Why Pedestrian Accidents Are More Common During Summer

Sunday, July 28, 2019

An accident between a vehicle and a pedestrian is always worse for the pedestrian. A pedestrian could suffer broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, internal organ damage or injury to the spinal cord. Despite increases in safety efforts and awareness campaigns, the rate of pedestrian accidents is growing. Preliminary data from 2018 shows the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1990 (6,227 pedestrians killed) nationwide. Pedestrian accidents, injuries and deaths are most common in the summer months.

Warm Weather Means More People

The simplest solution as to why more pedestrians end up in summertime accidents is because more people are out and about. Dallas is a great city for tourists, sightseers and pedestrians. In the balmy summer months, more people enjoy the weather by taking a stroll around town or walking to work. The number of vehicles on the roads also increases, as more people enjoy their days off with kids around the city.
In 2017, 614 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in the state of Texas. July was the deadliest month for all traffic accidents in Texas, with 352 deaths. It is no coincidence that more people died in fatal car accidents in July than any other month of the year in Texas. The streets are bustling in July, with thousands of people pouring into the city for their summer vacations. The days are longer as well, with the sun inviting people to stay out longer. An increase in both pedestrians and vehicles translates into an increase in pedestrian accidents.

Drunk and Distracted Drivers

Summer is a time for barbecues, get-togethers, parties and festivals. Unfortunately, this can mean an increase in drunk and reckless drivers in Dallas. The Texas Department of Transportation reported 1,024 traffic deaths involving drunk drivers in 2017. More deaths occurred between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning on Sunday than any other time or day. Drunk drivers may cause late-night fatal accidents when returning home intoxicated from summertime gatherings. These fatal accidents could involve pedestrians.
Distracted driving can also increase during the summer. Summertime drivers may be new to the city and staring at their maps or GPS systems while trying to get around. They may be looking at their phones as they communicate with people they are going to meet, or scrolling through social media while stopped in slow traffic on I-35. Distracted drivers can easily miss pedestrians crossing the street and fail to yield the right-of-way. This could lead to serious pedestrian accidents.

Distracted Walking

Drivers are not the only parties to blame for pedestrian accidents in Dallas. Distracted walking is a real risk for pedestrians. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends putting the phone down when walking or jogging. The NSC says teenagers are at the greatest risk of getting into distracted walking accidents. It notes a shift in risk for pedestrian accidents from 1995 to today. In 1995, children ages five to nine were most at risk. Today, teenagers are more at risk, largely because of cellphone use while walking.
Smartphone use while walking means a pedestrian is looking down instead of up at his or her surroundings. This could lead to a pedestrian stepping off the curb in front of an oncoming vehicle or using a crosswalk when he or she does not have the right-of-way. Failure to pay attention to one’s surroundings could lead to fault for a pedestrian accident, even if the pedestrian suffered the most serious injuries. A distracted pedestrian may be unable to recover financial compensation for his or her injuries after a harmful collision.
Summer means more kids and teens walking around Dallas than at any other time of the year. Combined with the likelihood of using smartphones while walking, this can lead to an increase in pedestrian accidents from June to September. Pedestrians can improve their safety over summer by putting their phones down, paying attention to what is around them and obeying all roadway rules. Drivers can help prevent accidents by avoiding distracted, drunk and negligent driving.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:09 pm

Can You Go To Jail for Texting and Driving in Texas?

Friday, July 26, 2019

Texting is one of the most dangerous driver habits. Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road and mind off the driving task. It can also take one or both hands off the steering wheel. Someone who is texting while driving cannot dedicate 100% of his or her attention to the road. This can lead to devastating auto accidents.
In 2017, around 3,170 people in the U.S. lost their lives because of distracted drivers. In the last six years, 10% of all fatal car accidents involved at least one distracted driver. Texting and driving is a deadly trend that has contributed to hundreds of fatal accidents. Almost two years ago, Texas enacted a law prohibiting texting while driving to help reduce the number of distracted drivers on the road.

