Articles Posted in Pasco 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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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a press release Monday urging owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags. The message expresses the need for urgency when responding to this issue, especially for owners of vehicles affected by the regional recalls in the following areas: Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.

128859908_5717d96b9a_zConsumers who are unaware whether or not their vehicle is impacted by the Takata recalls, or any other recall, can check on www.safercar.gov/vinlookup. Once on the site, you can search by your vehicle identification number in order to confirm whether your vehicle has an open recall that needs to be addressed. Additionally, consumers can sign-up for NHTSA recall alerts, which go out before recall letters are mailed by the manufacturers to the affected owners.

Affected Vehicles Involving Takata Airbags:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2002 – 2004 Lexus SC

2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla

2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix

2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia

2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra

2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)

2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)

2001 – 2005 Honda Civic

2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V

2003 – 2011 Honda Element

2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey

2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot

2006 – Honda Ridgeline

2003 – 2006 Acura MDX

2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima

2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder

2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra

2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35

2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4

2003 – Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2003 – 2004 Mazda6

2004 – Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan

2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe

2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon

2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible

2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe

2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles

2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre

2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous

2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille

2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer

2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala

2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture

2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy

2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL

2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora

2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada

2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette

2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville

2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

As of now, four deaths have been attributed to defective components found in Takata airbags, which were predominantly used in vehicles from every major automaker from 2000 through 2007. The deaths have occurred in Virginia, Oklahoma, California and Florida. Additionally, 139 injuries have also been reported that were caused by the Takata airbags.

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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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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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A tourist from the United Kingdom was hospitalized Thursday morning following an accident on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

The tips of the man’s ring finger and his pinky finger on his right hand were severed, according to the Reedy Creek Fire Department.

The man was apparently holding on to the outside of the boat during the ride. It’s unclear what hit the man’s hand and caused the injury.

According to a Disney spokeswoman, the ride was briefly closed and has since been reopened.

3982929852_91b14c2e38_zA verbal safety message sounds each time the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is launched that warns guests to keep hands and feet inside the ride at all times. It’s not yet clear if the message is pre recorded or if a Disney employee is responsible for warning riders.

There are also signs posted in the area where guests wait to board the ride that say, “For your safety remain seated with hand, arms, feet and legs inside vehicle. Supervise children.”

Disney, along with other area theme parks voluntarily report “significant injuries” suffered on their attractions per an agreement with the state that exempts them from public ride-safety regulation.

In order to be classified as a significant injury, a guest must have been hurt on a ride and the injury must require an immediate hospital stay of more than 24 hours for more than just observation.

In its most recent report, Disney reported five guest injuries in the last quarter of 2013.

The Magic Kingdom logged three of these injuries: a 75-year-old woman who fell and broke her wrist while exiting the Mad Tea Party, a 48-year-old man who became ill after riding Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and a 35-year-old man with a pre-existing condition who experienced heart pain before and after riding The Haunted Mansion.

Additionally, a 29-year-old woman fell ill and suffered disorientation and slurred speech after riding Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and a 68-year-old man broke his toe on the outer wall of Castaway Creek in the Typhoon Lagoon water park.

The last time someone was hospitalized after riding the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was in 2012. Reports indicate that a 71-year-old woman experienced dizziness, chest pain and mouth numbness.

Operators of amusement park rides have a duty to riders and guests to warn them about staying safe on rides. At this time it is unclear whether the injured tourist heard or disregarded the audio or failed to read warning signs on the Disney ride. However, if he plans to file a claim against the park, because of these warnings, he could actually be found negligent.

Based on Florida’s laws on comparative fault, if someone sues for damages and is found negligent, each party involved can be held liable for the portion of damage related to their fault. Meaning, if a lawsuit is filed and Disney was found to be only 10 percent at fault for the man’s injuries, then Disney would only be legally required to cover 10 percent of the damages.

Disneyland, Disney World’s California cousin, has actually been sued more than 100 times for injuries from 2007 to 2012. Most of these cases were settled out of court. It is not clear at this point whether this man will attempt to seek damages for his severed fingertip, however, Disney will likely add this incident to their “significant injuries” report for the year.

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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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While all pedestrians should pay extra close attention when crossing the street, it seems that Floridians need to be especially mindful.
In a new report from the National Complete Streets Coalition, Dangerous By Design 2014, a Pedestrian Danger Index was used to rank the deadliest places to walk in America. Florida is home to the top four cities, with six other southern cities finishing out the top 10:

  1. Orlando, FL
  2. Tampa, FL
  3. Jacksonville, FL
  4. Miami, FL
  5. Memphis, TN
  6. Birmingham, AL
  7. Houston, TX
  8. Atlanta, GA
  9. Phoenix, AZ
  10. Charlotte, NC

You can view the full list here.

pedestrians flThe Pedestrian Danger Index was calculated by looking at the last five years of available data on pedestrian fatalities and factoring in the number of local commuters who walk to work every day.

The report shows that 47,025 people nationwide were hit by cars and died while walking between 2003 and 2012. This number is 16 times greater than the number of Americans who died in natural disasters over the same time frame. Additionally, another 676,000 pedestrians were injured while travelling on foot, which likens to someone being hit by a car every eight minutes.

The elderly are found to be much more at risk than any other age group, according to the report. While they only represent 12.6 percent of the total U.S. population, adults ages 65 and older account for 21 percent of pedestrian fatalities.

This report shows just how dangerous busy roads and intersections can be for those walking to their destinations. The following tips are a great reminder on how to stay safe as a pedestrian:

Stay Alert. Distracted walking can be just as dangerous as distracted driving. Always look where you are going and be aware of your surroundings. In 2010, more than 1,500 people were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for pedestrian-related injuries resulting from distractions, especially cell phones. Keep your eyes off your cell phone when crossing the street!

Never Jaywalk. Did you know that pedestrians can be held liable for auto accidents, too? When you cross the street against a light and run into traffic, you increase your risk of being struck and potentially killed by a motorist.

Use the Sidewalk. While sidewalks may not be located in certain areas in the city, if they are available for use, please use them and do not walk in the street. If a biker is taking up the sidewalk, gently remind them that they are meant for pedestrians.

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