Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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Even as the number of adult drivers being killed in car accidents is on the rise, there has been a sharp drop in the number of teen drivers being killed in car accidents. According to new data by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, there has been a significant drop of 44% in the number of teen drivers killed in auto accidents.

The  Governor’s Highway Safety Association analyzed  data from the Fatality  Analysis Reporting System over the past 2 decades, and found that during this time, there was a 38.1% drop in the number of fatal car accidents involving drivers between the age of 15  and 20. During the same period of time, there was also a 44.7% drop in the number of teenagers in this age category being killed in car accidents.  However, there was a 11% increase in the number of car accident deaths involving older drivers. The rate of fatal car accidents involving an older driver above the age of 21 also increased by 7.8% during the same period of time.

What this shows is that while the progress made in reducing the number of car accident deaths involving adult drivers has seemingly reversed, the efforts by organizations like the Governor’s Highway Safety Association to protect teenage drivers and keep them safe in car accidents seem to be showing results. In Georgia, the rate of fatal teen car accidents involving drivers below the age of 21 stood at 6.51 in 2002, and this rate dropped to 4.93 by 2021. The rate of involvement of drivers above the age of 21 in fatal car accidents stood at 2.14 in 2002, and increased to 2.15 in 2021.

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Just over a month into 2024, and road transportation authorities are already reporting record driving volumes across the United States.  As historically seen, high rates of driving typically translate into a higher rate of car accidents.

According to the Department of Transportation, in 2023, US drivers took to the roads in record numbers, traveling 3.263 trillion miles. That was a significant increase of 2.1% and a new yearly record.  Overall,  according to transportation authorities, road travel across the country last year increased by 67.5 billion miles with an increase of 2.2% in December.  Travel is back not just to pre – pandemic levels, but also higher than the levels recorded before 2020.

There have been a couple of solid reasons for the increase in vehicular traffic.  Foremost has been the return to the workplace for many American workers.  Employers are terminating  their work from home phases, and companies are     actively encouraging their employees to return to offices. In an uncertain job market, many employees have chosen to obey the call to return to the workplace, rather than insist on a work from home arrangement. That has meant more congested car traffic in Georgia and across the country.  Holiday traffic in 2023 was also at significantly high volumes, and many Americans who had been limited by their ability to travel since 2020 chose to travel during holidays to meet family and friends.  Adding to the desire to travel by road has been significantly lower gasoline prices. Low gas prices typically translate into higher road travel for Americans.

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If a group of Atlanta Council members has its way, motorists will no longer be able to make a right turn when they are at a red light.  The move is linked to concerns about the risk of car accidents involving pedestrians.

The so- called Right on Red laws were enacted across the country back in the 1970s in the midst of a fuel crisis.  The law allows motorists the right to make a right turn at a red light, provided they stop first and it is safe to turn.  However, authorities found out very quickly after the laws were passed, that while the laws did not really do much to increase fuel efficiency, they did increase the risk of car accidents involving pedestrians when drivers made  right turns at red lights.  Even back in the 1970s, officials found that there was a higher risk of auto accidents involving pedestrians in these areas.

Recently, however, there have been efforts across the country to get these laws repealed or banned.  According  to transportation safety experts, these laws do contribute to large numbers of  car accidents every year involving pedestrians,   and many of these auto accidents result in catastrophic personal injuries to the pedestrians.  Now, a group of three Atlanta Council members also has proposed a ban on such right turns at red lights in certain areas in the city.  The three Council members are proposing a ban on these actions in Midtown, Downtown and Castleberry Hill.  These are busy areas that are chock full of entertainment venues and cultural attractions, and see large   volumes of pedestrian traffic.  According  to the Council members,  it is important to keep these areas thriving,  and that  can happen only when the laws make it safe for pedestrians to walk in these neighborhoods.

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Driving while distracted is a complex phenomenon, and there are a varied number of distractions that can affect a motorist’s ability to drive safely and avoid car accidents.  However, cell phone use behind the wheel continues to remain the number one factor causing distracted driving accidents.

That information comes from a new study released by the Insurance Information Institute. The study report titled Distracted Driving: State of the Risk underscores the fact that distracted driving as a car accident factor has become even more prominent since the pandemic.  According to the report, there has been a significant 20% increase in distracted driving in the United States between February 2020 and February 2022. Even that might be a much lower figure than reality as distracted driving remains widely under- reported. It is still very challenging for law enforcement officers in many states to pull over drivers who are distracted by their cell phones, and very often, these actions go undetected. The report estimates that even a 10% increase in distracted driving kills more than 420 people, and results in more than $4 billion dollars in damages every year.

The Insurance Information Institute says it has also found a significant increase in the amount of time that motorists spend on their cell phones while actually in motion. While cell phone use and texting continue to be the primary distracted driving behaviors, many motorists are also spending a lot of their time browsing the internet while driving.  They are also reading and answering emails while at the wheel.  Other distracting activities include taking selfies while driving.

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If you are driving in a car with a driver who is texting at the wheel, then your chances of being involved in an auto accident increase significantly.  However, there is much that you can do as a passenger to avoid car accidents caused by distracted driving.

Most motorists are aware of the dangers of texting while driving, but unfortunately, that does not necessarily prevent many of them from using their texting devices while driving. Georgia has laws that ban sending or receiving text messages while driving, but there are far too many drivers who abuse cell phone privileges behind the wheel. However, passengers may have a big role to play in helping reduce the incidence of such behaviors.

