December 2010 Archives

December 31, 2010

Hand-held Cell Phone Ban Could Reduce Risk of Tennessee Trucking Accidents

There is no doubt that prohibiting truck drivers from using hand-held cell phones would reduce the risk of serious or fatal trucking accidents in Knoxville, Maryville and elsewhere in the state. Tennessee trucking accident lawyers know that distraction is a common cause of tractor-trailer accidents. And, too often, the actions of a careless trucker result in the injury or death of innocent motorists.

We applaud the U.S. Department of Transportation's proposed new rule through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which would prohibit interstate commercial truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating a commercial vehicle.
A similar ban on text messaging became final earlier this year. The Governors Highway Safety Association notes that Tennessee law already bans hand-held cell phone use by school bus drivers and new teen drivers. All drivers are also forbidden from text messaging while driving.

In fact, Tennessee joins 30 other states that have passed text messaging bans by all drivers. Extending the hand-held ban to interstate truckers is the next logical step.

"Every time a commercial truck or bus driver takes his or her eyes off the road to use a cell phone, even for a few seconds, the driver places everyone around them at risk," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This proposed rule will go a long way toward keeping a driver's full attention focused on the road."

Drivers who violate the new rule would face a fine of up to $2,750 and could face disqualification for a commercial driver's license for repeat violations. Two or more violations could also result in a state suspension of their driver's license. Motor Carriers who permit drivers to use hand-held cell phones could face fines of up to $11,000.

About 4 million commercial drivers would fall under the new rule.

"We are committed to using every resource at our disposal to ensure commercial drivers and vehicles are operating safely at all times," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "Implementation of this proposal would help make our roads safer and target a leading cause of distracted driving."

Federal research shows that commercial drivers reaching for an object (such as a cell phone) are three times more likely to crash. Drivers dialing a hand-held cell phone are six-times more likely to be involved in an accident. Many large carriers, including UPS and Wal-Mart, already have company policies prohibiting commercial drivers from using cell phones.

Last year, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 500,000 injured in accidents involving distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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December 30, 2010

Fatal Holiday Car Accidents Claim Three Lives in Knoxville, Maryville area

A Knoxville car accident has claimed the life of noted pool player and former champion, Knox News reported.

Wade Crane, 66, died after his 2000 Volkswagen crossed three lanes of traffic and struck a retaining wall on Interstate 40. His car then crossed back across five lanes of traffic and slammed into another concrete retaining wall. Knoxville police are investigating but believe he may have suffered a medical emergency. He was pronounced dead on Sunday at Tennessee Medical Center.

Known as "Boom-Boom" for his ferocious breaks, the self-taught champion was a dominant player in the 1980s and a former World 8-ball and 9-ball Champion. He was voted by his peers to have the best 9-ball break in history and is the only player to shoot a perfect score during the finals of a major championship.

Also over the holiday weekend, a Loudon car accident claimed the lives of two Maryville women. The Daily Times reported that an Alcoa man was also injured in the Friday accident.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports the victims were in a 2006 Chevrolet that crashed on U.S. Highway 321 near Lenoir City shortly after 3:30 p.m. The accident happened near the intersection of State Highway 95.

The 48-year-old driver of a Cadillac involved in the accident was transported to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. The Cadillac was northbound on U.S. Highway 321 when it struck the Chevy, which was traveling south, according to the report in the Daily Times.

Both vehicles came to rest in the median.

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December 20, 2010

Feds Push Safety Improvements to Reduce Risks Associated with Tennessee Car Accidents

The National Traffic Safety Board has updated its "most wanted" list of driver and traffic safety improvements, focusing again on vehicle safety issues also commonly discussed on our Tennessee Injury Attorney blog.

From seat belt enforcement to distracted driving among teen drivers, the NTSB recognizes that state governments are uniquely qualified to both pass and enforce legislation that reinforces Board safety recommendations. And that education and empowering drivers helps reduce incidence of Tennessee car accidents.
Among other concerns, the NTSB would like to see more motorists buckling-up and using age-and-size appropriate child restraints. Of course, avoiding distractions - such as using a cell phone, reading, applying makeup, or disciplining an ill-tempered child - while driving is something all drivers should do. With that said, young and inexperienced drivers are far more likely to be involved in a distraction-related fatal Knoxville car accident than older, more experienced drivers.

