Articles Posted in Alachua County

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declared this week, October 19-25, as National Teen Driver Safety Week. Due to the sad reality that motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for teens ages 14 to 18, the NHTSA has made this issue a top priority. The NHTSA’s “5 to Drive” rules are designed to raise awareness about the five biggest issues teen drivers face today.

Safety Issues Facing Teen Drivers

The NHTSA has listed out the top five safety concerns for teen drivers by analyzing data and statistics from auto accidents involving teen drivers across the United States. From driving impaired to having too many passengers in the car, there are numerous issues that can greatly increase a teen driver’s risk for being involved in an accident that could result in serious injuries or death.

Top Five Safety Concerns for Teens

  1. Alcohol
  2. Seat belts
  3. Texting
  4. Speeding
  5. Passengers

7838235550_2205537def_zFive to Drive

By addressing these safety concerns with teen drivers, parents can make a huge impact on the safety of their teen when behind the wheel. Even though teens are not legally allowed to consume alcohol, they are at a greater risk than drivers in any other age group of being involved in an alcohol-related crash. It should also be noted that extra passengers can increase a teen drivers risk of being involved in a collision, so it is best to limited teens to no more than one passenger in their car at any time.

Even what can seem like minor details can have a great impact on inexperienced drivers. As a parent, it is smart to have regular conversations with your teen driver about these five key issues and lead by example. When you are driving, make sure to follow all safety rules, including wearing your seatbelt, and limit the distractions around you. Teens are quite perceptive, and if you are a safe driver, then the odds are your teen will pick up on your safe practices and put them into action when they are behind the wheel.

What to do After a Crash

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October 8 is International Walk to School Day, a day when thousands of schools in the U.S. and in 40 countries strive to raise awareness about walking and bicycling to school. This day expresses the need for walkable communities throughout the world and encourages more children to walk to school.

This day urges the need to educate the public about pedestrian safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, car accidents resulted in the death of a pedestrian every two hours and an injury every seven minutes. In this same year, 4,743 pedestrians were killed and approximately 76,000 were injured in car accidents.

6220732639_8e5aa04c06_mThe NHTSA defines a pedestrian as “a person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down who is involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash.” With that said, every single person is a pedestrian on a regular basis, whether it is a young child walking to school or an adult walking across a shopping mall parking lot. Our Florida Car Accident Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton work with families every day who have had their lives turned upside down because of a negligent driver who failed to pay attention to a biker or pedestrian sharing the roadway. Injuries to pedestrians struck by cars can vary from cuts, bruises and scrapes to broken bones, spinal cord trauma and death.

Children under the age of 16 accounted for 6 percent of pedestrian deaths and 18 percent of pedestrian injuries caused by car accidents in 2012. In that same time period, pedestrians age 65 and older made up 20 percent of pedestrian deaths and 9 percent of pedestrian injuries as a result of auto accidents.

Motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians can be truly devastating. The NHTSA urges everyone to follow the below safety tips when walking or driving.

Pedestrians should always:

  • Walk on sidewalks when possible.
  • Make sure that electronic devices do not interfere with sight or sound.
  • Attempt to make eye contact with drivers as they approach, or make sure they are visible to drivers.
  • Cross streets at intersections and crosswalks and walk facing traffic as drivers expect pedestrians to do these things.
  • If there are no crosswalks, cross streets where there is good visibility so that you can be seen clearly by other drivers.
  • Stay away from places where pedestrians are prohibited, like freeways and restricted-access highways.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing at night.
  • Avoid walking while intoxicated at any time.

Drivers should always:

  • Keep an eye out for pedestrians, even in unexpected places.
  • Be extra cautious when visibility is limited by inclement weather.
  • Be prepared to stop at crosswalks and intersections.
  • Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Refrain from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Follow the designated speed limit, especially in areas with pedestrians.
  • Observe reduced speed limits near schools, playgrounds and all other areas where children are known to gather.

