DUI Fatality Crash Statistics Puts Texas on Top of List

DUI fatality, Texas personal injury lawyer, personal injury attorney in TexasAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a person is either hurt or killed in a vehicle crash caused by a drunk driver in the state of Texas every 20 minutes.

In 2011 there were 1,216 people killed on Texas roads in crashes caused by drunk drivers. In 2012, there were 1,296 fatalities. This was 38 percent of all traffic deaths for the year. Texas consistently leads the country in alcohol related crash fatalities every year.

Other statistics include the following:

  • Over 70 percent of those drivers involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over .15;
  • More than half of drunk drivers responsible for these deadly crashes were repeat offenders. In Texas, a person is classified as a repeat offender if they have been convicted more than once, in a seven year period, of driving under the influence;
  • Over one-third of fatal crashes are caused by drunk driver who are between the ages of 21 to 24;
  • About 75 percent of fatal crashes that occur between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. are alcohol related;
  • The yearly costs of deaths caused by drunk drivers cost the state $6 billion.

Despite having such high DUI fatality statistics, Texas has some of the country’s most stringent drunk driving laws. The legal limit for BAC is .08. Drivers convicted of their first offense can lose their drivers’ license for up to one year, spend three to 180 days in jail and pay a fine of up to $2,000.

A second DUI conviction can mean losing your license for up to two years, spending one month to a year in jail and paying a fine of up to $4,000.  A third conviction means losing your license for up to two years, a prison term of two to ten years and a $10,000 fine.

Despite these strict laws, more than half of drivers who have lost their privilege to drive because of a DUI conviction continue to drive without a license. Some reports put the number at almost 75 percent. If you have lost a loved one or family member in a crash caused by a drunk driver, contact a New Braunfels personal injury attorney today to find out what legal recourse against the driver you may have.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving May Yield Accidents

marijuana, lawyer, attorney, DUI, driving under the influence, lawyer, attorneyThere have been various issues regarding driving impaired when it comes to alcohol and prescription drugs. The detection systems for both are relatively straight forward. However, as reported by The State, many states are having a hard time setting measures when it comes the impairment from marijuana use, especially since impaired driving has been linked to car accidents.

This has been quite the quandary for lawmakers all over the country in the wake of the legalization of marijuana use for medical reasons and in some areas for personal use. Many lobbyists have touted the positive effects of marijuana usage and have stated that it is far safer than alcohol, which is legal.

In one particular case, a young lady was killed in Seattle when she was hit by a vehicle while driving to work. When the driver was tested, his blood toxicology showed a positive result for marijuana. A professor at the University of California has been quoted as saying, “The answer is: Pretty …stoned is not as dangerous as drunk.”

As of this date, there has been no conclusive research that can speak to the levels of intoxication when it comes to THC, which is the main ingredient of all strains of marijuana. Strains of marijuana create another question. There are thousands of different strains of marijuana, some stronger than others. Advocates worry that trying to find a measure will lead to the unjust prosecution of people that may be technically sober at the time of incident.

If you have been injured by a driver who was under influence of marijuana, there is no criminal precedence set at this time, however you may have grounds for a civil case. Only work with a law firm that has a background in working with impaired driving accidents. An attorney can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. This is an issue that can be best addressed by an experienced Texas car accident attorney.

Nissan Issues Recall for Defective Airbags

car airbag, product recall, New Branufels injury attorney, Texas lawyer, car accidents, safetyNissan has announced a recall of approximately 1 million vehicles because of issues with front passenger side airbags not inflating in crashes. According to the company, both 2013 and 2014 Nissan and Infiniti vehicles are affected by what appears to be a defect in the software that controls the airbags.

The models being recalled include:

  • 2013-2014 Nissan Altima;
  • 2013-2014 Nissan Leaf;
  • 2013 Nissan NV200;
  • 2013-2014 Nissan Pathfinder;
  • 2013-2014 Nissan Sentra;
  • 2013 Infiniti JX35;
  • 2014 Infiniti Q50; and
  • 2014 Infiniti QX60 .

