July 2011 Archives

July 27, 2011

Stranded Motorist Killed by Tractor-Trailer in Tennessee Trucking Accident

This past weekend, a Brownsville man was killed in a trucking accident in Tennessee. The man was pulled over on the side of the road near Interstate 40 near mile marker 66 and was standing outside of his vehicle when he was struck by a passing tractor-trailer, according to the Jackson Sun.
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Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that the man was standing outside of his parked car in the right side emergency lane on the interstate with his flashers on when the accident happened. The driver of the tractor-trailer, which was headed eastbound, was traveling in the right lane when he struck the disabled vehicle and the vehicle's owner. The man standing on the side of the road was killed in the collision. Neither of the tractor-trailer's occupants were injured in the accident.

The frequency of these types of accidents is appalling. Our Tennessee trucking accident attorneys would like to warn all motorists about the dangers accompanying a disabled vehicle. You may think you're safe once you've exited the lane of traffic and you're pulled over on the side of the road, but you'd be wrong. This is actually a common scenario for fatal highway accidents.

Charges are pending on a driver that was involved in another incident that happened the same way. One person was killed in this accident and another was severely injured.

This accident happened as three people were walking along the side of the road after their vehicle ran out of gas on Interstate 40 near the Pellissippi Parkway, according to NBC 10. As the three were walking, a truck ran onto the shoulder of the road and struck two of the three walkers.

One of the victims died at the scene, one was taken to Parkwest Hospital for treatment and the third was not hit or injured. The driver of that truck is facing charges because he left the scene of the accident. He was later located and picked up a short time after on Walker Springs Road.

What to do if you're vehicle becomes disabled:

-Always keep a cell phone with you so that you can contact the correct authorities right away if your car becomes disabled.

-Pull on the shoulder as far as you can.

-Don't let your passengers wander near cars on the roadway.

-To warn other motorists turn on your hazard lights.

-Do not stand near your vehicle next to the traffic. Always keep to the opposite side.

-In most cases it is best policy to keep everyone in the vehicle and wearing seat belts.

-Tying a white cloth or t-shirt to your driver side door handle can help alert other drivers.

-Prepare a road safety kit to keep in your car at all times. The kit should include a torch, a reflective triangle, road safety signs, a traffic cone, a cell phone, jumper cables, a tow rope, a portable air compressor, a raincoat and a first aid kit.

Continue reading "Stranded Motorist Killed by Tractor-Trailer in Tennessee Trucking Accident" »

July 26, 2011

Elderly Drivers at Risk for Tennessee Car Accidents

A Tennessee car accident sent an elderly couple to the Middle Tennessee Medical Center after their pickup truck was struck by a van and flipped over at Medical Center Parkway and Gateway Boulevard. The couple was stuck in their vehicle and had to be freed from the wreckage by responding emergency personnel.

This intersection where the accident occurred has no traffic light and is mostly used by ambulances to access Middle Tennessee Medical Center's emergency room, according to The Daily News Journal.
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Our Maryville car accident lawyers understand that elderly drivers may be more vulnerable to accidents on our roadways. A number of seniors are traveling our roadways with Alzheimer's and have the strong possibility of getting lost at the wheel as well. Luckily, there are a number of programs, systems and devices that can assist these seniors and their families to reunite if they happen to wander off. One of the main, interactive systems is the Silver Alert system.

"It's just a good idea for the whole community to understand that more and more, with the increased population, there are going to be more situations where seniors are going to get in trouble," says Aging Services Manager Marie Alcorn.

The Silver Alert program first began in Oklahoma back on in 2005. Florida's was another state to take hold of the program, considering they have 4.45 million residents over 60 and another 1.7 million over 75. Tennessee was the ninth state to implement a Silver Alert system.

Typically, when an elderly person, with either Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia, drives off to points unknown, the program initiates a plea for the public to be on the lookout. In most Silver Alert systems the missing person must also be 60-years-old or older and there must be "a clear indication" that the person has suffered some deterioration of "intellectual facilities." That's not the case in Tennessee. The only thing our Silver Alert requires is that local law enforcement report the missing person within four hours to the National Crime Information Center.

Silver Alerts are publicized on overhead signs on Interstate highways and toll roads.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 60 percent of Alzheimer's patients will, at least once in their life, get up, wander, drive off and become lost.

"We pull out all the stops to find someone who's gone missing," explains Blount County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Marian O'Briant.

