Personal Injury Blog

Fatal Accident in Houston, Texas, is Blamed on Highway Construction Traffic Patterns

November 30th, 2015
Photo by S. A. McHugh

Photo by S. A. McHugh

Earlier this month two people were killed after their vehicle stalled on Highway 290 in Houston, Texas. The highway is under construction in that area, and a man involved in the fatal crash claims that the deaths were caused by confusing traffic patterns that have been created by the area’s construction zone.

What happened was that a vehicle with a driver and two passengers stalled out on Highway 290. Because of construction, there was no shoulder on that section of the road. An 18-wheeler slammed into the stalled vehicle, killing two people inside the car in the fiery crash. The man who survived has raised the question about traffic in the area being too confusing.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), an increase in accidents in that construction zone has not occurred. Statistics do show that construction zones are dangerous places where many fatal crashes occur.

TxDOT revealed the following 2014 statistics on fatal auto accidents:

  • About one death occurred in an auto crash in Texas every 2 hours 29 minutes; in other words, 3,534 people were killed in traffic accidents last year.
  • About 55.86% of recorded traffic fatalities occurred in rural areas, or 1,974 deaths.
  • Approximately 237,941 people in Texas were injured in auto accidents last year.
  • About 17,152 people who suffered injuries in traffic accidents in Texas sustained incapacitating injuries.
  • A reportable crash occurs every 66 seconds, according to TxDOT estimates.

The following statistics apply to work zones and 2014 traffic accidents that occur in work zones:

  • At any given time in Texas, there are more than 2,500 active construction work zones. Drivers can expect to see roadside workers and construction vehicles just about anywhere they travel.
  • There were 19,393 roadway construction and roadway maintenance zone collisions last year.
  • There are two leading factors contributing to work zone crashes, those being failure to control speed and driver inattention.
  • There were 146 fatalities in Texas work zones last year and 670 serious injuries.
  • About 87% of the fatalities in work zones were motorists traveling through.
  • About 40% of fatal work zone collisions involved impaired drivers who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Read this continuing series to learn more about the dangers of speeding, driver inattention, and drunk driving.

–Guest Contributor


Semi-Truck Driver in Fatal Crash in Vinton, Texas, Faces Manslaughter Charges

November 27th, 2015
US truck - California 2007

US truck – California 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Interstate 10 near Vinton, Texas, two people were killed when their vehicle was struck by a semi-truck. The 18-wheeler crash occurred at about midday Sunday. Two people from LaGrange, Georgia, were changing a flat tire under the overpass near the Vinton/Westway exit. The 61-year-old driver of a semi-truck struck the 19-year-old and 32-year-old, killing them. According to authorities, the truck driver has been charged with two counts of manslaughter. He was arrested, placed in the county jail, and given a $400,000 bond.

All commercial drivers in the U.S. are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The required training is important because of the many challenges and considerations involved with driving a big rig. Because of the size of the vehicles, the safety of everyone on our roadways is affected by the behavior of 18-wheeler drivers.

Commercial drivers of semi-trucks must be aware of the space cushion all around them, without sacrificing alert, safe driving practices. Before driving beneath an underpass, the drivers must be aware of the height of the vehicle. The space all around 18-wheelers is important, however, from the road surface to the space ahead, behind, and to each side of the trucks.

Becoming familiar with terrain can help a commercial driver safely maneuver routes. Traffic congestion, construction, and inclement weather are three conditions on Texas roadways that could easily result in a tragic accident, if drivers don’t take special precautions. When drivers are hauling hazardous materials, the potential danger is even greater.

When 18-wheeler drivers fail in their duty to drive responsibly, the threat to safety on Texas roads is real.

–Guest Contributor

Beware of Drunk Drivers on Thanksgiving Eve

November 25th, 2015
New Orleans "Turkey Tumble" on the n...

New Orleans “Turkey Tumble” on the night before Thanksgiving eve. French Quarter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The holiday season is traditionally a dangerous time of year for drunk driving, binge drinking, and alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Several sources say that there is always a spike of dangerous drunk driving on Thanksgiving Eve. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides statistics which support the fact that there is an increase of drunk driving during the holidays.

