March 2011 Archives

March 30, 2011

Thorough Records for Truckers who Fail Drug and Alcohol Testing would help Prevent Knoxville Trucking Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) currently allows commercial motor carrier companies to electronically access driver inspection and crash records. Problem is, no such nationwide system exists for collecting information about drivers who fail drug or alcohol testing -- they routinely find employment with another carrier.

Knoxville personal injury lawyers know that unqualified drivers pose a potentially deadly threat to motorists on Tennessee roads. Without complete and thorough access to these truck driver's records, motorists will continue to face an increased risk of being involved in an accident with a truck driver who is drunk or high on drugs.
In an effort to keep our roads safe and clear of unreliable truckers, Road Safe America is pushing for complete disclosure of truck driving records via the creation of a central clearinghouse. Such a system would make available the records of truckers who have tested positive for drug and alcohol intoxication while operating heavy commercial vehicles. The monitoring of these drivers could help to decrease Knoxville trucking accidents.

Current standards of FMCSA allow commercial trucking companies to view up to five years of crash information and three years of inspection data for any driver in nearly any state through their pre-employment screening program. The goal of this program is to allow carriers to better assess potential hires. Again, the problem is that positive drug or alcohol tests are not part of the system.

The common goal should be to keep our motorists safe by disclosing all potential threats a commercial truck driver might pose to other motorists on the road.

Here's is a peek at the current pre-employment screening program for commercial truck drivers.

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March 28, 2011

New Car Seat Rules Aim to Protect Kids from Injury in Knoxville Car Accidents

Our Knoxville car accident lawyers want you to be aware of the recent announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding new recommendations for car seats. The most significant change is to keep children in rear facing seats for as long as possible to prevent serious injuries in a Tennessee car accident.

Research conducted by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that, up until the age of 2, children riding in rear-facing car seats are more than five-times safer than in any other seat. They recommended children stay in rear-facing car seats until they outgrow them.
The NHTSA recommends looking for a car seat that fits well in your vehicle and one that is based on your child's age and size. Proper installation of the seat should follow the safety seat manufacturer instructions and the vehicle's owner manual. Children, until at least the age of 12, should ride in the back seat.

"The 'best' car seat is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle and one you will use every time your child is in the car," says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Guidelines to follow by age from the NHTSA include:

Newborn to 12 Months: Should always be in a rear-facing car seat. They can be in an infant-only car seat, a convertible seat or 3-in-1 seat. It is advisable to have either a convertible or 3-in-1 seat that has higher size limits so they can be used longer.

1 to 3 years: Keep your child in a rear-facing seat until he reaches the limits for height or weight according to the car seat manufacturer. This is the best method to keep the child safe.

4 to 7 years: Keep your child harnessed in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the maximum height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.

8 to 12 years: Keep your child in a booster seat until they are big enough to fit properly in a seat belt. The lap belt should be snug across the hips, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should be snug across the shoulder and chest, never across the neck or face. Children should stay in the back seat until they are at least age 12.

"Selecting the right seat for your child can be a challenge for many parents. NHTSA's new revised guidelines will help consumers pick the appropriate seat for their child," says David Strickland, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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March 26, 2011

Standards for Commercial Drivers would help Reduce Risk of Tennessee Trucking Accidents

Road Safe America has been waiting patiently for three years for the federal government to act on Docket # FMCSA-2007-27748, which would require minimum standards for anyone in the U.S. wanting a Commercial Driver's License (CDL).

Our Knoxville personal injury lawyers know that improperly trained tractor-trailer drivers pose a huge risk to Tennessee motorists and greatly increase the chance of Tennessee trucking accidents.
It would be reassuring to know, when we see a big rig traveling down the highway, that a professionally trained driver is behind the wheel. Unfortunately, it is not always the case. Currently the U.S. Department of Transportation has not mandated any minimum standards concerning truck driver training.

Acceptable training choices for most drivers are either through the carrier they choose to work for or through a private truck driver training school, which are available in most states. But here lies the problem; in almost every state, to get a CDL requires just 2 steps. Step one is to pass a written test on the trucking industry and the complex rules regarding trucks. Step two is to pass a driving test usually consisting of on-the-road driving, a parking lot skills test and a visual inspection exercise.

There are no minimum standards of behind-the-wheel training or classroom time. It is entirely possible for someone to study the training manuals, have a friend teach them about the driving portion of the test and pass the CDL test. Would you go to a doctor who only passed tests in medical school and never interacted with real patients? But sadly the government allows improperly trained drivers operate 80,000 pound trucks, which can have deadly consequences.

