August 31, 2011

Law Enforcement Efforts Increased over Labor Day Weekend to Reduce Risks of Car Accidents in Alabama

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the Alabama Highway Patrol and more than 200 law enforcement agencies across the state will be conducting a number of roadway checkpoints and saturation patrols from now until the end of the Labor Day weekend to help reduce the number of car accidents in Birmingham and elsewhere.

Long holiday weekends are typically a time when we see a dramatic increase in the number of fatal traffic accidents on our Alabama roadways. With increased enforcement efforts, officials across the state hope to significantly reduce that number.

The Alabama Law Enforcement and Traffic Safety Division will be raising awareness of this enforcement campaign through a number of TV public service announcements, billboards, website and newspaper ads. Alabama agencies are also asking neighboring states to join the enforcement efforts and to participate in Hands Across the Border events. These events include press conferences and roadside checkpoints and are used to make roadways safer for everyone in our region.

Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys understand that the long Labor Day holiday weekend is a time for residents to get our and celebrate one last time before the end of summer. Unfortunately, this is a time when we see an increased amount of drunk driving accidents in our area. Driving under the influence is always a bad idea as it puts you and other motorists at risk for a potentially fatal traffic accident in addition to serious penalties if you're busted.

Alabama drunk driving laws and penalties:

-License suspension for 90 days for a first conviction of driving under the influence.

-A driver is required to have an ignition-interlock device installed on their vehicle if they're busted with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or greater.

-Drivers busted with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.15 will receive even stricter punishments.

-DUI checkpoints are legal in the state of Alabama and are conducted throughout the year.

DUI checkpoints are not only used to bust drunk drivers, but they're also used as a part of a larger drunk driving deterrence program. They aim to keep motorists on roadways across the state safe during holiday weekend and throughout the rest of the year.

Alabama's 2009 accident statistics:

-Nearly 850 people killed in 774 fatal traffic accidents.

-There was a traffic accident reported every 255 seconds.

-Someone was injured in a traffic accident every 14 minutes and 37 seconds.

-Someone was killed in a traffic accident every 10 hours and 20 minutes.

-Nearly 75 percent of Alabama car accidents happened urban areas, but 60 percent of traffic accident fatalities happened in rural areas.

-Nearly 50 percent of all fatal accidents occurred at night.

-Nearly 75 pedestrians were killed in 2009.

Road travel is expected to increase significantly during the upcoming holiday weekend, because of the rise in airfare and the drop in fuel costs. All motorists are asked to travel as safely and as cautiously as possible. We would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Labor Day; please celebrate responsibly.

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August 27, 2011

Drunk Driving Accidents in Alabama and Elsewhere an Ongoing Risk

Every year, thousands of people die because of car accidents the United States. A large number of these fatalities are the result of drunk driving accidents in Alabama and elsewhere. All of these accidents are preventable if residents exercise common sense and responsible drinking -- an important reminder through the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

In 2009, there were nearly 850 people that were killed in the state of Alabama because of traffic accidents, according to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Nearly 300 of these fatalities were the result of traffic accidents that involved an alcohol-impaired driver. These accidents represent more than 30 percent of the state's fatal accidents.

Our Alabama drunk driving accident attorneys understand that many drunk drivers don't go out with the intentions of driving home drunk. But when they find themselves without a designated driver they start to convince themselves that they're okay to drive. Consumption of alcohol has the ability to alter your reactions and to put you at risk for a serious car accident.

Impaired drivers contribute to one of the country most-often-committed and deadliest crimes:

-Seven out of every ten drivers who are involved in a fatal alcohol-related accident report having a blood alcohol concentration of at least .15.

-Nearly 15 percent of alcohol-related accident fatalities occurred to those under the age of 15.

-Drunk drivers are four times more likely to hit the road during the evening that during the daytime hours.

-Drivers age 21- to 24-years-old accounted for 35 percent of all of the drivers that were involved in drunk driving accidents.

