December 2012 Archives

December 27, 2012

Tennessee Accident Risks to Increase with Retiring Wave of Boomers?

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has a pamphlet on its website called Decisions for Tennessee's Senior Drivers. The purpose of the pamphlet is to help seniors (and their families) make an informed choice about whether the senior is still capable of driving.

This pamphlet is published because Tennessee recognizes that seniors may at some point lose their ability to drive safely. The fact that senior drivers do become a potential hazard is a cause for concern, and this issue will become a very important one as baby boomers age and the make-up of the driving population changes. 833820_hands.jpg

Our Knoxville injury attorneys believe that understanding the impact of an aging population on the roadways is very important. While one recent status report published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that the aging population may not present the increased accident risk that everyone feared, it remains important for every family to keep an eye on the behavior of aging loved ones in their lives.

IIHS Data and the Changing Driving Mix
According to IIHS, there is a coming increase in the number of potentially eligible drivers (those in the U.S. over aged 15). From 2010 to 2030, the number of people who can drive legally in the U.S. is expected to increase by almost a fifth.

Despite this increase, the number of drivers within the majority of age groups will be declining. Data is kept on the number of drivers within each five-year age group (i.e. 15-19 year olds; 20-24 year olds and so on). In upcoming years, the number of potential drivers in each of these different five-year age groups will be declining (so the number of 15-19 year olds will go down; the number of 20-24 year olds will go down, etc.).

This decline, however, does not apply to those five-year age groups over age 65 (i.e. 65-69 year olds; 69-71 year olds, etc.). This means that those in the 65+ age groups are going to represent a larger percentage of the driving population.

This changing mix of drivers matters because, historically, those over age 70 had a higher rate of fatal crashes per mile driven than those under age 70. Further, although teen drivers ages 15-19 had the most insurance claims of any group, the number of claims declines from 19 straight through until age 65, when the number of claims starts to increase again. More older drivers, therefore, may mean more injuries, insurance claims and traffic deaths.

IIHS data, however, indicates that this may not be the case. The institute reports, for example, that there has been a 30 percent decrease in the rate of fatal auto accidents involving those ages 70+ during the years 1997 to 2008. Further, they report that data shows that the number of claims per 100 miles driven is going to remain largely steady. This number is expected to stay between 6.12 claims/hundred insured cars to 6.16 claims/100 insured cars. The slight increase, they say, is attributed to the fact that there are more drivers in general, not just more older drivers.

Keep Your Family Safe
While the aggregate data may show no increased risk of a driving population that continues to age, this is just one study. Seniors should be realistic about when they can no longer drive. And families should be watchful in case a senior doesn't recognize that he/she is no longer capable of operating a vehicle in a safely.

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December 20, 2012

Knoxville Injury Attorneys Urge a Safe New Year

On December 5, 2012, the Director of the Tennessee Governor's Highway Safety Office joined state and local law enforcement in an event honoring the memories of those who lost their lives to drunk driving in the state. HobNob Franklin reported on this event, which was part of law enforcement's efforts to curb drinking and driving over the holidays.

Unfortunately, drinking and driving is rampant over the year-end holiday period, with Auto Guide reporting that New Year's is the worst day of the year for drunk driving accidents. Our Knoxville personal injury attorneys urge every driver to remember how dangerous drunk driving is and to make sure to stay safe and sober on New Year's and every other day of the year. 741831_man_and_his_beer.jpg

Drunk Driving a Holiday Risk in Tennessee
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 257 people were killed in accidents involving an intoxicated driver in Tennessee in 2011. While these 257 deaths occurred throughout the year, New Year's is an especially dangerous day due to the large volumes of people on the road and the large number of those who choose to drive drunk. In fact, according to Auto Guide, nearly half of the drivers involved in fatal New Year's crashes were intoxicated at the time.

Tennessee law enforcement is trying to cut down on the number of drunk driving accidents and injuries or deaths that occur over the holidays. The press conference to honor those killed by drunk drivers was just the beginning of their efforts. The Governors Highway Safety Administration, as part of their Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, has also announced that there will be increased patrols as well as increased public safety announcements warning of the dangers of holiday drunk driving.

Stay Safe and Stay Sober
Getting pulled over for drunk driving would be bad news, but getting into an accident and hurting someone would be even worse. To avoid both fates and to make sure you have a safe holiday:

  • Either avoid drinking at your celebration or take a designated driver with you.

  • Consider alcohol-free celebration events where you won't have to worry about driving drunk.

  • Have money for a cab and a phone number to call one in case you get stuck without a ride.

  • Watch your friends for signs they might be drunk and make sure they don't drive.

