February 2012 Archives

February 26, 2012

Knoxville Trucking Accidents Partially Blamed in Rising Teen Deaths

Trucking accidents in Knoxville and across the country are part of the reason more teenagers are losing their lives behind the wheel.

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A new report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that for the first time in 8 years, teen driver deaths overall were increasing. For the first six months of last year compared to the first six months of 2010, there was an 11 percent increase in the number of teen drivers killed nationwide. That includes statistics analyzed from all 50 states, as well as Washington D.C.

While our Knoxville trucking accident attorneys understand the report doesn't specifically break down how many of those were due to accidents involving big rigs, based on previous research, it is safe to say crashes with large trucks were at least partially to blame.

In fact, the National Highway Safety Association reported that between 1975 and 2005, more than 7 percent of all those killed in large trucking accidents were aged 17 and under. Drivers aged 18 to 25 accounted for 17 percent of all trucking accident fatalities - a larger portion than any other age group.

The new report from the governor's association found that in a state-by-state examination of teen fatalities, driver fatalities for 16-year-olds increased by 16 percent, while driver fatalities for 17-year-olds is up by 17 percent. Overall, 19 states (including Tennessee) reported some decrease in fatalities, while 23 states reported a marked increase. Some states, including Florida, North Carolina and Texas, reported a skyrocketing increase.

Researchers pointed to the fact that the benefits of graduated driver's license programs, such as the one implemented in Tennessee in 2001, are beginning to level off.

While many fatal trucking accidents in Knoxville involve truck driver error (most commonly, failure to maintain proper lanes, speeding or distracted driving), it pays for teens to be educated in how to maneuver around these large vehicles.

The fact is that when a passenger vehicle is involved in a wreck with a big rig, there is an increased chance that the injuries will be more severe or result in death.

This underscores how critical it is for parents to have some discussion with their teen about how to drive safely around large trucks, as they don't operate under the same laws of physics as passenger vehicles.

The Geico Educational Foundation, an arm of the car insurance company, recently released an easy-to-read brochure that breaks down some of the ways teens can be sure to avoid a Knoxville trucking accident.

The brochure first goes over the basics of any safe driver: Don't speed, drive aggressively or allow yourself to be distracted by your friends or cell phone.

Secondly, it urges teens to avoid the trucker's blind spots. These cover pretty wide swaths of roadway around the truck, but the best rule to follow is to make sure you can see the trucker's mirrors. If you can't, the trucker can't see you.

Thirdly, if you plan to pass a large truck, make sure you can see the front of the rig in your rear view. Don't ever flash your brights at a trucker to signal that you plan to change lanes. This can be very confusing, as it sometimes signals a police cruiser is up ahead. Either way, simply use your turn signal.

Finally, don't stop suddenly in front of a trucker or swerve abruptly in front of him or her. Truck drivers aren't able to slow or stop as quickly as someone in an SUV or passenger car. It's better to give yourself plenty of space so this won't be an issue.

Continue reading "Knoxville Trucking Accidents Partially Blamed in Rising Teen Deaths" »

February 15, 2012

Man Eludes Death Following Train Accident in West Knoxville

A local driver is counting his blessings today! He was able to avoid a potentially fatal car accident in West Knoxville when he escaped his truck just after it got stuck on the train tracks. After he made it out safely, the vehicle was hit by a 33-car CSX Corp. freight train. The accident happened near on Jackson Road, near Amherst.
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"He wasn't trying to beat the train, he just got stuck there on the tracks," said Knoxville Fire Department spokesman Capt. D.J. Corcoran.

Train tracks are the location of numerous fatal car accidents. In these situations, motorists often stand little to no chance surviving the impact of an oncoming train. Our Tennessee car accident attorneys ask that all residents be cautious when traveling near trains and their tracks. While you may think you'd be able to see a train coming and escape its path, that's not always the case. Some statistics conclude that a train and a car collide every 12 minutes in the U.S. This means that about 9,570 train accidents happened in 2009. Of these accidents, it's estimated that nearly 650 people were killed and another 6,670 people were injured. More than 95 percent of these accidents happened at rail-highway intersections and in trespassing instances.

