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New data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals both good and bad news for drivers and pedestrians.

The good news is that the agency recorded an overall drop in traffic accident fatalities across the United States in 2018. The bad news is that while there was a drop in the number of people killed in car accidents in the country last year, there was actually an uptick in the number of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities during the same period of time.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was a 2.4 percent drop in traffic accident deaths in 2018.  There were 36,560 traffic crash fatalities in 2018, compared to 37,473 deaths in 2018.  The fatality rate dropped from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018. This is also the lowest recorded fatality rate in five years.

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Children of all ages love Halloween. Between the costumes, the parties, and let’s not forget the candy, what’s not to like about Halloween if you are a kid.  But did you know that Halloween is actually the deadliest day of the year for children?  Children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on this day than any other day of the year.  And many of these accidents result in fatal injuries.

In fact, the National Safety Council ranks October as the second dangerous month of the year for children, due in large part to Halloween accidents. To keep your children safe while they are trick or treating this Halloween, here are some tips to make sure everyone enjoys the festivities.

First, your child’s costume should be bright and reflective.  You may even want to consider adding reflective strips to your child’s costume and have your child carry a flashlight.  At a minimum, have them wear glow-in-the-dark accessories or a glow stick to make them more visible.  The deadliest hours of trick-or-treating occurs during the time frame of 5:00 to 9:00 when daylight fades and turns into night.    Although many Halloween costumes lean towards the dark and ghoulish, a bright costume will make sure your child is visible and easily seen by motorist and will help to keep them safe.

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Far too many truck accidents are caused every year by drivers under the influence of drugs, especially those like methamphetamines which are specifically taken to help drivers stay awake for long periods of time.  When the effects of these drugs wear off, the driver may feel extremely fatigued and may fall asleep at the wheel.  This sets up not only the truck driver but everyone he is sharing the road with for a catastrophic accident with deadly results.

For years, truck drivers have been able to conceal records of their drug and alcohol use.  This was because of a loophole in the law that failed to provide a system through which potential employers could look at an applicant’s drug and alcohol use records. Fortunately, that will change soon.

Beginning in January 2020, all trucking companies will be required to check if the potential truck driver recruit they are planning to hire has a history of drug and alcohol use on the job. They can do this by going through the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse which contains these records.

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It happens all the time – a person gets injured in a motor vehicle accident and suffers serious injury.  The last thing the injured party wants to hear is that the person who caused the accident does not have car insurance.  Sometimes, the at-fault driver may have some car insurance, but it’s not enough to wholly compensate the injured victim.  So what can the injured person do to make sure they are fully compensated for their injuries?  This is where you uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in your own car insurance policy comes into play.

Georgia law requires that all vehicles have a minimum amount of liability insurance of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for body injury.  Unfortunately, many car owners do not comply with this law and are guilty of driving their car on the streets without any car insurance.  Even more unfortunate is the person who happens to get hit by one of these car owners and injured as a result.  There will be no insurance coverage by the at-fault driver to cover his injuries.  Other times, you may be injured in a car accident and even though the at-fault driver has the minimum amount of car insurance, the $25,000 is still not enough to compensate you for your injuries and medical bills.

Uninsured motorist coverage, or UM coverage, is exactly what it sounds like.  UM coverage is an option on your car insurance policy that provides you coverage if you are involved in a car accident with someone who does not have car insurance.  Underinsured motorist coverage, or UIM coverage, is the option on your car insurance policy that provides the extra coverage you need for when the at-fault driver’s minimum policy does not compensate you fully for your injuries.

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Spinal cord injuries can be caused by a variety of accidents, including auto or truck crashes, as well as motorcycle, pedestrian and bicycle accidents.  A serious fall accident can also result in a spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injuries are a type of catastrophic injury and can be a life-altering injury.  Broadly, any spinal injury may result in loss of sensation or movement in one or all limbs, loss of bladder and bowel control, loss of sexual function, pain, difficulty in breathing and other complications.

If you suffer a spinal cord injury, your ability to live your life as it was before the injury will be dramatically affected. Oftentimes, there needs to be modifications made to your home and car to make it possible for you to move about or be independently mobile.  Most people who have suffered a spinal cord injury, however, require long term care or assistance with daily activities.  This type of care can cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars and can be sometimes into the millions.

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There is no doubt that the metro-Atlanta area is growing by leaps and bounds.  With that growth comes increased traffic, congestion, and unfortunately motor vehicle accidents.   Some of these accidents can be deadly, especially when a pedestrian is involved.

