January 2011 Archives

January 29, 2011

Fatal Tennessee Truck Crashes should be Reviewed by Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

A Henderson County, Tennessee trucking accident has claimed the life of a 37-year-old Middle Tennessee woman, the Jackson Sun reported.

A Tennessee wrongful death attorney should always be consulted in the wake of a fatal accident involving a semi or other large commercial vehicle.
In this case the Sun is reporting the woman crashed into the semi, which had come to a stop late Thursday afternoon on I-40 eastbound, about 14 miles north of Lexington. The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports the Centerville woman was killed in the crash. She was wearing a seat belt.

An experienced semi accident attorney in Tennessee may find additional parties at fault in the accident. Parties who may be at fault in a trucking accident include:

-The truck driver

-The trucking company

-The owner or leasing agent of the truck and/or trailer

-Other motorists

-Companies responsible for loading the truck or that own the cargo

-Equipment or vehicle manufacturers

-Road construction companies

-State or local government entities responsible for road repair and signal operation

-Associated insurance companies

Additionally, truck drivers must follow strict rules enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and state and local governments. These rules are designed to protect the public and could impact the finding of fault in an accident case. For example, it is illegal under federal law for truckers to text message while driving. And, as we reported recently on our Tennessee Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, drivers must follow strict hours-of-service rules that govern how many hours they can remain behind the wheel.

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January 28, 2011

New Technology could prevent Drunk Driving Car Accidents in Tennessee

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration debuted new in-car technology this week that aims to prevent drunk drivers from operating a vehicle while under the influence.

Personal injury lawyers in Knoxville and Maryville are frequently called to assist victims and families in the aftermath of a Tennessee drunk driving accident. Each year, the federal government reports more than 11,000 people are killed in drunk driving accidents -- or about 1 every 45 minutes. Alcohol was involved in more than one-third of fatal car accidents in Tennessee in 2009, accounting for 345 of 989 fatal crashes.
The DADSS technology was introduced on Friday at the Massachusetts lab where it is under development. The systems, which could be installed in new cars, test blood-alcohol level through touch or breath.

"Drunk driving continues to be a national tragedy that needlessly claims the lives of thousands of people on our highways each year," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We need to put an end to it."

Laura Dean-Mooney, the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, was also on hand for the demonstration.

"Auto makers have stepped up to help turn cars into the cure," she said. "This project has made substantial progress and this technology could one day be an important step in our efforts to eliminate drunk driving."

The $10 million effort is a cooperative between the NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS).

"What we're doing is developing technology that won't interfere with sober drivers, will require virtually no maintenance or upkeep and will have such precision that it only stops a driver when their blood alcohol content is .08 BAC or higher, which is the illegal limit for drunk driving in every state," said ACTS Vice President Shane Karr. "Now that we have actual prototypes, a tremendous feat in itself, we'll be working to identify the gaps in performance between these prototypes and the precise standards we've identified as true technology requirements. This will point the way forward for the next phase of research."

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland called it the "new frontier in the fight against drunk driving" and said the next stage of testing could begin later this year.

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January 22, 2011

More Tennessee Traffic Accidents brings Increased Risk of Trucking Accidents in Knoxville, elsewhere

The National Safety Council recently reported that motor vehicle deaths for the first 11 months of 2010 are down 4% from the previous year. Most states can lay claim to playing a part in the decrease, but not Tennessee. Motor vehicle deaths have increased in Tennessee.

Knoxville personal injury lawyers understand that an increase in fatal Tennessee car accidents signals a renewed risk of serious or fatal trucking accidents in Maryville, Knoxville and elsewhere in the state. Road Safe America reports large commercial trucks have a higher fatal crash rate than all other vehicles on the road. And as we reported recently on our Tennessee Injury Attorney Blog, significantly more fatal accidents were reported last year in Blount County, including Alcoa and Maryville.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about three-quarters of trucking accident victims are passengers of other vehicles or are non-occupants, such as bicyclists or pedestrians.

The NSC reported 31,740 motor vehicle deaths during the first 11 months of 2010. The U.S. total in 2009 for January-November was 33,180, showing -4% change in deaths. The percent change from 2008 to 2010 was -13%, reporting a total of 36,460 motor vehicle deaths from January-November 2008.

Unfortunately, Tennessee was not one of the states that contributed to the downward trend reported by the NSC. Although the stats are incomplete, Tennessee over the course of an 8 month period reported 679 motor vehicle deaths in 2010. During these same 8 months for 2009, there were 636 motor vehicle fatalities reported.

It's estimated that a 7% increase occurred between 2009 and 2010. In 2008, 659 motor vehicle deaths were reported during the 8 month period leading to a 3-year change of +3%.

The 2008 Traffic Safety Facts data reported by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows a 20% overall increase in passenger vehicle registrations from 1999-2008. Over 25,000 occupants of passenger vehicles were fatally injured in traffic crashes nationwide in 2008.

