Study Shows Incentives Help Slow Down Speeding Drivers

speeding driverSpare the rod, spoil the child? The same may be said for drivers who are guilty of consistently disobeying the speed limit. A study found that the best way to discourage speeding was not only to offer financial incentives as a way to reward good driving, but to also impose penalties when a driver is caught speeding.

Speeding kills – there are over 10,000 people killed every year in this country in car crashes that are caused by a speeding driver. Almost 80 percent of 15 to 24 year old male drivers who are involved in a fatal car crash were speeding. Fewer than 15 percent of fatal crashes caused by speeding occur on highways. The state of Texas has one of the highest rates of speeding-related fatalities each year, with approximately 3,000 people killed annually.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) backed the study, which included researchers from Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Virginia and Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo.

Researchers took eight vehicles and installed them with GPS devices which linked speed limits and vehicle speed. When a driver went over the posted speed limit, an alert would go off to let them know. There were a total of 50 people who participated in the study.

One group was given a monetary incentive. They were told that if they went the whole week without going over the speed limit, they would receive $25.00. Each time they went over the speed limit, money would be deducted from the prize money. Five to eight mph above the speed limit resulted in losing $.03 from the amount. If they went nine mph or more about the speed limit, they would lose $.06 from the $25.00. The other group had no incentive and were just being monitored.

The result was that the group with the prize money incentive obeyed speed limits more often than the other group. There was not one person who was penalized for driving 9 mph over the speed limit. Participants said the cash incentive played a major role in their driving for the week. Researchers point out that this may be a safe driving incentive insurance companies could offer to encourage customers not to speed.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a speeding driver, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss you have suffered.

Millions of Selfies while Driving Posted on Social Media

selfies while drivingFor the past several years, there has been a mass media campaign throughout the country about the dangers of texting and driving. Many safety advocates say the number of people who text and drive are at epidemic proportion, despite all the education and warnings to the public. Over 1 million of the auto accidents that occur every year were caused by someone using their cell phone.

There is now another alarming trend developing on the nation’s roads, and that is people who take selfies while their driving. A selfie is a photograph a person takes of themselves, typically with a smartphone, and posts to one of their social media accounts. Popular social media sites for selfies include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The person will often add a comment with their photo using a hashtag. A hashtag is a word or a phrase that follows the pound (#) symbol.

A recent survey found over 3 million selfie posts with the hashtag “#driving” on the social media site Instagram. Other photos with hashtags indicating the person was driving when the photo was taken included 50,000 which had “#drivinghome” and 9,000 photos tagged with “#drivingtowork.” Another 3,500 photos had the hashtag “#drivingselfie.”

There have been numerous reports of drivers involved in fatal crashes while engaging in this practice. Details of one particular tragic incident went nationwide after police revealed that evidence showed the victim had been posting selfies and comments minutes before the car she was driving crossed over the center line and crashed head on into a truck which was traveling the opposite way. The 32 year-old woman was killed instantly.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.

Study Proves Drivers Ed Makes Teens Safer Drivers

driver educationA new study by motor club AAA confirms that driver education classes for teens decreases the number of car crashes they have and sharply decreases the number of speeding tickets they receive. The study comes at a time when fewer teens are participating in driver education classes. Although there has always been an assumption that these classes help make teens better drivers, until now, there has never been a study that confirmed that idea.

According to National Center for Health Statistics, the number one killer of teenager is car accidents, killing more than 4,700 teens each year. The most dangerous time of a teenager’s life is the first year they have their driver’s license. The crash rate of 16 year old drivers is almost double what the crash rate is for 18 and 19 year old drivers. In fact, the risk of a teen driver being in a car crash is three times the risk of an older driver.

AAA utilized statistics from Oregon and Manitoba, Canada. The research team gathered their data from licensing tests, surveys, driving simulators and other records. For the Oregon portion of the study, researchers analyzed the records of 93,942 teenage drivers. According to the study, teens who completed driver’s education typically scored higher on their driving exams and also had “modest increases in knowledge over peers who took no formal training.”

