Reckless High-Speed Police Chase in Central Texas

reckless chase, Texas personal injury attorney, Texas car crash lawyer,Statistically, 150 innocent bystanders a year die in reckless high-speed police chases. Since the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration relies on voluntary reporting to compile the number, the actual casualty figure may be quite a bit higher, since police officers are often reluctant to “tattle” on fellow employees. Over 90 percent of these chases are for non-violent crimes; in fact, over 40 percent are over a traffic ticket.

Recently, there was an extremely reckless high speed police chase just a few miles north of here. A Waco man died after a high-speed police chase ended with a one-sided shootout alongside Interstate 35 near Hewitt.

Waco police state that they staked out the residence of a suspect in several area convenience store robberies. When the man returned to his East Waco residence one day shortly after noon, he spotted officers and fled the scene in a green Ford Expedition. He led officers onto southbound Interstate 35 at speeds exceeding 80 mph. The man eventually ran his vehicle into a ditch when officers attempted to puncture his tires. Officers then converged on the disabled vehicle and fired an “undisclosed” number of times. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was unclear whether the officers shot the man while he was inside the car or after he attempted to flee on foot. Although officers state that the man was carrying a handgun, it is also unclear whether he raised or fired the weapon. A police sergeant remarked that it was “fortunate that no officers or civilians were injured.” Texas Rangers are scheduled to investigate the incident.

High-Speed Police Chase

Police officers obviously do not have a duty to obey traffic laws during a pursuit and some chases are necessary. But they do have a duty to avoid recklessly endangering civilians during these incidents. The high-speed chase in Waco along a busy freeway during daylight hours, followed by the subsequent shootout that took place under questionable circumstances, may be a good example of reckless behavior.

Many individual law enforcement agencies have written policies concerning high-speed chases. If officers disregard these written policies and go all-out to “catch the bad guy,” that act is often clear evidence of recklessness. Damages in a high-speed chase can include compensation for both economic and non-economic losses, as well as punitive damages in some cases.

Police officers should uphold the law at all times if at all possible. For a free consultation with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney, contact our office. There are no upfront legal fees if we take your case.

Phone Apps that Check Sobriety Level

drunken driving accidentThe statistics from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are frightening. Every day, 300,000 people drive drunk, yet only 4,000 are arrested. Every day, 28 people are killed in car accidents caused by drunk drivers.

Why do so many people get behind the wheel of a car when they have been drinking? In surveys conducted in 2012, over 29 million people admitted to driving after they had been drinking. That number is more than the entire population of the state of Texas.

The problem is many people who have had a few drinks do not always realize that they may be impaired. Alcohol impairment has nothing to do with the kind of alcohol you have consumed, but instead it is determined by the amount of alcohol you drink and the period of time you drink it in.

In an effort to combat drunken driving accidents, there have been many apps developed that people can download on their smartphones, which will help them determine if they have had too much to drink and should not get behind the wheel of a car. One example is the BreathalEyes app, which uses the phone camera to record a user’s Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). This is what law enforcement checks during a sobriety field test. HGN is when a person’s eye twitches or jerks when they look to the left or to the right. This commonly occurs when a person has been drinking alcohol.

Some states have developed their own apps to help stop drunk drivers. Maryland has recently launched the ENDUI app, which estimates users’ blood-alcohol level. The app also has two games which can test users’ cognitive abilities. Wisconsin developed the Drive Sober app, which offers several options. The app estimates what the user’s blood alcohol content is and gives either a red or green light to drive. The app also offers Find A Ride and Designated Driver Selector features.

Whether a person uses an app or not, the responsibility of not getting behind the wheel of a vehicle unless a person is sober lies with the person themselves. If you have been injured in an accident caused by drunk driver, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have against the negligent driver.

Just the Presence of Cell Phones in Car Can Be Dangerous

distracted driverThe statistics tell the story – drivers who use cell phone while driving cause unnecessary dangers on the road. Yet despite all the research, statistics, and attempts to educate, people still use their cell phones while driving. More than 10 percent of all traffic fatalities in this country each year are caused by a distracted driver on a cell phone.

Now, comes even more disturbing news from a study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern Maine. According to the study, just having a cell phone in a vehicle can cause enough distraction to cause an accident. The study, titled The Mere Presence of a Cell Phone May Be Distracting: Implications for Attention and Task Performance was recently published in the journal Social Psychology.

For the study, researchers split two groups of college students up into groups of 50. Each group was given two tests to complete – a digital cancellation test and a trail making test. The digital cancellation test involved either crossing out a target number which was among a series of numbers or find two adjacent numbers that added up to the target number amount. In the trail making test, the students had to draw a type of connect-the-dots type of test without picking their pencils off the paper.

After the research team leader explained the tests to each group, he would leave the room. When he left the first group, he “accidently” left his cell phone behind. When he left the room after explaining the test to the second group, he “accidently” left a small notebook behind.

The research team found that the first group had a much harder time concentrating and getting correct answers on the test than the second group. The cell phone, even though it was not theirs, proved a distraction for the students.

The researchers note that it was the quality of the tests that suffered when the cell phone was present, not the quantity. This could explain why many people can text and drive if there is no traffic and you have plenty of time, however, as the study’s team leader points out, those conditions do not often exist. Hence, the number of car crashes caused by distracted drivers.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a driver who was texting or otherwise engaged in distracting behavior, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for your pain and loss.

 

Cost of Non-Fatal Car Accidents $18.4 Billion Annually

non-fatal car accidentsThe Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released the latest statistics regarding the cost each year from non-fatal traffic accidents. That information released by the CDC was compiled using data from the year 2012.

Many people realize the cost of fatal crashes – both emotionally and economically. In 2012, there were almost 23,000 people killed in car crashes, at a financial cost of $226 million. The CDC also puts the potential life in years lost at 265,000.

Non-fatal car accidents, although not as emotionally devastating as fatal ones, can be financially devastating. According to the report, the medical costs of non-fatal accidents in 2012 were $18.4 billion. In total for the year, victims visited emergency rooms 2.5 million times because of injuries they sustained in car crashes. Almost 10 percent of these emergency room visits resulted in the patient being admitted to the hospital for treatment, with the total amount of days lost to hospitalization at 1,057,465.

The number of teenage non-fatal car accident victims was disproportionate when compared with other age groups. Teens only account for approximately 20 percent of the population, yet in the accident data, they account for almost 40 percent of all injured victims. The report found one of the reasons for the high number of teenage car accident victims was their failure to use safety belts. Twenty percent of the victims between 16 to 24 years of age failed to use vehicle seat belts.

Car accident victims who were between the ages of 21 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years were the ones who had the highest incidents of drinking and driving when they were in car crashes, compared with other age groups. Additionally, victims who were older than 60 years of age had the highest rate of sustaining injuries in accidents.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by the fault of another driver, contact an experienced New Braunfels car accident attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.

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.