Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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While many states like Georgia have enacted laws targeting the prevention of car accidents caused by distracted driving,  some states have found more success in the use of these laws than others.  A new study finds that the secret to the success of these laws lies in their nature as well as the words used to define them.

Georgia’s laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving specifically prohibit a motorist from using his or her hand to hold a cell phone or other device while driving a vehicle.  A new study conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety finds that laws that are specifically worded to prevent motorists from using their hands to hold a cell phone or other device might be more successful in preventing  these behaviors and reducing the risk of car accidents caused by distracted driving,  compared to laws that do not have such specifically designed language.  The most successful laws, the study finds, are those that limit the use of hands to hold a cell phone for just the barest minimum possible interaction.

Many states have found it challenging to draft laws to reduce distracted driving. Part of the challenge has been the fact that over the past decade, cell phones have gone from being devices that people used to call people and have phone conversations with them and to send text messages, to mini personal computers.  Cell phones now act as cameras and GPS systems, and most Americans use them as payment portals.  Most of us check emails on cell phones rather than on computers.  In an environment like this, it becomes challenging to define the kind of activities that are prohibited while using a cell phone.

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Senior pedestrians are at a higher risk of being involved in auto accidents  when they are out walking.  However, a new study finds that simple improvements to road design can help significantly reduce the risk for older pedestrians.

Seniors between the age of 65 and 74 have some of the highest pedestrian accident rates.  In 2021, more than 700 pedestrian accidents involved persons in this age group.

In the study, researchers specifically focused on walking safety for seniors above the age of 65.  They thoroughly reviewed four years worth of crash data involving elderly pedestrians involved in car accidents, and found in their analysis that specific changes made to road design could help lower the risk for senior pedestrians.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reporting on close to 400 auto accidents involving cars equipped with driver assistance technologies.

Driver assistance technology is often touted as the way forward for motorist safety, and collecting data on any crashes involving these self-driving cars can be a means to help identify and prevent the kind of car accidents that result in serious injuries and wrongful deaths. As we move towards a world in which most vehicles on the road will be driverless or autonomous cars, it is important to track and identify data about auto accidents involving these cars.

In the first large -scale report of its kind released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency has confirmed that it has received data on close to 400 auto accidents involving driver assistance.  A total of 392 car accidents involving self-driving cars have been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Out of these, 273 involved Tesla’s Autopilot feature. Tesla was by far the most featured car in the accident data, but these car crashes also included vehicles with driver assistance technology from other automakers, including Honda, Toyota, BMW and General Motors. Honda cars were involved in 90 of the accidents, while Subaru vehicles were involved in approximately ten of the accidents that were reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Women remain skeptical about the safety of driverless autonomous cars.  A new study finds that while men are much more likely to be impressed by the car accident prevention features of autonomous auto technology, women are much more hesitant about adopting these vehicles. Many women believe there is an increased risk of auto accidents with these types of vehicles.

According to a new study conducted by Pew Research Centre, women on the whole are far more skeptical about the benefits of driverless cars as compared to men. Several studies have pointed to the benefits of such driverless technology on our roads, including the reduced risk of auto accidents.  As these vehicles become more popular and as the possibility of sharing roads with more and more driverless cars becomes more of a reality and less a distant vision for the future, it becomes important to also understand why such a large section of the population remains skeptical about their safety.

According to the Pew Research Center study, as many as half of all men believe that driving an autonomous car can reduce the risk of being fatally injured in an auto accident.  However, when it came to women, only 1 in 3 women shared that view. Men are enthusiastic evangelists for the autonomous car with 37% of them strongly believing that driverless car technology is good for society while only 17% of women seemed to believe so.  When asked whether they would feel comfortable sharing the roads with driverless cars once these become more popular on the roads, more than half of the women or 54% of them admitted that they would not feel safe with these cars on the road, while 35% of men admitted to feeling unsafe sharing the roads with driverless cars. Close to half or 46% of the men said that they would be perfectly comfortable being a passenger in an autonomous car, but women were very hesitant to ride in a self-driving car, with over half of them admitting that they would not be fine travelling as a passenger in a self-driving car.  When it comes to driverless trucks, however, the views of men and women are more aligned. Fifty-three (53%) of the men and 66% of the women admitted that they were not comfortable with having driverless trucks on our roads.

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The administration has finalized a rule that is meant to protect motorists and drivers of light passenger vehicles from serious injuries in a truck accident with large commercial trucks for tractor trailers.

A serious underride truck accident can involve devastating personal injuries, including decapitation. In these truck accidents, the motorist may hit the back of the tractor trailer, resulting in the smaller passenger vehicle sliding under the tractor trailer.  Head and neck personal injuries are common in such types of truck accidents, and decapitation is not unheard of either.