According to the NHTSA, between 2009 and 2013 in the month of December, on average, 728 people were killed or injured every day in crashes involving drunk driving. And various statistics have shown that there are 37% more alcohol violations on Thanksgiving Eve, also known as “Blackout Wednesday,” than on Thanksgiving Day or at Christmastime.

AAA Texas expects that 3.4 million people in Texas will be traveling by car for Thanksgiving. Many will leave on Wednesday and return to their homes on Sunday. On Texas roadways, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest holiday of the entire year, according to Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Trooper Lonny Haschel. People are headed to grandmother’s house for turkey dinner. Unfortunately, too many people are mixing drinking with driving. In fact, Blackout Wednesday has also been dubbed “Drinksgiving.”

Liquor stores are aware of their busiest season and always make sure their shelves and storage rooms are well-stocked for the days preceding Thanksgiving.

Texas Troopers with the Texas Highway Patrol will be on Texas roads in full force throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. The primary focus will be on drunk drivers. Texas State Patrol expects to arrest about 400 drunk drivers between now and Sunday. For the year, it is expected there will be 80,000 arrests for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Motorists traveling during Thanksgiving are urged to drive carefully, alertly, and, soberly.

–Guest Contributor

A 2-year-old Dies in a West Odessa Collision

November 23rd, 2015
The American State Bank building is the talles...

The American State Bank building is the tallest building in Odessa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week a fatal accident occurred at an intersection in West Odessa, Texas. According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), three vehicles were involved in the rollover crash at the intersection of Moss and University. A 2-year-old boy was not strapped in when the car he was in turned in the path of a truck, resulting in a three-car rollover. Three other people involved in the crash were wearing seatbelts, and they were uninjured. Tragically, the toddler was killed in the crash.

Seatbelts are important life-saving devises. In fact, it has been announced that Texas troopers will be out in full force over the 2015 Thanksgiving holidays to enforce seatbelt laws. Troopers will also be on the lookout for drivers who are driving while intoxicated.

The DPS Director, Steven McCraw, urges all drivers to be especially careful on Texas roads and to drive sober, in order to avoid tragedies over the holiday season. The amount of traffic is increased. On top of that, there could be inclement weather. Add impaired drivers to the mix, and holiday travel can be treacherous.

During the Thanksgiving holiday alone last year in Texas, 242 people were arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). A whopping 5,223 traffic tickets were written for speeding. In addition, there were 682 citations to drivers without auto insurance.

Securing children in a seatbelt is the law. On the Thanksgiving holiday last year, 599 tickets were issued for child safety seat violations.

Properly using child car seats, boosters, and seat belts saves lives.

–Guest Contributor

Fatal Texas College Bus Crash Linked to Synthetic Drugs

November 19th, 2015
'Spice' -- a designer synthetic cannabinoid.

‘Spice’ — a designer synthetic cannabinoid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Four college softball players from Texas were killed in a devastating bus crash on September 26, 2014, near Davis, Oklahoma. Federal investigators have just released their finding that the driver of the truck that slammed into the bus the students were on was most likely high on synthetic drugs. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, investigators discovered a pipe containing synthetic marijuana residue in the truck that struck the bus. The driver of that truck has been charged with four counts of first-degree manslaughter.

Safe, responsible driving is not possible when drivers are affected by certain levels of alcohol in the system and by certain drugs. Synthetic cannabinoid or marijuana, which is often referred to as “fake weed,” can be extremely dangerous and can cause dangerous behavior. The brain can be impacted much more significantly than by marijuana. The effects of synthetic marijuana can be severe, unpredictable, and life-threatening.

The chemical composition of synthetic cannabinoid products typically differs from one batch to another, which means that there can be dramatic differences in the way a person is affected by the drug. The psychotic effects of the drug include:

  • Confusion
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Obviously, these health effects make the risks of getting into an accident while driving much greater.