-In 2008, roughly 25 percent, or nearly 700, young drivers ages of 16- to 19-years-old who were killed in a traffic accident had a BAC .08 or higher.

In an effort to reduce the number of fatal alcohol-related traffic accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Alabama's Law Enforcement and Traffic Safety Division uses state funds to organize the Alcohol-impaired Driving Countermeasure Incentive Grant Program. These funds are used to pay for increased enforcement efforts to officers who are conducting DUI enforcement efforts.

To help reduce your risks of being involved in a drunk driving car accident, considering the following safety tips:

-Before you start drinking, make sure that you've chosen a designated driver and that your driver has agreed to remain completely sober throughout the night.

-Never allow your friends or family members to drive under the influence.

-If you're impaired and left without a sober driver to get you home, you're urged to call a taxi, a friend or a family member. Try out your community's Sober Rides program, get a hotel room or stay at a friend's house.

-If you're throwing a party where alcohol will be served, make sure your guests know to make travel arrangements to help ensure that they make it home safely.

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August 24, 2011

Children Face Serious Risks for Pedestrian and Bicycling Accidents in Alabama throughout the School Year

According to the Journal of Trauma Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, child pedestrian injuries in Alabama and elsewhere throughout the country are affecting far too many of our young residents.

Pedestrian-car accidents are the second-leading cause of death for children between the ages of 4- and 15-years-old. Roughly 20 percent of children ages 5- to 9-years-old, who were killed in traffic accidents, were pedestrians that were hit by a vehicle. These statistics are very alarming, especially as the school year kicks off and more and more young students are expected to be out on our roadways walking to school or bicycling to school.

Our Birmingham pedestrian accident attorneys understand that more than 39,000 children are injured in these types of accidents every single year. Parents are urged to talk with their young students about the dangers of walking to school -- talk with them about safe pedestrian habits that can help them to stay safe each day while traveling to and from by foot or by bike.

Most school-aged children involved in pedestrian accidents are killed while walking home after school. About 40 percent of child pedestrian accidents occur from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Nearly 80 percent of these accidents happened at areas other than intersections. Mid-street crossings account for roughly 70 percent of the injuries sustained by child pedestrians under the age of 10.

The National Safety Council offers these safety tips to your little pedestrian:

-Never allow children that are 10-years-old or younger to walk to school alone.

-Make sure your child always uses a sidewalk.

-If there's no sidewalk available, make sure they walk facing traffic.

-Remind your young pedestrian to always cross the street at a street corner or at an intersection.

-Make sure your child knows to look both right and left before stepping off the curb to cross the street.

-Instruct your child to continue looking right and left as they're crossing the street.

-Tell your child to walk, never run, across a street. Running makes them more likely to trip and fall.

-Make sure your child knows to never run out in front of a parked car. Oncoming traffic may not be able to see your child.

We also understand that a number of students will be using their bicycles to get to and from school every day. Students that will be riding a bike are also urged to be cautious near our busy roadways to help to avoid an accident with a motor vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that bicyclists that were under the age of 16 accounted for nearly 15 percent of all of the bicyclists that were killed on our roadways in 2009.

To help keep your little bicyclist safe, talk to your child about the following safety tips:

-Always wear a helmet. Children under the age of 16 in Alabama are required by law to wear a helmet when riding a bike.

-Only the width of two fingers should be able to fit between your eyebrows and the bottom of your helmet.

-Get familiar with the rules of the road and get plenty of practice in so you're more confident and comfortable on our roadways.

-Always ride on the right side of the road. Ride in a single-file line and in the same direction as traffic.

-Wait for a driver to signal the go ahead before crossing the street.

-Wear bright colors if you have to ride when the sun's not out.

-Equip your bicycle with reflective tape and lights to make yourself more visible to drivers.

Talking with your child about safe traveling habits can help to keep them safe on their journey to and from school each day. We would like to wish everyone a happy and safe school year!