Nissan reports that the issue may be the occupant classification system in the cars are not detecting a passenger in the seat. Therefore, when a crash occurs, the airbag doesn’t deploy. The manufacturer says the problem occurs when “a combination of factors such as high engine vibration at idle when the seat is initially empty and then becomes occupied” and also says it can happen if someone sits in the seat with “unusual” posture.

The company reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that there have been three reports of accidents where the bags didn’t deploy even though there was someone sitting in the passenger seat at the time of the crash occurring. Nissan says it is unaware of any injuries or fatalities that may have occurred because of airbags not inflating.

This is the second time that Nissan has issued a recall for this defect. In February of 2013, many of these same models were recalled because of reports of airbags not inflating. The sensors in the seats were replaced, but the company continued to receive complaints from customers and claims on warranties, even for vehicles that had already been repaired.

There have been several major vehicle recalls in the past month. If you have been in an accident that was caused by a defective vehicle, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury lawyer to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.

Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Trucks

semi truck, truck safety, New Braunfels, TexasSemi-trucks are responsible for delivering goods all around the United States. By design, they are very large to fit as much stuff as possible. But their tall frame means that they have a higher possibility of rolling over and damaging other cars on the road.

Heavy trucks are also slow to accelerate to the speed of other traffic on the road and take longer to brake. If a car is involved in an accident with a large truck going at a high rate of speed, the result can be devastating and fatal. It is always important to exercise caution when driving but especially around semi trucks. Take certain steps to avoid a dangerous situation with a large truck:

  • View large trucks as potential dangers on the road and take extra steps to drive defensively;
  • Avoid driving in the blind spots of commercial trucks. A good rule is that if you cannot see the truck’s side mirrors, then they cannot see your car;
  • Always check if a truck is turning before trying to pass them on the road.  The length of trucks causes them to take much wider turns and causes the back of the truck to take a sharper angle than the front;
  • Do not cut off a truck since their massive weight necessitates a longer distance to stop than cars going the same speed;
  • It is also important to increase the follow distance when traveling behind a semi truck, especially if the road conditions are wet or icy;
  • The easiest way to protect yourself on the highway with big trucks is by wearing your seat belt.

Unfortunately there are cases when following these steps still results in an accident. A truck driver may be fatigued, stressed or pressured into making on time deliveries which can increase the likelihood of an accident.

If you have been involved in an accident with a truck, then contact an experienced personal injury attorney in New Braunfels to see if someone else is financially responsible for your injuries.

Man Sentenced in Toddler’s Death After Police Chase

David Rodriguez, 32, was sentenced to life in prison in mid-December for his role in the death of 17-month-old Welsey Masporo last year. Rodriguez, who was “fleeing from police because he had 419 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle,” was driving the wrong way on an I-35 access road when he slammed in the Masporo family’s station wagon, according to KSAT News. “Though injured herself, Regina Maspero [the child’s mother] said she began searching for her children following the crash. ‘I was looking for him, and he was face down in his car seat,’ she told jurors,” as reported by KSAT. Welsey wasn’t the only of Maspero’s children that was killed in the accident, either—her 3-year-old son Walter “was also killed in the wreck,” reports KSAT.

Rodriguez, in addition to the sentencing he received for the baby’s death, is also facing murder charges for Walter’s death and federal drug charges. “It took the jury a scant 45 minutes… to decide that [he] should be sent to prison for life,” according to KSAT.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, police pursuits, such as the one Rodriguez was engaged in at the time of the fatal accident, “provide some frightening statistics.” Most police chases, unlike the Rodriguez incident, involve a routine traffic stop violation. “One person dies every day as a result of a police pursuit,” the FBI reports. It’s not just civilians that are killed in police chases, either—“on average, from 1994 through 1998,” according to the FBI, “one law enforcement officer was killed every 11 weeks in a pursuit, and 1 percent of all U.S. law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty lost their lives in vehicle pursuits.”

The FBI reports that 30 percent of people who flee police end up crashing, as what happened in the Rodriguez incident. More than a quarter of them were running to avoid arrest. The average in-town pursuit length is 1.72 blocks, according to the FBI.

