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Articles Posted in Auto Safety

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It’s a growing trend and there’s nothing in the state of Florida that’s stopping it — texting while driving. Officials say that it’s a national epidemic that’s causing more than 1.5 million car accidents each and every year.

In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that texting drivers are close to 25 times more likely to get into a car accident. Even with all of the dangers that are involved with this behavior, including accident risks, injury and even death, a large number of drivers and even more teenage drivers continue to engage in this behavior behind the wheel, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
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“It’s becoming a major issue nation-wide in terms of accidents,” said Doug Goodmund, safe driving and anti-texting advocate.

Our Lauderdale Lakes car accident attorneys understand that the Sunshine State is one of the few states left in the country that hasn’t enacted any distracted driving laws. We still let drivers, of all ages do whatever they want behind the wheel. That’s why safe driving advocates across the state are working to raise awareness about the problem and to help to educate more drivers about the dangers. For the most part, these efforts are being aimed at our younger drivers. They’re not only the group who is most likely to engage in these distractions while driving, but they’re also most likely to get into an accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were close to 2,000 teenage drivers who were killed in car accidents in the U.S. in 2010. Some 115 of these drivers were killed in the state of Florida. The NHTSA also reports that distracted driving is the number 1 killer of teens in the U.S.

It’s not just the cell phones and the text messaging devices that are getting our young drivers in trouble. Distracted driving can also include operating a GPS, reading, talking to passengers, eating, drinking, grooming, watching videos and even messing with an MP3 or a CD player.

Officials tend to focus on texting while driving because they think that it might be the most dangerous. It distracts drivers in three ways, manual, visual and cognitive distractions. It has been ranked as the most dangerous driving habit of them all!

On average, a text message takes a driver’s attention off of the road for about 4 and a half seconds. When you’re driving at 55 miles per hour that means that you’re going to travel the entire length of a football field without ever laying eyes on the road.

There have been a number of Florida lawmakers that have been trying to push laws on distracted driving, such as texting and driving, but no laws are currently in place.
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There are new laws on the books to regulate beach drivers in Florida.

The goal of these new laws is to help to protect beach pedestrians. According to the Miami Herald, vehicle-pedestrian accidents are likely on beaches that still allow motor vehicles to navigate on the sand.
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Officials on the East Coast are working to reduce the risks, starting with Daytona Beach. Recently, county officials passed an ordinance that requires beach drivers to turn on their headlights, roll down a window and stop texting behind the wheel when driving on the sand. The county also created new zones under this ordinance that allows for only one-way driving.

Our Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys understand that county officials had the right idea, to tackle the beach driving problem. But the only way to truly prevent these kinds of accidents is to make sure that vehicles are staying off of our beaches.

Unfortunately, these halfhearted attempts from county officials may have come a little too late, since they were the result of two separate beach pedestrian accidents that happened back in 2010. In these accidents, two children were hit and killed while playing in the sand. These kinds of accidents happen to adults, too. Most times, the victims of these accidents are innocent women lying on the beach working on their suntan.

Recently in Miami, a police officer in a four-wheeler ran over someone lying in the sand.

Driving on the beach has been a tradition in many of our south Florida areas for years now. In many areas, beaches are for fishing, surfing, swimming and even sunbathing. Much of this would never be possible if we didn’t allow beach driving. Unfortunately, this can produce some serious, and even fatal, accidents. Not only does it threaten beachgoers, but it can also threaten ecological systems like the local birds and sea turtles. It can even cause shore erosion.

Those who beach at New Smyrna Beach and even Daytona Beach are allowed to drive along the sand, but have to be careful while doing so. Drivers should take extreme caution behind the wheel and be on the lookout for pedestrians, sun tanners, and bicyclists. When driving on our beaches, the speed limit is a mere 10 miles per hour. This is a limit that’s strictly enforced. If you’re busted breaking this speed limit, then you can face fines starting at $41.00.

Drivers are only allowed on most beaches from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. This is usually only allowed from May through the end October. You can then drive from sunrise to sunset during the rest of the time.

Not just anyone is allowed to do this though. You’ve got to buy a beach driving pass. This pass is only $5 per vehicle or $3 after 3:00 p.m. If you live in the state of Florida then you’re allowed to purchase a seasonal pass for $20. These passes for nonresidents run about $40. All passes can be picked up at beach toll booths.
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Men are paying more than women for car insurance. Typically, male drivers are involved in more car accidents, more DUI accidents and more traffic stops than female drivers, according to Yahoo.
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“Men traditionally have been paying more for decades,” said the Insurance Information Institute’s (III) Loretta Worters.

