Archive for the ‘Car Accidents’ Category

Distracted Drivers Put Texas School Kids at Risk of Collision Injuries

Each year, around 25,000 children are injured when they are involved in accidents commuting to or from school. Unfortunately, things may be getting worse. A recent study has revealed that there are many motorists who drive distracted in school zone areas. A personal injury lawyer knows that distracted driving can significantly increase the risk of a collision, with texting alone making a motorist 23 times as likely to become involved in an accident.

San Antonio drivers need to be aware that schools are back in session and that laws related to school zone and school bus safety are in effect. Young lives could be saved if drivers paid attention around school buses and areas where children walk to school.

Distracted Driving Dangers in School Zones

An NBC News video dramatized the risk that distracted drivers present to school children by showing a semi-truck blowing past a stopped school bus. The truck drove on the side of the road and narrowly missed hitting a young girl who was waiting for the bus. The driver subsequently tuned himself into authorities and admitted he had been distracted at the time when the incident occurred.

Unfortunately, distracted driving has become much more common in school zones in recent years. Experts estimate that as many as two million more people illegally passed school buses with their stop arm extended as compared with in 2011. American Traffic Solutions largely attributes this problem to the fact that there are more drivers who are distracted on the roads.

Drivers are not only putting kids at risk when it comes to not stopping for buses, but are also very distracted as they drive through designated school zones as well. Safe Kids USA published a national report that looked at the number of motorists who were doing things other than driving at the time when they were in a school zone. The report reveals that:

  • One driver out of every six who passes through a school zone is distracted at the time.
  • Men and women are distracted in close to equal numbers. There were 154 distracted men for every 1,000 male drivers and 187 distracted women for every 1,000 female drivers.
  • Out of every 1,000 drivers passing through school zones, 98 were distracted because they were on their cell phones or using other electronic devices.
  • A total of 44 out of 1,000 drivers who were distracted in school zones were eating, drinking or smoking as they drove.
  • There were 19 drivers out of every 1,000 driving through school zones who were distracted because they were reaching behind them or looking behind them.
  • Nine out of every 1,000 distracted drivers passing through a school zone was engaged in personal grooming.
  • Three out of 1,000 drivers who went through a school zone were reading at the time.

Drivers were more likely to be distracted during the afternoon school zone hours as compared with the morning hours. Zones that did not have flashing lights were also more likely to have distracted drivers, as were areas where 10,000 or more cars passed through daily. These are the areas where children are most at risk.

Contact a San Antonio, TX accident lawyer at the Herrera Law Firm. Call 800-455-1054 or visit http://www.herreralaw.com for a free case consultation.

Stoned Driving Risks Amid Marijuana Legalization Efforts

In Texas, there are no definitive plans to legalize medical marijuana although there is much speculation about when legalization will come to the Lone Star state.

When marijuana is legalized for either recreational or medicinal use, rules have to be established to determine if a motorist is too impaired by THC to drive safely. The question of whether a driver is impaired can be left to the discretion of a law enforcement officer. A state can also set a limit on the amount of THC someone can have in their blood, just as the .08 blood-alcohol concentration exists for impaired driving. States that have already legalized marijuana are grappling with how to best protect driver safety and Texans may want to watch to see how their decisions impact road safety.

But as personal injury lawyers know, the regulation of stoned driving can be an inexact science. The levels of THC in someone’s blood do not necessarily correlate with the level of impairment. The ABA Journal indicates that both Colorado and Washington have set a maximum THC limit of 5 nanograms before someone is considered impaired, but that this may not be the best or most precise way to judge whether a motorist is able to drive safely or not.

Regulating Stoned Driving

Oregon is considering legalizing marijuana but has not followed the lead of Colorado or Washington regarding setting a maximum THC limit. The ballot measure addressing legalization sets no limit and it would be up to law enforcement officers to use their discretion to decide if someone is stoned and shouldn’t b operating his vehicle.