If you or someone you know has been injured, or a loved one has been killed, in an incident involving a police chase, you may be eligible for compensation. Don’t go through it alone. Contact The Bettersworth Law Firm for a free consultation today.

Car-on-Bicycle Accident Safety in Texas

texas bicycle accident attorneyBike lanes are becoming increasingly popular in cities throughout Texas, providing a healthy and affordable way for individuals to exercise and commute to work. Currently, there are bike lanes and bike support initiatives used in multiple Texas cities, including Austin and Fort Worth. Although bicycles are regularly used for transportation, unfortunately, they are often still involved in serious crashes with motor vehicles. These cases should be handled by a personal injury attorney who can fight for the compensation that victims deserve.

Cars colliding with vehicles occurs most often in cities, where more individuals tend to rely on bicycles as their method of transportation. A report from the University of Texas discovered that 68.3% of bicycle and car roadway crashes in the Houston-Galveston area, for example, occurred within the city limits.

Bicycle accidents are a nationwide concern, even though greater awareness and visibility has helped to reduce the number of accidents and deaths for cyclists since 1995. Despite these decreases, it is expected that the total cost for bicyclist injury and death is more than $4 billion each year. It is also expected that bicycle accidents and the severity of injuries connected with them is often underreported, so it’s possible that crash numbers have stayed the same or gotten even higher, camouflaged by those victims who do not report their incident.

Car accidents where bicyclists are involved can be especially brutal, since the weight and speed the car can often leave cycling victims with critical injuries. Attempting to recover from these types of injuries can take months, and many times, victims are left with chronic pain and suffering for the remainder of their life.

Have you been hit by a car while safely operating your bike? Did you sustain injuries that have impaired your ability to work and complete daily activities? Are you feeling buried under the weight of consistent medical bills for your injury care? If so, you need the expertise of a Texas personal injury lawyer today.

NTSB Pushes For Hair Drug Testing of Truck Drivers

The American Trucking Association is encouraging the Department of Transportation to take a deeper look at the impact of impaired truck driving. Drivers under the influence of alcohol or other drugs can be affected by a lack of focus and poor judgment on the road. This can lead to dangerous trucking accidents with injuries and even death. The current process for testing truck drivers is via urine, but the American Trucking Association wants the Department of Transportation to instead use hair samples.

drug testThe goal of this change is to curb the number of drivers on the road under the influence of drugs. The ATA argues that too many truck drivers knew how to pass a urine test even when they were under the influence. A drug test of a hair sample, however, would indicate the truth.

Representatives from the ATA believe that it’s the responsibility of the government to make this high quality drug testing tool available to motor carriers across the country. Impaired driving has been a focus for state and federal agencies and legislators recently. The most recent report from the NTSB, for example, is solely focused on reducing incidents of driving impaired by alcohol.

The American Trucking Association believes that the agency can do more to help reduce incidence of impaired truck driving. The sheer size of trucks involved in impaired driving accidents can do serious damage to other vehicles on the road. Drivers in other vehicles may be killed instantly, and if they survive, they may have to spend the remainder of their life recovering from critical injuries. Although hair testing would be a step forward in increasing the number of truck drivers with drugs in their system, the hair test does not provide results about those under the influence of alcohol.

If you or someone that you know has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, you need to obtain the advice of a Texas personal injury lawyer.

National Initiative to Increase Driver Safety

Driver safety is a huge concern for everyone.  But it is often the drivers who pose the biggest threat to themselves.  That is why auto safety regulators are trying to use advances in car technology to improve safety on the road.  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Strickland said that “Ninety percent of all crashes have an element of human errors.  We really need to focus on what more we can do to address these risks.”

In the past, automakers have typically balked at including safety measures in their vehicles. They resisted safety restraints, air bags and even backup cameras.  But they are fully supporting a new safety initiative that will seek to stop drunk driving. Insurance companies also believe this technology would greatly reduce claims and deaths.

The NHTSA and seventeen different automakers are engineering a system called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADDS.  It may use current technology like automatic braking and collision warning.  It will also integrate a blood alcohol sensor that could lock the transmission if the driver is above the legal limit of .08.