Parents of teenagers also need to take special steps to make sure their kids don't drink and drive. Drive On recently published an article indicating that one in ten teens responding to a survey had driven while under the influence the prior New Year's Eve. Be sure you check where your kids are going to be, confirm that they'll be supervised, and offer to drive them yourself so they don't get into a car with someone who is drunk.

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December 13, 2012

Fewer Tennessee Traffic Accident - Higher Risks for Bicyclist, Pedestrains, Motorcyclists

The overall number of traffic accident fatalities dropped about 2 percent in 2011, according to statistics released this week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

However, we saw increases in the number of accident fatalities among bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. Still, officials boast about this being the lowest overall number of road deaths since statistics were first recorded back in 1949.
"Even as we celebrate the progress we've made in recent years, we must remain focused on addressing the safety issues that are continuing to claim more than 30,000 lives each year," says NHTSA's Administrator David Strickland.

Our accident attorneys in Knoxville understand that officials continue to push safety campaigns as a means of education the public and reducing the risks. Unfortunately, all of these campaigns are useless without the participation of travelers. According to Ray LaHood, the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation, officials have been pushing their distracted driving campaign for years now. Still, distracted driving saw a near 2 percent increase in 2011.

Tennessee was recognized in the recent NHTSA press release for being one of the states with the highest decrease, seeing about 85 fewer fatalities in 2011 than in 2010, but we're still falling victim to accidents involving our more vulnerable travelers. Drivers are just too caught up in themselves nowadays to keep their full attention on the road.

If you look closely at the trends from both 2010 and 2011, you'll see that people were traveling less in 2011. We were all feeling the effects of the struggling economy and higher gas prices and we traveled less because of it. Travelers were also looking for more cost effective ways to get around, causing more people to use bicycles, motorcycles and their own two feet -- hence the increase in the number of these kinds of fatal accidents.

Another contributor to these kinds of accidents is the design of many of our roadways. They were created with one thing in mind -- getting vehicles to where they're going fast! Not many of our roadways were created with considerations for bicycles or pedestrians. The design of these roadways put these travelers in serious risks for accidents.

Tennessee may have seen a more than 8 percent decrease in the number of traffic accident fatalities from 2010 to 2011, but we're far from done. We're calling on all travelers to be more cautious out there. No one goes out looking for an accident, but they happen. Drivers are asked to be more cautious of other travelers on our roadways. Remember that we all have rights to our roadways and those rights need to be respected. Slow it down, drive with compassion and help to make out streets safer for everyone. It's completely achievable, but it takes a group effort.

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December 3, 2012

Winter Driving in Tennessee Often a Factor in Serious Accidents

The month of December and the rest of the winter season is a time when we see an increase in the number of traffic crashes.

This happens for a couple reasons. First, we have the onset of winter weather conditions. We've got snow and ice on our roadways -- and even that morning skim can leave slick patches on the road.

Then we've got the increase in traffic with the holiday travel season. Our car accident attorneys in Maryville are asking drivers to be extra cautious on the road through the remainder of the year. Preparation and safe driving habits are going to help to keep you out of a potentially fatal winter car accident this season.
Statistically speaking, you are most likely to be involved in a weather-related accident at winter's onset. According to recent studies, winter weather causes close to 2 million car accidents each and every year. Conditions can change quickly and causes vary.

Common Winter Road Hazards:

-Black Ice: This is the condition that causes the most collisions. Black ice can fool drivers because it appears as just water on the road. It's a thin layer of ice that's super slippery. It's most likely to be found under bridges and in shaded areas of the roadway. Often it presents the most risk during morning commutes to work or school.

-Blowing Snow: This creates a number of dangerous driving conditions. First of all, it can significantly decrease your visibility. It can also melt on streets and form ice.

-Frozen Roads. Remember that Overpasses and bridges are the first to freeze. When driving along these roadways, be sure you slow down and leave plenty of space between you and other vehicles.

Before you head out, make sure you check in with the Tennessee Department of Transportation's (TDOT) Smartway Mobile website. This is a tool that allows travelers with smart phones to check weather, road and other travel conditions throughout the entire state. There's even live traffic video, construction information, weather advisories and forecast information. If you didn't get a chance to check it out, or don't have a smart phone, you can get all of this information on displays posted on overhead dynamic message signs throughout the state.

Transportation officials are also asking you to keep an eye out for snow plows and other ice-removal efforts. Steer clear of these machines and allow road crews room to work. They're out there helping us, let's help them by practicing safe driving.

"This year, we have taken steps to ensure we have the supplies we need to keep our roads clear of ice and snow," said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer.

Lastly, we want you to be ready before you even pull the car out. Make sure that your windows and your mirrors are clear so that you can see where you're going. Clean off your headlights and your taillights to improve visibility for yourself and to help other vehicles to see you. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and that the tread is not too worn. Keep your tank at least half full at all times.

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