November 2011 Archives

November 25, 2011

Red-Light Cameras Question Again for Increasing Car Accidents in Knoxville

American Traffic Solutions (ATS) recently filed a lawsuit saying that they're not able to do the job they were hired for anymore, according to KnoxNews. The company is upset because it's no longer allowed to issue citations for improper right turns on red.

We've all heard before that safety benefits that these cameras provide are minimal compared to the millions that cities raise by issuing intersection citations, and this is another illustration on how important generating these citation fines are for these companies. Still, car accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere are still an all too often occurrence, with or without red-light cameras.
Typically, receiving a traffic ticket lies in the hands of an American Traffic Solutions employee, whose paycheck directly correlates with the number of traffic stations that are issued. According to Capt. Gordon Catlett of the Knoxville Police Department, the city isn't the one that's banking from these tickets. He says that ATS is getting 80 percent of the millions that are being reeled in.

Our Knoxville car accident attorneys understand the concern drivers have with these red-light cameras. While many government officials claim that these red-light cameras save lives and were not installed to raise some fast cash, others think differently.

Some recent traffic studies have indicated that red-light cameras have the ability to reduce the risks of front-into-side accidents, but the number of rear-end accidents increase. A study by the Federal Highway Administration looked into the effects of red-light camera programs in nearly 10 U.S. cities. Researchers concluded that right-angle accidents decreased by about 25 percent, but the number of rear-end accidents increased by nearly 20 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The study also concluded that these cities gained nearly $19 million, despite the increase in accidents. The authors of the study concluded that the economic costs resulting from the increase in accidents were more than the offset by the economic benefits from the decrease in the right-and accidents that the cameras were used to target.

According to the Knoxville City Court, there have been more than 17,000 red-light camera tickets issued since 2006 by the two vendors who have been hired to run the camera program. Drivers can use an interactive red-light camera map to locate these cameras throughout the city.

Revenue for July through September from the city's red-light cameras has declined from roughly $490,000 during that time in 2010 to under $140,000 for the same time this year.

Red-light running is no new danger. According to a recent study from the IIHS, a driver will run a red light at any given intersection every 20 minutes. During rush hour, these occurrences are much more frequent. The rate of red-light runners at intersections with and without these cameras is about the same.

Many residents in Knoxville are opposed to the dangerous traps. Many compare them to an old Southern speed trap. Mayor-elect Madeline Rogero recently expressed her support for the eye in the sky.

Bill Myers from Knoxville wrote in to KnoxNews and asked Rogero to re-evaluate her position with these cameras. He says that the residents on the city deserve to have better and safer traffic enforcement practices than these money-hungry camera operations contributing to more accidents.

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November 21, 2011

More Thanksgiving Travel Expected, Increasing Risks of Car Accidents in Knoxville

Although gas prices are higher this year, many Americans will be venturing out for the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there will be nearly 43 million Americans traveling at least 50 miles from home on Turkey Day weekend.

That's nearly 5 percent more than the 41 million who set out last year. The increase in travel is expected to increase your risks for a car accident in Knoxville and elsewhere.
This year, a gallon of gas is about $3.39 per gallon, whereas last year the average cost per gallon was only $2.88. The cost of gas is believed to be the reason why Memorial Day travel was about the same as last year and why Independence Day and Labor day saw decreased travel numbers, according to CNN. Experts believe that residents are sick of staying home though and are bypassing their tendency to be frugal and traveling out of the house this holiday.

Our Knoxville car accident attorneys understand that the National Safety Council (NSC) predicts that more than 430 people are expected to die in a traffic accident over the holiday weekend. The holiday weekend officially begins on Wednesday, November 23rd at 6:00 p.m. and ends on Sunday November 27th at 11:59 p.m.

The NSC also predicts that another 43,000 people will be injured seriously enough to require assistance from a medical professional. Although this year's estimate is about 20 percent less than the average number of fatalities from the past 6 years, drivers are still asked to be extremely cautious on our roadways.

"Driving AAA's projected increase in the number of Thanksgiving travelers is pent-up demand from Americans who may have foregone holiday travel the last three years," said Bill Sutherland, vice president of AAA Travel Services.

Driving will be the main form of transportation over the upcoming holiday weekend. Air travel predictions vary. AAA predicts that there will be a 2 percent increase in air travel, while the Air Transport Association of America is anticipating a 2 percent decrease.

Those who are traveling on our roadways during the holiday weekend are asked to travel slowly, cautiously and to wear a seat belt regardless of how far you're traveling. Recent studies indicate that seat belts are nearly 50 percent effective in preventing death in the event of an accident for front-seat passengers.

Based on study information, more than 150 person's lives are expected to be saved because of a seat belt. If all vehicle occupants were to wear a seat belt, the NSC predicts that more than 100 additional lives could be saved.

The NSC's estimated fatalities/actual fatalities for Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend:

-2004: 556 estimated. 556 actual.

-2005: 610 estimated. 605 actual.