There are good arguments to make for why a THC level may not be the best way to judge if someone is a safe driver. A British study showed that a person who uses marijuana is most euphoric 30 minutes after taking the drug, but his or her THC levels would peak 10 minutes after smoking cannabis and would actually fall by the time he is most impaired. Scientists have been unable to establish a direct link between the amount of active THC in a person’s body and a driver’s impairment level, and one forensics lab supervisor expressed concern that the THC concentration in the blood was not correlated to impairment.

Of course, leaving the issue of judging impairment to the officer’s discretion is also problematic as mistakes can be made and securing a conviction for stoned driving could be more difficult without objective evidence. This is a problem because stoned driving is a major danger to other motorists.

As the FDL Reporter indicates, brain imaging tests have found that people who are stoned must use more of their brain to correctly perform simple tasks. Stoned motorists also have delayed reaction times, poorer peripheral vision and a reduced ability to multitask. This makes an accident far more likely to occur.

Between 1994 and 2011, the number of drivers involved in fatal collisions in Colorado testing positive for marijuana has more than doubled, and things are likely to get much worse as marijuana use becomes more widely accepted. Something needs to be done to effectively deterred motorists from driving stoned.

Contact a San Antonio accident lawyer at the Herrera Law Firm. Call 800-455-1054 or visit http://www.herreralaw.com for a free case consultation.

San Antonio Traffic Collisions Caused by Red-Light Runners

A recent San Antonio accident caused injuries to one female motorist. According to News 4 San Antonio, it is believed the collision occurred when a driver ran a red light.  Motorists have a legal obligation to obey traffic signals, including stopping at a red light, in order to prevent collisions like this one. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to stop. If you or a loved one is injured by a red light runner, call a personal injury lawyer for help ensuring a claim for compensation.

Prevention of red light accidents is essential, as there are hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries each year that result from red light collisions. National Stop on Red Week is one part of the effort to reduce the number of red light running collisions.

National Stop on Red Week

The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) has organized National Stop on Red Week with the goal of educating the public about the scope of the risks that go along with running a red. According to the NCSR, there are around 8,700 fatalities in intersection accidents each year.

The Federal Highway Administration has specific details and statistics on the number of people who are killed in collisions when a red light has been run. For example:

  • In 2008, 762 people died when they were involved in a motor vehicle collision caused by failure to stop at a red light.
  • Annually, there are around 165,000 injuries that occur when drivers do not stop at red lights.
  • In around half of all fatal accidents that occur when a driver runs a red light, the victim is not the person who failed to obey the traffic signal.
  • One out of every three people report that they know someone who was either injured or killed in a collision that occurred after a driver ran a red light.

So many people are injured or hurt because there are far too many motorists running red lights. The NCSR published a report on red light violations after obtaining data from 20 states. According to the report:

  • There were 570,122 red light violations recorded by traffic cameras on Fridays in 2013. Friday was the day of the week with the highest number of red light violations.
  • There were 439,323 red light violations recorded by traffic cameras on Sundays in 2013. Sunday was the day of the week with the lowest number of red light violations.
  • Around 1/3 of all red light violations occurred between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. During this time, there were more than a million red light violations recorded in 2013.

The NCSR has encouraged all drivers to Take the Pledge during National Stop on Red Week, which took place from August 3-9 in 2014. The Pledge is a promise to obey the rules of the road and not to go through red lights.

The Federal Highway Administration also has suggestions for other activities during National Stop on Red Week including:

  • Press conferences on the statistics about red light violations and related accidents and deaths.
  • School events where kids wear red.
  • Slides at movie theaters to encourage drivers to Stop Running Red Lights.
  • Political activism to convince politicians to impose tougher penalties for running a red.

Hopefully, activities like these will raise awareness and fewer red light accidents will occur.

Contact a San Antonio accident lawyer at the Herrera Law Firm. Call 800-455-1054 for a free case consultation.

Safe and Successful Texas Summer Road Trip

Summer provides the perfect time for people to take road trips to visit friends or relax at vacation destinations. Unfortunately, with more people on the roads, there is also a greater risk of accidents during this time.

Protecting yourself during summer road trip season is essential and Safer Car has some tips for things you can do to avoid problems and to keep others safe on the roads. Drivers should consider these safety tips before heading out on the road. Victims of accidents should also consult with a personal injury lawyer for advice on protecting their legal rights and obtaining compensation if an accident does occur.

