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When it comes to car accidents, there’s a broad spectrum of damage and the emotions that accompany it. From the bitter annoyance of your car getting bumped in a parking lot to the absolute turmoil of a more serious, life threatening accident. Where ever an accident falls on the spectrum, there is one emotion that can follow any accident: dread. In the weeks following a very minor incident in a crowded parking garage, I felt this dread. My driving became hyper aware, nervous that a possible accident was around ever corner. While this rapt attention is certainly appropriate, the dread only subsided when I recognized how to react when an accident does occur. In this post today, we’ll discuss what to do when you’re in an accident.

Keep in mind, every accident is different. Some steps apply more to certain types of car accidents than others. Think of each step as being prefaced with “as necessary.”

  1. Stay calm!

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A new study is raising questions about whether delayed school timings could decrease the number of auto accidents in which teenagers are involved. The thought is that helping teenagers get enough sleep at night would allow them to drive more safely the next day thereby decreasing the likelihood of auto accidents.

The study conducted by researchers in Virginia, compared two towns, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. In Virginia Beach, classes started at around 7:20 AM, and the number of auto accidents involving teen motorists there was 41% higher than the number of auto accidents in Chesapeake, where the classes started at around 8:40 AM.

This wasn’t the first study that indicated that lack of sleep may be another contributing factor increasing a teen motorist’s risk of an accident. Last year, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that there was a reduction in teen auto accident rates by approximately 16.5% when school times were delayed by an hour.

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Previously undisclosed documents that have now been made public, courtesy the Freedom of Information Act, show that federal auto safety agencies had access to thousands of pages of research that showed a clear risk of increased number of accidents because of cell phone use by motorists.In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had that information back in 2003, but chose not to make it public.

The documents have been obtained by two consumer safety groups, Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety who filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.The documents have been published by the New York Times.

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A family from Bartow family escaped what could have been potentially serious burn injuries, after a van accident caused by a tire blowout.

According to news reports, David and Sarah Joe King were traveling in their van with their two daughters on their way to South Carolina when the back left tire blew out. Tire blowouts happen quite often, and David did what is recommended in such cases. He pulled the Dodge Caravan over the side to the I-75, but within seconds, the van burst into flames. That doesn’t usually happen after a tire blowout, but in this case, it appears that the exploded tire struck the gas tank, causing it to burst into flames. David, Sarah Jo and their daughter Michelle suffered burn injuries, and Michelle and Sarah Joe had to undergo surgery. All the injured are expected to recover, and know that they are lucky to escape what could have been a serious accident.

According to Sarah Jo, the tire that blew out, was the only one they didn’t change. Tire blowouts are responsible for thousands of injuries and accidents across the country and across Georgia.A tire blowout when you’re driving can be a terrifying experience. A blowout could occur when the vehicle runs over a nail or on a hot road, or when it’s traveling at excessive speeds. In fact, a motorist doesn’t even have to be doing these for a blowout to occur. A defective or outdated tire could result in an unexpected and dangerous blow out.

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Earlier this month, we reported on an accident involving a car and a rental truck in Lowndes County on I-75. The accident, that occurred just before the Fourth of July weekend, left four people dead. Days later, several other details have emerged. Georgia State Patrol now believes that road rage could have been a possible factor in that crash.

The victims were four female passengers, including a mother, her two young daughters and her boyfriend, Jerome Roberts. Police are looking into whether road rage on the part of Roberts could have been a factor in the car accident. The tragic sequence of events unfolded when another motorist, Douglas Jones, called police to tell them that a driver in a gold 2003 Saturn Vue was driving recklessly and aggressively. A rental truck driver then struck both Jones’ car and the Saturn Vue. The passengers in the Saturn Vue were trapped, and both the rental truck and the Saturn caught fire. Witnesses at the scene pulled Roberts from his car, but he was declared dead at the scene. The three female passengers died in the car from serious burin injuries. Douglas Jones also suffered injuries. According to the police, they were still on the phone with him when the crash occurred.

