Distracted Driver Accidents

Can Technology Prevent Distracted Teen Driving?

Every human being is is not living under a rock is now aware of the dangers of distracted driving. IN 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver-many more than those killed by drunk drivers. In 2014 we are setting the course for close to the half million mark for injuries caused by distracted driving and an increase in wrongful deaths.

Despite the overwhelming data, most people surveyed admit it is difficult to avoid using a smartphone while driving and judging from our own road survey, it is difficult to find any driver in rush hour traffic whose face is not lit by the light of a smartphone.

So what technology hath wrought be solved by technology itself? A myriad of companies have developed products that prohibit or limit a driver’s ability to use a phone while driving, marketing their products to parent’s desperate to keep their teens safe on the road. But is the answer? Many feel that this is akin to keeping your child in a bubble at the expense of teaching them survival skills in the outside world. In other words, is technology ignoring the underlying problem?

Bryan Reimer, Ph.D.,research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab and the associate director of the New England University Transportation Center at MIT has found that people prone to texting while driving fall into a larger category: high risk drivers. He has found that if you take away their phones they will find a substitute, whether it be changing radio stations, rummaging in their bags or checking their appearance in the mirror.

To address these drivers lies with feedback-oriented tools that examine overall driving performance, which includes cell phone use but other behaviors as well. He finds that products such as the DriveCam, an in car camera and related technology that alert drivers when they engage in hazardous behavior can provide parents with weekly data, including a driving score and visual clip of any risky behavior.

Grazian and Volpe applauds any efforts to increase road safety and prevent motor vehicle injuries and fatalities. This is a rich subject with a number of viewpoints as to solution. We will be exploring these in posts to come. Please stay tuned!

Distracted Teen Driving May Be Parent’s Fault

It is now common knowledge that driving while texting or driving is the number one cause of motor vehicle accidents. There is not a parent of driving age teens who has not warned their teen to avoid texting or talking on cell phones while driving. Unfortunately, there seems to be many parents not following their own advice and that may be a good reason why the use of cellphone devices during driving remains on the rise.

Here’s another reason parent’s have to be guilty- a recent survey indicates that distracted teen driving may be partly Mom or Dad’s fault! Researchers at Parallel Consulting and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have found that over half of the teens gabbing on cellphones while driving are on the line with a parent. The surveyed teens said that parents get mad if they don’t pick up their calls and that their parents also drive while using the phone.

The attorneys at Grazian and Volpe have found our motor vehicle collision and accident caseload growing each year. We have also found that most car and truck accidents involve a party who was operating a cell phone and distracted from effectively observing traffic. Most of these cases involve adults traveling alone or sadly, with children. It was no surprise to read the results of this survey.

We suggest that parents refrain, as an example from using a cellphone when driving, period, but most importantly in the presence of children. Secondly, parents should also set rules for answering the phone while driving. Tell teens that it is appropriate and acceptable to respond to a call from their parents after they have reached their destination. If a long car trip is in progress, teens should be told to wait until a rest stop. Optimally, a teen should text a parent before setting upon a car trip to tell the parent they will be unreachable for a period of time. I tell my girls to let me know when they are starting on their way and the expected ETA. I try not to panic is they don’t call exactly on time and to give a bit of space. Of course, every parent knows that will not be always effective. However, setting an example and setting some rules will go a long way to keeping your child safe on the road.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Even though April is National Distracted Driving Awareness and this is the last day of the month, it is never to late to remind the public of the safety issues involved with distracted driving.

In honor of this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) has released new survey results that show that Americans continue to use electronic devices while driving despite warnings that it causes their own driving to deteriorate and can lead to motor vehicle crashes, injuries and traffic fatalities.

The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) shows that at any given daylight moment across America, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. According to NHTSA date, more than 3,300 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes and 387,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.

So far 39 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. Also 10 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.

More than 6000 respondents age 16 and older were interviewed by phone for the National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors. Almost half of drivers said they answer an incoming call and one in four drivers are willing to place a call on all, most or some trips. Slightly fewer are willing to make a call while driving compared to 2010 (28% to 24%), but there is little if any change in those who answer a call while driving (52% to 49%). Considering that in 2011 there were almost 212 million licensed drivers in America, about 102 million drivers were answering calls and 50 million drivers were placing calls while driving.

Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe want you to stay off the phone while driving and stay safe. Read about Distracted Driving in NHTSA’s premier of Safety 1N Num3ers, a new online month newsletter.

Wrongful Death of Pedestrian Caused by Texting Driver

The family of a 15-year-od boy has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a man who, while texting and driving, struck and killed the boy while the victim and a friend were walking on the shoulder of a street. The man’s vehicle left the road and struck the victim who died the next day in the hospital.

The man has a long history of traffic violation and has been charged in criminal offense, automobile homicide involving the use of a hand-held wireless communication device while driving which is a felony.

Utah, where the accident occurred had just passed an amendment to its’ texting-while-driving law making it illegal to be doing anything on a hand-held wireless communication device except making or receiving a call, or using GPS navigation. Before the amendment, the driver had to be sending a text at the instant the accident occurred. Merely looking at a text or screen of a cell phone was not illegal.

