Personal Injury Lawyers

Mobile Traffic Accidents - An Eye on Texting Drivers

Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous things that a person can do as he drives, since sending or reading a text require a full 4.6 seconds of focusing on the phone and not the road. Texting drivers cause thousands of accidents, deaths and injuries each year, and almost every state in the U.S. has put some type of ban or limitation into place restricting motorists from texting as they drive.

In some states, the laws banning texting are targeted specifically towards younger drivers, who many believe are the most likely to text. While it is true that people under age 39 are overall more likely to send and read text messages on their phone as they drive, it turns out that young teens are actually not the group most likely to engage in this dangerous behavior.

Texting and Driving Risks By Age

An experienced texting accident lawyer in Mobile knows that distracted driving is a problem among all age groups, with more than two out of every three drivers saying that they use their cell phones in some capacity as they drive despite knowing that it is dangerous to do so.

However, a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study sheds more light on who the highest risk groups are when it comes to texting. According to this study:

  • Among drivers aged 16-18, 31 percent said they had sent a text or an email when driving. Seven percent said that they did this regularly.
  • Among drivers aged 19-24, 42 percent said they had sent a text or an email when driving. A total of 11 percent said that they did this regularly. People in this age group were the ones most likely to be texting.
  • Among drivers aged 25-39, 45 percent said that they had sent a text or an email behind the wheel. Ten percent said that this occurred often.
  • The percentage of drivers who reported sending a text or email on their phones while driving fell to 24 percent for those age 40-59. Just four percent of people in this age group regularly texted behind the wheel.
  • Among drivers age 60 to 74, seven percent have sent a text or email while driving but only two percent do this regularly.
  • Finally, only one percent of drivers aged 75 and up said that they either had sent a text or an email or said that they had done so regularly.

This data may suggest that new drivers who are young teens are less experienced and feel that they need to focus on the road more, thus resulting in a lower texting rate. By the time they have had their licenses for a few years, however, they could become bolder or more confident in their ability to drive and thus they start to send and receive texts more while driving because they no longer view this behavior as quite so risky. The younger demographic of teens may also have been exposed to more anti-distracted driving lessons that have been introduced into high schools in recent years, and thus may be more likely to recognize just how dangerous this behavior really is.

Car accident lawyers in Mobile can help if you have been injured in an Alabama traffic accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE.

Music May Not be a Distraction For Mobile Drivers

Our Mobile accident lawyers know that distracted driving is a problem in the state of Alabama, just as it is a problem elsewhere in the United States. Any type of distraction in the car takes your focus off of the road and can result in a slower reaction time and an increased chance of an accident happening. While cell phones usually get the most publicity when it comes to distracted driving, studies have shown that other behaviors including driving with pets, eating, grooming and even talking to passengers can all result in an increase in your risk of becoming involved in a car wreck.

Recently, however, a study showed that listening to the music while driving might not be a dangerous distraction in all cases. In fact, music might even be a good thing on some drives and could help to reduce your accident risk. The small-scale study notes drivers still need to be careful that they pay attention to whether they personally are distracted by music. Still, the outcome is good news for drivers who want to turn on the tunes but who don't want to do anything to increase their auto accident risk.

Music Can Keep You Focused & Improve Reaction Time

The recent study on the effect of music and driving was conducted by Dutch researchers. US News & World Report published the outcome of the study, which involved monitoring 47 students as they drove a simulated driving course. The students were between the ages of 19 and 25 and, on average, had at least 2 1/2 years of driving experience or more.  They were asked prior to the study to create a playlist of music that they liked and that they were pretty familiar with.

The young drivers were then asked to drive a course that lasted for about half an hour that was just a routine drive on a two-lane road, much like the drive a person would take when going to and from work. While the drivers drove the course, they were monitored carefully and their reaction times were recorded. The drivers drove the course three separate times. On one of the drives, they had no music on as they drove. On another, the music was on at a moderate volume. Finally, on the third drive, the music was turned up louder. The drivers did not have the ability to adjust the volume as they drove on the simulated driving course.