DeKalb County is the second most dangerous county for pedestrians in Georgia, second only to Fulton County. In fact, between 2014 and 2016, there were a total of 67 pedestrian accident fatalities in DeKalb County. Pedestrian deaths, during this period of time, accounted for around one- third of all traffic accident fatalities in the county.

Alarmed by these statistics, officials at DeKalb County have decided to take firm and strategic action to reduce the number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents, and make the county roads safer for all. DeKalb County Health Board officials are discussing ways to reduce these fatalities with Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety officials, as well as representatives from the DeKalb County Police Department and other concerned pedestrian safety advocates.

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Roundabouts, or traffic circles, are becoming more and more popular with city planners lately to improve traffic flow and overall road safety.  In fact, you’ve probably run into one while driving in a residential area or around the local roads in your community.

Roundabouts have been around for decades, but are gaining more traction as an effective alternative to conventional traffic lights.  In a traditional roundabout, vehicles travel in one counterclockwise direction around a center island.  Vehicles that are entering the roundabout yield to those already in the traffic circle, and there are usually lanes for vehicles to exit the traffic circle onto their desired street.

The most common types of accidents that occur in traditional intersections are left-turn, t-one, and head-on collisions.  Roundabouts have been found to be very effective in intersections that involve high-crash locations, multiple left-turn configurations, and prolonged traffic light cycles.  In fact, some states, such as New York and Virginia, have opted to consider roundabouts as the first option for road planning versus conventional traffic lights.  There are even some smaller islands and regions where traffic lights have been replaced altogether by roundabouts.  Other benefits of traffic circles include reduced fuel consumption and emissions since car spend less time idling at traffic lights.

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Georgia has seen an increase in bicyclist on the roads in the past several years.  While the state laws have a few protections in place for bicyclists, the city of Dunwoody is going one step further and proposing a new law that have even tougher penalties for dangerous drivers, and make the roads safer for bicyclists.

The Dunwoody ordinance was introduced by City Councilman Tom Lambert.  Currently, Georgia laws require that vehicles maintain a distance of a minimum of 3 feet while passing bicyclists.  However, the ordinance would extend that provision to 6 feet, and would add trucks and commercial vehicles to the law.  These vehicles would be required to maintain a distance of a minimum of 6 feet while passing bicyclists.

The ordinance also proposes stiffer penalties for motorists who fail to respect the rights of bicyclists. It goes further than any other such similar ordinances passed elsewhere in the state, because it specifically targets motorists who engage in intimidating and harassing actions towards bicyclists. As many cyclists in Atlanta know, cyclists are far too vulnerable to road rage incidents, and are most likely to become victims of aggressive driving or harassment. Unfortunately, many motorists believe that the roads were created exclusively for the use of four-wheelers and passenger cars, and many do not respect bicyclist rights.  Despite encouraging everyone to “share the road,” not all do.

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It may be surprising to know that as many as half of all child passengers in the United States are travelling in car seats and booster seats that are incorrectly installed or not suitable for the child’s age or weight specifications. Yet, many parents continue to remain unaware that they may be placing their child at risk of serious injuries in an accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sponsoring Child Passenger Safety Week between September 15 and September 21 this year. The aim of the campaign is to make sure that parents know the importance of securing their child in the correct car seat for his age or weight, as well as making sure that the car seat is properly secured and installed. Parents should also remember to get their child’s car seat registered with the manufacturer.

One of the most important things to remember is to make sure that the car seat is installed correctly. You can get your car seat checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to ensure that it is correctly installed. Find a car safety seat inspection technician near you by using this tool. Remember, an incorrectly installed car seat is at risk of coming loose or collapsing in an accident, causing serious injuries to the child.

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We have all seen the army of Amazon delivery drivers throughout metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia.  They can be in box trucks, delivery vans or even passenger vehicles.  With the sheer number of deliveries being made by Amazon every day, one may wonder how many vehicle accidents involving these drivers occur on any given day. A recent article by ProPublica highlighted the retail giant Amazon and its policy regarding auto accidents involving delivery drivers.

Many of the deliveries made by Amazon are by drivers that are independent contractors, versus those with commercial delivery companies such as UPS or FedEx, or regular employees. The reason Amazon has chosen to use so many contractor drivers over the recent years is to cut costs.   This is because using contractors does not involve the overhead costs that are involved with regular employees.

The ProPublica article noted that since June of 2015, there have been more than 60 accidents involving the Amazon delivery drivers that resulted in very serious injuries.  Ten of these accidents were fatal.  These numbers were based on the limited data that was available, so there is a high likelihood of many more unreported accidents.