April 2011 Archives

April 12, 2011

Distracted Driving a Common Cause of Tennessee Trucking Accidents

FocusDriven and the National Safety Council (NSC) are combining forces for the first ever National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Our Knoxville personal injury lawyers realize the horrific toll a distracted driving accident can have on a family. For over a decade we have represented clients who were involved in Tennessee trucking accidents, caused by distracted driving. Federal law now prohibits truckers from texting while driving -- a law prohibiting them from using all hand-held cell phones has been proposed. Seeking the advice of an experienced attorney to help determine whether a trucking accident was caused by driver distraction or other violations of state and federal rules is the best course of action to protect your rights and the financial well-being of you and your family.
During the month of April, FocusDriven (advocates for cell-free driving) and NSC will urge Americans to put away their cell phones while driving. It is estimated that roughly 1.6 million crashes annually are caused by drivers using their hands-free or handheld cell phones and texting while driving. This is the number one reason for crashes caused by distractions.

These two nonprofit organizations want drivers, starting this month, to never use cell phones again while driving. They urge drivers to change their voicemail message to something like, "I can't take your call right now because I am driving, but I will get back to you as soon as I can." They want drivers to either turn off or silence their phones while driving, thus eliminating the distraction of an incoming call or text message.

"If drivers can go one month without using their phones while driving, they will find out - as many of us have - work still gets done. Many drivers realize most of the calls they thought were so important, really aren't. It is our hope drivers will decide to make the change permanently. Doing so will make our roadways safer for everyone," said Jennifer Smith, FocusDriven president and founding board member.

Employers should not encourage their employees to mix work and driving.

"National Distracted Driving Awareness Month also is the perfect opportunity for businesses to implement cell phone policies to protect employees. When businesses allow employees to conduct business on cell phones while driving, they are putting their employees at a 4 times greater risk of a crash," said Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO. "NSC provides many resources, including a free Cell Phone Policy Kit, to help businesses protect employees."

In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that over 295,000 large trucks were involved in crashes and 3,215 were involved in fatal crashes. Sadly 3,380 lose their lives in accidents involving large trucks and more than 70,000 people sustained injuries. In Tennessee out of 1,307 vehicles involved in deadly crashes, 6.7% were large trucks.

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April 9, 2011

Improving Economy will Increase Risk for Car Accidents in Maryville, Knoxville

It was recently announced by Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary that the number of traffic related deaths fell in 2010.

Our Knoxville car accident lawyers know our regional area saw a 3% drop in fatalities but the northeast area of the country saw double digit increases.
"Too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Highlights of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) early projections include:

-There were 1,020 fewer traffic-related fatalities in 2010 than in 2009.

-The rate of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled went from 1.13 to 1.09.

-There were 10,722 fewer traffic-related fatalities in 2010 when compared to 2005 data.

Though these numbers look promising, a regional breakdown illustrated that the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island saw an 18% increase in traffic deaths. The most improved area was in the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and Alaska, these states reported a 12% decrease.

"NHTSA will continue pressing forward on all of our safety initiatives to make sure our roads are as safe as they can possibly be," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

An all-inclusive approach has been the undertaking of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to decrease roadway fatalities including public awareness campaigns, promoting strong traffic safety laws and strict vehicle safety programs.

In 2009, campaigns like "Over the Limit. Under Arrest." and "Click It Or Ticket" were aimed at preventing drunk driving and increasing seat belt use. Also, a website was launched dedicated to distracted driving.

NHTSA continues to improve vehicle safety by urging automakers to announce safety defects as soon as possible. They embrace technology such as forward collision warning, electronic stability control and lane departure warning systems to reduce crashes.

In 2010, the revised 5-star rating system for crash test standards was released.
The use of cable median barriers and rumble strips encouraged by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has help reduced crossover head-on collisions. On new roadway projects Safety Edge technology (re-shaping pavement edges) is being used to help keep drivers on the road.

Still, we expect to see a significant increase in the number of fatalities as the economy recovers. Individual driving behavior that puts safety first is still the best way to keep the roads save for everyone.

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April 7, 2011

Tennessee Hopes to Reduce Car Accidents, Trucking Accidents in Work Zones

Governor Phil Bredesen is teaming up with various states across the nation to help kick off National Work Zone Awareness Week. Bredesen hopes this campaign will help reduce the risk of Knoxville trucking accidents and car accidents in congested work zones.

Government officials will be teaming up with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to organize events throughout the state in an attempt to emphasize the importance of safe driving throughout the construction and maintenance zones on our interstates and highways, according to the Tennessee Government.
Our Knoxville personal injury lawyers urge you to be extra cautious when traveling through these work zones as safe, alert driving may be your greatest defense against a potentially fatal work zone accident. As spring dawns, we can expect to see more and more orange barrels and safety cones on the state's highway and byways. With these projects in full swing and lanes being altered and narrowed, , truckers and other motorists will be at increased risk of accidents.

"As we head into the busy construction season, motorists will encounter more maintenance workers, utility personnel, and construction workers on Tennessee's roadways," said Governor Haslam. "I want to remind all drivers to stay alert and focused and exercise caution and patience when driving through work zones across the state. Doing so will help ensure everyone stays safe."

According to Tennessee's Department of Safety and Homeland and Security, Tennessee lost the l100 lives because of highway work zone crashes in the last 3 years. These statistics have prompted TDOT officials to launch a new "Merge Left" project, excepted to get underway in the next few months. Nearly 20 fatalities resulted from work zone accidents in Tennessee alone in 2009, according to The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse. The United States saw almost 700 work zone crash fatalities.

"It is a simple concept for drivers, but one that we hope will save lives and help relieve construction related backups on our highways and interstates," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "We will be designing the entrance of many new work zones to flow to the left. This will create consistency throughout the state. Drivers will know which way to go, and what to expect. Merge left and merge early."

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