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August 18, 2011

Fatal Car Accidents in Birmingham Land City on Most Dangerous List

Recently, CNBC conducted a study to figure out which cities in the United States would rank as the top 15 most dangerous places to drive.

Fatal car accidents in Birmingham, Alabama were frequent enough to land our city on the top 15 list. The study took into consideration cities with populations of 150,000 people or more and then took the area's most recent traffic accident data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to determine which places were most likely to experience a fatal car accident.

Our Birmingham car accident attorneys understand that there are a number of factors that can contribute to fatal car accidents. Some of these factors include the number of residents, the design of roadways, the age of motorists, the weather conditions and the number of visiting motorists a place typically sees. By raising awareness about the dangers that our area faces, we can begin to make our roadways a little bit safer.

Here are the 15 most dangerous cities, according to the CNBC study, to drive in and the death rate for the city per 100,000 population:

15.) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: 13.41

14.) Birmingham, Alabama: 13.55

13.) Tulsa, Oklahoma: 14.00

12.) St. Petersburg, Florida: 14.27

11.) Jacksonville, Florida: 14.36

10.) Lubbock, Texas: 14.97

9.) Memphis, Tennessee: 15.08

8.) Jackson, Mississippi: 15.53

7.) Chattanooga, Tennessee: 16.39

6.) Salt Lake City, Utah: 16.51

5.) San Bernardino, California: 17.12

4.) Little Rock, Arkansas: 17.94

3.) Augusta-Richmond Co., Georgia: 19.57

2.) Orlando, Florida: 19.95

1.) Fort Lauderdale, Florida: 22.39

Birmingham, Alabama ranked 14th on the list. The fact that we're even on that list is proof that something needs to be done in our area to help better protect our motorists from a fatal traffic accident. Residents are asked keep an eye out for deteriorating roads, changed speeds and to look out for the carelessness of other motorists on our roadways.

Each year, more than 40,000 people died because of traffic accidents in the United States. Motor-vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for U.S. residents under the age of 36. About a third of all accidents report a speeding driver as a contributor. About a half of all deadly traffic accidents in the country occur at night. In 2009, the U.S. witnessed nearly 5 million car accidents.

In 2008, 31 people were killed in Birmingham because of traffic accidents.

Of the 2009 fatal accidents in Birmingham:

-Nearly 50 vehicles were involved.

-More than 70 people were involved.

-Nearly ten of the fatal accidents involved a drunk driver.

-Seven pedestrian died because of traffic accidents.

And these statistics only include fatal accidents. Thousands more were injured on our roadways. Car accidents can be caused by any number of factors, including emergency response vehicles, farm equipment, malfunctioning road devices, defective car parts, road design, weather conditions and careless drivers. It is important for you to contact an experienced attorney if you've been involved in a motor-vehicle accident as a lawyer can help to examine every aspect of the accident to determine your rights.

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August 15, 2011

Department of Public Safety asks Motorists to Drive Carefully to Prevent Child Injury in Alabama this School Year

August is a time when students get to strap on their new shoes and head back to school for another year. Our state troopers are reminding motorists to watch for students, whether it's near bus stops, residential neighborhoods or through school zones.

Alabama's Department of Public Safety asks that all motorists be super cautious around school buses. You're asked to stop when buses activate their lights. These yellow flashing lights are used to indicate that the bus is getting ready to pick up or drop off students. Red flashing lights and the bus' extended arm is used to alert drivers that the bus has come to a stop and that children are either getting on or off the vehicle. Motorists are required by law to stop their vehicle until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm is withdrawn to reduce the risks of child injury in Birmingham.

Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys would like to bring up Alabama's school bus stop law. This is the law that took effect back in October of 2006 that requires all drivers to stop when a bus is stopped to pick up or drop off students on any school property, private road, roadway or highway. Drivers that are on highways with at least four traffic lanes with a median dividing the lanes that allows at least two of the lanes to travel in different directions do not have to stop for a bus that is stopped on a lane that travels in the opposite direction.