There are other options to keep an eye on your elderly loved ones. A number of GPS systems can be used to track the person in possession of them. OnStar and other in-car systems can also locate a vehicle when it has turned up missing. A number of these services are being used to keep an eye on the older population. These devices are easy to use, quick to install and come at a variety of prices, depending on what best suits your needs.

Helping older loved ones decide when it's time to hang up the keys is critical to helping them reduce their risk of causing a car accident in Knoxville, Maryville or elsewhere in Tennessee.

Continue reading "Elderly Drivers at Risk for Tennessee Car Accidents" »

July 20, 2011

Knoxville Drunk Driving Accidents Illustrate Risks to Cyclists, Motorists

A County Election Commissioner in East Tennessee is facing charges of DUI and vehicular homicide after a Cocke County bicycle accident that killed a 21-year-old Vermont woman, The Republic reported.

Knoxville bicycle accident attorneys understand the risk cyclists face throughout the Tennessee summer. Those risks are exacerbated anytime a drunk driver hits the road. Drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs continue to be involved in a large number of serious and fatal Tennessee car accidents.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nine cyclists died in Tennessee bicycle accidents in 2009. Nationwide, about one-third of all fatal accidents involve a drunk driver. Tennessee drunk driving accidents claimed 332 lives that year.

The Tennessee State Highway Patrol reports the 73-year-old commissioner was jailed after the accident on Tennessee Highway 73. Authorities report a second bicyclist was also struck in the crash. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports he was driving a 2001 GMC 2500 Sierra pickup shortly before 10 p.m. when the truck struck the two women riding bikes. The paper reported the second cyclist, a 19-year-old woman from Seattle, Washington, was not injured.

In other Knoxville accidents news, the News Sentinel reports a Knoxville man is facing drunk driving charges after allegedly causing a hit-and-run accident. A motorist reportedly followed the suspect and subdued him with pepper spray until authorities arrived. The crash occurred about noon in the 9000 block of Kingston Pike.

A motorist who witnessed the accident called 911 and followed the 2004 Nissan Titan pickup truck outside the city and onto Concord Road in West Knox County. He confronted the suspect at a stop and a struggle ensued. The 51-year-old witness subdued the suspect with pepperspray and waited for police.

Many times, the victims of hit-and-run accidents question whether they should bother to consult with a Tennessee injury lawyer -- particularly in cases where the at-fault driver is never identified. In such cases, it can be more important than ever to consult with an attorney with the knowledge and experience to determine whether you can make a claim. In some cases, when the driver is identified but uninsured, a claim may be filed against policies in place on other vehicles in the household. In other cases, a victim may be able to make a claim against his or her own insurance carrier.

Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents are not uncommon and the at-fault driver is often lacking insurance or driving without a license. The News Sentinel recently reported the arrest of two men following a fatal hit-and-run Maryville car accident. That accident involved a victim who jumped from a moving vehicle.

Continue reading "Knoxville Drunk Driving Accidents Illustrate Risks to Cyclists, Motorists" »

July 19, 2011

Feds Tout Enforcement in Reduction of Tennessee Trucking Accidents

Federal authorities have begun a compliance review of the Tennessee trucking company that employed a trucker blamed in a fiery crash that claimed three lives, the News & Observer reported. The driver faces charges of driving while impaired and felony death by vehicle. The Greeneville trucking company that employed him has 10 tractor-trailers and employs 10 drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that more unsafe bus and trucking companies have been placed out of service in the last 24 months than in the previous 10 years combined.

Knoxville trucking accident attorneys understand the risk posed by unsafe trucks and buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 380,000 accidents involving large trucks claimed more than 4,000 lives in 2008 and injured 90,000 motorists. Tennessee trucking accidents claimed 92 lives that year.
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The government is patting itself on the back for enforcement efforts but the truth of the matter is that the feds have been slow to require basic safety improvements, such as on-board data recorders and speed limiters, and even expanded the hours a trucker is permitted to remain behind the wheel. The issue is among the most critical facing motorists because about three-quarters of accident victims in accidents with large trucks are occupants of the other vehicle or non-occupants, such as bicyclists or pedestrians.

"From Day One, I have pledged to put public safety above all else, and we will continue to take action when we see carriers placing passengers at risk," said U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We have seen the tragic consequences of unsafe practices - whether it's ignoring fatigue regulations, providing inadequate driver training, or failing to conduct the proper maintenance of a bus or motorcoach. We continue using all of the tools at our disposal to get unsafe carriers off the road and hope that Congress will act on our proposal to provide us with the necessary authority to expand our safety oversight."