Neither the truck driver nor the operator of the train involved in the West Knoxville train-truck accident is facing any charges, according to Knox News.

According to Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk, the flatbed truck was carrying an earth mover. It was heading southbound on Jackson when it was struck. The train was heading eastbound and unable to stop before hitting the truck.

The driver of the flatbed truck said he heard the warning bells and saw the railroad crossing arm descending. At that point, he jumped out of his vehicle. He said there was no other choice. The company owning the flatbed called its hazardous materials team to the scene of the accident for cleanup. After the collision, diesel fuel leaked out onto the tracks and the roadway. The train was carrying ethanol and butane. Thankfully, the cars carrying these materials were further back and not affected by the crash.

In the state of Tennessee there are nearly 2,820 public at-grade railroad crossings. To help to reduce the risks of motor-vehicle accidents in these locations, the Tennessee Department of Transportation previously launched a safety campaign. This safety campaign consists of posters and billboards scattered throughout areas near high traffic railroad crossings. These signs are to remind pedestrians and drivers to be alert near crossings and railroad tracks.

In 2009 and 2010, there were nearly 100 train-vehicle accidents in the state of Tennessee. In these accidents, five people died and more than 25 were injured.

Drivers are asked to use caution near all train tracks, but especially at ones near rail-highway intersections. Never attempt to cross train tracks unless you're sure you can make it all the way across. If you see a train coming, stop a significant distance from the tracks to avoid a collision. Turn your radio down when approaching these areas so that you can hear your surroundings, too. Accidents with trains are highly preventable with the proper safety precautions. Be careful out there and stay alert.

Continue reading "Man Eludes Death Following Train Accident in West Knoxville" »

February 7, 2012

Photos at Sobriety Checkpoints to Convey Message of the Dangers of Drunk Driving in Tennessee

A drunk driving car accident in Tennessee 41-years-ago is remembered by signs on the side of the road on Murfreesboro Road near Clovercoft Road. That night, the lives of two residents changed forever. A woman involved in the accident, who was seven months pregnant at the time, remembers it vividly. She says her husband, herself, their daughter and their nephew were heading back from a peach-picking trip is Nashville when a drunk driver crashed into the car. Their 19-month-old nephew and their 4-year-old daughter were killed in that accident.
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The pregnant passenger suffered from a broken neck and burns on almost three-quarters of her body. Her husband was badly burned as well.

Our Tennessee drunk driving car accident attorneys understand that the Franklin Police Department conducted its very first sobriety checkpoint this last Saturday to help to reduce the risks of anymore accidents like that one. The funds for the checkpoints were provided by the Governor's Highway Safety Office. That checkpoint was dedicated to the family, which has been mourning their run-in with a drunk driver for more than 40 years. Pictures of the woman, the husband and the pair's daughter, who was born prematurely and blind, were on display at that site of the DUI checkpoint, according to The Tennessean.

As this family is all too painfully aware, the consequences of drunk driving can last a lifetime.

"This kind of shows more of a powerful reason of why we are out there," said Franklin Police Officer Rachel Gobe. "We are out there for a reason: to save lives."

The woman involved in the drunk driving accident was the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and started the organization's Tennessee chapter back in 1981. She even appealed to President Clinton, asking him to lower the drunk driving limit from .10 to .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). That national standard was passed late in 2000.

Although she is no longer the national president of the organization, MADD is still going strong in its fight against drunk drivers across the nation. According to a recent press release from MADD, new legislation is being pushed to require everyone convicted of drunk driving to install ignition interlock devices, or machines that measure a driver's blood alcohol content. The vehicle won't start if the driver has been drinking. The majority of drunk driving car accidents are caused by repeat offenders. The interlock devices would help to make sure these motorists won't be drunk on our roadways.