Tips for a Successful Summer Road Trip

The success of your summer road trip begins with making sure your car is in good working order before you head out so you do not have a breakdown. One of the worst types of breakdowns that occurs is a tire blowout because this could cause you to experience an accident. You should check your tire treads before you leave on your road trip to ensure that the treads are not too worn. You should also check the air pressure in your tires. Your car may have a sensor that alerts you when tire pressure gets too low, but it never hurts to check manually.

You could also be at risk of an accident if you have problems with your windshield wipers on the road. Be sure that the wipers are not overly worn and that you have windshield wiper fluid in the car before you go. This will allow you to maintain adequate visibility in case you hit a patch of bad weather on your drive.

Once you are on the road, you need to tell all of your passengers to buckle their seat belts and you need to be buckled up yourself. Seat belts should be worn even for trips of very short duration because accidents can happen anywhere. If you are traveling with children, kids under the age of 13 should be in the back seat to avoid the potential for air bag injuries. Younger children will need more than just a seat belt and you should have a booster seat or car seat depending upon the child’s weight and age. Installing car seats can be difficult so check your owner’s manual to make sure that your seat is installed correctly.

You need to focus not just on your own safety but also on the safety of others on the road when you head out for your summer road trip. Remember that there are more young children walking and biking in the summer because they are out of school and there are also more motorcycles on the road during the nice weather. Avoid driving while you are distracted and stay focused on the road at all times so you do not cause a collision and injure someone else. Let pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks and don’t assume that they see you when you are driving.

Contact a San Antonio personal injury lawyer at the Herrera Law Firm. Call 800-455-1054 or visit http://www.herreralaw.com for a free case consultation.

San Antonio Drunk Driving Crashes: Lives Forever Changed

Two friends headed out one night recently in San Antonio. One never made it home. The other now faces more than a decade behind bars on charges of intoxication manslaughter in the death of her friend.

Drunk driving accident lawyers in San Antonio understand that speed and alcohol allegedly played a part in the crash. The passenger was declared dead at the scene. The women, both in their 20s, were cousins as well as best friends, authorities say.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The lives of these two women are forever changed, but it may not be too late to reach others. It’s a relevant time to point out that Texas leads the nation in drunk driving deaths.

Drunk driving a top killer of Texas drivers

According to figures from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2012, there were nearly 1,300 people killed in drunk driving crashes in Texas. That accounted for nearly 40 percent of all traffic deaths in the state, and was a 7 percent increase from 2011.

The organization further estimated that the total number of alcohol-related crashes in the state in 2012 was somewhere around 26,000, costing taxpayers an estimated $6 billion in losses. The average alcohol-related fatality costs the state of Texas about $4.7 million.

One increasing area of concern is the use of alcohol by those under the age of 21. A recent survey submitted to Congress by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicated that 26 percent of those aged 12 to 20 in Texas reported using alcohol within the last 30 days. That amounts to about 821,000 youth. Binge alcohol use by this same cohort in the last month was about 17.5 percent, or roughly 550,000 youth.

Risk of this kind of behavior spikes right around now, as we approach graduation season. Far too frequently, celebrations involve alcohol, and with that comes the greater risk of a drunk driving crash.

Alcohol use among teens a growing concern in Texas

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility reports that in 2012, there were 170 Texas teens killed in impaired driving crashes. That’s roughly 13 percent of the total, which is especially concerning when you consider that it’s illegal for anyone under 21 to drink in the first place.

Of those drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes, 72 percent had a blood-alcohol of 0.15 percent or higher, which is nearly double the legal limit.

For teens, alcohol is by far the deadliest drug. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reports that a 16-year-old is more likely to die of an alcohol-related issue (including drunk driving) than anything else.

Some parents mistakenly believe that teens may be safer if they drink supervised in their own home. This isn’t so, and Texas dram shop laws (specifically Texas §2.01 et seq) holds that adults who serve alcohol to minors can be held civilly liable if anything happens to that teen or if that teen subsequently causes someone else to be hurt.

It’s simply not worth it.

