Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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iStock_000017099921XSmallAs the holiday season approaches, we want to focus on two important things: your family’s safety and the kindness in our country and how these sometimes merge together when we least expect it. Rather than focusing on our divides, we want to focus on what makes us great as a nation — our community spirit. We work very hard to bring information to our readers about vehicle safety and staying safe on our roads. We have written recently that some of the news is not good — our fatality rates are on the rise in America. When accidents do happen and injury occurs, we find ways to cope. One of those ways is to focus on the good things that happen every day in America and how we help one another.

One recent story has not only warmed our hearts, but is a testament to the kindness of our first responders. In Hall County, Georgia earlier this week, a story emerged about firefighters who calmed the fear of a child by singing to her. The story which first appeared on MyAtlantaMomsClub.com is now going viral. Earlier this month, a mom lost control of her car. After her vehicle struck a tree, her hand was severely injured and she was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Her autistic daughter was frightened and crying. Her daughter is not able to speak. The injured mom asked the firefighters to sing the children’s song Wheels on the Bus to her daughter. They did, for the entire 20 minutes on the way to the hospital. The mom said as long as they were singing and her child was not crying, she knew that her daughter would be ok. Stories like this of kindness and caring are important. They remind us that we need one another and at times of crisis, we often find the kindness we need in unexpected places.

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6d15d15970fbc3199681f82df666c287The federal government is preparing. Georgia Tech is preparing. When will Georgia and Atlanta see driverless cars on our roads and highways? The headlines are consistent: driverless cars seem to be inevitable. In our last post, we updated our readers on the guidelines published in September 2016 by the federal government on research areas and safety issues with driverless vehicles. Right here in Georgia, our renown Georgia Tech, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering is hard at work looking at what appears to inevitable — cars and trucks driving themselves. In other words, get ready Georgians, we may one day be sharing the road with robots … also known as autonomous cars and trucks.

The researchers at Georgia Tech are looking at the way our future roads will look. Despite the claims that driverless vehicles will make our roads safer, researchers are looking at many potentially problematic aspects of their widespread use. For example, the researchers are looking into whether autonomous vehicles could actually cause more traffic nightmares by disrupting traffic flow that could lead to surface-street bottlenecks. While research currently underway and while we believe a world with driverless vehicles as the norm is a while off, the first driverless truck delivered beer in Colorado this week. Yes, that’s right, a driverless truck delivering beer. Continue reading →

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6d15d15970fbc3199681f82df666c287The great driverless driving experiment is in full force now and is moving from experimental to reality. Driverless cars, or what the industry calls, autonomous cars, are headed to American roadways. There is no stopping this now. The prediction, as reported in TechCrunch, is that cars without drivers will be the norm by around 2020. This will no doubt begin to have a major impact on the way we commute and travel. Without drivers, not only will the consumer’s driving experience change, but the transportation industry will also be transformed. As dire predictions continue about loss of jobs due to technological advances, driverless vehicles will mean a loss of jobs. It will also bring other challenges.

Recently, the Department of Transportation and the National Economic Council issued a preliminary plan for regulating safety of these vehicles. The federal plans are meant to begin to set standards for regulating the technology of driverless cars. In addition to the need for companies developing this technology to share information with the DOT, the federal agency is putting safety as a priority.

Safety is top of mind for all of us … advocates of autonomous vehicles argue that the roads will be safer because human error is the cause of most vehicle crashes. It stands to reason that eliminating human error will make driving safer. But how much safer and the what ifs are a concern because we have seen major unprecedented recalls in the car manufacturing and related industries in the recent past. From failing airbags to ignition switches, the list is long and painful for those whose loved ones have lost their lives or been injured by technology that was supposed to keep them safer.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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iStock_000017099921XSmallMemorial Day is coming up soon. Many families and friends will get together over the weekend for picnics and cook outs. Many Americans will also visit cemeteries to honor those fallen fighting for our country — the original and still the poignancy of this holiday. Its a good thing to remember the origins of the holiday which used to be known as Decoration Day. It began after the Civil War, but was extended to WWI and those wars that followed. Although it is a time for fun, it is also a time to visit the graves of those who have served our country and honor their places of rest by leaving flowers or a flag. If that is not possible or preferred, telling our kids about those who fought for our freedom is another way to honor their memories and their service.