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A Bradford County school bus carrying 15 elementary school students was rear-ended by a big rig Monday afternoon near the intersection of U.S. 301 and State Road 201A in Lawtey.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, there were 10 people transported to area hospitals – the 35-year-old driver of the log-hauling big rig and his female passenger were taken to Shands in Gainesville with critical injuries, and seven children and the bus driver were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Authorities believe the most serious injury among the children was a leg injury.

According to the sheriff’s office, the woman in the semi was not wearing any clothes. Troopers gave her a towel to cover up in front of the children.

5554917910_b21c0bb5db_mWitnesses claim the semi was travelling at 60 mph when it slammed into the bus, which investigators said had its crossing arms out and lights flashing.

The crash happened on U.S. 301 near Northwest 183rd Street at about 2:45 p.m. As the school bus was coming to a stop, it was struck from behind by the semi, which is owned and operated by Mo’s Trucking out of Palatka.

The Sheriff’s Office said the bus driver saw the semi coming in the rear-view mirror and sped up, which possibly minimized the impact. If the bus had been stopped to unload students, the crash could have been tragic.

Witnesses claim the truck driver never hit the brakes, as he plowed into the back of the bus and pushed it more than 50 yards into a ditch.

The FHP said dispatchers received a call about a reckless driver in a tractor-trailer on U.S. 301 before the crash occurred. However, before they could catch up with the vehicle, the state patrol and local Sheriff’s Office received a call about the crash.

FHP said charges are pending. They do not have any indication that alcohol or drugs were a factor, but said speed and/or distracted driving could have played a role.

Records indicate that the driver of the semi has several previous driving citations. He had his license suspended in 2011 when his insurance was canceled, and it was suspended in 2013 for failure to pay a fine.

He was cited with driving with a suspended license in 2007 and in 2011, speeding in 2011, operating motor vehicle in unsafe condition in 2012 and a tag violation in 2013.

Accidents involving school buses can be quite traumatic. While we do not generally hear about these accidents happening frequently, they do occur, and probably more often than you think. There are an estimated 585,000 school buses operating in the United States right now. School bus accidents result in a reported 17,000 visits to emergency rooms every year.

If you have been the victim of a school bus accident that involved a semi truck, there are things you can do to obtain financial compensation for injuries and damages. In many of these accidents, truck drivers are not insured, which can create additional problems for victims, since the person responsible for the accident cannot pay for the damages. When this unfortunate scenario happens to you, you need to contact a Florida Truck Accident Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton. We can help you understand all of your legal options and assist you with pursuing a legal claim against the truck driver and/or trucking company in order to recover damages.

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The leading cause of death in children between the ages of one and 13 is auto accidents. In an effort to raise awareness about these tragedies and further educate people about keeping children safe in motor vehicles, the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration has announced that Child Passenger Safety Week will take place from September 14 until September 20 and National Seat Check Saturday will be on September 20, 2014 to make sure children are in the correct restraints while riding in a motor vehicle.

There are a many options when it comes to restraining a child in an car – rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, boosters and a traditional seat belt. Age can play a big factor in this decision, but size is the priority. There can be numerous risks for children that are placed in too small of safety seats as well as too large of seats. During Child Passenger Safety Week, communities across Florida will have certified technicians available to educate parents and children about car seat safety.

7174336898_45a7a0e2a8_mInstalling Seats Correctly

First and foremost, before installing a car seat, make sure to always read the instructions. Every seat has slightly different installation directions, however there are some universal key points to keep in mind.

Seat location: Regardless of what kind of restraint you are using, it should always be placed in the back seat of your vehicle. Children should not be allowed to ride in the front seat until they are at least 13 years old.

Securing the seat: When a restraint system is properly installed there should be no side-to-side or front-to-back movement of more than an inch.

Proper Fitting of the Seat: Once the seat is securely installed, it is necessary to make sure you child is fitted into the seat properly. Harness straps should lay flat and never be twisted. In a rear-facing car seat, the straps should loop through the back slot at or below the child’s shoulders. In front-facing seats, the straps should be looped through the slot at or above the shoulders. The harness should be secure enough that excess material cannot be pinched at the shoulder. The chest clip should be at armpit level.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a press release notifying motorists to drive sober for the upcoming Labor Day weekend and all year long. The 2014 campaign is focused on the societal and economic impact of drunk driving as well as the personal costs and human toll of impaired driving.