The eight out-of-service orders issued in the past four months includes one to a Tennessee based truck driver. Others went to bus companies in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Mississippi and North Carolina.

"I'm proud of FMCSA's efforts to crack down and take action on unsafe interstate bus and trucking companies," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "Our safety investigators, inspectors and state partners will continue demanding that motor carriers and their drivers adhere to safety requirements. While most of the industry operates safely, I also look forward to working with Congress to add new tools to prevent unsafe companies and drivers from operating."

Under the Obama Administration, roadside inspections of bus companies have nearly doubled, from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,703 last year. In May, the administration conducted 3,000 surprise inspections and took 442 unsafe buses and drivers off the road. That blitz came in the wake of a New York City bus accident that claimed 14 lives.

The Department of Transportation is also asking Congress to increase the penalty for illegal operation from $2,000 a day to $25,000 per violation.

Continue reading "Feds Tout Enforcement in Reduction of Tennessee Trucking Accidents" »

July 13, 2011

Distracted Driving Accident in Knoxville Seriously Injures Local Competitive Bicyclist

The life of a local competitive bicycle racer completely changed on day after a speeding vehicle, traveling on Foothills Parkway, collided with the his left leg and sent him 50 feet through the air, according to Knox News. The rider suffered a number of fractures from the Knoxville bicycling accident. He doesn't know if he'll ever be able to ride again.
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Our Tennessee injury attorneys believe that the punishments for these types of accidents are not often tough enough. Currently, the most severe punishment that a driver faces for injuring a bicyclist is a Class C misdemeanor. This is really only for violating a state law that says that motorists must give cyclists a safe passing zone of at least three feet on all roadways. The penalties for a Class C misdemeanor in this case are merely a $50 fine and 30 days behind bars.

But that's not the case for much longer. A stricter statewide law will be taking effect that will make these incidents a class A misdemeanor. The amended law, sponsored by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, and Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, would make the penalty for distracted driving accidents that result in bicyclist or pedestrian injury a maximum of a year in jail, a $500 fine and revocation of a driver's license.

"We're trying to make sure rules of road apply to everyone whether on a bicycle or in a vehicle," Berke said.

Accidents that seriously injure or kill a bicyclist or a pedestrian could mean jail time six months, revocation of the violator's driver's license for up to six months and a $250 fine. It's at least a start.

The law was first drafted back in February by Bike Walk Tennessee, a statewide organization advocating for bicyclist and pedestrian rights. The organization started drafting the law after discovering a number of reports of bicyclists and pedestrians who were killed by drivers.

"We've seen people get run over and killed with no consequences. This law brings criminal consequences and increases the possibility of having a civil lawsuit as well," said Caroline Cooley, a Knoxville member of the board of directors for Bike Walk Tennessee.

The law aims to tackle a common excuse of vehicular homicide: "I didn't see you."

"I didn't see you means I took the driver's course and got my driver's license but I didn't understand what the ramifications of getting behind the wheel could really mean," says Competitive Knoxville bicycle racer Steve Hancock.

After the accident, Hancock spent more than a month in the hospital undergoing physical therapy. He moved back to South Knoxville in June. He spends most of his time in a wheelchair now.

Distraction.gov reports that nearly 5,500 people were killed in the United States in 2009 because of accidents that involved a distracted driver. Another 448,000 people were injured in these incidents. Nearly 20 percent of these accidents reported the use of a cell phone as the main contributor to driver distraction. Motorists who use hand-held devices behind the wheel are four times as likely to get into an accident that causes serious injury.

"Distracted driving is a huge issue these days as we have more and more electronic devices taking up our lives. Motorists need to understand this," said Kelley Segars, Metropolitan Planning Commission's bicycling coordinator.

Continue reading "Distracted Driving Accident in Knoxville Seriously Injures Local Competitive Bicyclist" »

July 11, 2011

Tennessee Trucking Accident Illustrates Summer Dangers

A Tennessee trucking accident left a tractor-trailer on its side on Highway 25-E just south of Springdale BP, according to the Claiborne Progress. The accident happened when the load shifted as the truck was heading around a curve and caused it to topple over on its side. The accident took out about 200 feet of guardrail and left debris scattered across the road.

