Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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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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The year has begun with some big announcements about Georgia’s road and infrastructure improvements. Last year, the Georgia legislature enacted a multi-billion dollar investment in our roads and highways over the next 10 years. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has now provided an infrastructure maintenance plan that could help create safer roads and highways and perhaps reduce Georgia accidents in the process. The intention is to improve roads and bridges and improve safety for freight traffic that traverses our state. This could be important in reducing truck crashes and other motor vehicle accidents throughout Georgia and in the Atlanta metro area.

Over 50 percent of the projects slated early-on will help initially with roads and bridges. The list of projects includes resurfacing of about 2,500 miles, replacing some bridges and repairing others. The effort will be using a successful “Design Build and Finance method” that was put to the test in a project that improved I-285 and I-400 project. GDOT and the legislators say they are reaching a new level of cooperation which is making all of this possible.

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iStock_000000947969XSmallThe holiday season is a time for family, fun and stress. The pressure to get things done for the holidays, whether searching for gifts or shopping for family dinners, can cause us to become overwhelmed. Often we are rushing when we should be taking greater care. Everyone wants to have happy and safe holidays, but the statistics speak to the inherent dangers during this time of year. Not only are Atlanta car accidents possible in busy shopping areas, there are quick-moving delivery trucks working on getting Christmas gifts out to their lucky recipients. There are parents wanting to make their kids’ holidays “perfect” and moving too quickly to get it all done. The nature of this holiday season is a rush to get it all ready and to hurry up to celebrate. All of this stacks up for some great holiday fun and good reason to slow down and pay attention, here is why.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notes that in recent years, as many as 15,000 injuries occurred during the holiday months just from decorating alone! Every year, these estimates have been on the rise. Simple activities like tree decorating can turn very dangerous, from falling off of ladders to stepping on ornaments to serious back and spinal injuries and burns, the season to be jolly is also the season to take greater care. Fire prevention is critical during this time. Avoid doing things like tossing wrapping paper into the fireplace or failing to keep your Christmas tree watered. Also do not ever leave a candle unattended. We all know these common sense things, but when we are tired, rushed and we have excited kids running around our homes or relatives visiting, we can lose focus and do some things that are inherently unsafe.

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Bored, tired man sleeping at the wheel of his car

Last month, a Georgia family suffered an unthinkable loss. A father and four children (two of whom were his sons) were all killed in an auto crash while visiting Florida. At first it was thought that the mother of two of the children was driving at the time. But authorities have listed the driver as unknown and apparently are still determining who was driving the vehicle. It is believed that the driver fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the median line on a highway. The four children in the vehicle ranged in ages from three to 14 and all were ejected in the crash. The mother of two of them survived the crash, but was critically injured. Two of her children were not in the car. Although no one in the car was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, the impact was so great when the pick up truck hit their car, authorities said in this particular crash, seat belts would not have saved the children. The mom underwent multiple surgeries and we do not know whether she is out of the hospital at this time. Of the four riding in the pick up truck, only one was seriously injured.

Those who knew the kids say that they were lovely children who attended church and school in Barrow County for a couple of years. The first reports about this crash indicated that the mom had been driving and must have fallen asleep at the wheel. It appears now that she was not driving and that whomever was driving might have fallen asleep at the wheel or crossed over the line for some other reason which is not known at this time. Drowsy driving can cause serious injury, brain damage (see Official Code of Georgia Annotated section § 40-6-394) or death and is far more dangerous than most of us realize. Most importantly, drowsy driving can be prevented. Continue reading →

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airbagAs if there weren’t enough reasons to be concerned about motor vehicle safety, another major safety scandal has erupted and continues to unfold. Atlanta and Georgia residents are undoubtedly aware of news of auto industry deceptions that include major car manufacturers. The recall of General Motors’ cars with faulty ignition switches has been in the news for some time now. The ignition switch recall has been more intensely covered locally. An Atlanta area victim lost her life due to the faulty switch and her family filed an Atlanta wrongful death action against the car manufacturer which was ultimately settled out of court.

