Published on:

1330873_27868463The fatal injuries sustained by an actor, along with literally hundreds of dangerous events, have propelled the filing of class action lawsuits against Jeep carmaker, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). As the seventh largest car maker in the world, FCA has a major safety issue — a basic safety component of just about every car made, seems to be failing in the Jeep. The problem is with the gear shifter which can be left in gear when the user thinks it is in park. As a result of injuries and the high-profile fatality caused by this problem, and after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation, some vehicles are now subject to a major recall. The recall involves over 800,000 motor vehicles.

Currently there are over ten law suits that have been filed against FCA. The plaintiffs include seriously injured vehicle owners whose cars rolled when they thought their vehicles were in park. Some owners have been injured trying to stop the vehicles from continuing to roll. The lawsuits are seeking a replacement to the dangerous gear shift and a correction that would cause the vehicle to be in park if the brake is released and driver door is open. The vehicles targeted in the class actions include the 2012-14 Dodge Charger, 2012-14 Chrysler 300 or 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The gear shift issue gained high-profile status when the well-known StarTrek actor Anton Yelchin was killed when his Jeep rolled and pinned him against a security fence and brick pillar at his home. His parents have filed a lawsuit in California for their son’s death; his accident is under investigation by authorities.

Continue reading →

Published on:

iStock_000016030629XSmallAt this time of year, Gwinnett and metro Atlanta parents can rest assured that their kids are back in school and their days will be filled with learning, school work, sports and other activities. After a summer of fun and play, parents can relax a bit knowing that they don’t need to plan daily activities to keep kids engaged and positive. This can be challenging during the summer months. As our children return to school we have new concerns. These include kids’ safety getting to and from school. Whether this involves our kids’  safety walking to bus stops or riding their bikes to school, we always want them to be safe.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School provides resources for parents and schools to help get kids to school safely. This year, some kids will be walking to school for the first time. Or taking a bus for the first time. As our kids settle into the school year, parents need to pay close attention to their safety getting to and from school because we know that drivers are paying less attention to their driving. And that is dangerous for our children, particularly in school zones.

Continue reading →

Published on:

candlesGwinnett County was the scene of a tragic car accident on 1-85 earlier this week. Dee Dowis, a Georgia native, respected NCAA player and Heisman Trophy finalist, lost his life when, in the early morning hours Monday, his vehicle was hit by another car. For some reason, he had pulled his vehicle into the center median and was driving in reverse, perhaps trying to move off the median. His car was then hit by a driver traveling in the opposite direction and lost his life at the scene of the accident. That driver was taken to the hospital, but apparently survived the impact to his vehicle. At this time there are no reports as to why Dowis’ vehicle had entered the median strip. And it is unlikely that the other driver will be charged by authorities for the accident as he was apparently driving in his lane of traffic when this tragedy occurred.

Dowis’ former coach had glowing words for a man who was sixth in the Heisman Trophy vote in his final year in college. The AJC reported that in recent years, this college star had been working as a pharmaceutical representative and was said by many to be beloved as a person and respected as a player. ESPN reported on his stellar career. As a quarterback he set a record for rushing yards that wasn’t touched for over a decade. As a gifted player, he also set many records in his senior year for passing, completions and rushing. Several coaches around the country not only praised his accomplishments on the playing field, they also praised his accomplishments in life. Calling him humble and kind, his loss is felt by his community and beyond.

What is the lesson of this very sad Georgia car accident? The National Safety Council (NSC) states that a preventable collision is one in which a driver does not take all steps possible to avoid it. The NSC provides defensive driving courses for drivers around the country. In this accident, the driver whose vehicle struck Mr. Dowis’ car may well have been driving within his own lane or he might have been stunned by suddenly seeing a vehicle in the median. If he was driving at an accelerated rate or over the speed limit, he may not have been able to avoid hitting the car in the median. We might never know whether this collision was preventable by the other driver slowing down or moving over to the right.

Published on:

airbagWe have posted in the recent past about the wide-spread knowledge on the part of Volkswagen leadership regarding its rigged diesel car emissions. VW is paying a huge price for this fraud on the global consumer. We have also posted about General Motors’ knowledge of safety issues with its faulty ignition switches resulting in serious and fatal injuries around the country and in Georgia. American car buyers and car owners are rightfully concerned about the safety of the cars they buy. This confidence is undermined when the headlines continue to be full of admissions of both wrongdoing and hiding key information and when safety is front and center to these admissions.

