December 18th, 2014
stop sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On December 6, a fatal car accident occurred in West Texas near Andrews. According to authorities, the horrific accident happened as a result of a man driving a Jeep through a stop sign without stopping at an intersection at Texas Highway 176. A pickup truck crashed into the Jeep, and then an 18-wheeler slammed into both the truck and Jeep. The 18-wheeler driver was not injured, but the driver of the Jeep and the father and teenage son in the truck died at the scene.
The reason that the driver in the Jeep ran the stop sign is unknown, but there is a possibility that he was distracted when it occurred. Distracted driving is a growing threat on Texas roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 1 in 10 fatal traffic collisions in the U.S. can be attributed to distracted driving, which comes to 3,000 fatalities annually.
It’s possible that many motorists don’t have an understanding about the countless activities that fall under the category of “distracted driving.” When you take your eyes off of the road in front of you to read a billboard, look at yourself in the mirror, or look at vehicles involved in a crash, you are driving distracted and your risk of getting in a collision is increased. The following are more examples of distracted driving:
- Taking your mind off of the task of driving.
- Reading, including reading a map.
- Reaching to pick up something out of reach.
- Talking to passengers.
- Using hands-free electronic devices.
- Changing a CD or the radio station.
See this continuing series for more information about distracted driving.
December 10th, 2014
English: 190 proof, 95% alcohol content Everclear. Purchased in Colorado, November 2007. Image taken by me. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In early November two people were killed as a result of a collision caused by an alleged drunk driver in Arlington, Texas. Tiara Richard, spokesperson for the Arlington police, said that the alleged drunk driver ran a red light on Matlock Road at the Interstate 20 service road. His car struck another vehicle, which spun around and slammed into a light pole. One of the people in the car was pronounced dead at the scene and a second person was transported to a nearby hospital and died there. Two more people suffered life-threatening injuries and were hospitalized. The alleged drunk driver was also injured in the crash. After he received treatment at a nearby hospital, he was released, booked into the Arlington jail, and charged with intoxication manslaughter.
There has been a decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in recent years, but it is still entirely predictable that a certain number of highway fatalities involving alcohol occur during the holiday season every year. There is still such a prevalence of alcohol-related traffic accidents that about 40% of all people in the U.S. will at some point in their lives be involved in a traffic collision which is blamed on alcohol.
The facts about alcohol aren’t complicated. With every alcoholic beverage a person drinks, the likelihood of getting into a crash when driving is increased. Part of the problem is that alcohol slows down a person’s reaction time, yet the impairment isn’t noticed by the individual. A slowed response when driving can mean the difference between avoiding an accident and being responsible for a fatal crash.
December 3rd, 2014
English: A sign along Bellaire Boulevard in Southside Place, Texas indicating that mobile phone usage is prohibited while driving from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM and from 2:00 PM to 4:15 PM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), distracted driving has become a nationwide epidemic. Distracted driving was the cause of 3,328 traffic fatalities in 2012 alone. DOT has been leading the effort to put a stop to such dangerous activities as cell phone use while driving and texting while driving. Commercial drivers are banned from texting and using the cell phone while driving. States are being strongly encouraged to adopt tough laws dealing with distracted driving.
The following are key facts and statistics from various sources regarding distracted driving:
- Across the U.S., it is estimated that about 660,000 drivers are giving their attention to electronic devices while driving at any given time during daylight hours. The likelihood of getting into an automobile crash is increased by three times when drivers engage in activities such as making a call, reaching for a phone or other electronic device, or texting.
- The average time that a driver takes eyes off of the road to text is 5 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, texting is like driving blindfolded across the length of a football field.
- Of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes, 27% of them are drivers in their 20s.
- It is not significantly safer to use a headset cell phone as opposed to a hand-held phone while driving.
- According to December 2013 data, every month 153.3 billion text messages are sent in the U.S.
- About 25% of all teen drivers admit that they respond to a text message one or more times every time they drive.
Read Part 1 of this two-part series.
November 26th, 2014
English: A traffic collision in Boston (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Earlier this month in Schertz, Texas, the friends and family of 29-year-old Adam Doiron organized a barbeque benefit in his honor and to help pay for medical bills. Another benefit is planned for December 13. Doiron suffered severe burns to over 90% of his body as a result of an 18-wheeler accident in which he was the passenger in a big rig. The crash occurred on I-10 in Orange, Texas, back in September. According to his father, Doiron, who has already been through 15 surgeries since the accident, will be in the hospital for at least a year and will undergo many more surgeries for years to come as a result of the fiery crash.