The holiday has become the unofficial start of summer. It has also become the official start of the travel season. Nearly 40 million Americans will get on the roads or otherwise travel over the Memorial Day weekend. In Georgia alone, over 1 million Americans will be traveling. We thought it would be a good idea to share the information we learned about regarding the most congested times to travel and the best times to travel around the Atlanta area. According to the information collected by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Thursday, Friday and Tuesday and the worst travel days. Most the the travel times are from mid-morning to afternoon. Tuesday afternoon is statistically the most congested time of travel. The best travel days include Saturday and Sunday.

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825017_crash_carIf you have been a vehicle owner for a while, chances are at some point you have received, or one day will receive, a recall notice. So what do you do when you get a recall notice? The one thing NOT to do is to ignore it. Many people believe that a recall will cost them money or don’t have time to take their vehicle in for the repair. In fact, recalls do not cost the vehicle owner anything. The manufacturer pays for the repair. In addition, there are times when a recall notice and repair is critical to your safety. Many recalls are intended to avoid serious injury or worse. There are easy ways to find out if your vehicle is involved in a recall. Just check this link at safer car.org and put your vehicles VIN number in to find out about your vehicle.

This issue has come back into the news recently after a young Texas woman was in a fatal auto crash due to a malfunctioning Takata airbag in her 2002 Honda Civic. The air bag did what many others have done, when it opened in a relatively minor rear-end collision, the air bag tossed metal shards into the vehicle, struck the young woman in the neck and ended up killing her. The authorities have said that the crash was moderate and that she would have survived her vehicle rear-ending the vehicle in front of her had the airbags not malfunctioned. Her family says they never received a recall notice for the vehicle and were not aware that their daughter’s vehicle was a part of the recall.

Now America’s car manufacturers are seeking support from motor vehicle insurers to get vehicle owners to bring their cars for repair after a recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also pushing for ways to get the public to bring their vehicles in for repairs when a recall. A major industry group representing vehicle manufacturers is asking that insurance companies help with the efforts to remind and inform owners to get to the repair shop when they renew their insurance.

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Georgia Bridge Safety Gets a Closer Look

We have heard time and time again in recent years that across the country our infrastructure is in need of major repair. Georgia is undergoing a $10 billion investment to our infrastructure which should help avoid serious or fatal Georgia injuries. Although the improvements will take time to complete, they are a welcome development. One area of concern has consistently been Georgia’s bridges. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the federal government has published alarming statistics about America’s bridges as well. The fact is that ten percent of America’s bridges are in disrepair. About five percent of Georgia’s bridges are said to be “structurally deficient.”

Over the next year and a half, many of Georgia’s bridges will either be replaced or repaired. Over 100 replacements are expected and about 300 repairs. Georgia’s Department of Transportation says that a bridge found to be unsafe for use will be closed. They also say that the inspection rate in Georgia is well beyond what the government requires. But as we learned from the bridge failure in Minnesota several years ago, Georgians driving on some of the bridge’s identified to be more problematic, could suffer injury. Although authorities say that Georgia’s bridges in the “structurally deficient” category are not about to fail, it certainly gives us all something to think about. When we cross our region’s bridges we want to know that we are safe. Many of us travel across our bridges day and night, on a work commute or with our families.

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smv-triangle-smallMany Georgians don’t realize that our rural roads can be just as dangerous for fatal accidents or catastrophic injuries as our metropolitan highways. We live in a state in which we have some of the most sophisticated and vibrant metro areas and artistic, historic havens. We also enjoy a significant, productive farming community in our rural areas. Out on the open rural roads of Georgia, whether driving a truck or riding a motorcycle, we can encounter slow-moving farm equipment. Often this equipment, such as a large tractor, must travel more slowly. Many tractors and other equipment, can only travel between 15 and 25 miles per hour. Farmers often have to move equipment on our rural roads when they transfer equipment between fields.

Although perhaps not as well-publicized, Georgia’s rural roads are the scene of serious injuries and fatal accidents. To educate the public, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Georgia Department of Agriculture established a campaign entitled — Improving Georgia’s Yield Behind the Wheel. This educational campaign is intended to help Georgia’s drivers remember to be cautious and patient while driving around farm equipment. Georgia law requires certain slow-moving farm vehicles to display an emblem so that they can be seen by other vehicles and so that other drivers can quickly identify them as farm vehicles. Under the provisions in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-8-4, farm vehicles that travel under 25 miles per hour are required to display the red-orange triangular emblem on the rear of the vehicle. This also applies to certain slow-moving construction vehicles.  Continue reading →

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