Across the United States, drunk driving collisions kill more than 10,000 people each year. Over the course of holiday weekends alcohol-related crashes are known to increase. During Labor Day weekend in 2012, 147 people were killed in auto accidents involving drunk drivers. For every DUI crash, one in three results in a fatality. What this means is that one third of all collisions are entirely preventable.

2816552570_c25300d775_mThe economic impacts of driving under the influence cost Americans billions of dollars every single year. Car and motorcycle accidents involving alcohol impaired drivers cost 47 billion in direct economic impacts in 2010. Across the U.S., that averages to about $152 a person. When the overall harm to society due to loss of life and diminished quality of life are tacked on, the numbers skyrocket to $195 billion.

The average cost of a minor injury associated with a DUI-related motor vehicle crash is $22,000, but can total more than $25,000 when losses related to quality of life are added in. Direct economic impacts and additional quality-of-life costs can drastically increase based on the severity of the injury.

Now that we have addressed some of the shocking figures associated with DUIs, our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to make sure you enjoy Labor Day weekend and map out a plan before the party starts. Planning ahead is absolutely necessary to ensure that you have a safe ride home, should you consume any amount of alcohol. Planning ahead can be as simple as programming a taxi cab’s phone number into your phone or downloading a rideshare app onto your smartphone. No matter where you end up or what you are doing, never get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. Ask a friend or bartender to help you find a safe ride home.

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The National Safety Council delegates the months of June and July to focus on fireworks safety, since fireworks injuries are most common between June 1 and July 4 each year.

Eye injuries are a noteworthy concern when it comes to projectile fireworks like bottle rockets and Roman candles. According to Prevent Blindness America, eye injuries are common with fireworks, as are burns and other very serious injuries. Most of those who suffer fireworks-related eye injuries are children under the age of 15 since they do not fully understand the dangers of these hot explosives, but it is important to point out that anyone can be harmed by fireworks.

fireworksLast year there were eight deaths and about 11,400 injuries nationally from fireworks, according to a recent report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. To help protect yourself and those you love from fireworks injuries this summer, please familiarize yourself with the following safety tips:

  • Check the fireworks laws and ordinances where you live. In the state of Florida, consumer fireworks are illegal. However, state lawmakers passed an exception to this rule allowing fireworks to be purchased by farms and fish hatcheries. In order for vendors to sell fireworks to customers, all they have to do is have purchasers sign forms saying they’re buying under an agricultural or other exemption.
  • Never let children play with fireworks. While most people tend to think hand-held fireworks like sparklers are safe enough, know that these can reach temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause serious burn injuries. Do not let your child play with, hold or light off fireworks of any kind.
  • If you are going to light off fireworks, make sure to set up a fire-resistant area. Everyone else should be kept several yards away from this area. Also, have a fire extinguisher or hose handy in case fireworks get out of control.
  • Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Rather than lighting off your own fireworks at home, head to professional fireworks shows. While you could still possibly be injured at one of these shows, the risk is much lower than if you choose to light your own fireworks off at your house.

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Slip, trip, and fall accidents are a primary cause of injury in the United States for people of all ages and genders. June is National Safety Month, which is why it is important to address these risks, and for all of us in Florida to strive to help prevent future accident injuries.

The Second Week of National Safety Week Is Dedicated to Fall Prevention

Caution_wet_floorThe National Safety Council has dedicated the second week of June to raising awareness about slip and fall and trip and fall injuries. There are many ways we can prevent serious injuries and fatalities throughout our Florida communities, including the following:

Whenever a motor vehicle accident occurs in Florida, or anywhere else throughout the country, it creates a series of events that cost money. While these costs are not always apparent to other people, make no mistake, car accidents can be quite expensive.