The study showed that the drivers actually had the best reaction time on the drive where the music was turned up. However, they also reacted more quickly to the car in front of them when the music was on at a moderate volume than when the music was off.  This suggests that the music not only isn't a dangerous distraction but that it can also help the drivers to stay alert and focused on the roads in some cases. While the outcome might be different for drivers of a different age group, the news is still good and drivers should consider skipping their phone calls and enjoy the music as they drive. Be mindful, however, that particularly loud music or obsessive messing with the volume or controls, can lead to unnecessary risks of their own.

If you have been injured in an Alabama traffic  accident, contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE.

Mobile, Alabama Police Officer Involved in T-Bone Crash

According to Local 15 TV, a Mobile police officer and another driver are currently recovering from a violent auto accident that occurred at the start of rush hour on a Friday afternoon in early June. The accident was a T-bone crash, which are considered to be among the most deadly type of car accidents.

Our Mobile injury lawyers know that T-bone accidents are especially dangerous for several reasons. Both the fact that cars have limited ability to absorb the blow of the accident and the limitations on protecting drivers from side-impact crashes mean that many people involved in T-bone accidents suffer serious harm or even lose their lives.

T-Bone Accident in Mobile Alabama

According to Local 15 TV, the crash involving the Mobile police officer occurred while the officer was driving west on Highway 90. A Gold Toyota Tacoma was heading east at the same time. The Tacoma crossed over the westbound lane of the highway and the officer’s vehicle collided with the Tacoma.

Both the police officer and the Tacoma driver involved in the crash had to be transported to the hospital after the incident. The driver of the Tacoma was transported to USA Medical Center and the officer was taken to Springhill Medical Center. Reports in the evening following the crash indicated that neither the Tacoma driver nor the police officer had sustained life-threatening injuries.

That both drivers were able to avoid deadly injuries was very good news because the crash was described as a violent one and because T-bone accidents are so often deadly.

In fact, according to The New York Times, a 2011 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Study revealed that side-swipe accidents are among the deadliest because side airbags are able to provide limited protection for drivers. The University of Michigan has also reported that side-impact crashes may be even more serious than front or rear impact accidents due to the fact that the car usually intrudes into the area where the passengers are and due to the fact that the vehicle’s side is not able to crumple to absorb any of the force of the impact.

When your car is hit from the front, your hood can crumple and take some of the pressure from the crash before the impact is absorbed by your body. The front airbags can also inflate and shield you from some of the force of the crash. Side airbags, on the other hand, don’t do a very good job of cushioning the blow when a side-impact crash occurs and the side of the car is just a thin sheet of metal that does little if anything to prevent you from feeling the full force of the crash.

Fortunately, the drivers of the vehicles in this crash were able to survive the accident despite these factors making side-impact collisions so risky. Still, injuries were sustained and it will be important to determine who was to blame for the accident so the injured victims can be compensated appropriately.

If you have been injured in an Alabama traffic  accident, contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE.

Alabama Bicycle Accidents a May Focus

May is National Bike Safety Month and the goal of the month is to raise awareness of bicycle riders and to make the streets safer for bicyclists. National Bike Safety Month consists of events such as a ride-to-work and ride-to-school days in order to make drivers more alert to the presence of bicycle riders and to encourage safe riding. Other aspects of National Bike Safety Month include educational campaigns such as DOT's Roll Models to provide bike safety advice to both riders and drivers.

Our Auburn accident attorneys know that reducing the risk of bicycle accidents is always an important issue not just during National Bike Safety Monthm but throughout the summer months. This is especially true in Alabama, which the Detroit Free Press recently reported ranks 49th out of 50 states in terms of being bike friendly.  Alabama has a lot of work to do to improve things for bicycle riders as the second-worst state in the U.S. and National Bike Safety Month is a good time to get started on improving bicycle safety.

