DUIs Down, But Alarming Totals Continue

January 18, 2017 Auto Accidents

While new data shows there are fewer drunk drivers on the road today than there were a few short years

drink and driveWhile new data shows there are fewer drunk drivers on the road today than there were a few short years ago, the millions that continue to drive under the influence each year are still alarming. Recent information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that while we are making strides in the area of driving under the influence, there is still much work to be done to make the roads safer for drivers in Los Angeles and across the country.

Drops in DUI span 12 years

SAMHSA released their latest report on December 27, 2016, using data collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The information includes self-reported drug and alcohol use before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and spans 2002-2014. Although the rates of driving under the influence declined (from 15.3 percent in 2002 to 11.1 percent in 2014), there were still around 27.7 million drivers age 16 and over that got behind the wheel after drinking.

Some of the biggest drops in driving under the influence occurred among drivers between the ages of 21 and 25. These adults had a rate that dropped from 29.9 percent in 2002 to 18.9 percent in 2014. The research also found that rates of driving under the influence peaked by the age of 29 and then continued a steady decline all the way up to the senior years. Just 4.1 percent of adults age 65 and older reported driving after drinking in 2014.

“Although it is heartening to see a downward trend in the levels of driving under the influence of alcohol, it still kills thousands of people each year and shatters the lives of friends and loved ones left behind,” Frances Harding, Director of SAMSHA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, was quoted as saying in a press release on the organization’s website. “We must strive to save lives by reducing this public health threat through education, prevention and all other possible measures.”

Male drivers had higher rates of driving under the influence than females across all age brackets. Men were also more likely to drive under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. According to this new report, a total of 10.1 million, or 4.1 percent of the population age 16 and over, drove under the influence of illicit drugs during 2014. Another 2.5 percent got behind the wheel after using a combination of illicit drugs and alcohol during that same year, compounding the problem of impaired driving in this country.

Impact of DUI

While positive progress has been made, the number of drivers operating a motor vehicle is still extremely concerning, considering that 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2014 related to alcohol use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that more than 9,900 people were killed in accidents involving impaired driving during that year. Over 1.1 million were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2014, which made up only one percent of the total number of people that reported driving while impaired during that year.

Los Angeles car accident attorney Sean F. Salamati has seen firsthand how impaired driving can change lives in a split-second. Our team works with victims of these accidents every day to help them get the financial compensation they are entitled to for injuries, medical bills and lost wages. To get a free assessment of your particular case and answers to all of your legal questions, contact the Salamati Law Firm today.

Additional DUI victim resources

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, The Rate of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol has Steadily Declined from 2002-2014, https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/201612271200
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Drunk Driving, https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving
  3. MADD, Drunk Driving Statistics, http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/about/drunk-driving-statistics.html
  4. CDC, Impaired Driving: Get the Facts, https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html
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Coalition Vows to Eliminate Traffic Deaths Within 30 Years

October 26, 2016 Auto Accidents

In early October, four government agencies overseeing transportation in the U.S. announced a plan with the goal of reducing traffic

traffic

In early October, four government agencies overseeing transportation in the U.S. announced a plan with the goal of reducing traffic deaths to zero within 30 years.

The plan, called the Road to Zero Coalition initiative, was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The NHTSA is joined by the Federal Highway Administration (NHWA), the National Safety Council (NSC), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). All these agencies will be working together.

The initiatives address the multiple causes of traffic fatalities and plan to use targeted plans, education, innovative technology, and funding to reach the 30-year goal.

Because traffic deaths stem from multiple factors, including driver actions and roadway conditions, the near-term goals focus on increasing the safety of drivers and roadways.

To those ends, the inaugural efforts will 1) promote use of seat belts, a proven method of reducing fatalities, through specific enforcement; 2) put rumble strips in areas that are known to be hazardous sites of veering off; 3) enhance safety of commercial vehicles to reduce truck accidents; and 4) initiate educational campaigns to promote safe driving.