Another recall that is making news is that of Takata Industries’ airbags. Takata manufactures airbags that have been installed in many vehicles made by various manufacturers. This recall is pervasive because the airbags are found in so many vehicles. The defective airbags can cause serious injury and death due to shrapnel that is inside them. Georgia also has a connection to the defective airbags, some of which were manufactured in a LaGrange plant which has been closed for some time now. Several of the fatalities involving the airbags were from the LaGrange, Georgia plant. Initially, Takata denied the problem with its airbags, but then entered into an agreement with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and has been cooperating with regulators to recall the millions of impacted vehicles which hopefully will avoid future fatal or catastrophic injuries. The problem with the airbags is in part due to the infiltration of moisture into the devices and has been more of a concern in the southern states. The serious injuries and deaths have been caused when the airbag’s inflator has ignited with such force that it causes the inflator housing to rupture. The metal shards from the airbag can be propelled into the vehicle’s cabin causing harm to both driver and passengers.

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car harmedRecently, we shared an Atlanta area truck crash story involving a chain reaction. The accident involving two trucks and two passenger vehicles was the result of a Kia driver clipping the wheel of a truck. This split-second clip resulted in a massive crash that sent one truck over a barrier onto the roadway below. Miraculously, the multi-vehicle accident did not result in any serious or fatal injuries. The Duluth driver of the Kia was charged in the accident. At first glance, the truck drivers seemed to be the cause of this motor vehicle accident since the two trucks also ended up colliding. But that was not the case, and as is true with many accidents, often causes are not obvious and require investigation.

One important aspect of some accident investigations involves the condition of the vehicles involved at the time of the collision. This includes the way trucks or cars are maintained. In the case of large trucks that often travel in interstate commerce across state lines, the federal regulations are extensive and clear. For example, the federal regulations promulgated by the Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) apply in Georgia. These regulations provide very specific guidelines and rules for the maintenance of large trucks as does the Georgia Department of Public Safety Transportation (GDOT).

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iStock_000016030629XSmallAmericans have seen an increase in the number of hit and runs of all kinds. Although most hit and runs involve property damage, more and more of these involve severe injuries and fatalities. We are not alone in this unfortunate development, Britain too is now reporting an increase in the phenomenon that used to be far more rare. And in the Los Angeles area, there are 20,000 hit and runs annually, but most hit and runs remain unsolved and some of them are truly difficult to imagine — from leaving victims in the roadway, to dragging them for long distances.

And here in Georgia, where drivers are required under Georgia law to to stop and remain at the scene of an accident that involves property damage or injury, we are not immune to this terrible cultural phenomenon. Recently a man in Columbia County was struck by another vehicle and left in the road. It is difficult to imagine that any driver in their right senses or not under the influence of drugs or alcohol could do such a thing. This local resident walks that same road every day … a promise that reportedly he made to his daughter who passed away a year ago. Walking was his way of taking care of himself, which her promised her he would do.

The area in which he was walking does not have sidewalks. In this rural community, folks wave to passers by and there is a sense of community. But as the man lay in the middle of the road, family members began to see him there. Not only his wife, but around the same time his grandkids got off their school bus and there was grandpa. He remains hospitalized with serious injuries that thankfully are not like threatening. He will survive … but what cost are we all paying for this horrific trend?

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iStock_000017099921XSmallFor some of us, the end of July means we are that much closer to the start of school. For those involved in managing and working on Georgia’s road projects, some of which are funded by the federal government, the end of July is of great concern. This is because Congress hasn’t yet extended the funding of the financial support provided to the states and many are watching the situation for developments and hoping for some reprieve. For some time now, Congress has provided only brief extensions to the funding. Of course, many road projects are key to driver and passenger safety, since unsafe conditions and deterioration can create hazards that result in accident or injury. One of the worst examples of the impact of aging infrastructure is the bridge collapse and fatalities in Minneapolis in 2007. The collapsed bridge was replaced only a year later with a new bridge that will ensure the safety of residents there for years to come. Dangerous conditions can put all drivers at risk of serious injury and worse.

The United States Department of Transportation has advised Georgia that the funds that support major highway projects here and around the country may be compromised.  The Wall Street Journal reported this week that money is running out and Congress has not funded the current programs. That means that MAP-21 which funds transportation improvements, will run out of money soon. That is of concern to our road and bridge safety as the projects include repair and replacement of infrastructure that helps us all keep safe on the roads.

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