Motorists in Texas and elsewhere have a responsibility to the safety of others, and it should be taken seriously. It is against the law to engage in behaviors that put people at risk by increasing the likelihood that an accident will occur.

–Guest Contributor


Drunk Driving is Suspected in Fatal 3-Car Crash in Austin, TX

November 17th, 2015
1998-2002 Chevrolet Prizm photographed in Coll...

1998-2002 Chevrolet Prizm photographed in College Park, Maryland, USA. Category:Chevrolet Prizm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Saturday’s early morning hours in southwest Austin, Texas, three vehicles were involved in a fatal collision. Authorities with the Austin Police Department said the crash occurred at the intersection of MoPac Expressway and West Slaughter Lane. The driver of a Mercedes Benz traveling westbound on Slaughter Lane ran a red light and crashed into a Chevrolet Prizm that was making a turn. The vehicle that was turning collided with a third vehicle. The driver of the Prizm died shortly after being transported to a nearby hospital, but the other drivers were uninjured. The investigation into the fatal crash is still underway. The driver who ran the red light has been charged with intoxication manslaughter, which is a serious felony charge.

Drunk driving is responsible for about one of every three traffic fatalities in the United States. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) has been working hard to change laws so that convicted drunk drivers are required to have ignition interlocks. This is an important safety step, since research shows that even a person who has been caught drunk driving before and has paid the penalty is a repeat offender the majority of the time. Those who lose their licenses often continue to drive drunk, making ignition interlocks a more effect deterrent.

Texas led the nation in drunk driving fatalities in 2013, with a total of 1,337 deaths caused by a person driving while intoxicated. There were also 15,687 injuries related to drunk driving crashes.

The punishment for intoxication manslaughter in Texas includes serving up to 20 years in prison. An intoxication assault conviction can include a sentence of up to ten years in prison.

–Guest Contributor

A Stranded Motorist is Killed by a Dart Bus in Dallas, Texas – Part 3

November 16th, 2015
English: Irving, Texas Picture of bus awaiting...

English: Irving, Texas Picture of bus awaiting departure at North Irving Transit Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brenton Smith, age 24, was traveling southbound on Stemmons Freeway not far from Inwood Road in Dallas, Texas, yesterday when he began experiencing mechanical problems with the Dodge Ram he was driving. Initially, he almost struck the median; but he ended up coming to a complete halt in the center lane of the freeway. Soon after, he was standing near the truck when he was struck and killed by a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) truck. The DART driver did not see the stranded vehicle or the pedestrian in time to avoid the deadly crash.

Following are more tips for what to do if your vehicle becomes stranded on the side of a busy roadway:

  • Stay with your vehicle, on most occasions. Approximately 4,000 pedestrians are killed annually, largely because roadways are hazardous places for people who are walking. When stranded on or near a highway and vehicles are traveling at speeds of 60 miles per hour, 70 mph, or more, pedestrians are especially at risk. Another reason to stay with your car is because you want to be there when roadside assistance arrives. They often are unable to take action unless the driver is present. If you are stranded on a quiet road and feel that your safest course of action is to walk to a nearby gas station, do so with great care, to avoid being struck by traffic. Also, in all situations, be wary of strangers.
  • Do not try auto repair, if it’s not something you are familiar with. Don’t even try changing the tire, if you don’t have a good handle on how to get it done and get it done quickly.

See Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series for more information.

–Guest Contributor

A Stranded Motorist is Killed by a Dart Bus in Dallas, Texas – Part 2

November 11th, 2015
Original description from English Wikipedia up...

Original description from English Wikipedia uploaded there on March 6, 2004: :A Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Light Rail train in downtown Dallas, My own picture – I hereby release it into the public domain. This image was created, uploaded and released into the Public Domain by its creator, RadicalBender (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brenton Smith, age 24, was traveling southbound on Stemmons Freeway not far from Inwood Road in Dallas, Texas, yesterday when he began experiencing mechanical problems with the Dodge Ram he was driving. Initially, he almost struck the median; but he ended up coming to a complete halt in the center lane of the freeway. Soon after, he was standing near the truck when he was struck and killed by a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) truck. The DART driver did not see the stranded vehicle or the pedestrian in time to avoid the deadly crash.

