December 2011 Archives

December 26, 2011

NTSB Pushes for Nationwide Ban on Cell Phone Use to Help Curb Car Accidents in Knoxville, Nation

Drivers across the country would no longer be legally able to talk, text or surf the web on a cell phone if the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) gets its way, according to KnoxNews. The Board made a recommendation this month to get local, state and federal officials to prohibit the use of portable electronic devices for all drivers.
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The recommendation comes after a recent meeting in which federal officials discussed the dangers of drivers' bad habits. The meeting covered the catastrophic traffic accident that happened in 2010 in Gray Summit, Missouri, in which a distracted driver allegedly killed two people and injured dozens more. In Missouri, drivers under the age of 21 are prohibited from texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). All other drivers are free to do as they wish behind the wheel. That's the problem with current laws. Most states prohibit drivers from texting, but not from talking on a cell phone. It's difficult for officials to determine if a driver is using a phone to call someone or typing a text message. A federal ban on all devices would help officials to bust drivers, and could help reduce the risks of distraction-related car accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere.

Our Knoxville car accident attorneys understand that NTSB doesn't have the authority to enact such a law, but its recommendations typically have a significant influence on laws that are passed by state, local and federal lawmakers. If this proposal were to become law, there would be a few exceptions. For instance, devices used to aid driver safety would be permitted, as well as during emergency situations.

"States aren't ready to support a total ban yet, but this may start the discussion," said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the GHSA.

Currently, there are 35 states that do not allow drivers to text at the wheel. Another nine states don't allow drivers to talk on a cell phone while driving. In these states, enforcement of these laws has not appeared to be a top priority.

"Needless lives are lost on our highways, and for what? Convenience? Death isn't convenient," said Deborah Hersman with the NTSB. "So we can stay more connected? A fatal accident severs that connection."

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than a million traffic accidents are caused by drivers who are distracted by cell phones every year. These accidents account for more than 20 percent of all recorded accidents.

Because of these alarming statistics, the NSC says it completely backs the NTSB and its decision to push for a nationwide ban on all electronic devices for drivers.

"This recommendation by NTSB is a national call to action to end distracted driving due to cell phone use. This is a growing public safety threat that needs to be addressed by legislators, employers and every person who operates a motor vehicle on our nation's roadways," said Janet Froetscher with the NSC.

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December 18, 2011

New Statistics Reveal More Car Accidents in Tennessee than Last Year

The number of car and trucking accidents in Maryville and elsewhere throughout the state took more lives in 2010 than in 2009 despite an announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that claimed the U.S. saw its lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1949.

In 2010, there were roughly 33,000 people who died in traffic accidents in the country. Yes, this is a decrease from the previous year, but there are a number of accident categories that saw a significant increase during this time.
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The NHTSA recently released the 2010 Motor Vehicle Crashes Overview, which details accident statistics from the previous year. This is the most up-to-date information available on traffic accidents in the country. While the number of traffic fatalities decreased nationwide, the number of injuries in fact increased. Broken down into categories, the number of fatalities among large truck occupants, van occupants, bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists actually increased.

Our Maryville car accident attorneys understand that the reduction in traffic-accident fatalities may be short lived. The number of fatalities witnessed during the last part of 2010 illustrated a significant increase. Safe driving experts expect this trend to continue as the economy grows stronger. With a more steady economy, residents feel more confident in getting out and traveling. An increase in traffic equates to an increase in your risks for an accident.

The NHTSA is doing more to specify the types of accidents we see on our roadways. With the release of this year's report, the NHTSA introduced two new measures, the "distraction-affected crashes" and the "alcohol-impaired driving crashes."

-Distraction-affected crashes: This measure is used as a way for the Administration to collect more data regarding the contributions of distractions in a traffic accident. The new measure is being used to zoom in on traffic accidents in which a driver was believed to have been distracted at the wheel during the accident. These types of accidents took the lives of roughly 3,100 people throughout the year.

-Alcohol-impaired driving crashes: This new measure is used to examine traffic accidents in which alcohol was most likely the cause. This measure allows researchers to look closer at accidents in which a driver had a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or above, the legal limit for each state.

"We recognize our responsibility to improve our understanding of the dangers that continue to threaten drivers and passengers," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

Increases in traffic fatalities were witnessed by:

-Large truck occupants

-Motorcyclists

-Occupants of vans

-Pedestrians

-Bicyclists

-Urban-area traffic accidents

-The state of Tennessee. 2009: 986 fatalities. 2010: 1,031 fatalities.

Despite the recent announcement of a decrease in the national traffic accident fatality number, we'd like to point out that 20 states experienced increases. Drivers are urged to remain cautious and alert on our roadways. As motorists flock to our roadways during the holiday season, there will be more dangers lurking than ever. Drive defensively and alertly to avoid an accident. Have a Happy Holiday and New Year!