“State troopers and local officers statewide will be watchful for any traffic violations in
the areas of school zones, bus stops and stopped school buses,” said Public Safety Director Col. J. Christopher Murphy.

Murphy provides the following safety tips to motorists in Alabama to help keep our bus-riding students safe this school year:

-Be aware of your surroundings when backing out of your garage and out of your driveway.

-Watch out for children in school zones, neighborhoods or anywhere where children may be waiting for a school bus.

-Keep it slow. Watch out for children that may be walking near the street, especially if there are no sidewalks.

-Be on the lookout for children that may be playing near a bus stop. Children may run out into the street without looking for oncoming traffic.

According to the National Safety Council, approximately 25 million students ride the school bus to and from school every year. A good number of these students are injured or even killed in traffic accidents during the school year.

In 2004, there were more than 130 people killed because of traffic accidents that involved a school bus. Another 11,000 people were injured in these incidents.

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August 5, 2011

Motorists Most Likely to Die in Alabama Car Accident in August

A recent two-car accident in Alabama took the life of a Mobile woman. The accident happened at the Dauphin Street exit ramp of Interstate 65 when the driver of a sedan was taking that exit off the Interstate and collided with a sweeper truck, according to Alabama Live.

Four of the passenger-vehicle's occupants were transported to the University of South Alabama Medical Center. The driver of the truck was not injured in the accident.

Birmingham car accident attorneys would like to warn motorists about the increased risks for car accidents that they're currently facing. It has been proven time and time again that August is the deadliest month for American's on our roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has witnessed these deadly August statistics since 1994. More motorists in the United States die in traffic accidents in the month of August than during any other month out of the year.

According to the NHTSA, August has an average death rate of 1.09 per 100 million miles traveled. September follows at a close second with a death rate of 1.08 ad then July ranking in with a 1.04. March has been proven to be the safest month to travel our roadways with a death rate of 0.94 per 100 million miles traveled.

Statistics have concluded that, in 2009, an averaged 93 deaths on U.S. roadways each day in motor-vehicle accidents. That's an average of one traffic accident fatality every sixteen minutes, according to MSN Money. From 2005 to 2009, 7 of the deadliest 25 driving days have occurred in the month of August, reports the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Russ Rader, who is a spokesman for the IIHS, says that August is a dangerous time to be on our roadways because this is the month were people are out driving more miles. Residents are out taking vacations and visiting friends and family more during this month than during any other time of the year.

More fatal accidents occur on the weekends in comparison to the weekdays. Americans use the weekends for running errands, for taking day trips and for meeting up with friends and family. Drunk driving accidents also increase during the weekends.

Daily averages for death rates on U.S. roadways:

-Mondays had 79 deaths.

-Tuesdays recorded 69 deaths.

-Wednesdays saw 78 deaths.

-Thursdays witnessed 84 deaths.

-Fridays totaled 102 deaths

-Saturdays calculated 123 deaths.

-Sundays had 107 deaths.

"A large proportion of crashes happen in late afternoon and early evening in general, but especially in August," Rader says. That's when the roads fill up both with commuters and vacationers.

Different age groups face different risks of being involved in a serious traffic accident this August. According to the IISH, there were more than 33,800 people killed in traffic accidents in the United States in 2009 alone.

How do traffic accidents affect each age group?

-Those age 13- to 15-years-old accounted for 2 percent of all of the traffic fatalities.

-16 to 19: 9 percent.

-20 to 34: 31 percent.

-35 to 49: 23 percent.

-50 to 69: 22 percent.

-70 and older: 12 percent.

Continue reading "Motorists Most Likely to Die in Alabama Car Accident in August" »

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July 25, 2011

Alabama Car Accidents: Choosing the Car that's Right for your Teen

The family of a teen that died in an Alabama car accident was recently awarded $40 million from Kia Motors. The wrongful death verdict was based upon allegations of a manufacturing defect that affected the seat belt latching mechanisms of certain Kia models, according to Alabama Live.