Our Wilton Manors injury attorneys understand that car insurance can be difficult. You want to make sure that you’ve got coverage that suits your needs at a cost that you can afford. It can be tough sometimes with so many options and so many companies. But having enough coverage is critical in the event of a serious or fatal accident.

According to the “Sex of Drivers Involved in Crashes 2000-2009” study conducted by the National Department of Transportation, male drivers were involved in about 18 million more car accidents than their female counterparts.

We all want to save some money and we want to be protected. Read and review discount options to help you to get the most for your premium. Remember that you’re going to have to shop around to find the best policy. You should know that not all insurance companies offer these discounts. Just do your homework and make sure you go in sufficient knowledge.

Common Car Insurance Discounts:

-Get older. As you age, insurance companies recognize that your risks for car accidents decrease. One of the biggest drops in insurance costs happens when a driver turns 25. This is when companies feel that you’ve matured enough and you’ve gained enough driving experience to drive safely.

-Drive less. Drivers who don’t drive very much are oftentimes offered lower premiums. The less you drive, the lower your risks for a car accident. !

-Pay up front. Drivers who pay for their policy in advance are oftentimes offered a discount. This means that the company gets their money and you eliminate the risk for late fees. Everyone wins in this situation.

-Take some classes. The more driving experience and certifications you have, the better the driver. One of the popular classes that can offer you a discount on your insurance policy is the Defensive Driving Course.

-Bundle your insurance. If you insure your home and other items with the company, bundle the policy. Companies like to keep customers and will reward your for staying with them.
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The safety of beach goers is in question after a visiting sunbather experienced a serious injury in Fort Lauderdale. The beach accident happened when a government beach vehicle drove right over the sunbather on the sandy coast as she lay there soaking in the bright Florida sun, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
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Critics of these beach vehicles say that the pickups and SUVs are extremely dangerous to sunbathers because they provide a limited view of the surroundings to the driver. Still, these vehicles are allowed to drive on our beaches. Oftentimes the drivers of these vehicles can’t even see what’s on the sand that is right in front of their vehicle. Safety advocates have been saying for years that these officials should be using ATVs instead.

Our Fort Lauderdale beach accident attorneys understand that there are some that fight for these pickups and SUVs saying that they’re effective at saving lives because lifeguards can use them to carry individuals quicker in the event of an emergency. They also say that they’re better equipped to carry emergency response equipment like first-aid kits, defibrillators and backboards. What many don’t realize is that there is increased risk of causing an emergency.

“The people who are going to require that kind of [medical attention]…they want you to have all that equipment,” said Tom Gill, with the United States Lifesaving Association.

The accident happened when the 49-year-old tourist from North Carolina was laying on the beach trying to work on her tan. An Ocean Rescue pickup just drove right over her. Reports indicate that she was bruised and cut up.

According to Jack Seiler, the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, the city will more than likely look into adjusting the current rules and look into the need of these vehicles to be driven on the beach. He says that they will be evaluating the policy, but are going to continue to make sure that beach goers have the best possible experience on our South Florida beaches.

The driver of the pickup was a veteran Ocean Rescue lieutenant. He has been placed on administrative leave until the Fire-Rescue Department conducts an internal review of the accident.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. There have also been similar accidents that have happened in Volusia County and Miami Beach.

A spokesman for the United States Lifesaving Association says that lifeguards are trained to survey the area before getting behind the wheel and driving down our beaches. They’re also instructed to only make left turns to avoid an obstructed view.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that it would be launching a number of public service programs to help get parents, childcare providers, babysitters, daycare centers and other up to date with the proper techniques of choosing the right car seat for their child and how to properly use and install it in the vehicle.

Knowing how to properly execute these few simple tasks can help to save your kid’s life in the event of an auto accident. The new campaign was released in partnership with the Ad Council and it is targeting parents and guardians with children under the age of 13-years-old.
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According to Ray LaHood, the USDOT Transportation Secretary, recent statistics conclude that there were nearly 9,000 young lives saved between 1975 and 2008 because of properly chosen, installed and used child car safety seats. That number of lives saved could have been much higher if more parents, guardians and childcare providers would have properly buckled in children during every car ride. These young ones have virtually no control over their fate in the event of a car accident in Margate and elsewhere. Their safety relies on the adults in the vehicle.

