February 2011 Archives

February 28, 2011

15-passenger Vans at High-Risk for Tennessee Accidents

The father of a 15-year-old girl killed in a Knoxville traffic accident involving a 15-passenger van is trying to warn other parents of the dangers, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Knoxville personal injury lawyers have seen several horrific crashes in recent months -- including a church-van accident in Georgia and another in New York.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began the year with an urgent message to owners of the more than 500,000 registered 15-passenger vans. Schools may not purchase the vans for use as school buses. Passengers should buckle up. Tire wear, speed and overloading are all issues that can increase the risk of a serious or fatal accident.

The tire issue is so critical that the government is sending postcards to all owners of 15-passenger cans. Patrick James' 10-year-old daughter, Lexie, was killed in an accident three years ago. He now runs the nonprofit American Center for Van and Tire Safety. He has helped document at least 23 deadly accidents involving the vans last year.

"Three-and-a-half years after my daughter was killed, I've never seen one of the warnings," James said. "And I look for them. I don't even get Google alerts about them. If we don't get them, who gets them? That's why they said, 'We can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results.' "

Daycare centers, church organizations and schools use the vans frequently. A federal law now forbids schools from purchasing new vans for student transport. However, many remain in use. Such organizations have an obligation to provide for the safe transport of passengers. When they don't, and a serious or fatal accident results, an experienced injury lawyer should be consulted immediately to help protect the rights of you and your family.

The government reminds drivers, passengers and van owners:

-Drivers should be experienced and well-trained.

-Fatigue can slow response times. Drivers should be well rested.

-The vehicle should be inspected before every trip, especially the tires.

-Vehicle weight limits should be carefully followed and weight should be evenly distributed.

-All passengers should wear seat belts.

-Tires should be carefully inspected and replaced as needed.

Continue reading "15-passenger Vans at High-Risk for Tennessee Accidents" »

February 22, 2011

Speed-Limiters Could Reduce Risk of Tennessee Trucking Accidents

A petition filed back in 2006 by Road Safe America along with the American Trucking Associations and numerous leading trucking-safety organizations is finally seeing some progress. The petition is asking that speed-limiting devices be set to 68 on heavy commercial vehicles.

This is not the first time our Tennessee trucking accident attorneys have reported on our Tennessee Truck Accident Lawyers Blog on the slow progress the government is making in ensuring our roadways are safe from undue risk associated with large trucks.
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The issue isn't installing speed-limiting devices on heavy commercial vehicles; the technology has been in trucks since 1992. The issue is there is no rule requiring these devices be set, which would limit the top speed of a truck, as the petition wants, to 68 mph.

Setting speed governors clearly save lives -- it's already being done in other parts of the world. In 1994, the UK decreased truck speeds from 60 mph to 56 mph, cutting fatal truck accidents in half. Australia saw a 26% decrease in truck fatalities after an aggressive campaign to increase truck safety that included setting speed governors.

These countries have far lower truck fatality rates than the U.S. Yet we lack the regulations to control truck speed.

Road Safe America also supports the recent announcement, after years of delays, that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will require the installation of electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) for interstate commercial truck and bus companies.

Installing tamper proof electronic on-board recorders to log drivers hours-of-service (HOS) will finally put an end to the often inaccurate log book system.

Each rule, installing EOBR and setting speed governors, would compliment the other. If speed governors are set but there are no electronic on board recorders, then truckers may cheat in their log book to make up time. If EOBRs are installed but speed governors aren't set, then truckers are likely to speed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2008 there were 1,041 large truck crashes each day. Almost 12 people a day are killed in large truck accidents and another 246 are injured. In Tennessee almost 7% of all fatal crashes in 2008 involved a large truck.

Continue reading "Speed-Limiters Could Reduce Risk of Tennessee Trucking Accidents" »

February 19, 2011

Cell Phone Captures Evidence in Wake of Knoxville Car Accident

NBC10 News reports a victim used his smartphone to record a hit-and-run driver leaving the scene of a Knoxville car accident.

Knoxville personal injury lawyers continue to see technology influence accident cases, for both good and ill. Whether it's cell phone cameras, red-light cameras, or distracted driving, the wired world is here to stay.

In this case, not only did the defendant record the hit-and-run driver, he did it with an app that always records his driving. He was clipped on Morrell Road after dropping his son at daycare. The app, Daily Road Voyager, recorded the whole thing. Knoxville police say the video is a valid piece of evidence that will likely be used in the arrest and prosecution of the case.