Insurance provider Erie recently consulted with a psychologist, and provided tips for passengers who see the driver of the car texting while driving.  It is imperative that you speak up when you are traveling in a car and you see the driver texting while driving.  Erie’s advice is that you negotiate with the driver.  Tell him that if he or she really needs to be on his cell phone, you can take over his driving duties while he continues with his text messaging or cell phone conversation.  This makes the driver aware that you are uncomfortable with the fact that he is texting while driving, and also gives him an alternate option that allows him to continue texting  while ensuring  everyone’s safety.

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The federal government is not amused by the witty highway safety messages that are posted on several highways across the country, including in Georgia, to prevent auto accidents.   The federal government has banned these humorous electronic safety messages across the country.

The Federal Highway Administration, which is in charge of regulating the nation’s massive network of highways, recently released a 1000 – page manual which also includes rules for the design of safety signs. The manual  makes it clear that it considers these messages to be distracting. Rather than preventing auto accidents, the FHA believes the messages make car accidents more likely.

Over the past few years, several states including Georgia, have attempted  to attract motorist  attention to highway safety issues by posting humorous safety messages that use wordplay,  a pun-friendly  style or references to pop culture to grab eyeballs.  Georgia transportation safety experts experimented with these witty signs, and in 2020, held a contest to find the most humorous sign ideas.  Winning entries included gems like You Look Great, But the Selfie Can Wait, Better Late Than Never, and our favorite If You Missed the Exit, It’s OK, We Made More Up Ahead, and began flashing on several highways after these were picked out of hundreds of entries.  Over the next few months, however, many of these messages may simply be phased out as a result of the new federal rules.

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Older drivers may be at a high risk of being involved in car accidents, and those risks are simply exacerbated if they also suffer from migraines.

Migraines  are a common condition, especially among older people, but they may be dangerous for senior drivers.  According  to the results of a new study, older drivers who suffer   from migraines are as much as three times more likely to be involved in a car accident.   The results of the study were published  recently in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society. According to the researchers, migraines are already a common concern among older drivers with as many as 7% of senior drivers already diagnosed with migraines.   The  researchers believe that many   migraines  are undiagnosed  which means we probably have an increasing population of older drivers on our roads who have their driving abilities impacted by their severe headaches and remain unaware of this. The researchers found a threefold  increase in car accident risks for senior drivers in the 12 months after a diagnosis.  Medications  taken to control migraines do not seem to have any impact on car accident risks.

The researchers recommend that senior drivers who have recently been diagnosed with migraines discuss  the effects of the condition on their driving abilities with their doctor.  Be  especially careful about the kind of medications that you take to control the pain while you drive. Also understand the dangers of introducing alcohol to the mix when you are already on medications to treat your migraines.  Senior  drivers already face a number of safety risks when driving and these  could simply be compounded by their migraines.

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All manufacturers of light vehicles who signed a 2016 agreement  have fulfilled the commitment they made to equip their vehicles with crucial auto emergency braking systems to prevent car accidents.

The 2016 agreement was brought about by the efforts of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  Twenty automakers participated in the agreement in which they agreed to substantially increase the number of manufactured vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking systems. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, between August and September 2023, additional automakers fulfilled their pledge of installing auto emergency braking systems on 95% of their light vehicles. With this, all 20 automakers that signed the agreement are in fulfilment of their commitment.

This means that a majority of the light vehicles that weigh less than 8,500 pounds on our roads will be equipped with this crucial car accident prevention technology. Some auto manufacturers, including Honda, now have close to 100% of their light vehicles equipped with auto emergency braking systems while other manufacturers have at least 95% of their light vehicles equipped with these car accident prevention systems.

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A spinal cord injury can result in loss of muscle to a larger extent than can be  attributed to lack of movement and mobility.   A new study points to one of the lesser known, but longer term consequences of a spinal cord injury after an auto accident.

A spinal cord injury is a serious personal injury that is caused when there is an injury to the spine during an auto accident, or motorcycle accident or pedestrian accident.  Spinal cord injuries may also be caused in slip and fall accidents.  The  degree and severity of the spinal cord injury can depend on the location of the vertebrae where the injury occurs.  Spinal cord injuries can result in loss of movement and mobility making it impossible for the person to  stand, walk and otherwise use his or her limbs.  These personal injuries  significantly alter a person’s life and  his ability to earn a living and live a  normal life after the personal injury.

A new study finds that there are long term consequences of a spinal injury that we may not be aware of.  The  study recently found that a spinal cord injury can cause significant muscle wastage in patients.  Some degree of muscle wastage in patients who have suffered a spinal cord injury is to be expected because of the lack of movement and exercise that can cause muscles to wither away.  According  to the study, however,  the kind of muscle wastage that a person with these injuries suffers cannot simply be explained away by lack of movement.  In fact, the researchers believe that it has more to do with the ability of the adrenal glands to receive nerve signals.

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The federal administration has kickstarted the rule-making process that would require drunk driving car accident prevention technology on all new cars.

This welcome announcement was made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which recently  announced that it has started work on the rule- making process that would require  impaired driving prevention systems on all new cars.  These  systems  that work to prevent drivers from operating a vehicle include technology that measures the amount of alcohol on a person’s breath and prevents him from operating the engine if it detects a certain amount of alcohol in his system.  This  technology is very similar to the ignition interlock systems that are currently used in several states, including Georgia, as penalties for repeat drunk driving offenders.  Other  technologies that will be reviewed  include camera systems that can monitor eye movements in order to identify if a driver is impaired or driving under the influence of alcohol.

At this point, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiative   would  allow  regulators to collect data about the various systems that are currently in place in automobiles and their impact in reducing the incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol.  If things reach their preferred conclusion, we could have drunk driving auto accident prevention sensors, cameras or other systems in all new cars as a standard feature.  There is no doubt that this could significantly help reduce the number of car accidents caused by impaired drivers.

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