Our Margate car accident attorneys understand that parents, babysitters, guardians, caregivers and other adults who watch over children have the responsibility of properly buckling in children during every car ride. These young passengers rely on you to keep them safe on our roadways. Unfortunately, car accidents continue to be the number one cause of death for children across the nation under the age of 14. With the new campaign, the NHTSA is hoping to change that.

The new public service announcements were released alongside the NHTSA’s new website, “Parents Central,” which is a one-stop-shop website with all that a parent and caregiver needs to know when traveling with a small child. This website provides information on a plethora of child car seats, safety tips that all adults should know when it comes to properly restraining a child and specific instructions on how to properly buckle in a child.

“Together, the new public service announcement and website will help parents understand the differences in child safety seats, make sure they choose the right seat for their child, and properly secure them every time they get behind the wheel,” said LaHood.

The goal of these resources is to remind parents to “make sure their child is in the right car seat.”

The PSA will be released in Spanish later in May.

From 2006 to 2010, there were more than 4,000 kids under the age of 12-years-old who were killed in motor vehicle accidents. There were another 650,000 kids injured in these accidents, accidents that they had no control over. Imagine it this way, that’s more injuries than there are people in Boston.
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An 11th victim has been discovered after two massive pile-ups on I-75 late last month that are being attributed to heavy morning fog and smoke from a nearby brush fire.

The Associated Press is reporting it took recovery crews two days to find the deceased man, who was trapped in his truck following the the deadly Florida car accident.

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Our Port St. Lucie car accident attorneys have since learned that investigators are employing the help of anthropologists to identify the victims of the fiery crashes, which burned with such intensity that it melted glass and metal.

According to news reports, the man’s pick-up was crushed between other vehicles.

Originally, officials with the Florida Highway Patrol had shut down the six-lane interstate due to smoke and fog conditions originating from a 62-acre brush fire that was burning nearby. The road was re-opened, and that’s when the first traffic crash happened.

There, more than 12 cars, six tractor trailers and a motorhome all smashed into each other. Some cars caught fire. Others were trapped underneath large semi-trucks.

In addition to those who were killed, 18 people were rushed to the emergency room with injuries.

Visibility was so impacted, rescue workers had to fight their way to the fog, smoke and fire toward the screams.

Officials are planning to analyze the protocol used to determine it would be acceptable to re-open the roadway, and decide whether improvements need to be made for the future.

Currently, a supervisor with the highway patrol makes the call, but he or she relies on the assessment of troopers on the ground. They also incorporate data from the National Weather Service.

Dry conditions throughout the state during the winter months make Florida prime for brush fires, according to the Florida Forest Service. Although a natural part of the state’s ecological health, brush fires can quickly turn deadly for motorists seeking to navigate through the thick smoke.

Combined with fog, which is essentially a cloud resting on the ground, it can create an extremely hazardous condition for drivers.

The state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has issued the following advice for Florida drivers who encounter fog and smoke:

1. Use your low beam lights. Your brights will be reflected back in heavy smoke or fog conditions, and will only reduce your ability to see even more. Low lights, however, will help other drivers to see you. Make sure also that your headlights and windshields are clear of debris and dirt, which could make it even tougher for you to see.

2. Drive slowly. Make certain you’ll be able to stop in the distance you can see ahead of you. Sometimes, fog and smoke create an illusion of slow motion, when you might in fact be traveling fast. Speed is often a factor in fog and smoke-related crashes.

3. Be on the lookout for slow-moving or parked vehicles. Turn off your radio, put down your cell phone and roll down your window so you can listen for other vehicles you might not be able to see.

4. Defrosters and wipers can be used to help you see better as well if the moisture is building up on your windshield.

5. Drive along the right edge of the road, where you can allow the road markings to guide you.

6. Make sure to use your turn signal well before you turn and brake early before you stop.

7. If you’re on a highway, don’t stop, as that could cause a serious accident. If you need to pull off the road, use your turn signal, and then gradually, carefully pull as far off the road as you can. Then turn on your hazards and step away from your vehicle and away from the highway.

8. Be patient. These conditions are not the time to drive aggressively or speed.
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Motorcycle accidents in Hollywood are less likely if a motorcycle has antilock brakes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The institute recently released a new brochure for consumers to inform riders about this safety feature. The newly released pamphlet, “Motorcycle ABS: Why you want to ride with it” informs riders all about the safe braking system, including how they work, what specific benefits they provide to riders and why they’re safer than traditional brake systems.
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The IIHS has created this pamphlet for vendors and safety advocates to hand out at motorcycle shows, rider training events and other motorcycle-related venues. The IIHS is encouraging motorcycle riders to consider this new safety technology. The brakes already come standard on some bikes, while others offer it as an upgrade option.