-2006: 555 estimated. 623 actual.

-2007: 564 estimated. 542 actual.

-2008: 479 estimated. 484 actual.

-2009: 447 estimated. 401 actual.

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November 16, 2011

Earlier Sunsets Increase Risks for Knoxville Pedestrian Accidents

Car and pedestrian accidents in Knoxville are much more likely now that the sun sets earlier in Daylight Saving Time. With the time change, we get more evening hours, increasing the increased risks of accidents. Unfortunately, drivers' abilities behind the wheel are hindered when it's dark out. Even though only about a quarter of travel takes place during the evening hours, about half of all fatal accidents occur during this time. Most drivers don't alter their driving skills after the sun sets like they should. Motorists oftentimes have a misconception of roadway dangers simply because they can't see them. Whether you're traveling on foot, on a bike or in a motor vehicle, you're urged to be extra cautious on our roadways especially after dusk.
Our Knoxville car accident lawyers want you to realize that even drivers with perfect vision experience a decrease in visibility as the sun sets. The eye works harder because it has less to focus on. Many times, the eye will focus on the glare on the windshield, which can pose serious problems because a driver isn't getting the full picture. It's important for drivers to keep scanning their surroundings while driving at night and not to get locked on to one object.

There were more than 4,000 pedestrians killed and another 59,000 injured in traffic-related accidents in the U.S. in 2009. About a quarter of the fatalities occurred between 4 and 8 p.m., while another 13 percent happened between 4 and 8 a.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Many drivers have a difficult time adjusting to these new low-light conditions and need to slow down to be able to effectively react to roadways dangers. The darker it is, the less time you have to react to a potential threat or a pedestrian.

Safety tips for motorists to prevent a potentially fatal accident:

-Slow down. Pedestrians are more difficult to spot when it's dark out.

-Remember that some pedestrians wear headphones during their walk. This can make it more difficult to hear you approaching. Don't assume they know you're there.

-Keep your mirrors, windshield and windows clean to help maximize visibility.

-Keep your windshield wiper fluid filled to help clean windows when needed.

Safety tips for pedestrians to prevent a potentially fatal accident:

-You should either carry a flashlight or wear reflective clothing to help to increase your visibility during the evening hours.

-Never depend on traffic lights or signals. Drivers can miss these devices or disregard their instruction, putting you in a dangerous situation. Travel defensively.

-Always cross the road at a crosswalk or a street corner. Never jaywalk or cross in between two parked cars.

-Always use the sidewalk when one's available. If there's no sidewalk, then walk on the side of the street facing oncoming traffic.

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November 9, 2011

Car Accidents in Tennessee Caused by Sleepy Drivers Targeted During Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Nationwide, there are more than 100,000 fatigue-related accidents on our roadways every year, causing injury to more than 70,000 people and killing at least 2,000. Drowsy driving-related car accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere in Tennessee happen as well.
These numbers are interesting considering the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released a study that concluded that more than 95 percent of drivers said drowsy driving is an unacceptable driving behavior. Even with this many drivers opposing the habit, about a third of them admitted to driving while drowsy at least once in the last 30 days.

To help reduce the risks of these accidents, AAA has joined forces with the National Sleep Foundation to support the 2011 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week campaign. Our Knoxville injury attorneys invite you to join this campaign that is taking place this week, helping to raise awareness among drivers about the dangers, risks and consequences of driving while drowsy.

Sadly, drowsy drivers are involved in one out of every six fatal accidents on our roadways.

"Drivers have a tendency to underestimate the impact being tired has on their driving ability, which puts themselves and others at risk," said AAA Foundation president and CEO Peter Kissinger. Drowsy driving kills, just as sure as drunk, drugged and distracted driving does."

Most of the drivers who admitted to falling asleep at the wheel recently confessed that they did so while they were traveling at a high-rate of speed.

You should pull over and rest if you experience any of the following symptoms:

-You're having trouble keeping your eyelids open or your head up.

-Your vehicle is drifting in and out of the lane.

-You can't really remember the last few miles you've driven.

-You're feeling aggressive, irritable or restless.

-You're missing street signs, street lights or your exit.

-You're having a hard time focusing on the roadways.

-You're daydreaming.

To prevent a drowsy driving-related accident:

-Pull over and take a break.

-Get a good night's rest. Sleep at least seven hours the night before you take a long road trip.

-Drink plenty of caffeinated drinks.

-Stop and take a break after every 100 miles of after every two hours.

-Never drive during times when you'd normally be sleeping.

-Drive with a passenger. Switch spots if you start feeling tired.

One of the most commonly made mistakes by drowsy drivers is attempting to power through their sleepy symptoms. This is one of the most dangerous decisions a driver can make. Sleepy drivers can fall into 3- to 4-second micro-sleep periods. During this time, you're in your car driving unconsciously. It's most important that you stop driving if you start to feel tired. This state of mind not only puts you at risk, but other drivers as well.

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