The federal government needs to stop dragging its feet on Docket # FMCSA-2007-27748, which would require mandatory training for new operators of commercial motor vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 380,000 large truck crashes in 2008. Over 90,000 people sustained injuries and 4,229 were killed. In Tennessee, 6.7% of vehicles involved in fatal crashes are large trucks.

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March 24, 2011

Teens More Likely to Text and Drive Causing Increased Risk for Knoxville Car Accidents

As more and more teens hit the road and the school year winds down, drivers will be at an increased chance of being involved in a Knoxville car accident.

Knoxville injury lawyers know all too well the severity of distracted driving among teens. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood states, "Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America's roads and teens are especially vulnerable because of their inexperience behind the wheel and, often, peer pressure."
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that nearly 500,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving in 2009. Nearly 5,500 people were killed in the United States.

Consumer Reports National Research Center recently conducted a representative survey about distracted driving and discovered some alarming facts:

-More than 60 percent of teen drivers admitted to using a hand-held phone while driving.

-30 percent of teens admit to texting while driving.

-9 out of 10 teen drivers have witnessed someone else using a hand-held phone behind the wheel.

-More than half of those surveyed have seen a distracted driver create a dangerous driving situation.

The DOT is teaming up with Consumer Reports in effort to educate teens about the dangers of texting and cell phone use while driving. They're offering a free "Distracted Driving Shatters Lives" guide to parents, teens and teachers to alert them of the dangers of distracted driving.

The DOT and Consumer Reports recommend that you keep these points in mind when discussing road safety with your teen:

-Make sure they know the consequences of distracted driving, including punishments, consequences and injuries.

-Establish rules prohibiting texting and calling behind the wheel.

-Lead by example. Put down your phone while driving.

-Make a driving contract to be signed by you and your teen agreeing on specific driving rules.

"It only takes a moment to cause a tragedy," says Jim Guest, president of Consumers Union, "No text or call is worth a life."

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March 21, 2011

Trucks Pose Threat to Increase Rates of Fatal Knoxville Car Accidents

A 76-year-old Kentucky County Commissioner died after his Fort Explorer collided with a Mack truck last week, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Tennessee trucking accident pose a serious threat to motorists -- more than 70 percent of those killed in trucking accidents are occupants of passenger vehicles. Most recently, safety advocates report issues with rear-end collisions involving tractor-trailers and faulty underride guards. Tennessee truck accident lawyers urge you to contact an experienced attorney if you or a loved one have been involved in a commercial-driving crash.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently tested the effectiveness of underride guards on tractor-trailers and discovered they are prone to buckle in low-speed crashes. These failing underride guards prove often fatal to passenger-vehicle motorists involved in rear-end tractor-trailer accidents.

The driver of the Mack truck was not injured, while the Tennessee County Commissioner died.

American Trucking Associations President Bill Grave said in a CBS interview that the trucking industry is aware of the faulty design. He adds that these standards were set nearly 50 years ago and may not be adequate for today, according to Transport Topics.

In 2009, there were more than 3,000 fatal accidents involving trucks and passenger vehicles. In 70 percent of those accidents the occupants of the passenger vehicles died.

America's Road Team offers these safety tips to drivers sharing the roads with tractor-trailers:

-Do not tailgate. The current standards of the underride guards of many trucks could be causing fatal injuries in an accident.

-Be aware of blind spots. It's important to remember with any driver that if you can't see them, they can't see you. Always be aware of your surroundings.

-Always pay attention. Being alert can help you avoid a potentially fatal accident. Looking away for mere seconds can double your chances of getting into an accident.

-Follow the speed limit. Your chance of getting into an accident nearly triples when driving faster than your surrounding traffic.

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March 15, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Increases Risk for Knoxville Car Accidents

Police will be out in full force this St. Patrick's Day weekend to crack down on drunk driving in an effort to reduce the risk of Knoxville car accidents.

A Pub Crawl is planned in the Old City for Wednesday night. As Channel 6 News reports, local merchants have organized a seven-bar pub crawl for $7. Seven bars means a long and exciting celebration for locals and visitors.
Knoxville personal injury lawyers encourage you to put safety first this holiday weekend. These pub crawls heighten the risk for drunk driving and Knoxville police will be on the lookout. "By doing bar checks and intensive patrols, or what we call saturation patrols in the areas with a lot of bars, a lot of extra officers on duty," says Lt. Greg Hoskins.

According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 35 people die every day in the United States as a result of drunk driving accidents. This means a person will die every 40 - 45 minutes in an accident with a drunk driver.

