Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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In  2017, 40% of automobile marketing focused on the performance or speed of the cars.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, such promotion of speeds can undermine  efforts towards reducing car accidents numbers resulting in a significant number of personal injuries and wrongful deaths.

According to the analysis, the percentage of automobile marketing that focuses on performance has not budged much over the past few decades.  In 1998, for instance, as much as half of all automobile marketing efforts focused on the speed of the vehicle while in 2017, that number had dropped to  40%.  Clearly, automobile manufacturers continue to feel comfortable emphasizing  the performance and speed of these vehicles.  Unfortunately,  when it comes to  automobiles and their features, a clip of a speeding car is not just another advertisement.  Rather, it can encourage motorists to engage in dangerous and risky driving behaviors like driving at high speeds.

Every year, as many as 12,000 people are killed in auto accidents caused directly by a speeding driver.  More  than 300,000 people are injured in such accidents.  The  number of people being injured and killed in speeding- related car accidents has increased over the past few years with a spike  during the pandemic.  During those months when lockdowns ensured fewer vehicles on the road, too many motorists drove at high speeds, complacent  in the knowledge  that they would not be cited  for speeding violations.    Unfortunately, those behaviors have continued even after the pandemic  ended and  traffic volumes went back to normal.

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A combination of strong laws, enforcement and education campaigns is being credited for a drop in distracted driving rates in several states.

A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association finds that distracted driving is a major driver of car accident wrongful death rates. In 2021, distracted driving caused more than 12,000 wrongful deaths in car accidents and resulted in billions of dollars worth of property damage. However, some states have been very successful in reducing their accident fatality numbers.

The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released a report titled A Roadmap for Safer Roads. The report specifically looked at various states that have seen substantial success in reducing distracted driving accident rates and the techniques that have worked for these states. The Governors Highway Safety Association report found that a combination of strong laws, enforcement, education and auto technology was most effective in helping  drive down the number of people using their cell phones while driving.

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The  month of April is designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month,  and national as well as Georgia transportation agencies will pay special attention to raising awareness about the dangers of driving while not focusing on the road, in the weeks ahead. Distracted driving is a significant cause of car accidents, personal injuries and wrongful deaths.

Distractions while driving can include a number of activities that take your attention away from the task of driving.  These  activities can include commonly known ones involving the use of electronic devices while driving, such as cell phones, tablets and other electronic equipment in your vehicle.   The  kind of distractions that you experience as you are using your cell phone to make or receive phone calls or text messages while driving can really impact your ability to drive safely and increase your risks of being involved in a car accident.

However,  electronic distractions are not the only ones that plague Atlanta motorists.   Everyday,  thousands of American drivers are distracted because they are applying makeup,  snacking, drinking,  interacting with passengers in the car,  and doing a number of other activities that take their focus and concentration away from the task of driving.

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Federal transportation officials as well as state officials met in the nation’s  capital recently to discuss ways to reduce car accident wrongful deaths.

Most states were represented at the gathering with 17 states declining  to participate, and out of these, 10 of those states had traffic accident death rates that were higher than the national average in 2021.  For most transportation officials, the past couple of years have been frustrating to say the least. After several decades of declining traffic accident deaths,  the years  since the pandemic  have actually seen traffic accident deaths inching  upwards once again.  There have been increases reported in almost every category of accidents, from pedestrian accidents to speed – related accidents and distracted driving – related accidents.  Clearly,  new challenges have emerged since the pandemic and fresh strategies are required to deal with these.

Some states reported at the conference that  they have successfully limited the impact of poor driving on accident numbers through very simple steps.  These steps  have involved the use of simple techniques, like rumble strips on highways as well as reflective tape on stop signs in order to help motorists pay stronger attention to the task of driving. Some states are investing in corridors for pedestrians.  Others have increased fines on speeding while some states have focused on construction work zone safety with a specific focus on protecting construction workers in these dangerous zones. Many of these initiatives have  met with great success,  and provide a blueprint for other states to follow these efforts.

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The  United States recently crossed a  painful  milestone as it recorded 4 million car accident wrongful deaths since the first fatality was recorded in 1899.

The milestone is especially poignant because it comes as transportation authorities are grappling with the problem of increasing car accident deaths across the country, especially since the pandemic.  While there has been a slight progress in helping reverse that trend, car accident deaths, especially those related to distracted driving and speeding have simply skyrocketed over the past 2 years,  undoing much of the progress that has been made in this field over the past decade.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association is calling for better implementation of the National Roadways Safety Strategy , safer infrastructure, better protection for pedestrians  and bicyclists,  and stronger laws against distracted driving and drunk driving, as well as efficient after – accident care as the key to helping reduce the number of people being killed in these very preventable car accidents every year.

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Emory University will kick off a study later this year that will focus on the rates of seatbelt use as well as distracted driving rates among motorists in Georgia. The study is extremely important because the failure use a seatbelt and distracted driving account for a significant number of the personal injuries and wrongful deaths suffered in car accidents.