For years now, passenger safety advocates have called for stricter restrictions on the design of commercial trucks and 18-wheelers that will prevent such truck accidents from taking place. The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced that it has finalized rules that will update the current federal standards for underride protection. As part of the rule, trucks must come with rear impact guards that will absorb the energy of the impact, and prevent motorists from sliding under the tractor trailer.

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The federal administration has released the final traffic accident fatality data for the year 2020, and the results are even worse than we expected. The administration confirms that the number of traffic accident deaths in 2020 was not just high, but also actually the highest on record in 15 years.

According to the data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 38,824 traffic accident fatalities in 2020. This was a significant 6.8% increase in the number of traffic accident deaths recorded in 2019.  In 2019, there were a total of 36,355 traffic accident fatalities recorded by the federal administration.

However, there was a significant decrease in the number of overall accidents and injuries in 2019. In fact, there was a staggering 22% decrease in accidents since 2019. Interestingly enough, the number of people injured in accidents actually dropped by approximately 17% in 2020, compared to the previous year.

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The Governors Highway Safety Association says that pedestrian accident fatalities increased significantly in 2020 and the months after. Seven states, including the state of Georgia, contributed to more than 50% of those pedestrian accident deaths.

Previous data has shown that the number of motor vehicle crash–related deaths across the country overall has increased since 2020, and pedestrian accident fatalities seem to have constituted a significant percentage of the total. In 2020, according to data by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a total of 6,700 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents across the country. That was a statistically significant increase of 5% over the 6,412 pedestrians who were killed in accidents in 2019.

The pedestrian accident fatality rate in 2020 actually rose to 21% in spite of the fact that there were fewer vehicles on the road as a result of the pandemic. The fact that there were fewer vehicles on the road does not seem to have had any kind of negative impact on the number of accidents on our roads, and this is a matter of huge concern.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is projecting a significant 12% increase in the number of people killed in traffic accidents in the first nine months of last year. According to the projected estimates by the federal agency, a total of 31,720 people were killed in traffic accidents between January and September of 2021. That makes it an increase of 12 percent from the same period of time the previous year.

But the news gets worse.  This increase marks the highest number of deaths in traffic accidents in the first nine months of any year since 2006. That means that fatalities during the first nine months of 2021 are projected to be the highest in more than 15 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also estimates that the number of vehicle miles travelled in the first nine months of 2021 also increased by close to 2 percent compared to the same period of time the previous year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration divided the country into several regions with Georgia falling in Region 4. This region accounted for a 14% increase in fatalities in the first nine months of last year. Georgia’s performance mirrors the national average, and the state recorded a 12.2 percent increase in traffic accident deaths in 2021 compared to the previous year. In 2020, 1,185 deaths had been recorded in traffic accidents in the first nine months of the year, and that number has increased to 1,330 deaths in 2021. Increases were seen in 38 states, while in 10 states the numbers actually decreased, and in two states, there was no change in the numbers between 2020 and 2021.

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The federal administration is moving ahead in its plans to reduce the number of Americans being killed in traffic accidents every year with the announcement of a new strategy with the same objectives.

The Department of Transportation has published its National Roadway Safety Strategy with a goal of reducing the number of people killed in traffic accidents.  95% of transportation-related accidents in the country occur on our roads and highways.  The Department of Transportation estimates that 20,160 people died in transportation related accidents across the country in the first six months of 2021. That was an increase of 18.4%, compared to the first six months of the previous year. These numbers do not include the thousands of injuries that have occurred in these accidents, leaving victims severely or permanently injured, and burdening families with medical and other expenses.

In 2019, according to the Department of Transportation, Georgia ranked in the top 25% of states in number of fatalities with a total of 1,491 fatalities occurring in the state in transportation related accidents that year. Georgia is also close to the top of the list when it comes to the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles travelled with a rate of 1.12 roadway traffic fatality deaths for every 100 million miles travelled.

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New crash tests clearly highlight the importance of rear seat belts in preventing serious personal injuries in car accidents. The results of these tests are likely to spur efforts towards keeping back seat passengers safe in auto accidents.

Safety experts at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released the results of new tests specifically focused on the role of seatbelts in preventing personal injuries to passengers riding in the back. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was specifically looking at whether seatbelt technologies that have been shown to have excellent personal injury protection capabilities for front seat passengers and drivers, can also perform equally well in protecting rear seat passengers. The crash tests resulted in a new set of ratings for rear seatbelts, and this is the first time that ratings for rear seat belts have been released in the US.

These ratings will guide manufacturers as they design better automobiles that protect not just motorists and front seat passengers, but also passengers at risk at the back.  The push towards increasing safety for back seat passengers received a further boost this year with Uber announcing that its app will soon require back seat passengers to buckle in as soon as they get in the car.

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