This is just another example of why it is so important to be involved in the selection and purchasing of your teens first car. You want them to be safe, but you want something that's economical and easy on the bank. There's a lot to think about when making this decision. Do I get them a new or used car? Who's getting the bill? What type of insurance do I get them? SUV or car?

Our Alabama car accident attorneys are here to help. There are a number of things to be considered when searching for a vehicle for your newly licensed teen. The first question you're probably going to ask yourself is whether you should get a new or a used car. It's important to remember that financially, you're obviously going to be better off with a used car.

"A first time driver doesn't need a new car, but of course they want one," says Lori Mackey, president of Prosperity4Kids. "The depreciation, probability of fender benders and the price tag [means new] is not the most logical way to go."

After you've figured out if you're going to go new or used, you're probably going to have to think about which type of car to get them. This is when you should look into vehicle's crash-test information, reliability ratings and safety features. This type of information can be found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety websites.

"Choose a car with a responsive chassis -- one with good handling, quick steering and great brakes -- that takes advantage of a teen driver's naturally quick reaction skills," says Bob Gritzinger, executive editor of AutoWeek.com.

Yes, the newer cars will come with all the latest safety features, but late-model used cars will come equipped with airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control too, and their power and performance won't overwhelm a young, newly-licensed driver. Less power is always a better choice for a teen driver.

"I see these young, inexperienced drivers in Mustangs, BMWs, and large SUVs. These automobiles are big, powerful and difficult to control for even experienced drivers. In the hands of a new driver, they can be deadly weapons," says LeeAnn Shattuck, co-owner and chief car chick with Women's Automotive Solutions.

You can't go too small either. While smaller cars may be lighter on the wallet, as they cost less in fuel, these small, two-door cars can be trouble. These tiny vehicles are less likely to protect passengers in the event of an accident.

"Your teen is safest in a mid-sized sedan with a four cylinder engine, airbags and a good crash test rating," warns Shattuck.

You're warned. This process is going to take quite some time and requires a pretty hefty amount of research. You shouldn't feel that you need to buy the first car you see. Take your time and look around.

"Having a car is not a birthright," says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, who raised four children. "Today's teens seem to think that they should have a car waiting for them in the driveway when they return home from the Motor Vehicle Department with their driver's license. If that's right for your family, fine. But don't be held hostage to peer pressure, and by that I mean from other families who are buying their teen a car."

Once you find the perfect car for your young driver, make sure you talk to them about the responsibility that comes along with a driver's license. Make sure they understand the consequences of poor driving habits. You should even try creating a parent-teen driving contract to help you and your teen understand and abide by some ground rules for the road. Include appropriate curfews, passenger limits and consequences for breaking these rules.

Continue reading "Alabama Car Accidents: Choosing the Car that's Right for your Teen " »

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July 24, 2011

Mark Ingram and Girlfriend Wreck with 18-Wheeler in Alabama Car Accident - Driver Reaction Wanted

Former Alabama star running back and Heisman trophy winner, Mark Ingram, was involved in an early morning Alabama car accident with an 18-wheeler in Huntsville last week, according to Alabama Live. It happened as he was traveling southbound on Leeman Ferry Road with his girlfriend; they collided with the big rig. Both airbags deployed during the accident.

Our Alabama car accident attorneys are glad to report that neither the football star nor his girlfriend were injured in the accident. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. In an attempt to reduce the risks of these types of accidents, a new crash study is aiming at getting into the minds of drivers. The Naturalistic Driving Study will be installing recording devices into 3,100 vehicles in an attempt to gain data regarding driver's reactions to all sorts of driving reactions and what goes on behind the wheel during crash and near-crash situations.

What's most beneficial about this study is that researchers will then use this data to help develop countermeasures intended to save lives.