Longer term, the campaign will target the use of innovative technology, such as vehicles with self-driving capability, improved infrastructure and roadway design, safety behaviors, and enforcement of speed limits. The coalition hopes that technology developed for self-driving cars can be incorporated into all vehicles to reduce human error.

Initiative reponds to spike in traffic fatalities

The consortium plans to generously fund organizations that create programs that save lives as part of the Road to Zero initiatives. It will be sponsoring $1 million in grant money every year over the next three years.

The programs will also target the risks that are the root cause of many highway vehicle accidents. The program plans to research new evidence-based strategies and systematic approaches that will make the risks a thing of the past.

The news of the formation of Road to Zero occurred shortly after the NHTSA had announced the first half 2016 statistics on traffic fatalities. Fatal traffic accidents occurred 10.4% more frequently in the period than in the first half of 2015. Last year’s first half, it should be noted, also saw a year-over-year increase, and registered the highest number of traffic deaths since 1996.

Deborah A.P. Hersman, the president and CEO of the NSC, observed that “The ‘4Es’ – Education, Engineering, Enforcement and Emergency Medical Services – provide a reliable roadmap for driving down fatalities. Coupled with new technologies and innovative approaches to mobility, we may now hold the keys that get us to zero.”

Trusted accident attorney in Los Angeles

The Zero in Thirty plans are admirable and future successes would be applauded. But for right now, the initiative offers little comfort for victims of reckless drivers

If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in a vehicle accident, Los Angeles car accident lawyer Sean F. Salamati offers skilled legal advice on your rights to compensation. Contact our office toll-free to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.

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AAA Releases Road Debris Accident Study

August 23, 2016 Auto Accidents

More than 200,000 car accidents – including 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths — were attributed to road debris from 2011

policeman at road accident scene

More than 200,000 car accidents – including 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths — were attributed to road debris from 2011 to 2014, according to a new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Causes included improper road maintenance, unsecured truck loads, faulty tires, and poorly secured or maintained tow trailers. Researchers said ALL of these crashes were preventable.

“Drivers can easily save lives and prevent injuries by securing their loads and taking other simple precautions to prevent items from falling off the vehicle,” said Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a press release. He also urged drivers to keep their vehicles properly maintained to avoid tire blowouts or rusty mufflers from dropping off. Motorists should avoid tailgating, search the road 12-15 seconds ahead for debris, maintain open space on at least one side to steer around objects, and slow down when objects are unavoidable.

How is liability proved in road debris accidents?

Rear-end collisions and accidents occurring during left-hand turns often have very clear liability. If you slam into the back end of a car or hit someone as you are making a turn, you almost always bear at least some of the liability for what happened. It is common knowledge that drivers must leave sufficient space for safely stopping and always be prepared to stop for any reason. It is also common knowledge to yield right of way to vehicles traveling straight through the intersection. Exceptions can be made in rare circumstances, but the hard facts and evidence assembled become crucial to any case, no matter how cut-and-dry it may seem.

How is fault established in road debris accidents?

To prove fault in a road debris accident, attorneys may:

  • Establish that the defendant broke a traffic law. It is illegal in every state to have an item fall off or from your vehicle while it is driving. At least 16 states have made the crime punishable by jail time.
  • Use police reports to validate the facts and provide objective analysis. Police reports will include any citations for drugs or alcohol, as well as traffic law violations.
  • Assemble the evidence into a compelling argument. Pictures from the accident scene establish who hit who when testimonials conflict. Towing records and repair technician notes substantiate property damage claims. Eye-witnesses not immediately involved in what happened sway judge and jury with impartial recollections.

What persons or entities may be responsible for road debris?

Negligence in road debris lawsuits can extend well beyond the driver. In some cases, defendants include:

  • Employers like trucking companies
  • Subcontractors like cargo loaders
  • Construction contractors
  • Auto parts manufacturers, inspectors, or repair technicians
  • Municipalities and governments

How Salamati Law Firm can help

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the specialties at the Salamati Law Firm in Los Angeles, California. We’ve represented some of the toughest litigation possible, winning multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients since 2005. Access to experts and resources is one of the primary benefits in working with an experienced car accident lawyer.

