Articles Posted in Trucking Accidents & Death

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hand-holding-mobile-smart-phone-1417191-m.jpgAdults in Maine and other states know that texting and driving is dangerous. Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in 2011, 387,000 people were injured and 3331 were killed in car accidents due to distracted drivers.

As discussed in other posts, there are a number of distractions that drivers need to avoid, but texting is especially dangerous, and it affects a vulnerable portion of the population that may not understand the consequences: teenagers. Teenagers often think it’s no big deal to send a quick text, even when they know talking on the phone is a bad idea.

NTSA has found teens to be six times more likely to crash while dialing a telephone. They are 23 times more likely to crash if they text while driving. Their reaction times start to approximate a 70-year-old driving without a cell phone, which is particularly dangerous because teens are also less likely to have a visceral understanding of the hazards of excessive speed and leaving enough space between cars.
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skylark-always-has-to-have-a-driver-1351165-m.jpgFor years, Maine residents, like all Americans, have been warned of the dangers of drunk driving. Most people know that just drinking some coffee after a night of heavy drinking is not good enough, and assume, when drinking at a friend’s house, that waiting there and sleeping off a buzz is safer than getting on the road. However, some recent European studies show that driving with a hangover can be as dangerous as drunk driving, a finding that should affect both how you drink and how you drive the following morning.

In one study, a professor from the University of the West of England asked participants to drink alcohol the night before taking simulated driving tests. The morning after their drinking, they had to drive in a simulation involving both urban and rural settings. The participants were legally sober and ‘drove’ for 20 minutes. However they had a large number of mistakes and deviations in both speed and driving position. They crossed over the central line more frequently. They sped too much. Most disturbingly, they had slow reaction times.

In a larger study conducted in the Netherlands, which was presented at the 2013 Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs conference, 47 participants that had spent the night before drinking an average of 10 drinks took a 1-hour simulated highway driving test. They were tested in the morning and found to have no alcohol in their bloodstream at the time they took the tests. However, their ability to drive was dramatically impaired, comparable to somebody with a BAC of .05 (which is the legal limit in some other countries such as Australia.)
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classic-camera-1427640-m.jpgInsurance companies in Maine and other states do conduct surveillance on personal injury claimants, especially those who claim large sums or a major disability. Is this spying legal? Yes, within limits. On the one hand, insurance companies have the right to ferret out fraud and therefore they conduct secret surveillance to make sure claimants aren’t bringing false claims. On the other, most claimants find surveillance creepy, disturbing and an invasion of privacy. Whether or not the surveillance is found to be appropriate depends in part upon where the spying takes place.

There aren’t a lot of Maine appellate cases deciding the extent to which an insurer may conduct surveillance. A 2001 appellate case, however, affirmed the right of an employee to sue for trespass to property, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress against a workers compensation insurance company, a private investigation business and a private investigator based on their surveillance activities while the employee received workers compensation benefits.

In one Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, two investigators conducted surveillance on a claimant when she left her house. The court found that because the woman exposed herself to public scrutiny every time she left the house and the surveillance did not extend into her home, the surveillance was not an invasion of her privacy.
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285433_car_accident sxchu website.jpgA recent three-vehicle crash on Carl Broggi Highway in East Lebanon reportedly left two people injured. According to Lebanon Rescue Assistant Chief Jason Cole, the daytime accident occurred when an eastbound GMC Jimmy was struck from behind by a box truck after the driver stopped to turn left. Immediately following the initial collision, a westbound Mazda sport utility vehicle reportedly struck the two vehicles before all three left the roadway.

Cole said after the driver of the GMC was extricated from her vehicle, she was transported by emergency helicopter to Portland’s Maine Medical Center for treatment. Although her injuries were serious, they were reportedly not considered life-threatening. In addition, the driver of the Mazda was allegedly taken by ambulance to the Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester for non-life-threatening injuries. Cole stated that two children who were riding in the backseat of the Mazda escaped without injury. The 42-year-old truck driver was also reportedly uninjured in the crash.

Although the exact cause of the injury accident is currently under investigation, Cole said the driver of the commercial truck claimed to be blinded by the sun immediately prior to the crash. Cole also added that multiple accidents, including a double fatality, occurred at the same location in recent years. Both the semi and the GMC were reportedly totaled in the accident.

All motorists in Maine are required to maintain a reasonable speed based upon roadway conditions and a number of other factors. Unfortunately, drivers often choose to follow too closely, speed, or engage in other hazardous behaviors on the many two-lane roadways in our state. If you were injured in a traffic wreck that was caused by a negligent driver, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, emotional trauma, any resulting disability, and other damages. In order to collect monetary damages after a Maine automobile collision, an injured person must demonstrate that any harm they suffered directly resulted from the crash. Additionally, anyone hurt in a crash must show that the other motorist was more to blame for their harm than they were. A skilled personal injury lawyer can explain your options for recovery in more detail.
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file0001786397094.jpgThere is a growing concern over the effects of drugged driving within our country whether that be from illicit, prescribed, or over the counter medication.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), working in conjunction with the Department of Transportation as well as other Federal and independent agencies, is attempting to reduce drugged driving by 10% within the United States before the year 2015. These organizations are stepping up efforts to put drugged driving awareness at the top of the Highway Safety Agenda. According to the Institute for Behavior and Health (IBH) “It’s time to recognize and address the similarities between drunk and drugged driving.”

Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board has identified Substance Impaired Driving as one of the top 10 transportation challenges for 2013. Multiple agencies are working to expand our drugged driving knowledge base in an effort to promote more effective deterrence and detection programs, policies, and laws.
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Thumbnail image for file5491276601164.jpgIn October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released preliminary national fatality estimates for the first six months of 2012. Compared with the corresponding months for 2011, the United States had seen a 9 percent increase in deaths. In December, NHTSA released comparison data estimates through September 2012. These preliminary figures depicted a 7.1 percent increase in fatalities from the prior year, representing the largest percentage of increase, comparatively speaking, since 1975. This disturbing news has safety officials scrambling to find an explanation, especially since the United States, as a whole, has shown a steadily decreasing trend in traffic fatalities since 2005.

Unfortunately, Maine has not been immune from this 2012 phenomenon, and sadly, this has been confirmed in a recent Bangor Daily News article citing 164 traffic deaths in our state during 2012, representing a startling 20.58% increase in traffic deaths compared to 2011.
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file9211272199234.jpg 2011 was one of the safest years on record, reflecting a 60-year low in traffic deaths. However, in 2012, safety officials have continued to be perplexed by the preliminary statistics for each quarter of this year. Initially, an alarming 13.5 increase in fatalities was noted, then a 4.7 increase in the second quarter, which seemed to indicate a leveling of numbers, and now reports of an estimated 7.1 percent increase for the first nine months of 2012 have been published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Unfortunately, more definitive numbers will not be published by NHTSA until late 2013, however, additional projections for the year, in totality, will be released in March.

Maine has not been immune from this phenomenon either. By August, the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety Department released early estimates showing a 50% increase in deaths from motor vehicle accidents over the same period in 2011. Sadly, as of November of 2012, we had already surpassed last year’s fatality rate of 137 deaths on our roadways. This has been a particularly deadly year for motorcyclists and pedestrians in Maine.

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file0001359147849.jpgSeveral tragic deaths have occurred recently on our roadways, and while these traffic accidents were caused by other factors, one fatal similarity is cause for alarm to the personal injury attorneys at Briggs & Wholey. In each of these accidents, occupants who were killed were not wearing their seat belts. How devastating it must be for friends and family to endure a loss such as this at the beginning of the holiday season. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected.

While we cannot bring those family members back, we can offer a safety reminder regarding the use and effectiveness of seat belts this winter holiday season. Lamentable deaths such as these are largely preventable. In fact, seat belt use remains the most effective automobile tool for saving lives. They are even more effective when used in conjunction with airbags.

All states, except New Hampshire, have mandatory front seat belt laws. (New Hampshire law requires restraint use for drivers and occupants under the age of eighteen only). Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia require mandatory safety belt compliance for all vehicle occupants. Enforcement can be primary or secondary. A primary law allows police officers to ticket an offense when observed without restriction, whereas a secondary law provides that a citation can only be written where an additional infraction occurred. Fines vary widely between states ranging between $10-$200.

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file000438895133.jpgCreated by Congress, the National Transportation Safety Board, is an autonomous federal agency charged with investigating significant transportation accidents and providing safety recommendations to prevent future occurrences. Since 1974, the NTSB has operated as a separate entity, outside of the Department of Transportation’s umbrella, in an effort to provide unbiased information. The Transportation Safety Board investigates each civil aviation accident, as well as significant marine, railroad, pipeline, hazardous material, and highway events.

Each year, the Board releases a list of recommended transportation safety improvements for the coming year, called its “Most Wanted List” to highlight the need for safety enhancements to various transportation areas based upon its investigations and research. The list is then evaluated and acted upon by federal, state, and independent interests.

This year’s list contains two substantial issues: substance impairment and distraction. In a press release, NTSB’s Office of Public Affairs reports, “the new annual list of the independent federal safety agency’s top advocacy priorities calls for ending distraction in all modes of transportation. Distraction was the cause of multiple accidents investigated by the agency in recent years, and its deadly effects will only continue to grow as a national safety threat.”
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WorkArea.jpgDoes this sight look familiar? Road construction seems to be in full swing within the State of Maine, just in time for tourist season. The photo above depicts a common sight during the summer months along our roadways, and although many lament the timing of such projects, we must remember that this is Maine after-all, and there is only a limited time frame in which to conduct this type of maintenance and repair. Unfortunately, this year, the bulk of this work seems to be occurring at the height of the season, a natural time of increased accident risk due to the influx of activity upon our highways and streets. This represents some cause for concern for our citizens, the workmen themselves, as well as for our State’s visitors.
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