The deadly crash from which Doiron is recovering happened at 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon. The initial investigation revealed that eastbound traffic had completely stopped because of a traffic collision in Louisiana earlier in the day. For unknown reasons, the driver of the 18-wheeler Doiron was riding in did not notice that traffic was stopped. The 53-year-old driver swerved into the fast traffic lane, in an attempt to avoid hitting a vehicle. The big rig struck a concrete divider, the trailer became dislodged, and the cab quickly became engulfed in flames. The driver of the 18-wheeler was killed and Doiron emerged from the truck in flames. Witnesses quickly went to his aid, but he was already in critical condition by the time the flames were extinguished. Two people in a Toyota were also injured in the crash, transported to a hospital, and later listed in stable condition.
While the cause of the accident is unknown, it’s possible that the 18-wheeler driver was distracted, leading to his unawareness that he had come upon stopped traffic on the freeway. Drivers have a responsibility to other motorists and to passengers in their own vehicles to drive with a reasonable amount of care and attentiveness to the task of driving. Read more about distracted driving and other kinds of reckless driving in this continuing series.
November 19th, 2014
English: State Trooper of the Florida Highway Patrol supervises cleanup of a multi-car wreck on the Howard Frankland Bridge in St. Petersburg Florida on the morning of June 9, 2006. Category:Images of emergency vehicles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Early Monday morning in Dallas, Texas, police chased robbery suspects and the end result was a multi-vehicle crash that left four people injured. Prior to the chase, a witness reported seeing people in a white Lexus rob someone at a Texaco station. The victims, whose Suburban windows were shot out by the thieves, said that two pairs of Nike tennis shoes and four pairs of Air Jordan basketball shoes had been taken. Police were quick to identify the suspects, who tried to escape the police rather than stop. It was a short chase that ended in Oak Cliff when the Lexus slammed into the back of a truck. Three people inside the truck were seriously injured. The robbery suspect was transported to the hospital for injuries sustained in the crash and was later booked at the Lew Sterrett Jail. The aggravated robbery and the crash are both under investigation.
Every year in the United States, hundreds of people are killed in high speed police chases. This dangerous activity is a leading cause of automobile accidents. Suspects fleeing the police often show a lack of regard for the safety of other motorists, and the speed at which the vehicles are traveling is a danger in itself.
Statistics show that of those killed or injured in accidents caused by police chases, two-thirds are motorists or pedestrians who were not involved with the alleged crimes or the police activity.
There has been much public debate in cities throughout the U.S. about whether the public risk of allowing high speed police chases is too high.
November 11th, 2014
English: Traffic collision involving two cars and a bus at an intersection in San Francisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At about 2 a.m. Sunday morning, a deadly crash occurred in Arlington, Texas. According to police, a man was driving south in his Dodge Avenger on Matlock Road when he ran a red light and struck a westbound Chevrolet on the service road of Interstate 20. After the impact, the Chevrolet went into a spin and crashed into a traffic light pole. There were four people in the Chevrolet, and one passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. Another woman was transported to Medical Center of Arlington, where she later died. A third woman was in critical condition. The fourth occupant of the Chevrolet was a man who suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was treated in Fort Worth at John Peter Smith Hospital.
The driver of the Dodge was locked up in Arlington City Jail after being treated for minor injuries at a local hospital. According to police, the Killeen man will be charged with one count of intoxication assault and two counts of intoxication manslaughter.
Police said the driver of the Dodge had open alcohol containers in his truck, and his speech was slurred immediately following the crash. Witnesses informed the police that the man in the Dodge drove through the intersection even though he had a red light.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) provides some statistics on drunk driving:
- It is estimated that 32% of all fatal traffic collisions involve an intoxicated motorist or pedestrian.
- Every year in the U.S., about 13,000 people are killed in accidents in which alcohol was a factor.
- Hundreds of thousands of people are injured as a result of drunk driving every year.
- Every year, there are over 1.4 million arrests for driving while intoxicated, and about 780,000 are convicted.
- The BAC (blood alcohol concentration) legal limit in all 50 states of the U.S. is .08% for drivers age 21 or older.
November 5th, 2014
English: Tight Squeeze Access north of the A2 between Rainham and Sittingbourne is restricted by the railway. Many of the bridges are too low for lorries. This bridge, in Breach Lane, has 15 foot clearance, but the lane is a bit narrow for the 38 tonne 18-wheeler seen here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A fatal 18-wheeler accident occurred between Carrizo Springs, Texas, and Eagle Pass on October 28, 2014, at about noon. A pick-up truck and a stationary van were stopped at a highway construction site on U.S. Highway 277 South in Maverick County, about 12 miles from Eagle Pass. An 18-wheeler suddenly crashed into the two vehicles from behind. A second 18-wheeler then rear-ended the first big rig. Three people were killed in the pile-up, those being 41-year-old Melissa Trevino of Laredo, who was driving the van; 63-year-old James Douglas Givens of Richmond, Texas; and 69-year-old John Brown, the pickup truck passenger.
One of the fatal victims reportedly died instantly. Another who died at the scene of the accident was extracted from the pickup truck wreckage by emergency crews who utilized the jaws of life. The third fatal victim was transported by medical helicopter to a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where he later died from the injuries sustained in the crash.