Teens aren’t the only ones harmed by drunk driving, of course, but they are disproportionately affected, and parents should take note. This is an opportunity to open a discussion and underscore your beliefs and expectations.

Meanwhile, MADD is gearing up for the 2015 legislative session in an effort to bolster anti-drunk driving laws, to allow for legalization of sobriety checkpoints (which state law currently forbids) and the requirement of ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders, not just those who have been arrested more than once.

Contact a San Antonio drunk driving attorney at the Herrera Law Firm. Call 800-455-1054 for a free case consultation.

San Antonio Traffic Jams and the Risk of Collisions

In 2013, drivers in San Antonio spent a little more than 13 hours sitting in traffic on expressways over the course of the year. Comparisons of traffic congestion across major metropolitan areas showed that San Antonio does not have as much traffic congestion as several other cities in Texas.

Most experts agree that drivers are less likely to be in severe accidents in congested area. The heavy traffic forces a slower speed, reducing the risk of major injuries or fatalities. However, the overall risk of collisions can increase with cars in close proximity to each other. The risk may be greatest when a driver comes upon a “sudden” traffic jam, or a line of stopped vehicles he may not have been expecting.

Motorists are expected to drive carefully and adjust their speed and behavior to traffic conditions. A failure to do so could result in liability for any collision that occurs because of negligent driving behavior. A San Antonio accident attorney can help victims who are harmed in a collision to take legal action against those responsible.

Traffic Conditions in San Antonio

San Antonio ranked #39 out of the large metro areas in America in a survey measuring traffic congestion caused. Traffic jams caused by construction or collisions were not factored.

San Antonio’s traffic issues were much less severe than other cities in Texas that made the list of most congested areas.  Austin was the fourth worst metro area in the U.S. for congestion and residents spent more than 41 hours in 2013 sitting in traffic. Houston was number 20 on the list, with motorists sitting in traffic for 26.7 hours. Dallas was just below, at 22.1 hours and coming in as number 25 on the list. The worst city in the whole country was Los Angeles, where drivers lost 64.4 hours due to congested traffic.

Traffic congestion can have a major impact on crash rates. One study indicated that crash severity was reduced by more than half in cases where all lanes had similar heavy traffic volumes. However, in cases where all lanes have similar levels of traffic congestion, increases in collisions with fixed objects tends to occur more frequently. This could be explained by driver efforts to avoid crashing into other vehicles by swerving into objects. When left and interior lanes are congested, on the other hand, the risk of side-impact and rear-end collisions may increase.

A survey of more than 8,000 drivers indicated that “sudden jams” may be especially dangerous for motorists. A total of 35 percent of respondents said they had been in a collision because they were not able to stop when they came upon unexpected traffic. Although 64 percent of drivers claimed to know the stopping distance they would need to avoid a collision, only 28 percent of motorists actually knew in advance how far they needed to brake when going at 60 miles per hour.

A San Antonio accident attorney can help collision victims. Call the Herrera Law Firm at 1-800-455-1054 to schedule a free consultation.

San Antonio Traffic Accidents & Hidden Risks of Exhaustion

A San Antonio woman is sharing the story of her tragic motor vehicle collision in an effort to draw attention to the problem of drowsy driving.  Her husband was killed in the collision in 2009, and she had her legs, pelvis, ribs, elbow and facial bones broken. The accident happened when a drowsy driver hit the couple’s vehicle, causing it to roll over multiple times. She wants motorists to know that fatigued driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving and hopes that going public will make motorists think twice about driving while they are too tired. 

In some ways, drowsy driving is actually more dangerous than drunk driving because it is harder to prevent. There’s no current test for drowsy driving, although this may change in the future. Until a test is developed, victims will need to rely on witness statements and expert testimony to prove fatigue caused their crash injuries.

A personal injury lawyer in San Antonio can help victims to pursue claims for compensation against fatigued drivers. Call the Herrera Law Firm for a confidential legal consultation.

Research Underway to Tackle Drowsy Driving Issues

A Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) was recently launched at Monash University in Australia, and it is the first ever consortium dedicated to studying sleep disruption.  The CRC is an allegiance of academics, regulators, technology companies and employers who are all joining together to develop new technologies to reduce drowsy driving risks.

