Articles Posted in Road Safety

A truck driver that was arrested in a crash on Interstate 80 that killed a Minnesota couple and their three children has his first court appearance Tuesday.

The Keith County Court’s office said the 53-year-old Baker, Florida man, is facing five counts of felony motor vehicle homicide and one count of reckless driving.

He is being held on $100,000 bond.

A Nebraska State Patrol affidavit says the man was inattentive and speeding through a construction zone Sunday when his semitrailer smashed into the back of a minivan and other vehicles. The minivan was carrying a 29-year-old St. Paul couple, and their three children.

Collisions with large trucks usually end in fatalities. Sadly, passenger vehicles are no match for the size and weight of semis and tractor trailers. While nothing can bring back loved ones killed in truck accidents, the law does provide a legal remedy for surviving family members to ease any financial burdens through what is called a wrongful death lawsuit. If a truck driver’s reckless or negligent actions resulted in a crash that killed another person, they can be held legally liable for any harm caused.

Wrongful death claims can be complex when dealing with a trucking company. There are many aspects that must be properly investigated, including the driver logs, the truck itself and all other relevant documents that could point to regulation violations.

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Our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July! The Fourth of July holiday is usually centered around fun, and many of us celebrate the long weekend with friends and family, but like many other holidays, risks of accidents and injuries tend to increase during this time.

To help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe this weekend, we would like for everyone to review the below safety tips:

Firework Safety

Many people around the state of Florida want to light of a few fireworks of their own, regardless of the fact that Florida law prohibits any fireworks that fly through the air or explode — such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars — for recreational use. If you plan to light off your own, remember these important tips:

  • Always follow instructions and never provide fireworks to small children.
  • Use fireworks in a safe area and never throw or point fireworks toward people, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials.
  • Do not light multiple fireworks at once and never attempt to relight a “dud” firework that did not go off the first time.

Drunk Driving

Sadly, drunk driving accidents, injuries, and deaths are consistently high during Fourth of July weekend. If you plan on celebrating ‘Merica’s Birthday with a few cocktails, make sure to drink responsibly or plan a safe ride home. Designate a sober driver, or call a cab or transportation service like Uber or Lyft. Remember, law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for drunk and/or drugged motorists.

Grilling Safety

Barbecues are always a Fourth of July staple. Did you know that numerous people suffer injuries when barbecuing on charcoal and gas grills? Make sure to never grill indoors,  refrain from adding lighter fluid when charcoal has already been ignited, and always follow instructions.

Water Safety

It’s hot in Florida! Most Floridians and visitors to our state will be by the beach, lake, or enjoying the water at backyard pool parties this weekend. When having fun near or in the water, safety should be your top priority. Adults should always supervise children and you should drink responsibly, as well as have an emergency action plan in case something goes awry.

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A man was killed earlier this month after he lost control of his motorcycle and tumbled more than 100 feet in Marion County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

At around 10:10 p.m., the Umatilla man was driving his 2016 Kawasaki Ninja on the southbound lane of County Road 25 at a “high rate of speed” as he approached a right hand curve, FHP stated in a report.

The 25-year-old driver failed to handle the curve and drove across the centerline and into the northbound lane and onto the east grass shoulder, the FHP stated.

The man lost control of his motorcycle and fell off of it as it began to overturn. Both he and the motorcycle “tumbled over 100 feet before coming to rest on the shoulder” of the road, the FHP reported.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The FHP has not yet determined if alcohol was a factor in the accident.

The investigation is ongoing.

Riding a motorcycle can be liberating. And while the freedom of the open road is nice, riding a motorcycle can also be dangerous as a result of reckless motorists, minimal protection, hazardous conditions and many other factors.

A motorcycle accident can occur as a result of a rider’s negligence, but a motorcycle accident is not always the fault of the operator. In many cases, these types of accident are caused by:

  • DUI
  • Inattention of other drivers
  • Speeding
  • Failing to obey traffic signals
  • Texting and driving
  • Bad weather conditions
  • Fatigued driving
  • Bad roads
  • Failure to yield

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No one was injured Tuesday morning after a car rammed into the entrance of the Largo Post Office.

Largo Police and Largo Fire both responded to the post office located at 50 8th Ave. S.W. after the sedan crashed into the building.

Postal operations were suspended as officials tended to the logistics associated with the crash.