“Collision prevention is the central goal of the study” said Ken Campbell, chief program officer overseeing safety for the Strategic Highway Research Program, which is part of the non-profit Transportation Research Board. “And the driver is the key to prevent collision.”

This is the world’s largest field study of driving behavior that is recorded by monitoring equipment. The equipment will document how each drivers interact with a number of traffic conditions and roadway designs. This equipment will be installed for two years into participant's vehicles throughout Buffalo, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Durham, central Pennsylvania and Bloomington. Cameras will tape forward and rear views and the driver’s face and hands. They will record reactions pertaining to speed, lighting, weather conditions and traffic flow. The data will be stored in the vehicle's glove box and will be gathered by researchers every four to six months.

This study is so different because instead of focusing on countermeasures that protect vehicle occupants during an accident, this study aims to prevent collisions by analyzing driver behaviors.

“You can’t just look at collisions or near collisions to know what risk factors are. It’s that comparison with what the driver is doing when there is not a safety-related event that tells you what the risk factors are,” says Campbell.

Motor-vehicle accidents that occur at intersections and accidents where the driver runs off the road will be main focus areas of the study.

“We are particularly interested in people under 25 and over 65” Dr. Campbell said. Both groups represent a small percentage of all drivers and have high collision rates.

Participating drivers will be paid $500 for each year they participate in the study. Participants are required to have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance and an approved vehicle. The monitoring equipment generally takes less than four hours to install.

“This study is long overdue and has the potential for providing the most comprehensive look at why highway crashes occur,” said Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and educational organization that provided technical advice for the study. “It is unprecedented in its scope and approach. It will be a wonderful supplement to other ongoing and planned traffic safety research efforts. My only disappointment is that the transportation research community didn’t initiate the study several years ago.”

Continue reading "Mark Ingram and Girlfriend Wreck with 18-Wheeler in Alabama Car Accident - Driver Reaction Wanted" »

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July 18, 2011

Two More Cities Move Forward with Red-Light Cameras Plans to Reduce the Risks of Alabama Car Accidents

More cities are moving forward with plans to install red-light cameras at dangerous intersections to help reduce the risks of car accidents in Alabama.

Officials in Midfield and Center Point have both decided to install the cameras after a bill passed the Legislature allowing them to do so. Last week, the Midfield City Council approved a new ordinance that would allow the cameras. Officials in Center Point are still researching ordinances from other cities, according to Alabama Live.

Officials in Birmingham and Fairfield are interested in the program as well. The bills for both of the cities would require that signs be posted notify motorists that these cameras are being used. If you're busted running a red light or speeding through an intersection, you could be charged about $100 in both cities.

Our Birmingham car accident attorneys understand that these red-light cameras are used for a number of reasons. Some cities install them to reduce the number of car accidents in these areas and some use them to generate money for the city. Center Point Mayor Tom Henderson says that his city is looking into use of these cameras to both catch red light runners and slow speeders.

In Cedar Point, officials have decided to put red-light cameras at some of the area's most dangerous intersections -- along Center Point Parkway at 23rd, 22nd and 20th avenues and at Polly Reed Road.

"It'll just cut down on the number of serious accidents at those intersections," said Henderson.

Midfield officials would like to use the cameras to stop red-light runners and speeders along the Bessemer Super Highway.

"It's another eye in patrolling the busy traffic along the Bessemer Super Highway," Midfield councilman Terry Adams said. "It's not a bad thing. Think about the number of lights run a day."

Red-light cameras are currently in use in Montgomery and Selma. These cameras snap pictures of the tags of all red light runners. The pictures are used generate tickets which are sent to vehicle owners.

Midfield Councilman Adams said he sees these bills as a huge accomplishment in the fight against traffic accidents in his area.

"It's going to make things safer," says Adams . "Some people will get mad, but in the long run, it'll make it safer for your kids to walk the street."

As all other cities have these cameras find their existence and enforcement to be quite controversial. Supporters say they're saving the lives of motorists, while opponents argue the cameras are nothing more than an effort by cities to make some fast cash.