When viewed as a whole, the numbers are downright shocking. A recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demonstrates that motor vehicle accidents cost more than $870 billion in economic loss per year. This study examined data from 2010. That $870 billion can be broken down even further to a personal basis, averaging an estimated cost of $900 per person in the U.S., which does not just apply to accident victims, but all people residing in this country.

traffic betchNHTSA’s study, “The Economic and Society Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010,” focuses on some of the behavioral factors that influenced that year’s nearly 33,000 highway fatalities, 3.9 million injuries and 24 million damaged vehicles. According to the study, three driver behaviors including speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving, accounted for 56 percent of the economic loss to the nation and 62 percent of the societal harm. Societal harm is described as harm due to loss of life and decreased quality of life.

What is not so shocking is that drunk driving accidents were found to be among the most expensive kinds of accidents. These accounted for 18 percent of the total economic loss and 23 percent of the overall societal harm.

Speeding accounted for 21 percent of the overall economic loss costing the nation $59 billion and 24 percent, or $210 billion, of the societal harm.

Distracted driving crashes were responsible for 17 percent of the total economic loss and cost $46 billion. These crashes accounted for $129 billion, or 15 percent, of the overall societal harm.

On a positive note, researchers for this study concluded that using seatbelts led to a savings of almost $70 billion in medical care, lost productivity and other costs that were not incurred. For now, around 5 percent of the total economic loss involved people in auto accidents where they were not buckled up or did not properly fasten their seatbelt.

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Memorial Day weekend is finally here and many of you will be setting out to enjoy the official start of summer with our state’s numerous recreational possibilities. With that said, it is estimated that close to 34 million people will be hitting the road over the long holiday weekend and traveling at least 50 miles from home. Whether you are staying local or making a trek to a family member or friend’s home, the Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to drive safely and exercise caution this holiday weekend.

Memorial Day weekend is supposed to be a time for remembrance and celebration. Whatever type of activity you choose to partake in this weekend, we urge you to do so responsibly. Make sure if you are driving to always pay attention, look out for any roadside construction and always see to it that everyone in your vehicle is buckled up. Remember, if you are going to be drinking at any point during the holiday weekend, just be sure to have a designated driver set in place.

memorial day flagAccording to AAA, the amount of motorists travelling on the roadways this Memorial Day weekend will be at a 10 year high. Dating back to past Memorial Day weekends, statistics show that there is an increase of more than ten percent in motor vehicle accidents vs. other holiday weekends.

You can help exercise safety this Memorial Day weekend just by brushing up on a few safety steps:

  1. Always give yourself enough time to get from Point A to Point B.
  2. Follow all posted speed limits.
  3. Limit Driver Distractions.
  4. Make sure everyone, including those in the back seat, is wearing their seat belt.
  5. Do not drink and drive. In fact, make sure you have a designated driver assigned before you start drinking so that you are not tempted to drive after consuming alcoholic beverages.

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A 42-year-old woman was killed early Wednesday morning after a tree fell on her Gainesville home as she slept, according to authorities.

The tree apparently fell on a trailer around 2 a.m. while the woman and her 40-year-old husband were sleeping in their bedroom.

A spokesman for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said the husband was seriously injured and is undergoing surgery at UF Health Shands Hospital.

The couple’s three children were in a different part of the home and were not harmed in the incident.

Authorities believe the tree fell on the home due to windy conditions.

tree falling betch.jpgPowerful winds that accompany heavy rains and thunderstorms can be strong enough to break tree branches and uproot even healthy trees. However, rotting or dead trees cannot usually withstand heavy gusts of wind and can fall at any time. If falling trees do damage a property or cause injuries or death, this could be the basis for a premises liability lawsuit.

Trees usually fall without giving very much warning, which can lead to catastrophic injuries to any person in its path. Falling trees and branches have been known to cause brain injuries, skull fractures, spinal cord trauma, broken bones, injuries to internal organs and even death. If you or a loved one was harmed by a falling tree, you may be wondering if someone can be held liable. If a property owner is aware that a tree on the premises is weak, dead, diseased or at risk of falling, he or she could be held responsible if the tree falls and injures someone. If a landowner fails to take reasonable steps to prevent a tree fall disaster, he or she may be financially liable for any injuries or damages that occur.

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