The Centre will be focused on multiple goals, including finding ways to better identify people at risk of insomnia, sleep apnea and other disorders that make rest difficult. Current diagnostic tools for sleep disorders are limited, and it can be difficult for people to get treatment to avoid excess fatigue.  If people are properly diagnosed and their conditions managed, they are less likely to doze off while driving.

CRC hopes to save the healthcare system $2 billion in costs associated with fatigue-related injuries and to deliver $196.4 million in public health benefits over the course of 15 years. Helping people get enough sleep could reduce the rate of drowsy driving crashes and be an important step in this effort.

However, one of the most important projects that CRC is undertaking involves developing a test for drowsy driving.  Researchers believe a device could be created that will test a person’s sweat or saliva for newly-discovered biomarkers of alertness. The test will serve as a real-time, accurate assessment of whether the person is alert.

The test is being proposed as a means of helping employers, who can test workers for alertness before the employees are allowed to operate machinery. However, it also has an important application in car accident cases. A driver who causes a crash could be tested to see if he was sufficiently alert. If the alertness biomarkers show he wasn’t, this could be used as evidence in holding him legally liable for the collision.

A personal injury lawyer in San Antonio can help collision victims. Call the Herrera Law Firm at 1-800-455-1054 or visit www.herreralaw.com to schedule a free consultation.

Holidays a Dangerous Time on the Roads

Many drivers in the United States are angry, with the Washington Post reporting that 12 percent of drivers responding said that they frequently felt road rage and 21 percent of responding drivers saying that they felt occasional hostility to their fellow drivers at least sometimes.

The large percentage of drivers that are prone to anger behind the wheel results in dangerous choices that cause accidents. This is especially true when motorist are feeling stressed, since around a third of all drivers say that they are more likely to become aggressive on the roads as a result of feelings of pressure or anxiety.   Unfortunately, stress happens a lot around the holidays, so it should come as no surprise that car accident claims increase by as much as 20 percent through the month of December.

The Holiday Season is a Time for Road Rage

Car accident lawyers in San Antonio know that the month of December is a time when there are many drivers on the roads and when traffic is usually bad. Drivers may be on the roads more because they are getting holiday shopping done or because they are traveling to visit family over the festive season.

Far too many drivers on the roads in December are intoxicated, especially if they are coming from holiday parties or special events. Others may simply be frustrated and may be taking this anger out on other motorists. A State Farm Insurance report, for example, found that 32 percent of drivers were likely to become more aggressive during the holiday season. Drivers may also be more distracted in the month of December, as pointed out by a University of Alabama Professor who studies holiday traffic and who warns that a  person whose “mind is on other things” is more likely to pull out in front of you or otherwise make  careless driving choice.

Distraction, intoxication and road rage are three of the biggest risk factors for car accidents, along with speeding, which is also a problem during the holidays according to the deputy executive director of the Governors’ Highway Safety Association. Motorists who are on the roads in December need to do everything they can to try to avoid these risks by making sure they pay attention to the road, never drive drunk, and avoid giving into anger or anxiety while behind the wheel.

Practicing these safe driving tips is important throughout the month, but there are certain days that are more dangerous than others. The six days surrounding the 25th of December have been described as the most dangerous of the month. During these six days, 18 percent more crashes happen than over Thanksgiving weekend and 27 percent more accidents happen than occur on New Years Eve.  Drivers should stay off the roads during this time if they can, especially on the Friday before Christmas when there is commuting traffic, traffic from last-minute shoppers and traffic from people traveling home. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are much safer days on the road for drivers to travel since there tend to be few people out on those days.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a free case evaluation.

Texas Traffic Safety Watch: NHTSA Under Fire

Over the past four decades, the numbers of auto accident deaths and serious injuries have declined, in large part because of new safety features and advances in driver safety technology. Advancements and changes ranging from required seat belts in every car to the standard use of anti-lock brakes have all contributed to helping drivers and passengers to be safer behind the wheel.