According to Tom Schmerber, Maverick County Sheriff, the location of the fatal traffic collision has been the approximate site of a significantly increased number of fatal crashes in recent years. In this latest incident, investigators initially surmised that driver inattention was a contributing factor in the deadly crash.
A study that was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in conjunction with other transportation groups found that approximately 80% of all traffic collisions involve distracted driving. Common reasons for driver inattention are talking on cell phones, texting while driving, eating, drinking, and looking at navigation or music systems.
October 29th, 2014
Aerospatiale Dauphin – Pawan Hans Medical Reconnaissance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When people are critically injured in accidents, they are often transported to a hospital via medical helicopter, to increase the odds of the victim’s survival. On October 4 a medical helicopter was en route to United Regional Hospital in Wichita Falls, Texas, to help someone who was in need of emergency medical care. Tragically, the helicopter began spinning out of control, according to the pilot, and crashed onto the streets of downtown Wichita Falls. The helicopter burst into flames. Initially the patient was the only one who died; but since that time, a flight nurse and another medical crew member have died.
In this instance, as in all similar tragedies, answers are sought. What caused the accident? Was it a result of negligence? When there is a lawsuit that alleges negligence, there are basically five things which must be shown in order to succeed in proving negligence, those being:
- The defendant had a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff.
- The defendant failed in that duty of care.
- There is a distinct connection between the defendant’s negligence and the resulting harm.
- There should be proof of proximate cause, showing that the harm done was foreseeable.
- The conduct of the defendant resulted in damages.
An example of duty is that motorists have a duty to other people on the roadways, such as to abide by the rules of the road and to drive responsibly. If a driver runs a red light, he or she is arguably breaching his or her duty as a driver. If the driver’s failure to stop at the red light results in an injury of another party, the injured party may have a good argument that the breach of duty was the proximate cause of the injuries.
October 22nd, 2014
English: Homestead Air Reserve Base: Trucks began arriving here to pre-position water, military rations, ice and tarps for the post-hurricane relief effort. The trucks, which began arriving Oct. 20, have delivered supplies from Key West to northern Miami-Dade County since the storm passed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tragedy occurred south of Longview, Texas, on Texas 31 on the morning of Thursday, October 2, when the driver of an 18-wheeler exited FM 1252 to cross the southbound lanes of traffic on 31. A motorist in a sedan who was traveling southbound on 31 drove underneath the 18-wheeler. The driver was killed, and the top of the vehicle was severed. The tractor-trailer driver was transported to a nearby hospital, although he showed no signs of injury.
According to Mike Simmons, Kilgore Assistant Fire Chief, further details of the fatal collision are unknown. He also said that when two major streets intersect, accidents are always a possibility. At this particular intersection, however, he said that major accidents have not been a common occurrence.
More traffic accidents occur in intersections than anyplace else on Texas roads, from rear-end crashes to hazardous T-bone collisions. Lack of sound design of the intersection itself sometimes creates an increase in accidents, and sometimes hazardous road conditions are the cause. Driver error, however, is the cause of the majority of crashes at intersections. Most collisions at intersections are attributed to driver errors such as speeding and inattention.
State Farm Insurance Company has compiled lists of the most dangerous intersections across the U.S. and in Texas specifically. What is encouraging about their data is that intersections cited as dangerous are often given attention to improve safety, and they don’t end up on the most dangerous list again. State Farm has routinely made millions of dollars available in communities to enable them to study dangerous intersections and make changes which enhance safety.
October 15th, 2014
Moskovskoye highway. Consequences of traffic accident. Car of administration of Saint Petersburg was travelling on a wrong line without traffice police escort car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Early this month eight vehicles were involved in a series of crashes on an I-35 service road in Fort Worth, Texas. The multi-vehicle accident occurred at about 1 p.m. near Seminary Drive. According to police, the 32-year-old driver of a Toyota Avalon caused the pileup; both the driver and the 20-year-old passenger in the Toyota died in the collision.
Although the details of the crash are still under investigation, Fort Worth Police Department Cpl. Tracey Knight said that, according to witnesses, the driver of the Toyota was speeding excessively and driving in a reckless manner when his vehicle slammed into the rear of a Chevrolet pickup truck. The crash set off other accidents involving six more vehicles, and it all happened on a southbound service road of I-35W.
An unspecified number of people were injured in the chain of events, and the injuries ranged from minor to serious; the only two people who were killed were occupants of the Toyota.
The Texas Transportation Code, in essence, says that a person is guilty of the misdemeanor offense of reckless driving when they drive an automobile in a way which exhibits wanton or willful disregard for the safety of property or persons.
The definition of reckless driving is arguably vague. The following are types of behaviors which have proven to qualify as reckless:
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield the right-of-way
- Failure to use turn signals
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