"This is for the enhancement of public safety," said Midfield Mayor Gary Richardson. "We're not doing it as a means to increase revenue."

Richardson says that there are at least four dangerous intersections in the city where he would like to see these cameras be installed. He believes that motorists are less likely to speed through a red light if they know there's a camera constantly watching.

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July 15, 2011

Single-Vehicle Motorcycle Accident in Alabama Kills Rider

A Mobile man lost his life in an Alabama motorcycle accident recently. The accident happened on Rebel Road, three miles south of Daphne.

The motorcyclist's Honda left the roadway and struck a pole. He was taken by Life Flight to USA Medical Center in Mobile. He was later pronounced dead, according to WKRG News. Alabama State Troopers are still investigating the accident.

Our Birmingham injury attorneys understand the risks that motorcyclists face in the event of a motor-vehicle accident. With the little protection that these motorists are equipped with, injury and even death is likely to occur. For this reason, the National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for stricter helmet laws across the nation. Helmets have been proven to save the lives of motorcyclists.

From 1997 to 2009, the yearly number of motorcyclist deaths doubled from 2,116 to 4,462. Currently, it is estimated that more than 10 motorcyclists are killed on our roadways every day. Although motorcyclists account for such a small percent of motorists on our roadways, their fatality rate make up nearly 15 percent of all highway deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a head injury is a number one cause of death to a motorcyclist that has been involved in a traffic accident.

In an attempt to reduce the number of these fatal accidents, the NTSB recommends that each state enlist and enforce a motorcycle helmet law that complies with U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. This regulation is quite possibly the most effective measure that a rider or passenger can take to reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of an accident.

Motorcycle helmets meeting the current federal standard are designed with a hard outer shell, an impact-attenuating liner and a retention system to protect the head. This design has been proven to protect a motorcyclist's brain. The NHTSA estimates that these motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing death for riders and more than 40 percent effective for motorcycle passengers.

The NHTSA and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), a nonprofit foundation that is supported by motorcycle manufacturers, has co-sponsored the NAMS, and a technical working group of experts representing many different motorcycle-related constituencies contributed to its development. Its mission states that it is to “point the way to the most promising avenues for future motorcycling safety efforts in the United States.”

The MSF offers these additional tips to help motorcyclists stay safe on our roadways:

-Make sure your headlight works and is on both day and night.

-Use reflective decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle so that motorists are more likely to see you.

-Stay out of the blind spots of cars and trucks.

-Flash your brake light when you're slowing down and before stopping.

-Be sure to always wear a quality helmet and proper eye protection.

-Always wear bright clothing and a light-colored helmet.

-Wear leather or other thick, protective clothing.

-Remember that the only thing between you and the road is your protective gear.

-Allow motorists with plenty of time and space to respond to you.

-Ride in the part of a lane where you are most visible.

-Always signal your intended maneuvers.

-Never ride when you're tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

-Update your driving skills and get formal training and take refresher courses.

With safe driving habits are practiced by all motorists, we can all make a conscious effort to help keep these vulnerable motorists safe on our roadways.

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July 10, 2011

Teen Driver Dies in Single-Car Accident in Alabama

A teen died in an Alabama car accident late last week in Mobile County. The single-vehicle accident happened on Alabama 193 near Fowl River, according to Alabama Live.

Alabama Highway Patrol Spokesman Greg Eubanks reports that the teen's truck left the roadway at roughly 5:20 a.m. The teen driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Our Birmingham car accident attorneys would like to let parents know that car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens. We are not telling you this to worry you, but to encourage you to make sure you're teaching your teen safe driving habits before sending them out on the road alone.

The National Transportation Safety Board understands the risks that these young, inexperienced drivers face on our roadways. For this reason, this group of drivers have been placed on the "most wanted" list. This list is the beginning of a program used to raise the public's awareness of, and support for, action to adopt safety steps that can help to reduce the risks of accidents and save lives.

