Posted On: 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.

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Posted On: 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.”

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Posted On: 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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Posted On: 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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Posted On: 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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Posted On: 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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