Tips for Drivers to Protect Bike Riders

Bike riders can wear helmets, make eye contact with drivers and use hand signals in order to reduce the risk of becoming involved in an accident. Unfortunately, the efforts of bicycle riders can only go so far in avoiding crashes. There are more drivers of motor vehicles who are responsible for causing collisions. This means that unless the drivers of cars are aware of bicycle riders, know the risks of bicycle accidents and know how to share the road safely with riders, many preventable bicycle accidents are going to occur. Over the summer months when more people are out riding, the number of bicycle accidents will also increase unless drivers take steps to improve safety.

Drivers can do a lot to try to make the roads safe for riders and many of the steps that drivers can take to improve conditions for bicyclists are very simple. For example, drivers can make Alabama a better place for bike riders by:

  • Understanding that bikes need to be treated the same as any other vehicle on the road. Bicycles have both the same rights and the same responsibilities.
  • Avoiding crowding bicycle riders. When there are bike lanes, drivers should be sure to respect the lanes and leave bike riders their space. If there are no bike lanes, riders should be aware of bicycle riders sharing the road and should avoid getting too close.
  • Yielding the right-of-way to bicycle riders when traffic signals or road safety rules require them to do so. Again, bikes are treated like cars so if you'd give a car the right-of-way, you need to do the same for a bicyclist.
  • Watching out for "dooring," which occurs when a driver opens a door up right into the path of an oncoming bicycle. This, obviously, should be avoided so a collision doesn't occur.
  • Paying attention while driving. If drivers simply pay attention, avoid distractions, don't drive drunk and don't drive when falling asleep, this will make things a lot safer for bicycle riders.

Drivers, in other words, need to use reasonable caution behind the wheel and need to be aware that bicycle riders have just as much right to be on the roads. This will make Alabama a much more bike friendly state.

If you have been injured in an Alabama traffic  accident, contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE.

Fatal Chicago Motorcycle Crash Preceded By "Fog of Rage"

A fatal motorcycle crash in Naperville, about a half hour outside of the city, was reportedly the result of a motorist who was not only full of alcohol, but also anger.

Our Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers know that incidents like this are far too common, as are those that, like this one, involve a hit-and-run.

Thankfully, the individual responsible for this reckless act of violence was eventually caught and is now facing criminal sanctions.

The 32-year-old suspect reportedly turned in front of traffic at a busy intersection in the middle of the day last June. As a result, a 63-year-old motorcyclist slammed into the side of his vehicle. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation reports this is the number one cause of fatal motorcycle crashes nationwide -- a driver that fails to yield the right-of-way and turns in front of an oncoming rider.

At the time of that incident, the younger driver had been chasing a car full of teenagers, whom he had reportedly been involved in an altercation with just a few minutes before in an apparent road rage incident. The teenagers had reportedly threatened the man, according to a later account by defense lawyers. However, if those threats generated fear, it's not clear why he would then be chasing them.

What we do know is that he was so focused on catching up to those teenagers that he was barreling through traffic, with little to no disregard for the lives of anyone else on the road that day.

Appallingly, even after the crash, the younger driver did not stop to see if the motorcyclist was alright or how he might offer assistance. He fled. And his fleeing was not motivated by the fact that he was afraid for the consequences to himself. Rather, he remained intent on catching up with the car load of teens and so, he continued to give chase.

The driver had admitted to using marijuana earlier in the day, and drug tests would later reveal trace amounts of cocaine also in his system.

The motorcyclist, too, was reportedly under the influence of alcohol, but prosecutors stressed that what happened that afternoon was in no way the fault of the deceased rider. Prosecutors said he was doing nothing more than riding his motorcycle on a clear, sunny afternoon day.

A verdict from the judge in the bench trial is due at the end of this month.