"Technology is changing, so we do expect to see more of this in the future," said Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk. "It is getting to the point where you cannot go out into public without the possibility of being recorded by someone."

The case is also a reminder of what to do after an Knoxville car accident. In general, collecting as much information and evidence as possible is a good idea. This includes the names and contact information of witnesses and photographs of the scene.

Photographs can be important because a scene may change dramatically in the year or two it takes to resolve a case. Vegetation may grow or be cut back. There may be new road or building construction in the area. And road signs, street signs and traffic control devices may be added or replaced. Preserving photographic evidence of how the area looked as near to the time of the accident as possible is an excellent idea.

Continue reading "Cell Phone Captures Evidence in Wake of Knoxville Car Accident" »

February 17, 2011

41 years without a Tennessee Trucking Accident Deserves Recognition

Tennessee trucking accident lawyers know what an accomplishment it is when a commercial driver makes it 25 years without an accident. And we salute the 180 UPS drivers in Tennessee who have managed to do so.

In particular, Stanley Coker of Knoxville and Michael Jenks of Springfield have each driven for UPS for 41 years without an accident. Each man is tied for fifth all-time on the company's list of 102,000 drivers. Avoiding accidents in Knoxville and Springfield after more than 40 years on the road is an accomplishment worth recognizing and bragging about.
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The Street reports UPS has 5,248 drivers that have received similar honors; combined they have traveled more than 147 million accident-free miles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 380,000 commercial trucking accidents occur each year, claiming more than 147,000 safe-driving years and more than 5 billion safe miles.

Whether driving one of the company's tractor-trailers or one of the famous Big Brown Trucks, there is nothing accidental about four decades of safety.

Continue reading "41 years without a Tennessee Trucking Accident Deserves Recognition" »

February 11, 2011

Increase in Fatal Car Accidents in Tennessee includes more Fatal Pedestrian Accidents

Tennessee car accidents are on the rise after five years of decline, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Authorities are particularly concerned about a significant increase in the number of Tennessee pedestrian accidents. A Knoxville personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights in the wake of a serious or fatal car accident in Maryville, Knoxville or elsewhere in Tennessee. The number of serious and fatal accidents have begun to trend upward in the Midwest in response to the improving economy.
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The number of motorists killed on Tennessee roads increased last year to 1,030, from the 986 reported in 2009.

"It is important that we remain vigilant in protecting our roadways and reducing fatal and injury crashes in Tennessee," said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. "Safer highways and byways is one of our top priorities. With enforcement initiatives to detect and remove impaired drivers from the roadways to education programs that focus on increasing safety belt usage, the Highway Patrol is making every effort to ensure the public's safety and to save lives."

Even with the increase, Tennessee posted the second-lowest number of deaths since 1963. Since 2004, traffic fatalities have declined by 23 percent, including a 45 percent reduction in ATV accidents, a 56 percent reduction in Tennessee bicycle accidents and a 48 percent reduction in Tennessee trucking crashes.

"There are some positive trends developing with fewer fatalities in several areas, including a decrease in fatal crashes involving a teen driver which dropped by over 50 percent since 1999," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "Our goal, with the support of local law enforcement agencies and highway safety advocates, is to continue making a positive impact on Tennessee roads."

Drunk driving crashes in Tennessee have also decline, while seat belt usage has improved significantly since enactment of the state's primary enforcement law. A total of 303 fatalities were the result of drunk driving crashes in Tennessee last year.

"Unfortunately, far too many Tennesseans get behind the wheel of a car under the influence of alcohol and too many people still do not buckle up," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "There are no excuses. Drinking and driving is a crime, and wearing your seat belt takes two seconds and is the single most effective way to protect you in a crash. State Troopers are committed to enforcing the law and educating motorists, one stop at a time."

Continue reading "Increase in Fatal Car Accidents in Tennessee includes more Fatal Pedestrian Accidents" »

February 11, 2011

Tennessee Tractor-Trailer Accident Claims Life of Driver, Passenger

Two people are dead following a Cumberland County, Tennessee tractor-trailer accident, Channel 10 News reported.

The crash claimed the life of the 41-year-old Memphis trucker and his 27-year-old passenger, who was in the sleeping cabin at the time of the crash. A Knoxville personal injury lawyer should always be called when a passenger or other motorist is killed in a commercial-driving crash.
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No word yet whether driver fatigue could have been involved in this crash. However, the Tennessee Highway Patrol reports the tractor-trailer was carrying U.S. mail when it swerved three times and ran off the right side of the Interstate. The semi struck a tree and overturned.