Now it is Takata Corporation’s turn. The airbag maker has been under scrutiny for a long while now for the injuries and deaths occurring after airbags explode with shrapnel inside them. The safety failures have resulted in the biggest recall of airbags, ever. We are learning now that Takata too has hidden information from the public. This has been determined after an audit sought by Takata and Honda. Turns out that the audit reveals that Takata engineers knew that their airbags were at times failing tests for their proper performance, but failed to do anything about it.

Continue reading →

Published on:

attraction-731194_640Late summer amusement park fun has turned somber due to three recent incidents around the country. A young boy was fatally injured at a water park in Kansas City when he fell from an usually high slide. Three girls were injured on a ferris wheel ride in Tennessee when their car tipped, tossing the occupants onto the ground about 35 feet below. A three year old boy survived a fall out of a popular wooden roller coaster outside Pittsburgh. Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased ten-year old boy and we hope for the full recovery of the injured girls and the little boy. These accidents bring back the national discussion about amusement park safety and its regulation.

CNN and other news agencies report that the young boy who lost his life on the water slide suffered a fatal neck injury. The specific cause of the injury is not yet known. He may have sustained the injury while riding the slide or he may have fallen from the slide. The others who were riding with him were not seriously injured. The slide is said to be the highest in the country and riders can reach 70 mile per hour speeds while riding in the raft down the slide. There are height and weight requirements for the ride which if not followed, can result in serious injury and in this case, a loss of life.

Continue reading →

Published on:

car-1209912_960_720We have posted previously about Georgia’s cautious lead up to driverless vehicles. As technology moves forward, what are the possibilities that manufacturers will be held responsible if and when something goes wrong? If you are the driver of a vehicle that is being driven by a computer, and you are seriously or fatally injured in a car crash or you injure another person who will be held responsible? In a recent tragic situation, a man lost his life when his Tesla vehicle collided with a truck. The vehicle’s Autopilot system was engaged at the time of the accident. Autopilot is found in  certain Tesla vehicles. This technology assists drivers in steering and in maintaining their lane. This is called semi-autonomous technology because the vehicle is not completely driverless. Reuters reports that it has not found any current legal actions filed against Tesla for this crash, but it seems clear that eventually there will be litigation that involves this technology.

The federal government has opened an investigation regarding the Florida fatal crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into “the design and performance of any driving aids” that were being used when the crash occurred. If the technology is found to be unsafe, the feds could order a recall these vehicles. Some legal experts are suggesting that the Tesla vehicle itself may have gathered information that could defend its safety. Tesla does advise owners that it reserves the right to use vehicle data to defend itself in litigation. Whether the Tesla vehicle collected data that can help defend the car maker, remains to be seen.

The type of information that could help clarify the cause of an accident might be found in the car’s event data recorders (EDR’s). Car makers are looking more and more to use of high tech in their vehicles. But are these technologies safer? Or will they prove to be more dangerous that the old way of driving … with a driver who is controlling the vehicle continuously.

Published on:

iStock_000017099921XSmallTwenty years ago, we barely knew the phrase “road rage.” American drivers once were generally courteous and the normal thing to do when someone was changing lanes, getting into a parking space or passing, was to give that driver time and space. Many of us remember when basic driving “normal” did not include struggling to make simple moves on the road. The new normal includes the worry that someone might cut us off, tailgate or become enraged for our slightest move on the road. The new normal also turns out to be that more of us are becoming upset and angry behind the wheel — perhaps for good reason, as other drivers are less and less courteous. What we are noticing is actually happening. A new study tells us just how out of control Americans have become.

The study was completed by a source that knows a bit about American driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued this study last week and it is stunning. Only 20 percent of drivers say they did not become angry or upset behind the wheel this past year. We are tired, frustrated and impatient with congestion. In other words, 80 percent of us did experience some level of anger or aggression on the road. This behavior is bound to cause accident or injury … and it is increasing. Extreme road rage is less common, but it is also a reality. Ramming another vehicle or exiting a vehicle to confront the “offending” driver are considered to fall into the extreme category. As Americans work long hours, confront road congestion and deal with other stresses, we are more and more impatient. Other drivers behaving badly get us more and more angry and even the calmest of us, can react to it.

