November 2010 Archives

November 30, 2010

Death of Teenager in Tennessee Truck Accident a Tragic Reminder of Dangers

The death of a 17-year-old Murfreesboro teenager in a Tennessee trucking accident is a tragic reminder of the deadly consequences that too often result when a passenger car is involved in an accident with an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer.

As our Tennessee wrongful death attorneys have reported, the vast majority of fatalities involving large trucks occur to motorists in passenger vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,500 of the 4,229 fatalities involving trucking accidents in 2008 were motorists in other vehicles involved in the accident with large trucks.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports the young woman was killed when the vehicle she was riding in crashed into a tractor-trailer near the intersection of Shelbyville Highway at Stones River Road. The Tennessean reports that investigators believe the 2000 Honda she was riding in pulled into the path of the semi while trying to make a turn. The 43-year-old Ohio trucker was not injured.

Family members say the vehicle was hers but was being driven by her boyfriend, who was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Authorities say charges are pending against him.

As we enter the holiday driving season, teens are among those at highest risk for being involved in a serious or fatal accident. Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers ages 15 to 20. Speeding, distracted driving, failure to wear seat belts, drunk driving and riding with too many passengers in the vehicle are all common causes of teenager accidents.

What gets less emphasis is the need to speak with teenagers about using extra caution around tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks. A total of 184 teenagers were killed in Tennessee car accidents in 2008.

The Trucker reports that Thanksgiving and New Year's are two of the deadliest holidays of the year for trucking accidents. The next six weeks, as motorists and truckers hit the roads for the holidays amid the start of the winter driving season, can be especially hazardous.

Please take a moment to talk to your teenagers about the importance of safe driving this holiday season.

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November 25, 2010

Slick roads, heavy congestion, increase risk of Tennessee car accidents this Thanksgiving

As the busiest travel weekend of the year unfolds, heavy congestion is anticipated across Tennessee highways the next few days, the Jackson Sun reports. Tennessee roads are expected to see passage of more than 900,000 travelers this holiday weekend.

With the hopes of reducing delays along the highways, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has halted all highway construction projects as of noon Wednesday with work resuming Monday morning.
In addition, the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be running randomly located sobriety checkpoints and driver's license checks. On Wednesday the THP hosted a 12-hour seat-belt awareness campaign. There will also be an increased THP presence on state roadways. Extra officers will be patrolling the state through the holiday to assist stranded motorists, enforce traffic laws, and support traffic flow.

Knoxville car accident lawyer Mark C. Hartsoe would like to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday with family, friends and loved ones. We would then like to remind drivers and passengers that along with more traffic - and slick weather conditions that include severe thunderstorms and sleet or snow - comes an increase in the risk of a Tennessee car accident. According to Clarksville TN online, in 2009, there were eight fatal Tennessee car crashes during the four days that make up the Thanksgiving holiday and 10 people were killed.

To keep drivers safe this holiday season, the Tennessee Department of Safety offers a few simple tips:

~ Before you hit the road, prepare your vehicle for an emergency situation. Make sure you car is in good working order and keep an emergency safety kit handy. THP recommends your safety kit include: a flashlight, jumper cables, a first aid kit, an empty gas can and reflectors. Water, non-perishable snacks, a pair of gloves, a warm blanket and a change of clothes.

~ Have a travel plan and share your itinerary with a trusted friend.

~ Make sure your cell phone (and your car's battery) are fully charged.

~ If you need assistance or see a stranded motorists, dial *THP (*847) and let a dispatcher know the location and what type of assistance is needed.

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November 20, 2010

Safety Advocates contend Legislative Improvements could Decrease Risk of Tennessee Trucking Accidents

Five prominent highway safety advocacy groups have sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood demanding government action to reduce the threat of trucking accidents on the nation's highways.

Tennessee trucking accident lawyers will note that one of the group's primary arguments is a fact well-known to injury attorneys in Knoxville and the surrounding area: The victims killed in trucking accidents are most often the occupants of other vehicles.
The group reports that large truck accidents resulted in more that 5,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries in each year since 1994 until the recent economic downturn. Ninety-eight percent of the deaths occur to occupants of the smaller passenger vehicles.

"Our organizations are working hard to reduce these horrific numbers by urging major changes in commercial motor vehicle safety and motor carrier operations," the group wrote. "Many of these large truck safety advances have already been implemented in countries around the globe."

Limit Top Truck Speed: Large trucks moving at faster speeds require longer stopping distances. Three-quarters of fatal truck accident occur on roads with a posted speed of 55 mph. Studies suggest that trucks traveling at 65 mph or slower have a reduced risk of accidents and consumer less fuel.

Additionally, the group backs speed-limiting technology that would not permit trucks to travel faster than 65 mph. Thirty-three other countries, including Japan, the European Union and two Canadian Provinces, already require the limiters.

Lower Maximum Hours of Service Requirements: Driver fatigue must be addressed in order to improve overall safety. The Bush Administration increased the maximum consecutive hours of driving from 10 to 11, permitting 17 to 18 more driving hours per week.