The AAA Foundation for Highway Safety recently reported nearly half of Americans admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives. More than 25 percent admitted to driving while so tired they could hardly keep their eyes open at some point during the past 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."

Fatigue is cited as a leading cause of trucking accidents. Whether it was involved in this accident may never be known; authorities believe the problem may be even more serious than statistics suggest because of the difficulty in determining whether drowsy driving is responsible for an accident that results in fatality.

We reported earlier this month on our Tennessee Truck Accident Lawyer Blog that the government is set to require data recorders in all over-the-road trucks, which will determine compliance with hours-of-service regulations. The regulations are meant to limit the amount of time a driver can remain behind the wheel, but reliance on hand-written long books often make the laws ineffectual.

Alcohol or drugs are not believed to be a factor in the crash but testing is being conducted in accordance with standard procedure.

The Cookeville Herald Citizen reported the crash happened on I-40 about 10 miles east of Crossville.

Both drivers were pinned inside the 2011 International tractor.

Continue reading "Tennessee Tractor-Trailer Accident Claims Life of Driver, Passenger" »

February 5, 2011

Weather, Super Bowl Weekend, Increase risk for Car Accidents in Knoxville, Maryville

For Super Bowl XLV, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in conjunction with the NFL, Mothers Against Drunk Driving , and the HERO Campaign are sponsoring the Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign.

Our Knoxville personal injury attorneys are football fans like anyone else, but also know Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most dangerous days of the year when it comes to the risk for Tennessee drunk driving accidents.
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Hosting or attending a Super Bowl party can be the highlight of the NFL season, as long as you drink and drive responsibly.

"Football is one of America's favorite pastimes, but fans can put themselves in serious danger if they don't plan ahead," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said. "Whether you're at the game or watching from a sports bar or a friend's house, designate a sober driver before the game. And remember, Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk."

Drivers are considered over the legal limit when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a total of 10,839 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes in 2009.

This equated to 32% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States. During this time, 67% of fatalities in alcohol-related crashes were drivers with BAC of .08 or higher. There were a total of 989 traffic fatalities in the state of Tennessee in 2009; 35% of these fatalities occurred when at least one driver tested positive with a BAC of .01 or higher.

There were 198 fatalities in Tennessee when the BAC was tested at .15 or higher.

Nationally, alcohol-impaired fatal crashes were four-times higher at night than during the day in 2009.

Playing host to a Super Bowl Party can play a key role in getting drivers home safely after the game.

-Serve plenty of food and snacks throughout the game.

-Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks like soda, juice, or water available.

-Have extra beds ready in case anyone needs to sleepover after drinking too much.

-Pick a point in the game in which you will stop providing alcohol to your guests and start offering coffee and dessert.

-Designate to drive so you and you friends can enjoy the game.

Continue reading "Weather, Super Bowl Weekend, Increase risk for Car Accidents in Knoxville, Maryville" »

February 4, 2011

Data Recorder Verification of HOS Likely to Reduce Risk of Tennessee Tractor-Trailer Accidents

After years of delay, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has finally proposed requiring data recorders to track hours-of-service for over-the-road truckers in an effort to reduce the risk of trucking accidents in Tennessee and elsewhere.

As our Knoxville personal injury lawyers reported late last year on our Tennessee Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, the feds continue to tweak the hours-of-service rules, which are aimed at preventing fatigued truckers from causing accidents.
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But the combination of a pay structure that rewards most over-the-road trucker based on miles traveled, and the fact that hours-of-service compliance is determined by hand-written log books, toll receipts and other so-called documentation, has made a mockery out of the system for decades.

"We cannot protect our roadways when commercial truck and bus companies exceed hours-of-service rules," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This proposal would make our roads safer by ensuring that carriers traveling across state lines are using EOBRs to track the hours their drivers spend behind the wheel."

The electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) are attached to commercial vehicles and automatically record the number of hours the vehicle spends in operation. A number of carriers, including Schneider National, Maverick USA, J.B. Hunt, Knight Transportation and U.S. Express Enterprise, have already installed the technology.

However, the devices have not been mandated unless a driver or company was caught violating hours-of-service rules. The new proposal would impact 500,000 carriers nationwide.

"This proposal is an important step in our efforts to raise the safety bar for commercial carriers and drivers," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "We believe broader use of EOBRs would give carriers and drivers an effective tool to strengthen their HOS compliance."

Organizations, including Road Safe America, have long advocated for the devices.

Continue reading "Data Recorder Verification of HOS Likely to Reduce Risk of Tennessee Tractor-Trailer Accidents" »