Continue reading →

Published on:

swimming-pool-100155245Summer safety reminders can help us better enjoy the summer months with friends and family. There is no more sobering reminder than pool and water safety as parents and kids spend more time around water sports and water activities. The tragic drownings we learn about every year, help remind us that we must always pay attention as kids swimming and play around water can quickly lead to drowning and injury. It is a tough statistic to think about, but the fact is that when a child drowns it is almost always within five minutes of a parent or adult or caregiver having just seen the child. That is all it takes. Five short minutes with eyes off a child near water and tragedy can occur. About 88 percent of child drownings happen within this time frame.

One of the more common ways a tragic drowning or serious injury can happen is when a kid’s clothing or hair is caught in the pool’s drain. One small tool can help avoid drownings in certain circumstances. Keeping an emergency pair of scissors near a pool, but out of reach of children can help save a life. Safety experts say that having an emergency scissors in close proximity to the pool can help bring the child back to the surface before tragedy strikes. Pool drains are a silent culprit in the mix of kids play around swimming pools. Being aware of this and ready in case of emergency is key to potentially saving a life.

Continue reading →

Published on:

iStock_000016030629XSmallWhen parents create living spaces for their children and choose furniture, safety is part of the consideration. The last thing a parent wants is to worry that their child or children might be hurt or killed due to unsafe furniture. Once a week in America, a child loses his or her life due to tipping furniture or tipping televisions. A curious child putting weight on a piece of untethered or unanchored furniture can cause it to topple. And we know kids can unwittingly do something dangerous in seconds. In recent weeks, IKEA Group has recalled nearly 36 million chests and dressers in the United States and Canada due to child injuries or death caused by tipping dressers. These accidents ALL involve dressers that were not anchored to the wall. One of the IKEA dressers involved are in the group called MALM — this includes many versions of this dresser from small to tall. The dressers were made between 2002 to 2016 and can be identified by looking at the labeling on the inside top or side panel. IKEA is offering refunds/returns or repair kits for these dressers.

In recent years, three toddlers died in separate incidents when IKEA dressers fell on them. In all cases, the dressers were not anchored to the wall. IKEA is working with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on this massive recall. The CPSC has warned the public that these dressers have proven to be too dangerous when they are not anchored. Although there have now been six deaths associated with these and other dressers, this has not been an issue in other countries in which they are sold.

The recall is very expansive and includes those dressers that fail to comply with United States performance requirements. The problem with the recalled dressers is instability when not anchored. The company did offer a repair kit for the dressers after two children had already died from injuries suffered when the dressers fell on them. Sadly, even after the repair kit was announced one death and 17 injuries occurred with chests or dressers that were not anchored. Other dressers that have caused death are the GUTE 4-drawer, the RAKKE 5-drawer and the KURS 3-drawer. Parents can check the IKEA website to identify the dressers that are considered unsafe.

Published on:

iStock_000017099921XSmall
Drowsy Driving Ends in Tragedy

The long summer days tend to make for longer driving days. This can become dangerous as drivers have more daylight to travel, but still need rest. With summer travel reaching its height and as we approach Independence Day weekend, we want to remind readers about driving while drowsy and the hazards this presents. Just this past week, the Associated Press reports that a Claxton, Georgia man lost his life when his co-worker likely fell asleep at the wheel. Sadly, the driver was allegedly warned to pull over and rest before continuing their deadly trip which ended in a head-on collision that killed five.

We may have some rare insight into what happened in this tragedy. Reportedly, a young man called his mom while traveling from Virginia back to his home in Georgia. He was heading home with two co-workers after a moving job. The young man called to say that he was worried about his colleague who was getting sleepy at the wheel. According to the mom, her son even passed the phone to the driver and she asked him to pull over at a rest stop before continuing to drive. Only a few minutes later, the driver crossed the median on Interstate 16 and struck another car. All three passengers in his vehicle passed away as did a woman and her step son who were hit by the sleepy driver. Although the mom’s account is not confirmed, the Georgia State Patrol is investigating the crash and its cause.

Contact Information