The estimated annual population death rate was 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2010. The NSC estimates the annual mileage death rate for 2010 during the first 11 months was 1.1 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. This is a 9% decrease from 2009.

As the death count decreases, however, the estimated costs associated with traffic accidents in the United States continued to rise. up 12 percent to $216.5 billion through November of last year.

Additionally, the NSC now measures nonfatal injuries differently, dictating that it should be all medically consulted injuries as opposed to the more vague "disabling injuries." It is estimated for January-November 2010 there were 3.1 million motor vehicle injuries serious enough to require medical attention.

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January 21, 2011

Fatal car accidents on the rise in Maryville, Alcoa, Blount County

Authorities are reporting an increase in fatal car accidents in Blount County, Maryville and the surrounding areas, according to The Daily Times.

Maryville accident lawyers have witnessed a decrease in fatal car accidents in recent years. But many expect that trend to reverse itself as the nation climbs out of the depths of the Great Recession.
Blount County reported 16 traffic fatalities last year, compared to the 10 fatalities reported in 2009. The Tennessee Department of Safety reported that 14 fatal accidents were responsible for the 16 traffic fatalities.

Nine of the fatal accidents occurred in Alcoa, two in rural Blount County and one in Maryville. The Tennessee Highway Patrol handled three crashes and one was worked by the National Park Service.

The Alcoa police department reported that drunk driving was responsible for several of the fatal accidents it handled. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drunk driving was responsible for 303 of the 989 fatal Tennessee traffic accidents in 2009.

Nationwide, about one-third of traffic fatalities involves a drunk driver; somewhere in America a motorist is killed in a drunk driving accident every 45 minutes.

Authorities also stress the importance of wearing seat belts, saying about half of last year's traffic fatalities in Blount County could have been prevented by seat belt use. However, authorities are pleased with the overall use of seat belts in Tennessee, which increased to 87 percent last year.

The fatal Maryville car accident involved a teenager who lost control of a Chevy Blazer and drove into the median on U.S. 321.

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January 17, 2011

Teen Safe Driving should reduce risk of Tennessee Car Accidents in 2011

Young drivers in Tennessee are showing signs of being safer on the roadways. Our Knoxville car accident attorneys find that hopeful since the 15-20 year old age group is most at risk for being involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes.

Recently, Knox News reported that Tennessee officials were seeing a reduction in fatal car accidents involving teenagers.
Back in 2000, Tennessee initiated a graduated driver's license law in an effort to keep teens safer. Tennessee currently allows teens once they turn 15 ½ years old to apply for a learner's permit. The GDL restricts them at age 16 to only driving during certain hours of the day unsupervised. They are also allowed to have no more than one passenger in the car with them at a time.

As a result, state officials believe there has been a decrease in teen fatalities on the roadways. In 2005, there were 136 accidents per 1,000 drivers between the ages of 15-24. By 2009, this number dropped to 111 accidents per 1000 licensed drivers in that same age group. Reports have also shown that teen fatalities have gone down from 104 in 2007 to a preliminary report of 17 teen deaths in 2010.

Some states are adopting the multi-stage license requirements because they feel it gives young drivers time to develop their skills in order to be safer by the time they drive on their own. Safe Kids USA feels that educating your teens is the way to go according to a recent article in Yahoo News .

Safe Kids USA is targeting the 13-14 year old age group with a new program Countdown2Drive. Along with the help of the General Motors Foundation the program will educate teens on what it means to be a safe passenger as well as safe driver. The premise behind the new program is that if teens adapt safety tips now it will keep them safer as they begin to drive and become more independent.

The Tennessee Department of Safety promotes safety by offering the following tips to you and your teen driver:

-Know: research the facts and dangers of driving so that you can teach your teen.

-Show: exercise good driving behaviors when your teen is in the car with you.

-Grow: take the time to build your relationship with your teen so that the lines of communication don't get blocked. Your young driver should be able to talk to you about driving situations or problems that arise.

Make your teen a priority when it comes time for them to learn to drive. Teaching them good driving behavior will keep them safer on the roadways for years to come.

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January 14, 2011

Government aims to Reduce Risk of Tennessee Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Our Tennessee tractor trailer accident attorneys are encouraged by the recent introduction of the new Compliance, Safety, and Accountability program by the government.

The new program will help improve safety for commercial trucks and buses.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched the Safety Measurement System (SMS) to measure a carrier's on-road performance. The system tracks safety-based violations, inspections and crash data.

The Obama Administration also worked to ensure a more user-friendly format for consumers to obtain the information regarding which carriers pose a safety threat.

"The CSA program will help us more easily identify unsafe commercial truck and bus companies," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Better data and targeted enforcement will raise the safety bar for commercial carriers and empower them to take action before safety problems occur."

The SMS consists of seven safety improvement categories, referred to as BASICs, which measure a carrier's on-road performance and possible risk of a crash. The categories are: unsafe driving, fatigued driving due to the number of hours on duty, driver health and well-being, controlled alcohol or substance abuse, maintenance of vehicle, cargo, and crash indicators.