The Georgia State Patrol has listed Jerome Roberts as the at-fault driver in its accident report.

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As we discussed earlier on this blog, Atlanta’s drivers are not only some of the rudest, but also some of the worst motorists in the country.Apparently, there’s more glowing praise for us. A survey ranks the city at No. 3 on a list of the most traffic congested cities in the nation.

While the number of vehicles on our roads over the past year has dropped somewhat because of rising gas prices and the recession, and this has contributed to a drop in accident rates, Atlanta’s traffic continues to be congested. Our city ranks behind Los Angeles and Washington DC, and ahead of Houston and San Francisco in the study. According to the results, the average motorist in Atlanta spends about 57 hours in the year simply stuck in traffic.

There seems to have been a slight improvement over the last couple of years however, and that’s probably due to the rise in gas prices. In 2007 which is the year the study considered, gas prices were $3 a gallon in Atlanta, which could account for the slight drop in congestion rates. However, we don’t yet have figures for 2008, which is when gas prices touched $4 a gallon, further cutting down non-essential travel in metro Atlanta.

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A report by a transportation development advocacy group says that the country could save more than $200 billion from automobile accidents if it invests in better highway design, maintenance and repairs.

The Washington Post has this interesting report about how road-related conditions are responsible for more than half of the 42,000 accident-related deaths that occur each year. Contrary to popular perception, it’s poorly positioned utility poles, steep curves, road obstructions and other hazards that contribute to the most number of accident-related deaths in the country- not drunk driving, speeding or failure to wear seatbelts.

Consider this:

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Last month, we reported that Georgia’s drivers ranked poorly in a survey of motorists based on their knowledge of safe driving practices. As it turns out, motorists in the state’s capital may not only be lacking in their knowledge of safe driving, but may also be aggressive to boot.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a new survey has placed Atlanta among the five worst cities in the country as far as road rage and aggressive driving are concerned. Drivers in New York are reportedly the worst, with Dallas Fort Worth, Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul following. What that means is that motorists in these cities and Atlanta are more likely to tailgate or make rude gestures, weave in and out of traffic lanes and indulge in other forms of aggressive behavior.

Road rage incidents are more common in metropolitan cities that have busy roads. Congested roads mean traffic delays, and consequently, frayed tempers.

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A survey by GMAC Insurance confirms what Georgia car accident lawyers have known for very long – the state’s drivers are not too solid in their knowledge of traffic rules.

The questionnaire consisted of a set of 20 questions from actual driving tests from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Drivers across the country were questioned on their knowledge of driving and traffic rules. The survey ranked drivers in Georgia at near the bottom of all the states. Seventy percent constituted a passing grade on the test. Drivers in Georgia scored an average of 72.2 percent. Thirty-four and one half of Georgians surveyed failed the test. That’s more than a third of surveyed drivers.  The average test score results this year were lower than last year’s.

Respondents who took the test seem to have had the most problems with yellow lights and the minimum distance to be kept between vehicles. California, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York ranked below Georgia, with New York ranked at the absolute bottom. The best drivers apparently are in Idaho and Wisconsin.

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Before Friday’s tragic car accident, South Cobb High School teacher James Chapman was looking forward to a life of wedded bless.

Chapman was due to be married on the 4th of July in Rome, and had been on his way to New Orleans to celebrate his upcoming nuptials. He was driving with his friend Keith. Both had just finished the last day of school at South Cobb High School where Chapman taught Social Studies and coached a baseball team. Chapman’s car collided head-on with a car driven by 74-year-old Homer Phillips in the southbound lane of Interstate 59. Phillips seems to have been driving the wrong way in a pickup truck, when he crashed into Chapman’s pickup. Phillip’s vehicle then hit another car which rolled over. Both Phillips and Chapman were killed at the scene.

According to police, Phillips was not under the influence of alcohol. They don’t know yet why he was driving the wrong way.

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