Grazian and Volpe applauds the broadening of Utah’s texting-while-driving laws. As we have pointed out in numerous article texting-while-driving causes more accidents that driving and drinking. We cannot be too tough on this practice.

It is always better to stay safe and avoid accidents – but if you can’t stay safe – stay with Grazian and Volpe – Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Drowsy Drivers Responsible for Fatal Car Accidents

A new study of driving behavior finds drowsy drivers responsible for 730 deadly motor vehicle accidents and an additional 30,000 crashes that were nonfatal.

Even being tired and sleep deprived without actually nodding off can be a serious problem on the road. Fatigue slows reaction times and can lead to poor judgment. Studies show that going without sleep for 20 to 21 hours and then getting behind the wheel is comparable to having a blood alcohol level of about .08%, which the legal limit in most states. In fact, going without sleep for 24 hours is equal to a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent which is higher than the legal limit in all states!

Studies show that people who fall asleep at the wheel may do it so quickly-and briefly-without registering the lapse. Warning signs included having trouble remembering the last few miles that you’ve driven, or missing an exit.

Many people who find themselves groggy while driving resort to blasting the radio or rolling down the window but those measures are largely shown to be ineffective. Drinking a caffeinated beverage may help, but effectiveness depends largely on an individual’s physiology or tolerance to caffeine.

Experts advise finding a safe place to pull over and drift off for a few minutes. Alertness can be restored by a short nap and a cup of coffee keeping you and other drivers safe from your drowsy driving. Remember is is always better to stay safe but if you can’t stay safe stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years!

AT&T Chief Speaks Out on Texting at the Wheel

Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have been adamant in informing the public against the dangers of serious injury due to car accidents that occur when a driver is texting.  We are pleased to see that a prominent carrier is raising awareness on this issue and the message is personal and starting at the top.

Randall L. Stephenson, the chairman and chief executive of AT&T, spoke at a conference in New York to hundreds of major investors, including Fortune 500 executives. The topic was the state of the telecom businesses, but he began with a request on a different topic: Please don’t text and drive.

Mr. Stephenson said that a few years ago someone close to him caused an accident while texting. As he has become more vocal about texting and driving, he said people were coming up to him and writing him with their own stories of tragedy, including admissions that they caused accidents.

The smartphone “is a product we sell and it’s being used inappropriately.” For him, that means the company he runs has to get involved in a public awareness campaign. “we have got to drive behavior.”

While safety say that history shows that public service campaigns have had limited success on issues like drunken driving or seat belt use unless they are paired with strong laws and that is something Mr. Stephenson opposes.

David D. Teater, senior director of the National Safety Council, had a son killed by a driver talking on her phone. He states that he is pleased to see telecommunications companies no longer lobbying against laws aimed at curbing driver distraction caused by electronic devices.

“We’d love their support on the legislative side,” he said of AT&T’s position. “But the fact they’re are not opposing us is good.”

Currently 39 states ban testing while driving. Research shows that the activity sharply increases the risk of crash, even beyond the risk posed by someone with a .08 blood alcohol level, the legal limit in many states. Yet researchers say that there is no indication drivers are less incline to text and drive, and there is some indication that the behavior is increasing.

Drivers need be aware of the dangers of mobile devices while driving and not ignore the dangers because this activity is not prohibited by legislation.

Remember, it is always better to stay safe but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

Texting While Parenting Equals the Dangers of Distracted Driving!

Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe strive constantly to educate their clients as to the dangers of distracted driving. Child safety experts now cite the rising number of non-fatal injuries to children under age five between 2007 and 2010, after falling for much of the prior decade.

The question is whether high-tech gadgetry is effecting the ability of adults to provide proper supervision to young children. Emergency doctors see the growing use of hand-held electronic devices as a plausible explanation for the surprising reversal of a long slide in injury rates for young children.

Child safety experts attribute the previous slide in injury rates starting in the 1970s to the implementation of safer playgrounds to baby gates to fences around swimming pools. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “The injuries were going down and down and down” noting that the recent uptick is “pretty striking.”

Statistics from the government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission, which tracks injuries by product type, show children are getting hurt more, including serious falls, during activities and at ages that would warrant close supervision.

While casualty has not been well documented, emergency room doctors cite the well-proven connection between driving while distracted and the rise in smartphone use. They state it is logical and born out by statistics to apply the same dynamic to parenting and smartphone use. Complicating the picture is that people tend to under-report the amount of time they spend on mobile devices. Barbara Morrongiello, a psychology professor at the the University of Guelph in Canada studies the relationship between child-supervision and injury and states that most people do not realize how much they are distracted by devices.

In fact a recent incident wherein a woman was watching a friend’s two-year-old son when another friend texted her illustrates the point perfectly. The child slipped into the pool, flailed for about a minute, drifted toward the deep end, then sank. The woman was looking at a photo on a smartphone. About three minutes after fiddling with the cellphone, she dropped it and then noticed the young boy underwater. She plunged in and pulled him out. The whole event was documented on a security camera. The woman told an emergency technician that she had taken her eyes off the boy for only 20 seconds. The security-camera footage shows she did not look at the boy for more than 3 minutes!