The "Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest." campaign offers free, printable posters, templates, and banners to help keep you and your friends and businesses safe this St. Patrick's Day.

"The best advice is, always a designated driver. It's as simple as that. One person, nothing to drink. That was if you are stopped by police you should be fine," says Lt. Hoskins.

DUI Checkpoint & Crime on the Road offers these tips to help keep Tennesseans safe this St. Patrick's Day:

-Before you go out, designate a sober driver.

-If you're impaired call a friend or family member, use public transportation or get a taxi.

-Use the local Sober Ride program.

-Call the police department if you seen an impaired driver on the road.

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March 12, 2011

Drunk Driving a Leading Cause of Car Accidents in Knoxville, Maryville

Our Knoxville accident lawyers know that in 2009, alcohol was involved in more than one-third of all fatal Tennessee car accidents.

Knox News reported on a recent early morning crash that sent 3 people to the hospital.
The accident happened in front of Rocky Hill Elementary School, located in the 1200 block of Morrell Road. A Honda traveling southbound slammed into a Toyota traveling northbound around 1:40 a.m. The driver of the southbound vehicle was cited for driving on a suspended license. Law enforcement suspect alcohol may have been involved.

All injuries sustained in the crash appeared non-life threatening.

Brittany Thomas, 21, and her 10-month old son Aiden were not so fortunate. It was a little over a year ago, when they were killed on Alcoa Highway by an accused drunk driver whose car drove across the median, flew into the air, and hit Brittany's car.

WBIR-TV 10 reports that to honor these two victims law enforcement officials set up sobriety checkpoints along Alcoa Highway. Several agencies sponsored two billboards featuring Brittany and Aiden, and warning drivers on the tragic consequences of drinking and driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported nearly 11,000 people lost their lives in drunk driving accidents in 2009. This is at the alarming rate of about 1 every 45 minutes. In Tennessee 345 of 989 fatal crashes were alcohol related.

Other 2009 NHTSA facts about alcohol impaired driving:

-32% of total traffic fatalities are alcohol-related.

-14% of children (age 14 and under) died in alcohol-related crashes.

-37% of alcohol-related fatal crashes happen at night versus 9% during the day.

-16% of alcohol-related fatal crashes happen during the week versus 31% during the weekend.

-35% of the drivers in fatal alcohol crashes were 21 to 24 years old.

Always remember these safety tips:

-Before the celebrating begins designate a sober driver.

-Never serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

-If you are hosting the event, provide non-alcoholic drinks as an option and stop serving at least an hour before the event ends.

-Don't let anyone leave that has had too much.

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March 10, 2011

Fewer Tennessee Trucking Accidents if Positive Drug Tests Followed Truckers from Job to Job

Road Safe America joins the American Trucking Association and other safety minded organizations in advocating for a central clearinghouse to monitor heavy commercial vehicle drivers who test positive for drugs and alcohol.

Historically, drivers that test positive for drugs and alcohol hop from state to state and job to job to avoid detection. Our Knoxville personal injury lawyers know these kind of drivers should not be behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck. As long as such job-hopping is permitted to continue, motorists will be at high risk for Tennessee trucking accidents involving drunk drivers.
The Safe Roads Act, S. 1113, was introduced by Senators Pryor, Snowe, Nelson and Wicker in May 2009. It would establish an all-inclusive national clearinghouse for positive alcohol and drug test results. The passage of this bill would undoubtedly make our roadways safer by reducing the risk of drunk drivers operating heavy commercial vehicles.

In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 1,041 large truck crashes each day. Nearly 12 people every day die in large truck accidents and an additional 246 are injured. In 2008, approximately 7% of all fatal crashes involved a large truck on Tennessee roads. It was reported that 2% of large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

Alcohol and drug testing is a fact of life in the trucking industry today. All truckers that have a commercial driver license (CDL) -- whether owner-operators with a CDL or drivers employed by motor carriers -- are subjected to drug and alcohol testing.

A study done by the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety, as reported by Drug Library, found that 15% of all truckers had marijuana, 12% had non-prescription stimulants, 5% had prescription stimulants, and 2% had cocaine in their systems. Some truckers believe that marijuana use is safer than drinking, but studies show that effects on reaction time after smoking can last up to 24 hours.

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study of crashes involving large trucks found that prescription drug use was a contributing factor in 28.7% of all crashes sampled and over-the-counter drugs were a contributing factor in 19.4% of crashes. Side effects from drugs can include: dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision and confusion of which any could cause an accident.

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