Our Hollywood motorcycle accident attorneys understand that motorcyclists face serious dangers and risks on our roadways. Traffic accidents involving our two-wheeled friends oftentimes turn deadly because riders have much less protection than occupants of passenger-vehicles. We need to travel cautiously around these vulnerable drivers to help to keep everyone safe on our roadways. Motorcyclists are urged to check out the new pamphlet to see if antilock brakes are right for you.

“Research shows that motorcycle antilocks dramatically cut the risk of a deadly crash,” says Institute president Adrian Lund.

Braking on a motorcycle is no easy task. Braking in a passenger vehicle is much easier and much safer. Most motorcycles have two different brake controls, a brake for the front tire and a brake for the back. Either of these wheels can stop spinning and lock up when a biker brakes hard. When braking hard on a passenger car, it may skid when tires lockup. When tires lock up on a motorcycle, a driver can lose his or her balance and fall, which can turn fatal in an instant.

With antilock brakes, motorcyclists can brake without the fear of their tires locking up. This brake system reduces braking pressure when the tires are about to stop and increases it when traction is again restored between the tire and the pavement. This system only steps in when it senses that the wheel is about to stop spinning and lock up.

Motorcycles with this type of technology are nearly 40 percent less likely to be involved in an accident than a rider with the same model bike without the brake system. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, there has been a reduction of more than 20 percent in the number of insurance claims from bikers with the antilock brake system.

More than 400 motorcyclists died in accidents in 2009. More lives can be saved with the use of antilock brake technology.

You can request a copy a of “Motorcycle ABS: Why you want to ride with it” by sending an email now.
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As we’ve previously reported on South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, the state of Florida is committed to preventing drowsy driving-related car accidents in Pompano Beach and elsewhere. We told you about this condition and how it greatly increases your risk of an accident. Unfortunately, this is a condition that many drivers may not even be able to recognize. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Department of Transportation have previously teamed up to create Florida’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
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Now, the campaign is going nationwide. The National Sleep Foundation and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have recently partnered to support Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, which is ongoing all this week. These organizations are raising awareness among drivers across the country about the dangers of driving while drowsy or otherwise weary. This driving condition is more common on our roadways than you may think.

Our Pompano car accident attorneys urge you to learn more about how drowsy driving has become a problem that must be addressed. A recent study from AAA revealed that although more than 95 percent of drivers find drowsy driving as completely unacceptable, more than a third admits to doing it at least once in the last 30 days. These types of accidents kill roughly 1,550 people and injure another 71,000 every year. Drowsy drivers cause more than 100,000 traffic accidents annually.

“Many don’t realize that driving while drowsy is very dangerous. If you’re so tired that you can hardly keep your eyes open, you could fall asleep for just a few seconds and not realize it,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation.

AAA reports that about one out of every six traffic accidents is caused by a drowsy driver. About one out of every 10 drivers age 16 to 45 reportedly drive while drowsy at least once a week. Regardless of age, though, every driver can be subjected to this type of driving and should learn ways prevent it. With drowsy drivers on our roadways, innocent people are getting hurt.

Drowsy driving:

-Impairs vision.

-Slows reaction time.

-Causes lapses in judgment.

-Causes a delay in processing information.

Recent studies have concluded that being awake for 20 hours straight gives a driver the same reaction time as one who is legally drunk.

We are happy to help to raise awareness about the dangers and consequences of this habit and ultimately get drivers to stop and rest if they feel sleepy at the wheel. Powering through fatigue may be one of the worst things a driver can do behind the wheel. Be sure to get plenty of sleep before venturing out, stop driving if you feel sleepy, and take frequent breaks to help stay as alert as possible. These accidents are completely preventable with a little education and awareness.
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Back in June, Governor Rick Scott signed a new law into office aimed at strengthening Florida’s “Silver Alert” program, which helps find missing elderly throughout the state. Scott signed the bill, SB 644, at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in West Palm Beach, according to NBC Miami. The law says that police, news media representatives and others have the responsibility of complying with requests to release Silver Alert information promptly, accurately and in good faith.
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Each year, hundreds of seniors and others with Alzheimer’s or dementia will wander away, on foot or driving. If they’re not found within 24 hours, at least half of these elderly residents will suffer death or injury in Miami or elsewhere, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. As baby boomers age, that toll is expected to multiply.