There were no injuries, according to reports. Operations have returned to normal inside the post office.

Vehicles crashing into buildings happen more frequently than you might think. In fact, every day in the U.S., there are 50-60 serious storefront accidents involving an automobile plowing into a restaurant, store, or other type of business and severely injuring customers and employees.

Sadly, these crashes can result in serious injuries and even death to business patrons or employees. Fortunately, no one suffered any harm in this post office crash.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Storefront Safety Council, the following storefront accident statistics have been recorded:

  • There are 20,000 vehicle-into-building crashes every year in the United States, which breaks down to 50 to 60 accidents every day.
  • Every day in the U.S., more than 20 convenience stores are hit by vehicles, which equates to more than 7,300 convenience store crash incidents each year.
  • Why do these crashes occur? 41 percent of all vehicle-into-building crashes are caused by driver confusion or “pedal error.”

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A 19-year-old Tampa man was killed in a motorcycle accident late Saturday night.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 2005 BMW was traveling northbound on Reflections Club Drive approaching SR-580 (Hillsborough Ave).

The 19-year-old was traveling eastbound on SR-580 in the outside lane approaching Reflections Club Drive on a 2004 Yamaha motorcycle.

Troopers believe the driver of the BMW failed to yield right-of-way for the motorcycle and attempted to make a left turn onto westbound SR-580.

According to reports, the biker tried to break but ended up colliding with BMW. He was ejected from the motorcycle and died at the scene.

Charges are pending. There were no other injuries reported.

Motorcyclists must adhere to the same right-of-way rules as drivers of passenger vehicles. However, the sad truth is that many drivers fail to follow these rules and violate a biker’s right of way.

If you were injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver’s failure to yield, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and losses. Motorcycle collisions involving a bike and another automobile are too common and are often caused by the other driver’s failure to yield. Failure-to-yield motorcycle accidents occur when:

  • A driver turns in front of a motorcyclist without using proper turn signals
  • A driver fails to check their blind spot and sideswipes a motorcycle
  • A driver runs a biker off the road or into oncoming traffic

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A man in a wheelchair died Tuesday morning after he was hit by a box truck in Osceola County.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the crash happened at about 9:45 a.m. on U.S. 192 at the intersection of International Drive.

The 82-year-old Celebration man was travelling southbound in a motorized wheelchair on International Drive when he tried to cross U.S. 192. That’s when a box truck driven by a 35-year-old Kissimmee man struck the man in the wheelchair as the truck tried to turn right onto U.S. 192, troopers said.

The man in the wheelchair was taken to Florida Hospital Celebration Health, where he passed away.

The crash is currently under investigation.

Did you know that everyday drivers share the roads with countless 80,000-pound semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles whose drivers are working to complete their routes in the least amount of time possible? Due to time constraints, they often cut corners when it comes to safety regulations, not to mention they can become easily distracted from the primary task at hand – driving their truck safely.

The sheer force of a collision with a commercial vehicle, especially a fully loaded 18-wheeler, is far greater than the force of just your typical car wreck between passenger vehicles. The weight of a truck combined with speed and a negligent driver is truly a recipe for disaster.

Truck drivers, just like drivers of other vehicle, can be easily distracted due to:

  • Texting or talking on cell phone
  • GPS system or radio use
  • Eating, drinking or smoking while driving
  • Reading while driving
  • Driver fatigue

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The purpose of this initiative by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is to promote safe driving practices.

Much of distracted driving centers on cellphone use while driving. Texting and talking on the phone while driving is a huge issue among all age groups, but especially teen drivers. People might think they are capable of driving while texting, but the truth is they are paying more attention to their phone than the road. Even hands-free options are not 100 percent distraction free – people can get more involved in their conversation than the main task at hand. If talking or texting on your phone is something you do, try keeping your phone in the back seat when you are driving. You will be less tempted to grab it at red lights or mess with it while sitting in traffic.

Cell phones are not the only distraction to drivers, people can be distracted by eating, drinking, and even other passengers. While fast food was sort of invented for people on the run, there is no way to stay focused on the road when you are unwrapping a burger or shovelling french fries in your mouth. Most drivers also fail to realize how distracting other passengers can be – screaming kids, rambunctious teens, etc. can all take your attention off the road. In these types of situations, it is actually best to pull the car over and handle whatever you need.