"While drunk driving remains the primary threat to American families traveling on our roadways, we are closer than ever to making sure no family must endure the pain of losing a loved one to this 100-percent preventable crime," said MADD National President Jan Withers.

These devices are one of the most beneficial components of the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk DrivingĀ®. The passage of laws requiring these devices for all offenders have already reduced the risks of drunk driving-related fatalities, as observed recently in Arizona and Oregon.

Ignition interlock devices save lives and save taxpayer money. For an offender who has been sentenced to use an interlock device, the user has to dish out about $2.25 for each day for its use. Researchers conclude that for every dollar invested in these devices for a first-time offender, it saves the public about $3. When you consider that drunk driving accidents cost the nation more than $130 billion every year, the fees required by these convicted drivers is a small price to pay to help ensure roadway safety and to help to reduce the risks of alcohol-related traffic accidents.

Lastly, MADD is hoping to get the ROADS SAFE Act into legislation. This act could help to offer research funds to those creating Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety are working to advance this potentially life-saving technology.

Continue reading "Photos at Sobriety Checkpoints to Convey Message of the Dangers of Drunk Driving in Tennessee" »

February 2, 2012

Tennessee Department of Transportation Working to Reduce Risks of Knoxville Drunk Driving Car Accidents Over Super Bowl Weekend

"Real Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk" is the message to remember this Super Bowl Sunday. The Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tennessee Department of Safety and the Governor's Highway Safety Office (GHSO) are all pushing that message during Super Bowl XLVI. It's the second most dangerous day to be on our roadways. It ranked in at second place, just behind New Year's Eve for having the most fatal car accidents in Knoxville and elsewhere. Prepare to cheer on your favorite team Sunday and prepare yourself to avoid a potentially fatal accident.
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"This Super Bowl Sunday, we want to see zero alcohol-related fatalities in Tennessee, so you will see more troopers in more places looking for people who break the law. Make sure you come out a winner this Super Bowl weekend. Designate a sober driver or take a cab home if you've had too much to drink," said Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell.

Our Knoxville drunk driving car accident lawyers understand that officers across the state will be out in full force in search of drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. Drunk driving car accidents are completely preventable, and we're asking all residents to huddle up with family members and friends to come up with a game plan to keep everyone safe on our roadways on Sunday. Kickoff between the Giants and the Patriots is at 6:30 p.m. and residents are urged to have their rides situated before then. Make sure you have a designated driver or a safe place to stay if you'll be drinking during the game.

In 2006, troopers made roughly 25 arrests for driving under the influence over the Super Bowl weekend. During this time, there were nearly 10 fatal accidents. One was alcohol-related. That number was down from the statistics from the previous year's Super Bowl weekend. We're hoping that these numbers can be brought down even lower.

Getting a ride home from a sober friend is always a winning play. There nothing safer than catching a ride with someone who is sober. It's important to keep an eye on your loved ones, too. Make sure everyone you know is taking care of themselves on Super Bowl Sunday.

Tips for Going Out on Super Bowl Sunday:

-Most importantly, fans who will be drinking should find a designated driver before the game begins.

-Make sure your designated agrees to drink only non-alcoholic drinks.

-Drink in moderation over time. Drinking too much in too short of a time can make you sick and ruin your game day.

-Always wear your seat belt.

-Keep phone numbers to cab companies with you in case you or a friend is need of a safe ride.

-Eat plenty of food along with your alcohol consumption.

According to the Designated Driver poll from 2005, about 70 percent of drivers have either been a designated driver for someone or have ridden home with a designated driver. This means that nearly 150 million people know how to party responsibly. Let's make this year's stats reach 100 percent. Enjoy the game!

Continue reading "Tennessee Department of Transportation Working to Reduce Risks of Knoxville Drunk Driving Car Accidents Over Super Bowl Weekend" »