Medical specialists, accident reconstruction experts, and industry experts who are willing to testify on your behalf carry a good deal of weight in court. We make sure all your paperwork is in order and that every piece of recoverable evidence is used to substantiate your injury claim. Call 888-259-4060 for a free no-obligation consultation.
Resources:

  1. AAA – American Drivers Aren’t Securing Their Loads http://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/08/american-drivers-arent-securing-loads-road/
  2. AAA – Road Debris Report http://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/RoadDebris_REPORT_2015.pdf
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Is Tesla Liable for Autopilot Crashes?

July 12, 2016 Auto Accidents

On May 7, 2016, 40-year-old Joshua Brown and the car he had christened “Tessy” were traveling on a Florida highway

Tesla Motors Store Selling Electric Cars III

On May 7, 2016, 40-year-old Joshua Brown and the car he had christened “Tessy” were traveling on a Florida highway when a big rig made a left-hand turn in front of the car. Tessy “went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him,” said the truck driver afterward. The car and Brown came to rest about a quarter of a mile down the road when they struck a telephone pole. Media reports later indicated that Brown, a former Navy SEAL and technology consultant, believed in the ability of the autopilot so much that he had brought a portable DVD player into the car with him and was watching a “Harry Potter” movie at the time of the crash.

Brown’s family is grieving their loss, yet is expected to explore the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit against Tesla when the federal inquiry is completed. Through a family spokesperson, the surviving relatives have said that they hope the accident “will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways.”

Should hands-off drivers be held liable?

The key question at the heart of this accident is whether Tesla or the drivers should be held liable for accidents that occur when cars are being “driven” on autopilot. Tesla has vigorously denied liability, stating that the automated technology for braking, lane changing, and steering doesn’t shift liability from the driver to the car company. Other experts have weighed in on the case, suggesting that Tesla might be held liable if it can be determined that the company failed to conduct adequate testing on the system. Reportedly, Brown lost his life because the autopilot system failed to detect the white rig against the bright sky.

Yet, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, has insisted that “The onus is on the pilot to make sure the autopilot is doing the right thing,” and that the autopilot mode is a voluntary feature.

Rosemary Shahan, president of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety lobbying group, vehemently disagrees. She states, “On the one hand, they’re saying trust us, we can drive better than you would, but on the other hand, they are saying if something goes wrong, don’t ask us to stand behind our product. But if it’s controlled by an algorithm, why should you be liable?”

Exercising your legal rights after a crash

Whether an auto accident in Los Angeles was caused by a Tesla malfunction or otherwise, it’s imperative to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Deadlines do apply to filing a claim; if you fail to take action within this period of time, you can forfeit your right to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The Salamati Law Firm has provided effective and compassionate legal advocacy services to Los Angeles residents for 20 years. We’ve recovered million dollar-plus settlements and verdicts for our clients and we work on a contingency basis, which means we never charge a legal fee unless we secure compensation for you. Call our office today at 888-259-4060 for more information. Our personal injury lawyers would like to extend an invitation to car and truck accident survivors to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.

Resources:

  1. Los Angeles Times, Tesla’s ‘autopilot mode’ puts it at risk for liability in crashes, http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-tesla-liabilty-20160705-snap-story.html
  2. Slate, The Tesla Autopilot Crash Victim Was Apparently Watching a Movie When He Died, http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/07/01/tesla_autopilot_crash_victim_joshua_brown_was_watching_a_movie_when_he_died.html
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Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Take the Pledge to Drive Safely

April 20, 2016 Auto Accidents

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and attorneys at Salamati Law want to bring attention to the very real dangers of

Woman sending text messages while driving.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and attorneys at Salamati Law want to bring attention to the very real dangers of this deadly epidemic that claims thousands of lives every year. At any given moment, some 660,000 drivers in the United States are using handheld electronic devices or talking on their cell phone while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, statistics show that the problem of distracted driving has only worsened in recent years, as more teenagers admit to sending SnapChats or texting while driving – activities that take their eyes off the road for an astounding five seconds.