In Texas, a person under 18 years old can apply for their license through the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program. They must first apply for their learning permit, which they can do at 15 years of age. In order to get their permit, the teen must have passed the classroom portion of a driver’s education course. These courses may be taken through the teenager’s high school, with a parent through an on-line driver education course, or through a certified driving school.

After a minimum of six months holding their learning permit, they can apply for Phase Two of the GDL. If they are granted their license, there are certain rules they must follow for a twelve month period in order to receive a traditional driver’s license.

If you have been injured in a vehicle crash caused by the negligence of another driver, contact an experienced New Braunfels car accident attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to.

Texas DOT Names Austin Roadway Second Most Congested in the State

heavy congested trafficA report recently released by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) lists a main roadway less than an hour away from New Braunfels as the second most congested road in Texas. Drivers who travel I-35 between State Highway 71 and U.S. 290 in Travis County that runs through central Austin are most likely not surprised by this information provided by the Austin Business Journal.

TxDOT calculated that I-35 commuters have faced more than 950,795 total hours of delay per mile in 2014. Truck delays reached 116,251 hours per mile, making this section of roadway the worst in the state for commercial traffic. The high volume of traffic delays can lead to increased accidents on the road and has proven to result in high costs. The tallied congested cost totals $196.1 million annually.

When a trucking accident occurs in heavy congestion, it can take hours for roads to return to normal traffic flow. According to a report from KVUE ABC earlier this year, an accident involving a tractor-trailer kept I-35 closed for more than five hours.

Trucking protocols are in place to help prevent accidents and ensure driver safety, but the following can still lead to collisions:

  • defective equipment;
  • fatigued drivers;
  • faulty commercial truck brakes; and
  • poor road conditions.

Poor road conditions include environmental barriers such as wet or icy roads, but it also takes into account construction zones with barriers, which narrow roadways and slow traffic. The time it takes for a tractor-trailer to decrease speed is significantly higher than a regular motor vehicle on the road due to the weight it carries.

High traffic congestion may be predictable, but accidents are not. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle or trucking accident in Texas, contact a New Braunfels accident attorney to discuss your legal options today.

NSC Predicts 395 People Will Be Killed on Roads this Labor Day Weekend

vehicle crashesKnown as the last “official” weekend of the summer, this year Labor Day weekend arrives at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 1. The very first Labor Day was held in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, when the Central Labor Union held a demonstration, which was followed by a picnic.  The U.S. Department of Labor credits machinist Matthew McGuire with coming up with the idea of a holiday.

AAA Travel is predicting there will be 35 million people traveling 50 miles or more from their home this Labor Day weekend, the highest it has been since the recession hit the economy in 2008.  Over 29 million of those celebrating the holiday will be doing their traveling on the road.

Unfortunately, the increase in the number of vehicles on the road traveling for the weekend also means an increase in the amount of vehicle crashes. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there will be 395 fatalities on the nation’s roads this Labor Day. Another 42,300 people will be injured in vehicle crashes.

The NSC also estimates 144 lives will be saved because of safety belts. Another 102 could have been saved if the person was using a safety belt.

In a statement, President and CEO of NSC Deborah Hersman said, “Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer activities – it should be a time of celebration. Unfortunately, this weekend will be a time of tragedy for hundreds of families that experience a preventable fatality on our roadways.”

The NSC issued the following recommendations to help keep travelers safe this Labor Day holiday:

  • Have all passengers in the car wear their seatbelts. Make sure children are in the appropriate safety seat and that the seat is properly secured.
  • Do not use a mobile phone at all – not even hands-free.
  • Do not attempt to use electronic devices or vehicle infotainment systems, such as GPS, while you are driving the vehicle. Wait until you have stopped the vehicle in a safe area.
  • Drive defensively. Use caution, especially during bad weather.
  • Anticipate heavier than normal traffic because of all the other holiday travelers on the road and leave yourself enough travel time to arrive at your destination safely.
  • Never drink and drive. Have a designated driver or make plans for alternative travel.

If you are injured in a vehicle crash caused by the negligence of another driver, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to.

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.