Continued from Part 1 of this series, the first safety rule for stranded drivers is to pull off of the roadway. Following are more tips for what to do if your vehicle becomes stranded on the side of a busy roadway:

  • Call for roadside assistance. If you are a member of an auto club, help should be on the way fairly quickly, depending on your location. When driving, it’s best to keep the phone number handy for your source of roadside assistance, so that you are ready for an emergency. The more quickly you can safely leave the roadside, the better.
  • Signal to other drivers that you are having mechanical problems. You can turn on your hazard lights, set up road flares, if available, and raise the hood. Road flares should be placed about 50 feet behind your vehicle. Please note that simply turning on your hazard lights isn’t necessary a clear signal that you are a motorist in distress.

See Part 1 and this continuing series for more information.

–Guest Contributor

A Stranded Motorist is Killed by a Dart Bus in Dallas, Texas

November 11th, 2015
English: DART #5616 in Dallas, Texas.

English: DART #5616 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brenton Smith, age 24, was traveling southbound on Stemmons Freeway not far from Inwood Road in Dallas, Texas, yesterday when he began experiencing mechanical problems with the Dodge Ram he was driving. Initially, he almost struck the median; but he ended up coming to a complete halt in the center lane of the freeway. A security guard stopped to try to provide assistance. Both he and Smith were on the shoulder, but Smith walked back to his truck. The security guard attempted to direct traffic, and he said the truck had no hazard lights on. An 18-wheeler came along and swerved to avoid hitting the truck and the men. The driver of a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) truck behind the 18-wheeler didn’t see what was ahead in time. He struck Smith and his truck, and Smith was pronounced dead at the scene. There were no passengers in the DART bus at the time. The driver is being tested, as a standard procedure. It is expected that no charges will be filed in connection with the fatal crash.

Although it’s not always possible, the first suggested safety rule when a car breaks down while you are driving is to get the car off of the road. Getting stuck on the lane of a busy highway is obviously an incredibly dangerous situation. Although motorists are advised to stay in their car when stranded on the side of the road, that may not be the best advice when your vehicle is stopped on a freeway. Read this continuing series for more tips on what to do if your vehicle breaks down while you are driving.

–Guest Contributor

An Alleged Drunk Driver Kills a Teen on Highway 59 in Humble, Texas

November 9th, 2015
A water tower in Humble. The Wildcats is the H...

A water tower in Humble. The Wildcats is the Humble High School football team. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Sunday, tragedy struck when 17-year-old Jose Damian was struck by an automobile and killed as he was changing a flat tire on Highway 59 in Humble, Texas. According to authorities, the driver of the vehicle that struck the teen was a drunk driver, who has been charged with intoxication manslaughter as well as possession of a controlled substance. Students from New Caney High School, where Damian attended, were provided with the assistance of grief counselors, to help deal with the loss. The counselors will be there throughout the week, for the benefit of students having difficulty dealing with the fatal accident.

Drunk driving was a contributing factor in the deaths of 10,076 people in 2013, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). In addition, 290,000 were injured in the same year. Although instances of drunk driving have decreased significantly since the year when MADD was formed to try to eliminate the dangerous behavior, much more needs to be done. MADD provides the following statistics:

  • Every day, it is estimated that people drive while intoxicated about 300,000 times. Unfortunately, there are fewer than 4,000 people arrested daily for drunk driving.
  • Nearly 50% of all drivers who were killed in collisions and tested positive for drugs were also found to have had alcohol in their system.
  • Males are more likely than females to drive drunk.
  • Among drivers between the ages of 21 and 25, 23.4% of them drive drunk, which is the highest percentage of any age group.
  • Impairment is not determined according to the type of drink a person consumes but rather by the amount of alcohol a person drinks over time.

–Guest Contributor