In conjunction with the National Safety Council, our legal team hopes to raise awareness of this sweeping epidemic, in an effort to improve roadway safety and keep one less person from becoming another statistic in Los Angeles.

Distracted driving in California

Through educational campaigns, the National Safety Council hopes to empower Americans to take control of their safety while driving. However, recent research from UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center does not hold promising news for California drivers. According to the study, cell phone use while driving has increased 39 percent since 2014. The results may be disturbing, but certainly not surprising given the widespread use of smartphones and apps.

During last year’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, California law enforcement officers ticketed nearly 50,000 motorists who were using cellphones while driving. That figure is almost double the number of tickets issued over an average month.

Educational campaigns can impart positive changes, but these changes can take years, cautions Chris Cochran, a spokesperson for the Office of Traffic Safety. Meanwhile, advanced technology and a slew of new apps have created a smartphone-addicted society; and cell phones are considered the number one leading distraction.

Take the pledge to drive safely

This month, authorities ask motorists to take the pledge to “Take Back My Drive” for the safety of themselves, their passengers and bystanders.

For the next 30 days, motorists are asked to refrain from the following while driving:

  • Sending SnapChats or texts
  • Taking videos or selfies
  • Checking or sending emails
  • Updating social media status
  • Talking on their cell phone – whether hands-free or hand held
  • Using voice-to-text features
  • Manually inputting GPS info while the vehicle is moving
  • Messaging or calling someone that you know is driving

Remember that distracting activities encompass much more than using a cell phone or handheld gadget. Talking to a passenger, eating, brushing your hair, or adjusting music can also divert your attention away from the task at hand.

Legal advocacy in Los Angeles

California’s ban on texting while driving and using handheld wireless phones highlights the real danger posed by distracted drivers. Any accidents or property damage resulting from a distracted driver may form the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.

At The Salamati Law Firm, our veteran car accident attorneys will do everything in our power to hold distracted drivers accountable for the injuries and financial losses they cause. If you or a loved one has been harmed, we encourage you to reach out for a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal options. We always fight for maximum compensation allowed under California law.

Call our office toll free at 888-259-4060 to arrange a private, no-obligation consultation.

For more information on Distracted Driving follow these links:

  1. 7 Apps That Prevent Distracted Driving and Texting
  2. Disturbing Statistics on Distracted Driving in California

Resources:

  1. The Mercury News, California’s distracted drivers more common this year, state says http://www.mercurynews.com/my-town/ci_28485504/californias-distracted-drivers-more-common-this-year-state
  2. National Safety Council, April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/distracted-driving-awareness-month.aspx
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Risky Driver Behaviors that Lead to Accidents

March 30, 2016 Auto Accidents

In 2014, more than 3,000 Americans were killed in distracted driving accidents. Federal estimates have put the death toll closer

Woman sending text messages while driving.

In 2014, more than 3,000 Americans were killed in distracted driving accidents. Federal estimates have put the death toll closer to 5,000 last year. The wide scale ramifications of this dangerous epidemic have prompted numerous studies on the types of behaviors that put motorists at greatest risk, from using cell phones to grooming or simply reaching for an object.

The findings from a recent report put out by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers shows that some types of activities are more dangerous than others. The research is noteworthy as it’s the first driving study using large-scale, crash-only naturalistic data from 3,500 participants across the United States.

Study looks at 1,600 verified crash events

Their report – the first ever of its kind in the States – was based on results from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study, which gave a first-hand glimpse at real world driving behavior. All of the voluntary participants agreed to have their vehicles armed with sensors, cameras and radar equipment that collected hard data on driver behavior and performance.

The data showed that certain types of distractions, such as following a vehicle too closely, interacting with a child in the car, or applying makeup were not as risky as previously thought, since none of the activities featured prominently in the moments before accidents. 

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that 90 percent of the 1,600 crashes involved driver-related factors including drowsiness, impairment and errors. Another distraction that the study noted was the influence of driving while sad, angry or in another type of emotionally agitated state. The data indicated that driving while emotionally charged increased the risk of crashing nearly 10-fold.