While the law says that only a the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over a case can request activation of a Silver Alert, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys ask that everyone cooperate with the alert and keep an eye out for the missing person. Information pertaining to these alerts is publicized on electronic flashing road signs.

Our state’s Silver Alert Program has been in place for three years now. Since the initial launch of the program, more than 40 senior drivers have been located through the program.

The Silver Alert program first began in Oklahoma in 2005, according to the Sun Sentinel. Florida decided to pick up the program because of its overwhelming elderly population. Our state currently houses 4.45 million people over 60, with 1.7 million of them over the age of 75, says Ashley Marshall, spokesperson for the state’s Department of Elder Affairs.

“The beauty of Silver Alert is that it’s something people can remember. If you just say ‘Silver Alert,’ people know there’s a confused elderly person out there who needs help,” Carlos Higgins of a senior advocacy group, the National Silver-Haired Congress.

There are at least 5.2 million Americans that currently suffer from dementia. Research shows that 6 out of 10 of those with the condition will wander. Only 4 percent of those who leave home alone are capable of finding their way back without help. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients will, at least once in their lifetime, wander and become lost.

“This tragedy unfortunately highlights the very real problem of older residents, many of whom suffer from diseases which leave them easily confused and disoriented, wandering away from their homes or care-giving facilities and meeting harm because family, friends and authorities could not find them in time,” said U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.).

For there to be a Silver Alert issued in the state of Florida, the missing person must be 60-years-old or older and there must be “a clear indication” that the person has suffered some deterioration of “intellectual facilities.”
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David Strickland, Administrator for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently spoke to a group of people at the Telematics Detroit 2011 conference about in-vehicle technology and the dramatic effect it has in causing distracted driving accidents in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere in the country. Facebook and Twitter are common methods of communication these days but they both require web access. Is life so short that we can’t wait until we are parked to correspond with friends, family, co-workers or bosses via the internet?

Our Palm Beach car accident lawyers understand the dangers that social media plays on drivers because we help victims everyday get compensated after being hit by a distracted driver.
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With almost 5,500 distracted driving-related deaths each year, the Government Computer News reports that Strickland was pretty adamant that he wasn’t going to ease up on his opposition to devices placed in cars that can add to a drivers’ distraction. “I’m just putting everyone on notice,” Strickland said, choosing his words carefully and ironically, “A car is not a mobile device.”

The government has sought to communicate its concerns about distracted driving the last few years with national campaigns, public service announcements, teen contests and the induction of Distraction.gov, a website designed to inform the public about the dangers of distracted driving. The focus has been on hands-free devices, of which car manufacturers are happy to oblige with voice-activated technology but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has presented studies that hands off the wheel is not the only distraction that puts drivers in danger.

Distractions are caused both physically and cognitively so talking or listening to a voice-activated device in your car distracts a driver just as much as removing their hands from the wheel to punch a button or taking your eyes off the road to look at a screen.

The Denver Post reports that the automobile industry is only giving consumers what they want in terms of bigger and better technology installed in vehicles.

“Consumers are wanting, expecting and you could say demanding more technology in their cars,” said Tim Jackson, president and CEO of Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. “As their lives have become more technologically driven, they want those same creature comforts in their cars.”

Hands-free social media technology is what consumers are getting. The following are some examples of in-vehicle technology being offered by different car manufacturers:

-2012 Chevy Volt and Equinox will offer Chevy MyLink which is a hands-free Internet radio site which links Pandora and Stitcher Smart Radio.

-Limited models of Toyota’s Entune offer a multimedia system in which a driver’s cell phone can be linked to their vehicle.

-Ford’s Sync technology offers a system that allows drivers to hear a text message and respond back to them, get vehicle diagnostic updates, recall information, and reminders for scheduled maintenance, among other things.

-Kia and Microsoft have teamed up to create Uvo, a new hands-free entertainment system which has Bluetooth technology available. This option is now standard in 2011 Optima Hybrid and 2012 Sorento models and will soon be offered in other Kia vehicles.

New and improved, in most cases, is a good thing. When it comes to in-vehicle technology, consumers should choose and use their toys wisely in order to reduce the risk of a distracted driving accident. Distractions are a common cause of vehicle crashes and no amount of bells and whistles can guarantee highway safety.
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