Distracted driving is a major problem on Florida roads, resulting in accidents, injuries, and deaths. According to the the NHTSA, 3,129 people were killed distracted driving accidents in 2014.

Distractions take your eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, and your mind away from driving. Distracted driving leads to serious injuries and sometimes, death.

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A 26-year-old man on a scooter suffered serious injuries after a crash Tuesday morning in Clearwater.

According to police, the man was riding a scooter that collided with an SUV just before 7 a.m. on Belcher Road just north of Drew Street.

The man is in critical condition at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.

Officers believe the man was travelling northbound on Belcher Road on his scooter when the 48-year-old driver of the SUV tried to exit a convenience store parking lot to go southbound on Belcher, triggering the collision.

Authorities claim the scooter driver was not wearing a helmet.

An investigation into the crash is pending.

Scooter vs. automobile accidents can be deadly, strictly due to the size and lack of protection that a scooter provides to a driver. If a scooter driver/passenger does survive, they are likely left suffering severe injuries. Most scooter accidents involve ejections and not wearing a helmet can only make these injuries more tragic.

There are many reasons for scooter vs. automobile accidents, including reckless or negligent driving, drivers failing to see the scooter, poor visibility/bad weather, roadway defects and even driver impairment. Regardless of what caused an accident, it is important to get an injury attorney involved right away to make sure all evidence is promptly collected, witnesses are interviewed and insurance companies involved are dealt with accordingly. Our Clearwater Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know that these types of cases can be complex, mostly because insurance companies are quick to place the blame on the scooter driver. We can help make sure your rights are protected and that we do everything we can to recover full and fair compensation on your behalf for all injuries.

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If a new bill becomes law, you might find yourself in jail for texting and walking in New Jersey.

Last week, New Jersey Legislature introduced a measure that would outlaw texting while walking. If it passes, the penalty could be a $50 fine, 15 days in jail or both.

New Jersey already has a distracted driving ban, violations of which can cost offenders up to $400 for the first infraction. Expanding the ban to walking would increase the state’s traffic safety laws even more.

Studies have found that texting can turn the simple act of walking into something much more perilous. Accidents related to distracted walking have jumped 35 percent since 2010, according to reports from CBS.

According to research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, people texting while crossing the road are twice as likely to be hit by a car than people talking on their phones.

Distracted walking can be as deadly as distracted driving, according to recent reports. So the question is how can you stop people from using their cellular devices for music, conversations, reading emails and texts, and sending emails and texts while walking? New Jersey is hoping to put an end to the distracted walking by getting government involved, but others disagree and feel that personal responsibility should be emphasized.

There are not enough police officers to be at every intersection to fine or arrest every single person who is texting while crossing the street, so it is up to each individual to behave  responsibly and to encourage everyone else to do so as well. This is more than just a courtesy reminder, it could very well be a matter of life and death.

At this time, Florida does not have any new bills similar to New Jersey’s that could soon be law. However, if the bill does pass and become law, we may see more states following with similar rules, especially if the number of injuries and deaths decrease. Only time will tell for now.

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Less than a year after a University of Central Florida student drowned after her car crashed into a pond, a law is being passed in her name that would require roadside guardrails in front of bodies of water.

Chloe’s Law has passed both the House and the Senate and will go into effect this summer.

With the passing of Chloe’s law, any site of a drowning-related traffic accident over the past ten years will be outfitted with a guardrail.

According to Federal crash data, 49 people in Florida died inside submerged vehicles from 2008 to 2012. No other state comes close to these alarming numbers. Texas, ranks No. 2, with 18 deaths, followed by Indiana with 14, and Arizona and Louisiana, each with 10.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, counties with the highest concentration of motor vehicle drownings were:

  • Palm Beach
  • Broward
  • Miami-Dade

Orange, Duval, Lee and Collier Counties are tied for fourth place.

While it is true that guard rails won’t stop all accidents from occurring, strategically placed rails can reduce drowning fatalities from these types of collisions. In many cases, guard rails can turn what could be a fatal accident into a minor traffic incident.

If you or someone you love has been  involved in any type of auto accident that resulted in serious injuries or death, you might have a claim for financial compensation if someone else is responsible for the incident, including when another driver’s negligent actions caused your car to travel off the road and into a body of water.

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