The Springdale Volunteer Fire Department, Claiborne County Sheriff's Office, Tennessee Highway Patrol and Claiborne County EMS responded to the trucking accident. Authorities remained on scene for several hours. The tractor-trailer had to be towed off scene and debris cleared from the roadways. The driver only received minor injuries.
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Our Tennessee trucking accident attorneys understand that the number of traffic accidents typically increases through the summer months. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in this accident, but as travel on our roadway drastically increases, so will the number of serious trucking accidents. A motorist's most dangerous time to be traveling on our roadway may be when they're driving alongside large trucks. It doesn't matter if you're driving a car, truck, SUV, RV, riding your bike or walking, you are more likely to suffer severe injury if you are involved in a traffic accident with a tractor-trailer in Tennessee. During these types of accidents, occupants of a passenger vehicle sustain nearly 80 percent of fatalities.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is all about keeping you safe this summer! Through their Share the Road Safely program, the Administration aims to increase the knowledge of drivers to help reduce their risks of being involved in a car or trucking accident in Tennessee.

Sharing the road with these large vehicles can be dangerous. Here are a few tips to help you to drive safer:

-Don't cut them off. Trucks and buses typically take much longer to stop in comparison to cars. If you do pass a large truck, look for the front of the truck in your rear-view mirror before you pull in front of the truck.

-Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts have been proven to protect vehicle occupants in the event of an accident, especially in accidents with large trucks. A seat belt will keep you from hitting the steering wheel or windshield, being thrown around and from being ejected from the car upon impact.

-Stay out of blind spots! Large trucks have large blind spots. These are zones that surround the vehicle in which the driver cannot see you, or your vehicle. If you can't see the driver in the truck's mirror, the truck driver can't see you.

-Keep your eyes, and your mind, on the road. Refrain from engaging in distracting driving habits. A split second can mean the difference between a safe car trip and a deadly accident.

-Don't squeeze in. Be careful of trucks making they're right turns. Trucks needs to take wider turns than passenger vehicles. If you try to get in between the truck and the curb when they're making a turn, you'll be caught in a "squeeze" and can suffer a serious accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one in nine traffic accident deaths involved a truck in 2008. During that year, 380,000 trucks were involved in traffic accidents on our roadways. These accidents resulted in nearly 4,500 deaths and 90,000 injuries.

Continue reading "Tennessee Trucking Accident Illustrates Summer Dangers" »

July 8, 2011

Drivers Using Drugs Increase in Risks of Tennessee Trucking Accidents - NHTSA Investigates

A Tennessee truck driver was involved in a fatal accident that killed three motorists last week. He was reported, by Durham State Troopers, to have been under the influence of marijuana and methadone at the time of the accident. Troopers also searched the vehicle and found drugs and drug paraphernalia. The driver is being held on a $500,000 bail and is currently facing charges of driving while impaired and three counts of felony death by vehicle, according to the The Charlotte Observer.
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The company that the truck driver worked for, based in East Tennessee, has received a number of violations relating to fatigued drivers and unsafe driving that has resulted in a number of trucking accidents in Tennessee.

Our Tennessee trucking accident attorneys understand that these accidents are not uncommon. As a matter of fact, before this accident, the same truck driver was involved in two serious accidents in 2010. These accidents happened in Kentucky and Tennessee. One involved serious injury.

For reasons like this, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been looking into accidents that involve truck drivers and the use of drugs. The NHTSA recently released a new report on drug use by drivers involved in some of our county's most fatal crashes. The report illustrates an alarming increase in the level of drug involvement among fatally injured motorists from 2005 to 2009.

According to NHTSA research, more than 60 percent of the 21,798 drivers who were killed in traffic accidents in 2009 were tested for drugs. Of these fatalities, nearly 4,000 tested positive for drugs. The report also concluded that the use of drugs among fatally injured drivers increased 2 percent from 2005 to 2006 and another 2 percent to 2008.

"Every driver on the road has a personal responsibility to operate his or her vehicle with full and uncompromised attention on the driving task," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Today's report provides a warning signal that too many Americans are driving after having taken drugs, not realizing the potential for putting themselves and others on the highway at risk."

The types of drugs recorded include narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabinoids, phencyclidines (PCPs), anabolic steroids and inhalants. The groups include both illicit drugs, legally prescribed drugs and over-the-counter medicines.