Young male drivers - aged 15 to 19 - are far more likely to be killed in a Tennessee car accident than females, although death rates for both sexes are on the decline since reaching a peak in 2004, the Tennessee Department of Safety reports. And, as is believed by the NTSB, TDOS knows that passenger restrictions for our younger drivers translates into lives saved. In a recent five-year study of Tennessee teen driving trends, the TDOS found that teen drivers with five or more passengers were almost two times more likely to be injured and almost 10 times more likely to be killed than teen drivers traveling alone.

What the NTSB "most wanted" list recognizes is both the advances and shortcomings of each state while urging legislators to enact laws that promote safe driving. The NTSB recognizes the efforts of the Tennessee legislature in the following areas:

~ distracted driving: Tennessee has enacted some of the strictest distracted driving laws in the country. The state Graduated Drivers License program, passenger restriction limits and interactive wireless communication law each meet Board safety standards.

~ child occupant protection: Tennessee joins 29 states requiring all child passengers age 8 and younger to wear seat belts, including using appropriate safety devices, be they a car or booster seat.

~ motorcycle safety: Tennessee joins 12 other states that have enacted a universal helmet law.

~ primary seat belt enforcement: Tennessee has enacted a partial primary seat belt law, requiring seat belt use for front-seat occupants only. It is NTSB's recommendation that the law be extended to cover all vehicle occupants. "Primary" enforcement means a cop can stop a driver solely upon visual confirmation that front-seat occupants are unrestrained.

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December 20, 2010

Hours-of-Service Rules Meant to Reduce Risks of Tennessee Trucking Accidents

Hours of service rules are designed to ensure that truckers get plenty of rest and that Tennessee trucking accidents caused by fatigued truckers are less of a danger to motorists in Knoxville, Maryville and throughout the state. Unfortunately, the hours were extended during the Bush Administration, much to the chagrin of safety advocates.

Also at issue are the lack of mandated data recorders and other technologies that can automatically record a trucker's service hours and keep them honest. Instead, hand-written log books are used in what is largely an honor system. Organizations like Road Safe America also argue for the need to stop paying truckers by the mile -- pointing out an honor system regarding hours worked, combined with a system that pays by the mile, is a recipe for disaster.
A Tennessee trucking accident attorney should always be consulted whenever a motorist is involved in an accident with a semi or other large commercial truck on the road. Hours of service are just one measure of compliance that an experienced injury attorney will review as part of your accident claim.

With the holidays upon us, many truckers will be pushing themselves to the legal limit (and perhaps beyond), either to make up for lost time or to get home to family in time for the holidays.

In general, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established the following hours-of-service rules:

-11 hour driving limit after 10 hours off-duty (10 hour limit/8 hours rest for passenger-carrying vehicles).

-14 hour limit - May not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty (15th hour for passenger vehicles).

-60/70 hour limit in 7/8 consecutive days. 34 hours of rest required to restart the cycle.

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December 15, 2010

"Lights on for Life" aims to Reduce Risk of Car Accidents in Tennessee Involving Drunk Drivers

The Tennessee Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies throughout the state will participate in "Lights on for Life" this Friday, as a reminder of the dangers of drunk driving as we head into the busy holiday travel season.

Our Knoxville accident attorneys and staff wish each of you a safe and enjoyable holiday with friends and family. Please do your part to celebrate responsibly and help reduce the risks of Tennessee drunk driving accidents
Last year, 303 people were killed in Tennessee car accidents involving alcohol. So far this year, 994 motorists have died on Tennessee roadways, 48 more than during the same period a year ago. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports one-third of the nation's traffic fatalities are the result of drunk driving, leading to the deaths of 11,000 motorists a year.

Somewhere in America, a motorist is killed by a drunk driver every 45 minutes.

"Traditionally, the time period between Christmas and New Year's Day is a time of increased travel and alcohol consumption," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "We hope to spread awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving by participating in both the Lights on for Life and National Holiday Lifesaver weekend enforcement activities with increased visibility throughout the state."

Lights on for Life Day kicks off the "National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend," a three-day DUI enforcement campaign that runs Dec. 17 to 19. The program, sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriff's Association, has run each year since 1991 and is conducted on the weekend prior to Christmas.

"I am proud that our State Troopers are participating in such an important and unified effort to ensure a safe holiday season," said Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell. "Tennesseans are encouraged to join in this movement and stand against impaired driving by turning their car headlights on throughout the day Friday."

Sobriety checkpoints and driver license checkpoints will be conducted across the state this weekend. Tennessee law provides for a fine of up to $1,500 and a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail for first-time DUI offenders.

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December 15, 2010

Winter Increases risk of Trucking Accidents in Tennessee

Volunteer TV reported that the Tennessee Highway Patrol handled more than 120 crashes, including 42 injury accidents, during last weekend's poor weather. Several troopers were also injured when their cruisers were struck by an out-of-control vehicle at the scene of a previous crash.