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December 10, 2011

USDOT Promoting "OMG" Campaign to Halt Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Tennessee, Nation

Drivers in the state of Tennessee have been prohibited from texting behind the wheel for over a year now, but teenage drivers aren't getting the message. Teenage drivers across the state are still using the cell phones to text message one another, endangering themselves and innocent drivers everywhere. For this reason, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper are teaming up to push the "OMG" public service announcement (PSA) and other anti-texing campaigns. Officials are using these campaigns to raise awareness in these young drivers about the dangers of texting and driving and the risks for a distraction-related car accident in Maryville and elsewhere.
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"Teen drivers are particularly vulnerable to distracted driving, which is why we are making an extra effort to ensure they understand the dangers," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Our Maryville car accident attorneys understand how serious a problem texting teens pose other motorists on our roadways. According to the State of Tennessee's Attorney Generals Office, distracted driving-related accidents are the number one killer of teenagers in the U.S. Nearly 20 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in a fatal accident were reported to have been distracted behind the wheel. Teen drivers who text behind the wheel are 25 percent more likely to get into a serious accident than those who are focused on the roadway.

"Imagine closing your eyes while driving for the amount of time it takes to read a text message," said Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper. "Reading a text message is no less dangerous than any other diversion that takes your eyes off the road, and it can carry deadly consequences."

The NHTSA's "OMG" campaign was recently released on the Distraction.gov website and is available for viewing at roughly 12,000 gas station pump-top screens owned by Outcast PumpTop TV and on roughly 6,600 movie screens in nearly 550 cinemas across the country during the month of December.

Through the holiday season, teenagers will be enjoying a winter break away from school and will be venturing out on our roadways for holiday vacations. The "OMG" PSA uses teen lingo, inducing "LOL and "L8R," to communicate its important safe driving message with these young drivers.

We understand that teenagers want to stay connected with their friends though various social networks and through text messaging, but it's important to teach our young drivers that there's a time and place for that, and it's not behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. The new campaign urges teenagers to make smart decisions while driving through the congested holiday traffic.

Parents are urged to talk with the teen drivers in their life about the serious risks and consequences of taking their eyes off the roadway while driving, if even for a few seconds. Have a safe and Happy Holiday and please curb all distractions while driving through the busy, winter traffic.

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December 2, 2011

Car Accident in Tennessee Kills 1, Injures 16, Involves 176 Vehicles

A recent chain-reaction car accident in Tennessee, just north of Nashville, involved 176 vehicles, killed one and injured nearly 20 more, according to CNN.

Officials say that the accident was caused by the black ice and the heavy fog that plagued State Highway 386. One school bus on its way to drop children off at school was involved. Luckily, none of the children were injured. The man who was killed in the accident was the driver of a compact car that was forced underneath a tractor-trailer. The others who were injured were taken to local hospitals.
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According to Capt. Vincent Riley of the county emergency medical services, the accidents started at roughly 8:00 a.m. when a first vehicle ran off the roadway, which caused a chain-reaction accident. That roadway was shut down for a majority of the day as responders tried to clear the wreckage. Many vehicles had to be towed from the scene. Weather officials had not placed the area under a fog advisory during the accidents.

Our Knoxville car accident attorneys understand that traffic is expected to increase significantly through the holidays and our risks for traffic accidents will increase as well. Drivers are urged to check out the road and traffic conditions throughout Tennessee before heading out. Safe driving habits are going to be your number one preventative measure in avoiding a fatal car accident through the season. As millions of drivers head out to celebrate Christmas and New Year's, everyone's urged to drive carefully and cautiously to keep our roadways safe.

"We want everyone traveling in and through Tennessee to get to their destination safely," said Commissioner Bill Gibbons. "We urge all motorists to start the holidays off on the right foot and buckle up on every trip."

Troopers urge all drivers to wear a seat belt, especially throughout the rest of the holiday season. The state's seat belt usage jumped to nearly 90 percent in 2011. Still, it's estimated that nearly 60 percent of vehicle occupants who were killed in car accidents in the state in 2010 were reportedly not wearing their seat belt.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott says that motorists are about 10 times safer when wearing a seat belt. Troopers will be combing the roadways for unbuckled motorists throughout the holiday season, not to issue a bunch of tickets but to help save lives.

As of the 21st of November, the state's accident statistics illustrated that there have been more than 830 deaths on our roadways so far in 2011. While this is about 100 less than this time last year, officers still ask drivers to stay safe, to drive cautiously and to buckle up on our roadways.

Drivers are also urged to steer clear of popular roadways during rush hour, during the evening hours and during weekends. This is a time when we typically see an increase in accidents. Driving is a serious responsibility and we all need to do so safely to ensure the safety of everyone on our roadways. Have a safe and Happy Holiday!

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