No Accident, No Jail Time

Texas’ texting while driving law places a universal ban on using a handheld electronic device to send, read or write electronic messages behind the wheel. The law covers texting as well as emails, instant messages, Facebook chats and other forms of text communication. In an interview regarding the new law, the executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, James Bass, said that distracted driving causes 20% of car accidents in the state. He also said he hopes the law will reduce collisions and save lives.
According to an existing law, drivers under the age of 18 cannot use cellphones in any way while driving, including making phone calls or texting on hands-free devices. The penalty for violating Texas’ texting and driving law is a ticket and a fine. Drivers will pay $99 for a first offense and $200 for each subsequent offense. Some cities in Texas have passed their own ordinances banning cellphone use or imposing higher fines on offenders.
A police officer can conduct a traffic stop and charge a driver for texting and driving with primary enforcement in Texas, meaning the police officer does not need another reason to stop the driver – reasonable suspicion of texting while driving is enough. A driver will not go to jail for texting and driving in Texas if the driver did not cause a car accident, injuries or deaths. However, texting while driving could lead to jail time if an accident occurs.

When Could a Driver Go to Jail for Texting While Driving?

Texas lawmakers take distracted driving accidents seriously. Causing an accident because of any form of distracted driving – including texting or another type of electronic messaging – could lead to expensive fines and/or jail time. The penalty for causing serious injury or death while texting and driving is up to $4,000 in fines against the driver. A courtroom in Texas could also sentence the at-fault driver to up to one year in county jail.
A driver could spend up to 365 days behind bars for texting while driving in Texas. A year in jail could change a person’s life. It could lead to the loss of a job and fractured relationships with friends and family members. The driver could also have a permanent criminal record for negligently or recklessly causing a serious injury or death. A criminal record could make it harder to find a job and housing. If the driver had a job operating a motor vehicle, such as a commercial driver, he or she may lose the job and/or driver’s license.
No driver should text, email or otherwise use a handheld cellphone while operating a motor vehicle. The risks are too great to be worth any message the driver may be sending. The only exceptions to Texas’ cellphone laws are during emergencies. Hands-free devices and technologies exist to help drivers avoid texting while driving. Drivers can download apps or use in-device features such as Do Not Disturb While Driving to control the urge to text. A few preventive measures could save a life.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 1:39 pm

Brief History of DUI Law in the US

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Driving while intoxicated is one of the deadliest mistakes a driver can make. Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and/or alcohol is a serious act of recklessness that is against the law in all 50 states. In 2017, 1,024 people died in motor vehicle accidents involving drunk driving in Texas. DUI laws have evolved over the years, starting in New York in 1910. Arrests for driving drunk, however, began before the first laws specifically prohibited DUI.

1897: First Arrest for Driving Drunk

On November 24th, 1897, a man named George Smith became the first-ever driver police arrested for driving drunk. Smith was a 25-year-old taxi driver living in London who smashed his taxicab into a building while under the influence of alcohol. Smith pled guilty to the charge and had to pay 25 shillings as his punishment. Thus, the first-ever DUI arrest set the stage for thousands like it over the next 100 years.

1910: First Official DUI Laws

New York was the very first state to enact official laws banning drunk driving in 1910. This was the year state lawmakers passed legislation that made it illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated. Law enforcement did not have tests to prove drunk driving until years later. Instead, they used their best judgment to determine a driver’s drunkenness. California became the second state to pass DUI laws, leading to several other states enacting similar legislation. Early state laws lacked specific language defining drunk driving, however.

1936: First Breath Test

It was not until 1936 that a scientist named Dr. Rolla Harger created a device to effectively test for inebriation. His invention – aptly named the Drunkometer – came after several years of growing national concern regarding drunk driving. In the early 1930s, the American Medical Association and the National Safety Council funded research into the most common causes of car accidents. Their research helped promote safer vehicle operation. It also shaped what would become the first more specific DUI laws.
The Drunkometer opened the doors to DUI testing and more accuracy for arrests. Dr. Harger’s device had a type of balloon attached to it that drivers would breathe into, similar to today’s Breathalyzer tests. The Drunkometer used the breath to accurately measure how much alcohol content was in the driver’s blood. The advent of the Drunkometer, on top of safety panels by national organizations, led to the official suggestion of 0.15 as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level that proved a driver was drunk – almost twice what the legal amount is today.