There are some people who have an issue with this new development in car safety. The restaurant lobby has called this initiative as an example of the encroaching nanny state of government. Others say that the new equipment required for this new system would add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a new vehicle. There are also concerns that the technology may cause false positives that would frustrate drivers and possibly stop them from purchasing new automobiles.

The DADDS program is still being researched at this time.  The first prototype is scheduled to be operational in a couple of years.  Until the time when blood alcohol levels can be measured unobtrusively this may not be a reality.  Drunk driving is still a legitimate threat to the safety of other drivers.  If you or your loved ones have been injured by a drunk driver, then you should seek the consul of an experienced personal injury attorney in  New Braunfels today.

The Countermeasures against Wrong Way Accidents

Wrong way accidents are not as common as other types of crashes.  Yet, what they lack in frequency, they make up for in devastating consequences. Since wrong way collisions often occur when two cars hit head-on, the likelihood of death or an incapacitating injury is likely. These accidents often occur in the early dawn hours on Texas roads while drivers are impaired by alcohol.  Wrong way accidents are 60 percent more likely to occur in major metropolitan areas, such as San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth, than in rural areas.

Texas’s Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, knows that wrong way accidents are an epidemic in Texas. There is a particular fifteen mile section of US 281 were the highest number of wrong way accidents in Texas occurred last year. The stretch is between Stone Oak Parkway and Interstate 35.  In 2012, TxDOT created a test program to stop people from driving the wrong way on highways.  They installed flashing wrong way signs and radar devices which alert the San Antonio Police Department.  That May, fifteen wrong way drivers were stopped by the police before any crash occurred.

Given the success of the initial stage of this program, TxDOT plans to expand the protected area.  New signs are scheduled to be installed on the northeast side of Interstate 35 and on two different stretches of Interstate 10.  TxDOT San Antonio spokeswoman Laura Lopez said that “as we start to have new projects that are under construction, we will add the wrong-way-driver signs to those projects.”

Texas is trying to make the highways safer.  Given the dangers of wrong way drivers, it is important to be vigilant.  But if you or a loved one are in a crash with a wrong way driver then you can seek compensation.  It is unfair to have to pay medical bills and other expenses due to the negligence of a third party.  Contact an experienced personal injury attorney in San Antonio to review your case today.

Whiplash: The Basics

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained following a minor to severe car accident. If you’ve been injured in accident and think the driver may have faulted you, the most important first step is to contact a dedicated Texas personal injury attorney immediately. The sooner you have the assistance of a qualified professional on your side, the easier your case will be. Regardless, whiplash, or even a suspected case of it, is worthy of a second look. According to a Hillsboro, Texas chiropractic clinic, the term whiplash was “coined by Dr. Harold Crowe back in 1928.” This may be surprising, considering the speed at which vehicles could travel in 1928, but it goes to show that it’s not an injury reserved for only the most severe of car accidents. Whiplash, as defined by Dr. Crowe, is used to refer to “the hyperextension/hyper flexion injury of the neck, and the resulting symptoms of his injury—sustained from a motor vehicle accident.”

Symptoms of whiplash, according to Hillsboro Chiropractors, include (but are not limited to):

  • neck pain
  • cervical muscle spasms
  • dizziness and balance problems
  • blurred visions
  • shoulder and interscapular pain
  • hand and finger pain
  • chronic headaches (including migraines and muscle-tension headaches)
  • lightheadedness
  • post-traumatic depression and cognitive problems

While whiplash often has a reputation as an injury claimed by those who don’t really need treatment, it’s a serious injury and can have lasting effects for up to six months, in 75 percent of cases, according to Hillsboro Chiropractors. This can rack up a hefty bill for the patient involved. Additionally, according to Hillsboro Chiropractors “whiplash victims lose an average of 8 weeks of work.” This puts accident victims in a particularly bad situation.

If you or someone you know has sustained whiplash in a car accident or suspect that you might have, the most important first step is to seek the counsel of a lawyer. Don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Texas personal injury attorney today.