Any car accident lawyer in San Antonio knows that many of the positive changes that have occurred to reduce car accident deaths have happened because of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA was created in 1966 and in its first decade in existence, the agency passed more than 50 regulations and requirements imposing mandates on automakers. Much of the safety framework the NHTSA put into place is still in effect today and still shapes the way cars are made.

The NHTSA, however, is not making rules the way it used to. In fact, there are serious concerns about whether the NHTSA is doing enough to protect the safety of passengers.  In light of these concerns, a lawsuit was filed in September and a Senate Hearing was convened to take a closer look at the role of the NHTSA and whether the agency was fulfilling its role.

NHTSA Is Focused on Recalls, Not Rule Making

Many experts indicate that the focus of the NHTSA has changed in recent years and that the agency is now primarily concerned with recalling vehicles after the cars have proven to be unsafe for drivers. In other words, instead of being proactive and working to stop accidents, the NHTSA is instead being reactive and only recalling cars when forced to do so because of serious problems.

According to Auto Blog, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Panel is concerned that not only is the NHTSA declining to use its initiative to make new rules that could improve safety, but also that the NHTSA is actually defying congress by not passing regulations that it was expressly ordered to put in place.

The concern of the Senate Judiciary panel centers in part around a new mandate to require rear view cameras in all cars. The mandate was passed as far back in 2008 as part of a transportation safety act designed to make kids safer on the roads. The rearview camera requirement was promoted by lawmakers because more than 100 children under the age of five die each year in a backover accident when someone is backing out of a parking space, driveway or other location. With a rearview camera, these lives could be saved.  Unfortunately, the NHTSA has delayed five separate time to actually put the rear-view camera regulation in place. This delay also prompted a lawsuit to be filed in September.

Hopefully, the concerns of the senate coupled with the threat of legal action will lead the NHTSA to take the actions it is supposed to take to protect the public from auto accident risks.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a free case evaluation.

San Antonio Rollover Accident Important Reminder of the Dangers of Speeding in Trucks

Early this July, a San Antonio driver was reportedly speeding in his pickup truck when he took a curve on Terron Road and lost control of his truck near Roland, causing the vehicle to roll over. The truck was wrecked in the rollover accident, although fortunately there are no reports that anyone was seriously injured. The truck was the only vehicle involved in the crash.

The driver was arrested following the crash, with Fox San Antonio indicating that he may have been intoxicated. While his intoxication likely played a role in the accident, our San Antonio truck accident lawyers know that even sober drivers are prone to rolling over when they take curves too fast. This is especially true if the driver is operating a truck or SUV at the time of an accident.

Trucks Prone to Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents occur when a vehicle starts to skid sideways and the car tips over.  These types of crashes are most likely to occur:

  • When a vehicle has a narrow track width, which refers to the distance between the left wheel and the right wheel of the vehicle.
  • When a vehicle has a high center of gravity.
  • When a vehicle is traveling at high speeds.
  • When a vehicle is traveling around curves.
  • When the roads are wet or slippery, affecting traction and increasing the chances of a vehicle skidding sideways.

Unfortunately, trucks, SUVS and minivans are the three types of vehicles most likely to be involved in rollover crashes. These types of vehicles are prone to rolling over as a result of the fact that the center of gravity is normally higher.

Those who carry heavy loads in their trucks may also exacerbate the risks associated with rollover crashes if they fail to balance their loads properly. While professional truck drivers are expected to ensure that their loads are balanced as part of the work they perform in delivering goods and materials, individuals with pickup trucks may be unaware of how to ensure that their vehicle loads are properly balanced.

The Dangers of Rollover Crashes

The San Antonio driver who was recently involved in the rollover crash was very lucky that he did not seriously injure himself or others. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated that more than 10,000 people die each year as a direct result of rollover accidents, with many of the fatal crashes involving the driver of the vehicle being thrown or ejected. There are around 280,000 total rollover crashes each year, many of which are single car accidents that happen at night and that often involve males under the age of 25.  These rollover accidents often involve alcohol, as this recent crash likely did.

If the driver is found to have been intoxicated at the time of the rollover crash, he faces charges for driving under the influence. If he had injured any others in his rollover accident, he also would have been liable to the accident victims for injuries they sustained.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a free case evaluation.