"While it's clear that science and state policies regarding drugs and driving are evolving, one fact is indisputable. If you are taking any drugs that might impair your ability to drive safely, then you need to put common sense and caution to the forefront, and give your keys to someone else. It doesn't matter if its drugs or alcohol, if you're impaired, don't drive," Strickland warned.

The NHTSA will continue to conduct research regarding drug use and truck drivers and their impact on traffic accidents. Currently, there are nearly 1,000 instructors and more than 6,000 trained police officers in 46 states that are able to recognize symptoms of driver impairment by drugs other than alcohol.

In Tennessee alone, nearly 100 drivers that were tested for drugs after a fatal traffic accident returned positive results in 2009. Another 250 drivers were tested that did not have test results recorded.

Continue reading "Drivers Using Drugs Increase in Risks of Tennessee Trucking Accidents - NHTSA Investigates" »

July 6, 2011

Tennessee Teen Institute Camp Focuses on Teen and Drunk Driving Car Accident in Tennessee

A number of teens gathered at the Tennessee Teen Institute (TTI) at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville to discuss the importance, and raise awareness of, teen and drunk driving car accidents in Tennessee.

The camp invited teens from ages 13- to 18-years-old from across the state, according to the Jackson Sun. About 350 teens spent the week at the camp participating in activities that aimed to explain the dangers of drinking and driving.
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Our Tennessee personal injury attorneys understand that events like this are important in keeping our roadways safe. These drivers, teens and ones those who are impaired by alcohol, pose serious threats to motorists on our roadways. For this reason, the National Transportation Safety Board has placed both types of drivers on their "most wanted" list. This list targets these drivers and encourages government enforcement to reduce the risks of such traffic accidents.

"It's really youth-driven and youth-led," said Barry Cooper, director of JACOA, which helps organize TTI every year. "The student staff members work together, and they really make the camp."

Teens are targeted at this camp because they are the most vulnerable on our roadways. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens in the United States. It is estimated that nearly 10 teens die on our roadways every day. This death rate is higher than for deaths related to cancer, gun violence or drugs among those in this age group.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 5,000 teen drivers were involved in fatal traffic accidents in 2009 alone in the United States. Nearly 200 teen drivers in Tennessee died on our roadways during that year.

To help reduce the risks of these fatal teen car accidents, the NTSB recommends that all states enforce a graduated drivers license (GDL) . Luckily, Tennessee is one step ahead and already enforces the system, according to the Department of Safety & Homeland Security.

Under Tennessee's GDL program, a teen must complete the following steps to get a full, unrestricted driver's license:

-Tennessee Learner Permit: A teen must be 15-years-old and pass a standard vision screening. They're also required to pass the Class D knowledge exam. New drivers are required to show proof of school attendance/progress from a current Tennessee school or a letter from the school in your previous state that confirms your attendance and acceptable grade marks.

-Tennessee Intermediate Driver License: A driver can get this license when they turn 16-years-old. They must have had a valid learner permit for a minimum of 180 days and must have completed 50 hours of behind the wheel driving experience, which needs to include 10 hours of night driving. They must then pass another road skills test.

-Tennessee Unrestricted Driver Silence: After all of the above steps are completed and requirements met, a teen can then apply for their full, unrestricted license.

Although teens are not old enough to consume alcohol, it doesn't mean that they won't. This is why the camp focuses on intoxicated driving as well. Through the camp, students will learn that nearly 11,000 people were killed in these preventable car accidents in 2009 on U.S. roadways. Drunk driving accidents account for nearly a third of all traffic accident fatalities. It is estimated that someone dies every 48 minutes because of these accidents. Tennessee witnessed nearly 350 deaths on our roadways because of accidents that involved an intoxicated driver.

To help combat intoxicated driving accidents, the NTSB recommends that states follow these tips:

-Limit plea bargaining deals in court.

-Limit diversion programs.

-Conduct a number of sobriety checkpoints.

-Enforce administrative license revocation for those who either refuse to take or fail a sobriety test.

-Install ignition-interlock devices in the vehicles on those who have been convicted of drinking while driving.

-Use jail alternatives, such as dedicated jail/treatment facilities, home detention with electronic monitoring or intensive supervision probation.

"This is building future leaders for the state in prevention," said Cooper. "Some of these kids now are social workers or getting master's degrees and doing things. They're taking what they learned and moving on."

Continue reading "Tennessee Teen Institute Camp Focuses on Teen and Drunk Driving Car Accident in Tennessee" »