While this is an egregious and tragic example of how road rage can quickly explode into a life-shattering event, the truth is, there are many manifestations of it.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the most common form of road rage is excessive and aggressive speeding, especially during inclement weather or heavy traffic. Speed is a factor in one out of every three fatal accidents. The reason it's so dangerous is that drivers have less time to react to a dangerous situation, meaning it is going to increase the risk that the wreck will be more severe than it would otherwise.

The DOT recommends the following actions to help avoid a confrontation with a road rager:

  • Don't react if another driver is behaving uncivilly toward you. Don't make eye contact, don't accelerate, brake, tailgate or suddenly swerve. All of this can be scene as provocations.
  • If you are approached by a driver who is aggressive or think you are being followed, travel to the nearest law enforcement headquarters or substation.
  • Lock up your doors.
  • Resist the urge to pick a fight or display a weapon. That will only serve to escalate the situation.

If you have been injured in a Chicago motorcycle accident, contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

US DOT Suggests Minimum Sound Requirements to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents

Electric cars and hybrid vehicles have grown in popularity due to rising gas prices and a more widespread interest in “going green.” While these cars have many benefits, they also present an unfortunate and unintentional risk to pedestrians. The problem: the cars are too quiet at low speeds.

To tackle this issue, the United States Department of Transportation has proposed new minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles. Our Washington, D.C. auto accident attorneys believe that these new requirements can help to reduce pedestrian accidents in D.C. and throughout the United States and can make the roads safer for the many people in the District who enjoy walking around the city.

Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Endanger Pedestrians

Because electric and hybrid cars do not use traditional engines, they are much quieter. Unfortunately, pedestrians often rely on a vehicle's sound to alert them to a car approaching. Pedestrians, believing that no cars are coming, might step out into the street, might start to cross or might fail to move out of the way of oncoming traffic.

This is creating a major problem because pedestrians are at increased risk of becoming involved in an accident with one of these hybrid or electric cars. Bicycle riders, who also share the road with cars and who are expected to obey driving rules and yield the right of way when required, are also at increased risk of a crash when they do not hear a hybrid or electric vehicle coming.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is now tackling this problem. They announced their proposed safety requirements in a press release from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Their press release indicated that their new proposal was required in light of the 2010 bipartisan Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act.

The terms of the proposal specify that the electric and hybrid vehicles emit an audible sound when traveling at low speeds so that pedestrians and bike riders can hear them coming.  Manufacturers have a range of different choices regarding the sound that the vehicle must make but the sounds must meet basic requirements and must be detectable over normal street noises and background noises.  The sound must also be the same for all cars of the same make and model.

The sounds are only required to be added when the vehicles are going 18 miles per hour or less because NHTSA indicates that the electric and hybrid cars make enough noise to be detectable if they are going over 18 miles per hour.

In their proposal, NHTSA indicates that implementation of the new sound requirements would prevent as many as 2,800 pedestrian and bicycle rider injuries over the life of each model year of hybrid vehicles.  This is a lot of lives that could be saved and a lot of people who could avoid serious injury just by adding a sound to a car.

Of course, regardless of whether the NHTSA proposal is accepted or not, it remains the responsibility of drivers, pedestrians and bicycle riders to exercise reasonable caution and to be alert for others on the roads.

If you have been injured in a D.C. accident, contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

Ice, Blamed for Fatal Chicago Crash, Closes Expressway

The first snow of the season, along with a deceiving layer of black ice, was reportedly responsible for a "ton" of crashes in Chicago in a single night, according to police.

The Chicago Tribune reported a total of 17 crashes on toll roads in Cook County, including one fatal crash on the expressway, just west of Gary Avenue.

Our Chicago car accident lawyers know that as we head into the holiday season, with more travelers and worse weather, we can expect more of the same.

In fact, it was so bad on a recent day that parts of the expressway had to be shut down because of the ice. Troopers wanted to get the word out to people to slow down, particularly when they are passing accidents or when there are vehicles parked or disabled on the side of the road.

Even police officers and troopers - with their emergency lights flashing - said multiple times, they were put at risk by passing vehicles.