1953: First Breathalyzer Test

In 1953, the Breathalyzer came into existence thanks to a professor and police captain named Robert Borkenstein. Borkenstein had worked with Dr. Rolla Harger on creating the early breath test device, the Drunkometer, and created the Breathalyzer to streamline and improve the process. He created the easier-to-use Breathalyzer test that became the first scientific measure available to police officers.

1970s-1980s: Stricter DUI Laws

In the 1970s and ‘80s, many state lawmakers changed their laws to reflect increasing knowledge on the dangers of drunk driving. Special groups formed to fight for stricter DUI laws, often after fatal accidents took the lives of loved ones. One such group was Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), founded by mother Candy Lightner in California after the DUI-related death of her 13-year-old daughter. Groups like MADD were – and still are – instrumental in influencing lawmakers to pass stricter DUI laws.

1990 to Present: Continuing the Fight Against Drunk Driving

The legal limit for DUI is now 0.08 in all 50 states. Most states have also passed Zero Tolerance laws on drunk drivers under the legal drinking age of 21, plus stricter 0.04 BAC limits for commercial drivers. The laws regarding how lawmakers enforce and punish DUIs vary from state to state. Unfortunately, drunk driving is still a considerable issue that takes thousands of lives every year. The fight against drunk drivers is constant.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:42 pm

Is Today’s Technology Reducing Distracted Driving?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Modern technology has been the main contributor to distracted driving accidents. Cellphone use, for example, causes many of the distracted driving accidents that take thousands of lives each year. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported almost 3,200 lives lost in distracted driving accidents. Yet just as technology contributes to distracted driving, it could also be the solution. Innovations may have the power to reduce distracted driving and its related dangers.

Collision Prevention Technologies

Buying a vehicle new in 2019 almost always means it will come with some automated driving technologies. Advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking, warnings of potential forward collisions, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warnings have worked to prevent thousands of car accidents so far. High-tech safety features can automatically send a signal to drivers who appear to be dozing off or driving distracted – bringing their attention back to the driving task.
Collision prevention technologies can send audible, visual and/or tactile warnings to let drivers know they need to pay more attention to the road. If a driver drifts into a different lane, for example, the vehicle can automatically sense the lane departure, correct it to prevent a collision and send a signal to alert the driver to the danger. The signal may include text within the vehicle’s dashboard that advises the driver to pull over and take a break. The alert could be enough to tell the driver to pay more attention to the road.

Cell Phone Blocking Technology

Technological solutions to distracted driving may not only exist within vehicle features. Many cellphone companies, cellphone manufacturers and app developers have also come up with ways to diminish distracted driving. Most cellphones now have Do Not Disturb modes owners can set to automatically turn on when the phone detects the person is driving. Apple’s latest update, for example, has a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode that will block text messages and phone calls while the vehicle is in motion. It can also automatically send a reply that explains you are driving to the person trying to contact you. If you connect the phone to a hands-free Bluetooth system, it will allow phone calls to go through.
Parents of teens may want to go a step further by purchasing technology that could help control distracted driving. CellControl DriveID, for example, attaches to the windshield and monitors a driver’s actions. Parents can then download software onto their phones to control what actions the driver may perform on his or her phone. The device will intercept phone calls and text messages while the vehicle is moving, for example. More advanced technologies can also block other potential sources of driver distraction, such as emails and audio features.

The Advent of Driverless Cars

Vehicle automation technologies are growing more advanced by the year. Many major manufacturing companies – including Tesla and Ford – have promised self-driving vehicles by 2020. Fully automated safety features by 2025 or sooner could mean vehicles that need little or no input from human drivers to get to their destinations. Fully automated vehicles will be able to perform all the essential operative functions of a car without driver input, in all driving conditions. They will be able to stop, go, turn, and safely keep within a lane. Drivers may or may not have the option to control driverless vehicles.
Completely driverless vehicles may not be on the market yet, but sophisticated technologies have already created vehicles that operate with high automation. They can perform all or most driving functions, usually with a human operator overseeing operations. Road tests are already underway for many of the first driverless vehicle models. Automated vehicle technologies may make distracted driving a thing of the past. Human error will not be a problem when technology controls how and where a vehicle drives.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 12:26 pm