According to the agency, more than 5,000 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were involved in fatal traffic accidents in 2009. In these accidents, nearly 2,500 teen drivers died. Another 196,000 teens were injured in these incidents.

More than 10 percent of all drivers that were involved in fatal accidents during that year were young drivers of this age group. In 2009, almost 150 teens were killed in traffic accidents that involved a teen driver in Alabama.

The NTSB has a plan to reduce the number of fatal teen accidents. The Board encourages states to follow some of these licensing guidelines to better educate teen drivers:

-Require that teens complete a graduated driver licensing (GDL) system. This includes a beginner (learner’s permit), an intermediate licensing stage and then a full license.

-Limit the number of daily hours a teen is allowed to drive.

-Require teen drivers to experience a number of driving conditions with a supervising and licensed driver.

-Limit the number of teen passengers that can be in the car with drivers that are in the intermediate stage.

-Prohibit the use of cell phones, text messaging devices or any other distractions by drivers in both stages.

According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teens that complete a strong driver program reduce their risks of being involved in an injury crash by 40 percent.

Parents are encouraged to get involved, too. The more a parent teaches a teen about safe driving habits, the more likely the young driver is to practice caution on our roadways. Talk with them about the dangers and the consequences of dangerous driving. Get out there and drive them. Be sure to provide them with constructive criticism and encourage their safe driving habits.

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July 5, 2011

Alabama Ups DUI Enforcement In The Hopes of Preventing the Crime

Governor Bentley recently signed Senate Bill 361 into law, requiring a number of convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices on their cars, according to WAFF News. These devices would make it impossible for drivers to start the car without first testing their blood-alcohol levels. This technology is meant to keep a convicted drunk driver from recommitting the crime and to keep them from being involved in a drunk driving accident in Alabama.

These devices will serve as a great inconvenience to those who have been convicted of driving under the influence. These interlock devices are similar to breathalyzer machines that are used by police. The hope is that those who are convicted of DUI will get the help they need in order to prevent a future accident.

Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys understand the intent behind Madison Senator Bill Holtzclaw's decision to initiate this law and we hope for victims of this type of crime it will give them some assurance that the number of repeat DUI offenses will go down statewide. Alabama is the last state to adopt some sort of ignition interlock device in order to prevent these serious and preventable accidents.

As Alabama sees a significant number of drunk drivers on our roadways, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) aims to reduce the number. They know about these dangers all too well, which is why they've placed alcohol-impaired drivers on their "most wanted" list.

As it stands, someone is killed in a traffic accident that involved an alcohol-impaired driver every 48 minutes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a person makes nearly 90 impaired driving trips before finally getting busted. In 2009 alone, nearly 11,000 people died in these types of accidents. Accidents that involved an impaired-driver reportedly accounted for one-third of all highway deaths. More than 196,000 were injured throughout the year. Even though the United States has seen a decrease in the number of highway deaths in recent years, the fact that one-third of these fatalities resulting from an accident with an alcohol-impaired driver has not changed in the last 10 years.

The NTSB offers these suggestions to states to help keep drunk driving incidents under control:

-Conduct sobriety checkpoints.

-Enforce administrative license revocation when sobriety tests are failed or refused.

-Prohibit all plea bargaining and diversion programs.

-Create vehicle sanctions that separate individuals from their vehicles. These sanctions should prevent a previously convicted driver from operating their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol.

-Use of jail alternatives, jail/treatment facilities, home detention with electronic monitoring or intensive supervision probation to treat and assess convicted drivers.

According to the NHTSA, Alabama witnessed nearly 350 fatalities as a result of car accidents that involved an intoxicated driver in 2009 alone.

While the numbers are staggering, we hope that drivers will be more responsible and perhaps new penalties will dissuade people from committing the crime. We know that our state has been lagging in enforcement, but hopefully law enforcement will be able to curb this preventable crime.

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