Winter holidays are some of the most dangerous times to drive. Part of it has to do with the fact that more people are on the road, traveling to see loved ones. People also may be drinking at parties and driving. But another major factor is that the road conditions can be terrible this time of year - and you can't always count on troopers to shut down every road that poses a danger.

Most Chicagoans are familiar with driving in wintry weather, but just in case, here are a few things to keep in mind if you encounter cold, snowy or icy conditions:

  • Make sure you have adequate traction on your tires. That means a tread of at least 6/32 inches. Most new passenger car tires are 10/32 inches. That's even better. Realize that even ultra-high performance "summer" tires often have little or no grip at all in snow.
  • Make certain that you can see. Replace your windshield wiper blades if needed and make sure you have enough washer fluid and anti-icing fluid. Apply a coat of water-shedding material, like Rain-X, to the outside of your windows and mirrors.
  • Run the air conditioner in order to help remove condensation and frost from the interior of your windows. Select the fresh air option. A lot of cars do this automatically, but keep this in mind in case yours does not.
  • Watch out for "black ice." This was at the root of the fatal crash. Black ice will look as if the road is simply slick, but it's actually ice, which can be far more treacherous. Test your traction on the surface with a smooth brake application and a slight turn of your wheel.
  • Understand that bridges, overpasses or any area near bodies of water are more prone to develop a layer of ice first.
  • Give yourself plenty of time - and space. When you're on ice, it's going to take longer to brake, so you want to make sure to give yourself plenty of space from cars both in front of you and next to you. Additionally, allow yourself more time to get to wherever you are going. And if you are a few minutes late, accept that it's better than never getting there at all.

If you have been injured in a Chicago car accident, contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

Report Details Auto Accident Death Rate Trends in the United States

Look at any newspaper and you’re likely to see a headline about a distracted driver accident. With dashboard GPS and connectivity systems in so many new car models, it seems that driver distraction is only getting more prevalent. Certain cities and states, however, are clearly doing something right to help reduce car accident fatal injuries.

According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration recent revision of their latest “Traffic Safety Facts” publication, many regions are showing drastically reduced auto accident fatality rates. In the District of Columbia, which has some of the country’s most dense traffic, collision deaths went down between 2009 and 2010 by a whopping 17%, from 29 to 24 fatalities. In Maryland, traffic crash fatalities dropped 10%, with 493 crash deaths in 2010 compared to 549 the previous year. And in Georgia, there was a 3.7% decrease in fatalities linked to car accidents, truck crashes and motorcycle wrecks overall, down from 357 in 2009 to 315 the following year.

In many states, however, the news was not good. For instance, Alabama’s motor vehicle accident deaths increased 1.7%, to 862 fatalities compared to 848 the year before. Illinois traffic deaths rose by 1.8%, from 911 to 927 deaths during that same time span.

Whether your area is showing a reduction or increase in auto wreck deaths, Chicago personal injury attorneys at the Mike Slocumb Law Firm urge all drivers to drive cautiously, particularly because of new in-dash technologies. It’s also important to remember that every area presents its own unique traffic hazards. In urban areas, rush hour traffic is often where rear-end crashes occur, while winding country roads and long stretches of highway are where auto accident injuries such as head-on brain or spinal cord injuries are more likely.

There are many factors that influence car accident causes. Nationally, the NHTSA report details accident statistics pertaining to everything from age to time of day. For instance, fatalities among motorcyclists 50 and older increased by 119, whereas motorcyclist fatalities for drivers under 50 declined by 84 deaths. Nighttime auto accident fatalities went down, which is a surprise, considering that poor visibility is always a risk on the road; of the 998 fewer total fatalities nationwide in 2010, there were 857 fewer fatalities in nighttime crash rates.

The study is a great resource for anyone considering moving to a new part of the country. It could be helpful in determining which cities or states may have safer roads, especially for families with child passengers and/or teen drivers. No matter where you are, drive safely.