Motorists are at increased risk of Tennessee trucking accidents during bad weather and throughout the busy holiday travel season. Staying well back form large trucks or snow plows is the safest course of action. Pass with care and always beware of the dangers associated with reduced visibility, black ice and other winter driving hazards.

Last year was a record year for snow removal in Tennessee and authorities this year are expecting more of the same. "Last year's winter storms forced TDOT crews to use twice as much salt and three times as much salt brine as we normally use during a winter season to keep our roads clear of ice and snow," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "After replenishing our supply our crews are ready to go to work keeping Tennesseans moving this winter season."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following safe winter driving tips:

-Property maintain your vehicle.

-Keep an emergency kit, including flashlight, jumper cables, sand, shovel, ice scraper, flares, blankets, food, water and medicine.

-Always drive with a charged cell phone.

-If stopped or stalled, stay with your car. Run car just enough to stay warm. Make sure to keep exhaust pipe clear.

-Plan your route and allow plenty of time to reach your destination. Let others know where you are going and when you plan to arrive.

-Steer into a skid.

-Maintain plenty of stopping distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

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December 11, 2010

Unsecure Loads a Leading Cause of Tennessee Trucking Accidents

NBC10 is reporting that two people have been killed in a Tennessee trucking accident involving a farm trailer.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports A 24-year old truck driver was towing a farm trailer of logs east on State Road 63 when he hit a Corolla. The Corolla occupants included 81-year-old Robert Lee Cole and 74-year-old Mina Cole. Both were taken to the hospital, where they died on Monday.
The driver of the truck blamed the unstable load on the trailer, which he said caused him to lose control.

Drivers of farm vehicles and other trailers have the same obligation as other truck drivers in Tennessee when it comes to ensuring their load is secure. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has strict requirements for all types of loads. These regulations are designed to not only make sure a load is secure at a stop but that it can withstand the g-forces of the starts, stops and turns that will come with long-distance travel.

Unsecured loads are a frequent cause of Tennessee trucking accidents and semi accidents nationwide. Each type of load has its own guidelines. Liquids, gases, grain, liquid concrete, gravel, sand, logs, new automobiles and rolls of steel are just a few of the loads truckers commonly haul over the road. Not only can an accident with a truck be extremely hazardous, but in crashes where an unsecure load breaks free, it can endanger multiple vehicles on the highway.

Dangerous loads can result from any number of causes, including improper loading, faulty equipment, loads that shift during transport and loads left unstable due to offloading along a trucker's route.

FMCSA has specific requirements and rules for securing loads:

-Commodity specific requirements.

-Tie down requirements.

-Proper use of securement devices.

-Proper use of anchor points.

-Proper cargo placement.

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December 10, 2010

Older drivers at increased risk of car accidents in Tennessee

You are encouraged to speak to elderly loved ones about the importance of safe driving this week and throughout the holiday season in an attempt to reduce the risk of Knoxville car accidents.

With the retirement of the baby boomers, the number of older drivers is expected to increase by 70 percent over the next two decades, according to the National Safety Council, which is promoting Older Driver Safety Awareness Week this week.
In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a total of 180 fatal traffic crashes involving drivers age 65 and over in Tennessee. This equates to 13% which was higher than the national average at 11.1%. Furthermore, 15.1% of fatalities in traffic crashes involved drivers 65 and over, this too higher than the national average of 14.8%.

As drivers age, they want to cling to their driver's license and the freedom that it brings them. According to an article by Detroit News, federal officials are predicting by 2030 that there will be almost twice as many elderly drivers (57 million) on the roadways than the 32 million drivers on the roadways today. For the first time since its inception, the National Transportation Safety Board is going to delve in to safety issues concerning the age of drivers -- some 78 percent of those over the age of 70 still have their driver's license.

The NTSB is looking into a couple of safety items for aging drivers. First is an inflatable safety belt that would help a more fragile driver or backseat occupant in hopes that chest injuries would be less likely to occur. A second approach is changing road structures so that left turns are easier to maneuver.

Tennessee's approach to safer roads with elderly drivers is to educate and train by offering a number of programs that help assist as a driver turns age 60. According to Johnson City Press there are programs like defensive driving courses, CarFit (measures problem's an older person faces when sitting in driver's seat), and mature driver (offers insurance discounts once an aged driver passes the program). CarFit is a free event and is advantageous because the elderly drive their own car and are tested for vision, mobility, and operation of the vehicle.

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