The premise behind the program is to detect issues based on the BASICs so that safety issues and prevention can then be addressed. Identifying carriers with a high-risk under these categories is only half the battle. The information then needs to be given to the carriers so that an intervention can be started and unsafe practices can be changed. Possible mediations may include designated roadside inspections or early warning letters to deficient carriers.

The following are a few facts regarding the CSA program:

-FMCSA controls all carriers over 10,000 pounds and/or that carry hazardous waste materials on the interstate.

-Drivers who receive a warning or ticket with their own personal vehicle are not reflected on the SMS.

-Carriers who are looking to hire new drivers can review driver profiles as long as they have the driver's permission.

-Newly hired drivers do not pass on previous violations to their new carrier. Only new violations by drivers are applied to a carrier's SMS record.

-There are no current rules in the CSA program that prejudice against drivers with weight issues or a large body mass index.

-There is no registration or mandatory training required for the CSA program.

The government took a step forward in improving commercial truck and bus safety with the CSA program. Increasing carriers' awareness of the program is the next step to making the highways safer.

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January 8, 2011

One Killed, One Injured in Washington County, Tennessee Trucking Accident

TriCities.com is reporting a Unicoi County woman was killed and another seriously injured in a Tennessee tractor-trailer accident that occurred in Washington County.

Knoxville injury lawyers will note that the initial investigation blames the driver of the passenger vehicle for crossing the center line into the path of the tractor trailer. However, a thorough investigation should always be conducted when a motorist is seriously injured or killed in an accident with a semi in Tennessee.
A truck driver could be determined to have violated hours-of-service rules, may have been text messaging in violation of new federal laws, or may have been under the influence. In other cases, a truck may have not been properly serviced or otherwise be in poor mechanical shape, which could have contributed to the accident.

And Tennessee's comparative negligence law permits a victim to recover damages, even if it is determined that he or she was partly at fault in the accident. You may also be entitled to seek damages from your own insurance company.

Regardless of fault, the family of the fatally injured passenger may file a Tennessee wrongful death claim against the insurer of whomever is ultimately found to be responsible for the accident.

Trucking accidents in Knoxville, Maryville and throughout Tennessee are complex cases precisely because of the state and federal regulations that govern truck drivers. And because the accidents often lead to multiple victims, competing claims and very serious or fatal injuries. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that three-quarters of those injured or killed in trucking accidents were occupants of other vehicles involved in the accident.

In 2008, more than 90,000 were injured and 4,229 motorists were killed in 380,000 trucking accidents on the nation's roads.

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January 8, 2011

Pedestrian Accidents a Common Danger in Knoxville and Maryville

Doctors agree that we have become too sedentary in our lives so we should get out there and exercise to reduce the risk of obesity and heart disease. Unfortunately, walking and biking, traditionally used as forms of exercise, are proven to be almost as deadly when using streets that are dangerous by design. Or when encountering negligent or careless drivers.

Our pedestrian accident attorneys in Knoxville and Maryville know such accidents frequently cause serious or fatal injuries each year and could be prevented by better design, and drivers who show pedestrians and bicyclists the proper respect on the road.
Transportation for America posted a study on preventable pedestrian deaths due to dangerous roads. Each year, almost 5,000 people die an avoidable death due to injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident. In 2007-08, more than 40% of pedestrians who were fatally injured were in an area where no crosswalk was accessible.

The passage of SAFETEA-LU in 2005 brought over 30% increases to federal transportation funding to states. Yet, no state spends more than 5% of federal funds available to enhance crosswalks, sidewalks, multi-use paths, or other features aimed at reducing the risks of pedestrian or bicycle accidents.

Memphis ranked in the top 5 most dangerous metropolitan areas for walking in 2007-08. Tennessee as a whole reported a total of 134 pedestrian fatalities in 2007-08 according to the Transportation for America study.

In 2007-08, the pedestrian danger index (a formula using the average fatality rate and the amount of pedestrians who walk to work) showed a higher risk of walking in most metropolitan areas than the national average at 52.1. Some of the named cities and rankings in the index were: Knoxville (54.5), Nashville (70.2), and Memphis (137.7). Tennessee reported 1.08 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people in 2007-08, while the U.S. average was 1.53.

It is alarming to see how little money was spent in 2005-2008 on pedestrian projects when compared to the federal funding that was available. The study reported that Tennessee spent 2.4% of the $2.45 billion available for pedestrian safety during this time frame. This equates to about $2.37 per person.

Moving forward, the study suggests holding states more accountable for improvements.

-Local governments need to ensure new roadways are designed with safety for pedestrian, bicyclists, and drivers in mind.

-Federal funding should be spent on saving lives as well as getting everyone more active.

-Unsafe roadways should be redesigned so that they are fit to accommodate walkers or bicyclists.

Accidents happen but preventable deaths are inexcusable no matter how you try to justify them.

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