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident or you lost a family member due to an auto crash wrongful death, you need a tough, reliable personal injury attorney on your side. Call Chicago personal injury lawyer Mike Slocumb at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation. We can help.

Mike Slocumb Law Firm

Aon Center

200 E. Randolph Street Suite 5100

Chicago, Illinois 60601

Financial impact of a fatal car crash in Chicago and Baltimore can be devastating

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study documenting the financial impact of motor vehicle crash-related deaths for the entire country. The findings were startling. Each year, such accidents cost families more than $41 billion nationwide in medical costs and lost work.

What would you do if you lost a loved in a fatal car crash? In some cases, you should file a wrongful death claim. But knowing how to do so can be difficult. Take the confusion out this complicated situation. Get straight answers from an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm. Serving clients throughout Illinois, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Alabama, Atlanta and the rest of Georgia, our experienced Chicago auto accident attorneys can give you the attention you rightfully deserve. Don’t leave your future to chance. Count on a Chicago auto accident lawyer with years of experience fighting for clients. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm.

The CDC’s study provides state-by-state breakdowns of the financial impact of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Here’s the annual statistics for states serviced by the Mike Slocumb Law Firm:

  • Georgia: $1.53 billion in lost work, $17 million in medical costs (4th highest in the nation)
  • Illinois: $1.31 billion in lost work, $15 million in medical costs (8th highest in the nation)
  • Alabama: $1.07 billion in lost work, $8 million in medical costs
  • Maryland: $570 million in lost work, $6 million in medical costs

Car accidents involving fatalities raise a wide variety of issues. Different states have different rules governing who can and cannot file a wrongful death claim. Let us help you take out the guess work. Our lawyers have years of experience fighting for clients dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm. We’re ready to work with you.

Seatbelt usage increases. But seatbelts not always perfect. Get the facts.

Putting on a seatbelt when getting into a car has become automatic for most people. There’s a reason why. Seatbelts often save lives in serious car accidents. But seatbelts are not always perfect.

As seatbelt usage has increased, the fatality rate for motor vehicle accidents has steadily declined. In 1994, just under 60 percent of motorists wore seatbelts. That year, the fatality rate for car accidents was 1.4 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, the standard measurement for accidents. By 2006, the fatality rate dropped 21 percent to 1.1 deaths and 80 percent of motorists wore seatbelts.

Safety advocates have linked this sharp decline in fatal accidents to increased seatbelt usage. The increase in seatbelt usage coincides with tougher seatbelt laws in many states throughout the country. States like Alabama, Georgia and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement seatbelt laws. This means police can pull someone over for not wearing their seatbelt and issue them a fine. The fine in Georgia is $15; Alabama, $25; District of Columbia, $50. States with primary seatbelt laws report that 88 percent of motorists wear seatbelts. States without such laws report that 75 percent of motorists wear seatbelts.

But seatbelts aren’t always perfect. Sometimes, a defective design can make a seatbelt not function right. A gifted young professional baseball player, Brian Cole, was killed when his Ford SUV rolled over and his seatbelt failed to hold him in place. An investigation found that Cole had his seatbelt on at the time. Recently, a jury ordered Ford to pay Cole’s family $131 million, claiming the seatbelt did not operate correctly and contributed to Cole’s death.

Accidents happen fast. In an instance, a serious injury can change your life forever. What would you do if you were injured in a car accident? How would you pay your bills? What if your insurance company refused to cooperate? You need someone who knows how to make insurance companies compensate victims. You need someone who will hold corporations responsible for defective products. You need someone you can trust to get straight answers to your important questions. You need the Mike Slocumb Law Firm.

Our lawyers have years of experience successfully representing car accident victims in Alabama, Georgia and Washington, D.C. We know the games insurance companies and car makers try to play to avoid paying victims. Level the playing field. Call a law firm committed to getting results for our clients. Contact Mike Slocumb today. We’re on your side.