The  study is courtesy state funding for the  Injury Prevention Research Center at Emory. The Georgia Governor’s Office of  Highway Safety  has announced a grant of more than $296,000 for the division.  The  money will be used to better understand the kind of factors that affect driving behaviors among motorists in Georgia. The  Injury Prevention Research Center plans to send trained observers to more than 400 sites across the state, and study factors like gender and age group that affect rash driving behaviors.

The  Emory researchers will specifically focus on seatbelt usage rates across Georgia.   This is a particular area of concern for Georgia transportation authorities. Seatbelt usage rates across the state have been on a steady decline over the last couple of years. Georgia transportation authorities recorded seatbelt usage rates of 89.3% in 2022,  and these rates had dropped  to 87.6% last year.

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In 2022, an average of 5 people died in car accidents in Georgia every single day.  The state is now making strong efforts to help reduce those numbers and keep people safe on the roads. There is not one solution to the issue, which requires a multifaceted approach.

The Georgia Department of Public Health recently received funding of approximately $2.5 million specifically to be used in road safety initiatives.  The  grant by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be used to fund initiatives like the distribution of child car safety seats to motorists in Georgia.  The  funds will also be used to study and research factors involved in car accidents, specifically speeding and other common factors. More than $200,000 has also been earmarked for education and awareness campaigns across Georgia, as well as risk assessments of senior drivers above the age of 55.  The child car seat distribution initiative has already kicked off, and hundreds of parents across Georgia have received their safety seats.

The metro Atlanta region is a specific area of concern for Georgia transportation safety authorities.  Out of the last nine car accident deaths recorded in the state, 5 occurred in the metro Atlanta region alone.  These wrongful deaths have included fatalities in car accidents caused by drunk drivers and fatal auto accidents involving pedestrians.  Law enforcement officers in Georgia say that the biggest causes of car accident fatalities in the state remains drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving and rash driving.  Road rage is on the increase, and that has meant a spike in aggressive driving.

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A new report finds that there was a slight drop in the number of pedestrians killed in auto accidents during the first 6 months of last year. While any decrease in deaths from car accidents is welcome, the question remains what changes can be made to more greatly reduce the number of pedestrian accidents in which persons lose their lives.

The report which showed the slight drop in pedestrian wrongful deaths was released by the Governors Highway Safety Association and analyzed preliminary data from the first 6 months of 2023.   There  was some good news in the report. According  to the data, there was a slight drop of 4% in  the number of pedestrians killed in auto accidents between January and June of last year.   Many  states, including Georgia, saw significant drops in the number of car accident deaths involving pedestrians last year.

The rates of pedestrian accident deaths have shot up since the pandemic, and  especially during the worst days of 2022 when the numbers skyrocketed to their highest numbers in over 40 years.  Since  then, transportation safety experts in Georgia and around the country have struggled with bringing these numbers under control.  The challenge has been even greater now that there are more vehicles on the road as companies end their work -from -home policies and require employees to return to work.  The larger number of vehicles on the roads translates into a greater risk of being hit by a car while walking, and especially so  during challenging  times like these, when pedestrians are already at risk from a number of other factors that increase their risks of being involved in car  accidents like  poor infrastructure.

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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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While car accident wrongful death numbers in the rest of the developed world have been falling significantly, they have actually been on the rise in the United States.  Part of the reason for this, experts say, is the presence of massive or large automobiles on our roads.

Tall SUVs are extremely popular, and have been so for decades.  The  race to make these cars bigger and better has, unfortunately, resulted in serious safety consequences for motorists and pedestrians. Some of these tall trucks, especially those with blunt trunks, aim directly at the torso or neck of the average American woman. The height of these vehicles makes it almost impossible for motorists to see shorter pedestrians, like young children behind the car.  Even more devastating is the kind of impact that an auto accident with one of these monster-sized cars can result in.  An auto accident with a smaller car may leave passengers suffering injuries in the leg, while an accident with a tall pick up truck or SUV can leave a passenger with personal injuries to the upper torso or the head and neck, and these personal injuries can be infinitely more serious. They are often also fatal.

Not only are these cars bigger and stronger, but they also come with large blind zones in front of the vehicle. That means they are at risk of causing severe and catastrophic personal injuries to vulnerable users of the road like pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicycles involved in an auto accident with these tall pickup trucks and SUVs.  Of special worry is the large blind zone in front of these large vehicles.  In one study, experts wanted to study how difficult it is for the driver in one of these cars to identify child pedestrians in front of the car. The experts made children sit in a row in front of the car. They found that a woman driver sitting in the driver’s seat was only able to see the 10th child in the row.  Even an alert driver may not be able to identify child pedestrians in front of the car.  The kind of car accidents that these large cars cause are devastating and often result in deaths.

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