.S. residents have the disease and only about half of them even know something’s wrong.

Not sure what glaucoma is?

It’s a group of eye conditions that can cause some serious damage to the optic nerve. This is the nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain. In many of these cases, damage to this nerve is caused by increased pressure in the eye, which is also referred to as intraocular pressure (IOP).

Tests for Glaucoma:

-Visual Field Measurement

-Visual Acuity

-Slit Lamp Examination

-Retina Examination

-Gonioscopy

Halogen lights, such as the headlights of other vehicles as well as fluorescent light fixtures, can cause and uncomfortable glare for those with glaucoma. Some people with glaucoma also notice glare in stores with fluorescent lighting.

If you’re concerned with your driving abilities, ask a loved one to ride along with you and to evaluate your situation honestly. You should also seek a professional opinion from a doctor.
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently sent out a warning to Americans who currently use sleep drugs. According to Philly.com, these drivers are warned to talk to their physician about lowering their dosage of commonly used kinds of insomnia drugs. Officials are hoping that lower dosages of the drugs will help these drivers behind the wheel in the morning.
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According to IMS Health, there were more than 50 million prescriptions that were handed out for sleeping pills in 2011. Close to 70 percent of the drugs were some kind of zolpidem. This is a drug that is sold as a generic drug and is sold under a plethora of names including Zolpimist, Edluar, Ambien CR and Ambien.

Our Tamarac accident lawyers understand that the FDA has received a number of event reports of this drug and its relation to driving impairment. These reports unfortunately didn’t include the information to help researchers to understand if or how the drugs affected driver’s ability to drive or their mental awareness.

“Recently, data from clinical trials and other types of studies have become available, which allowed FDA to better characterize the risk of next-morning impairment,” said an FDA Director, Dr. Ellis Unger.

What the FDA had to say:

-The FDA will be expanding its use of drive simulation testing to get a better look at how these drugs affect drivers.

-Driver simulation testing may soon expand to other drugs that could impair drivers.

-A driving simulator at the University of Iowa recently received more than $600,000 to conduct some more research. The grant was awarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA is currently working to get more information into alcohol-impaired driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving.

According to the director of operations with NADS, Omar Ahmad, testing is going to expand. Critics of the current testing process say that it’s not accurate because participants know what they’re being tested for and they know it’ a simulation, but many others say that the how the driver operates with and without the substance can be determined.

According to DrowsyDriving.org, there is an estimated 2,000 fatalities and more than 70,000 injuries that result every year because of drowsy driving. Unfortunately, these are only estimates because there is no direct way to test to see if a driver was drowsy at the time of an accident — like officials can test to see if they were under the influence.

Until further testing can be completed and analyzed, drivers are officially warned of the side effects of any sleep drug. You want to be careful and stay from behind the wheel whenever you’re feeling sleepy. If you start to feel sleepy behind the wheel, pull over and take a break. You can even take a nap. Driving while drowsy is a risk that no one should be willing to take!
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