Use Technology to enforce HOS: Instead of using data recorders -- similar to the black boxes used on airplanes -- the government relies upon hand written log books to ensure compliance with hours-of-service rules.

"It is indefensible that, in order to establish HOS compliance, state and federal inspectors and law enforcement are forced to rely largely on second-hand evidence that must be pieced together usually from lengthy paper trails of collected receipts and driver-generated documents," they wrote.

The group also contends that the ongoing increases in the size and weight of trucks pose safety hazards. And it supports living wages for truck drivers via a pay structure not tied to miles traveled.

The organizations include Road Safe America, Truck Safety Coalition, Parents Against Tired Truckers, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety.

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November 18, 2010

Tennessee Car Accidents often Involve Tired Holiday Drivers

Nearly half of all drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel and 1 in 10 say they have done so in the last year, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety.

And 1 in 4 of those admit they have driven in the last month while so tired they could barely keep their eyes open. Our Knoxville, Tennessee car accident lawyers urge you to speak with your family about safe driving habits as we head into the holiday travel season.
"Many of us tend to underestimate the negative effects associated with fatigue and sleep deprivation and, conversely, overestimate our abilities to overcome them while driving," said Kathleen Marvaso, vice president, AAA Public Affairs. "This data underscores the importance of educating drivers on the simple, yet effective steps they can take to prevent a possible tragedy. Unfortunately, too many drivers have adopted the 'I'm tired, but I can make it' mentality, often to their own peril or to the peril of others."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1 in 6 fatal crashes involve drowsy driving, leading to more than 5,500 traffic deaths each year.

"When you are behind the wheel of a car, being sleepy is very dangerous. Sleepiness decreases awareness, slows reaction time, and impairs judgment, just like drugs or alcohol, contributing to the possibility of a crash," said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. "We need to change the culture so that not only will drivers recognize the dangers of driving while drowsy but will stop doing it."

Safety tips for Tennessee drivers include:

-Get at least six hours of sleep the night before a long trip.

-Stop driving if you become sleepy -- a tired driver could fall asleep at any time.

-Travel at a time when you would normally be awake.

-Stay overnight instead of trying to drive all the way through.

-Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles.

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November 13, 2010

Knoxville Car Accidents, Tennessee Pedestrian Accidents a Risk With Early Darkness

The end of daylight savings time brings darkness to the afternoon commute and increases the risk of Tennessee pedestrian accidents and car accidents in Knoxville and the surrounding area.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that dark commutes increase the risk of accidents as the clocks go back an hour and the seasons change. About 40 percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents occur around dusk or dawn -- with 1 in 4 fatalities occurring between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m.
Cites across the nation are struggling with the issue of pedestrian safety -- Nashville just conducted a week-long awareness campaign in September. As residents have turned to walking in greater numbers -- whether for recreation, fitness or economics -- the risk of serious or fatal accidents continues to climb.

The government reports that a pedestrian is killed in a traffic accident every two hours and someone is injured every 8 minutes. In 2008, a total of 4,378 pedestrians were killed and more than 69,000 were injured. Tennessee pedestrian accidents killed 60 people that year.

The government offers the following safety tips for pedestrians and motorists:

-Slow down. Darkness increases reaction time.
-Don't assume a pedestrian can hear you.
-Keep windshield and mirrors clean and in good repair. Make sure windshield fluid is full and that wipers and defrosters are working properly.

-Carry a flashlight and use reflective tape or wear reflective clothing.
-Don't depend on traffic signals to keep you safe.
-Avoid jaywalking. Don't cross between parked cars.
-Walk facing traffic.
-Use sidewalks whenever possible.

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November 12, 2010

Mt. Juliet Tractor-Trailer Accident Kills Drivers of Both Vehicles

A deadly Tennessee tractor-trailer accident was reported Wednesday on I-40 in the Mt. Juliet area, the Tennessean reported.

The trucking accident occurred when a semi carrying toxic acid slammed head-on into a pickup truck that was driving the wrong way down the off ramp, Juliet police reported. The drivers of both vehicles were killed and the interstate was closed for hours between mile marker 228 and 225.

The crash scene spanned from the Mt. Juliet Road overpass, back to the beginning of the exit ramp. The vehicles collided with such force that it knocked an axle off the tractor-trailer truck.

Our Tennessee injury lawyers frequently report on the dangers large trucks pose to other motorists on the road. While the pickup truck's driver was apparently at fault in this case, the extreme weight of tractor-trailers frequently make such accidents fatal to other motorists on the road. The toxic materials involved in this case is also a reminder that trucks often carry hazardous loads.

The acid container was breached in the accident but authorities described the leak as "not to the point of massive" and did not need to evacuate the area.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that large trucks are involved in 1 in 9 fatal accidents on the road. In 2008, Tennessee trucking accidents killed 92 motorists. A total of 4,229 motorists were killed and more than 90,000 were injured in accidents involving large trucks. Of those, about 3,500 were occupants of other vehicles or were bicyclists or pedestrians. Fewer than 700 of the fatalities involved tractor-trailer occupants.

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