Other factors that affect accident risk include slamming on the brakes too quickly, or traveling in an unknown vehicle or roadway. Lastly, excessive speeding poses a 13-fold risk of getting into an accident.

“All of these findings are especially important as we work with policymakers, educators, drivers themselves, law enforcement officials, and vehicle designers to define and help mitigate driver risks,” said Virginia Tech Transportation Institute director Tom Dingus, who led the study.

Victims of distracted drivers have legal rights

Motorists who talk on the phone, use a touchscreen, eat or text while driving put others on the road at great risk for serious personal injury, or even death. California, like other states across the country, affords legal remedies to those who have been injured or suffered property damage caused by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver. Many of these preventable accidents resolve through the court system, allowing victims to pursue fair compensation for all related medical costs, lost income, emotional pain and suffering, and other damages. However, distracted driving victims must pursue a personal injury lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitation, which places a time limit on filing claims.

If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to see if litigation is the right course of action. The Salamati Law firm extends free consultations to anyone who wishes to explore their legal options with a skilled Los Angeles car accident lawyer.

Call us anytime, 24 hours a day at 888-259-4060 to discuss your rights to compensation.

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Can New Road Safety Measures Stop Rising Crash Death Toll?

March 15, 2016 Auto Accidents

Statistics indicate that fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents are rising across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

iStock_000022567058_roadside death crossStatistics indicate that fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents are rising across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is constantly exploring methods of reducing crash rates and improving transportation safety. The NHTSA recently concluded a series of regional workshops designed to promote “evidence-based” behavioral changes in traffic safety settings.

The summits included a diverse set of participants including advocacy groups, public health and safety experts, academic leaders, traffic safety personnel from state government, and other federal organizations.

The primary workshop goals included:

  • Discussing untested strategies and identifying long-term solutions to eliminate traffic fatalities
  • Exploring how evidence-based behavior change approaches can be implemented in broader policy discussions
  • Analyzing different approaches to changing driving behaviors

U.S. traffic deaths increasing

NHTSA officials see a number of red flags across the country and say now is the time to push “behavioral changes in traffic safety.” In addition to launching new initiatives, NHTSA administrators want to deal with persistent problems that claim thousands of lives every year. On their list of topics were fatigued and distracted driving, drunk driving and a failure to wear seat belts or use child safety seats, as well as pedestrian and cyclist safety.

The agency reports that traffic deaths in the United States are up almost 10 percent after years of steady decline. Between January and September of 2015, an estimated 26,000 individuals died in vehicle accidents. While each state had varying rates of traffic accident deaths, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Montana saw the biggest jump in fatalities at 20 percent.

The 2016 summits featured five separate workshops, and concluded at the U.S. DOT headquarters in Washington D.C. last March. Transportation officials remain hopeful that the collaborative efforts will lead to productive changes and improvements in transportation safety.

Negligent driving and legal recourse

Nearly 95 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by human errors, according to government data. When driving behavior is deemed negligent or reckless, victims may have the right to sue for monetary compensation. A car accident lawsuit in California can recover damages for:

  • Lost income
  • All related medical expenses
  • Reduced capacity to earn
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional distress
  • Plus other losses

California has strict laws that ban texting and all cell phone use while driving; drivers who ignore these rules and cause injury or death can be held accountable in court. If a car or truck accident is caused by a driver who is impaired by lack of sleep or drug/alcohol abuse, the victim may also be eligible for legal relief that can help offset the financial burdens of serious personal injury and extended time off of work. More catastrophic accidents that claim lives may warrant a wrongful death claim, which can be brought by surviving family members.

Car accident claims are not always cut and dry when it comes to liability issues, and insurance companies are only looking out for their own bottom line. The smartest way to ensure your rights are protected is allying with an experienced law firm with a proven track record of success.

The Salamati Law Firm offers effective personal injury representation in Los Angeles and throughout southern California. For a free, no-obligation case review, please call 888-259-4060.

Resources:

  1. NHTSA, Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/symposiums/march2016/index.html
  2. The Sacramento Bee, Traffic deaths climbing in California – Is there a fix? http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article36766929.html
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