Ms. Morrongiello says that information she has collected from 62 families with two-year-old children revealed that 67% of injuries occurred when a parent wasn’t supervising and only 10% occurred when a parent was watching.

Grazian and Volpe blog about this subject in the hope that all parents and caregivers will pay heed to this recent spate of evidence and try to avoid mobile device use whenever caring for young children or any person entrusted to their care. It is always better to stay safe, but if you can’t stay safe-Stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagolands Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.

New Tool in the War on Texting and Driving

Your Chicago Injury Attorneys at Grazian and Volpe make a good living from the negligence of those who text and drive and cause car accidents and truck accidents. However, we would certainly prefer our clients and the general public stay safe and avoid personal injury. We may be lawyers but we still are humans!

I just spent 20 hours driving cross country to get my youngest daughter off to her first year of college. My wife and I witnessed  many car drivers of cars and trucks who were texting while driving at speeds well over 60 miles per hour. The majority of these drivers were truck drivers. It was so prolific that we started a car game competition to see who could spot the most truck drivers texting. Unfortunately, we found most truck drivers were texting and the competition was to find the drivers that were not texting! Studies show that this is more dangerous than drinking while driving and more likely to cause serious personal injury and wrongful death. Yet texting while driving appears to be on the increase.

I was very pleased to see a recent article in Investor’s Business Daily which reported the invention of a new deivice designed to prevent this dangerous practice. Anna University researchers in India have found a way to detect when someone is texting, and then jam the phone. The device uses a radio-frequency identification chip to find out if the vehicle is moving and whether the driver is texting. Unlike similiar devices, this technology can tell the driver from a passenger and jam only the driver’s phone.

On the highways and in South Chicago we have a huge amount of truck traffic. Your Chicagoland Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe beg that you drive defensively and be aware of drivers who are texting while driving. Remember, it is always better to stay safe, but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, your Chicago and South Chicago accident lawyers for over 30 years!

“Operation Rogue Rider” Targets Motorcyclists

The accident lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have advocated for over 25 on behalf of motorcyclists and the victims of crashes due to dangerous riders. It is important that the public discern between the two classes. We have written extensively about the difficulties in representing motorcyclists due to the public’s perception of riders as a riskier and reckless set of motor vehicle operators. We have also been careful to advise on litigation techniques for dispelling this perception. Most importantly, juries and the public need be made aware that the vast number of riders are middle-aged pre-retirement and post-retirement men and women enjoying a cheaper and more enjoyable form of touring the country.

Today’s article in the Chicago Tribune detailed an announcement by state and local police of the implementation of “Operation Rogue Rider” which targets motorcyclists who ride dangerously on the Edens Expressway through Skokie and Lincolnwood.

Officials state that they are called nightly to respond to reports of rogue riders who speed, race, ride on shoulders or improperly change lanes. The Illinois State Police will be assisted by local police during this summer long operation, using roving saturation patrols mostly during the evening and late nights.

The article reports an 85 percent increase in fatalities and a 75 percent increase in personal injuries in the first 6 month of 2012 due to motorcycle-related crashes. This amounts to 13 fatalities and 7 personal injuries during the six month period from January through June.

Chicagoland’s Injury Attorneys at Grazian and Volpe applaud and and all efforts to keep our highways and roadways safer. However, the public needs to be reminded that distracted driving involving texting, calling or eating represents the largest threat to safety on our roads. Please remember, that most motorcyclists practice safe and conservate driving methods and should not be prejudiced by the few riders who do not.

Please refer to our articles on this website discussing “Distracted Driving” and “Motorcycle Accidents” and watch John Grazian on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning on the third Tuesday of each month where he discusses current legal and injury issues with members of the viewing public. If you miss a program, they are published on the myaccidentlaw.com and WCUI websites.

Texting Is Dangerous, Risky Distraction for Teen Drivers

The 2011 annual federal survey about risky teenage behaviors showed several areas of significant improvement in dangerous driving practices, but texting or e-mailing while driving is a huge exception.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as the CDC, released the findings from the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, or YRBS. While the survey targets many areas of high risk behavior, car accidents are an important focus because they are the most common cause of U.S. teen death. According to the CDC, more than one-third of teen deaths are from motor-vehicle crashes.

The 2011 survey shows, in particular, that about one-third of high school students responding admitted to texting or e-mailing while driving in the past 30 days. This was the first year the agency had included this question, not surprising considering the recent explosion in this type of electronic communication among young people.

Typing on a cell phone while driving takes eyes, hands, and concentration away from the primary task of driving safely, putting the driver, other passengers, other vehicles, pedestrians, bikers and motorcyclists all at high risk of an accident.

On a more positive note, some risky driving behaviors have improved. For example, more teens wear seat belts, fewer kids get in the car if the driver has been drinking alcohol and fewer drive drunk.

Source: Reuters, “One-third of US teens report texting while driving-CDC,” David Beasley, June 8, 2012