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Missouri Distracted Driving – Typefaces Latest Focus of Safety Efforts

Cars today have more electronic devices than ever before. While much of the focus on preventing distracted driving collisions is on cell phones and texting, in-vehicle electronics like GPS systems and music systems can also take a driver’s eyes and attention off the road. This can cause a collision and victims should consult with a Missouri distracted driving attorney for help making an accident claim against the distracted driver.

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has its first ever-national campaign to discourage distracted driving and encourage enforcement of cell phone bans, efforts are also being made to deal with the problems that in-vehicle systems present.  These efforts might center around something as simple as a new typeface.

Research into Fonts on In-Vehicle Technology Shows Promise

The Washington Post reported on the growing importance of making in-vehicle devices easier to read. Drivers are getting older, and small type on electronic systems will become increasingly harder for them to read. The more difficult it is for people to read text on GPS devices or other control systems, the more time their eyes are away from the road.

The MIT AgeLab and Monotype are studying how much of a difference the font can make on in-car media. The answer is a big difference.  When a test was run with drivers on a simulated course looking at a small navigation screen, drivers who looked at a screen with a traditional typeface in the grotesque genre looked away from the road for considerably longer than drivers who looked at a screen with a typeface in the humanist genre. The drivers with the grotesque type had their eyes off the road for so much longer than the difference amounted to traveling an extra 50 feet at highway speeds. Male drivers were the ones most affected by the typeface change.

With this promising research, Monotype was inspired to work on a special new font called Burlingame. The font has been released and some car manufacturers have already begun to explore using it on in-car display systems.

This is not the first time that typography and transportation policy have mixed. The Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHSA) worked with Penn State researchers to create a new font called Clearview that is now used voluntarily by states on most highway signs.  Studies showed that drivers could see signs using this font 20 percent further away during nighttime driving as compared with signs that use other fonts.

These simple changes can make a big difference and hopefully more car manufacturers will realize that the fonts they use can impact safety. Drivers, however, need to remember that any time they look at an electronic device and not the road, they are taking a dangerous risk with their own lives and with the lives of other motorists. It is always better for drivers to look ahead and around at all times and to leave any manipulation of in-vehicle electronic devices for passengers to do or for when the vehicle is stopped.

Missouri distracted driving accident victims should contact the offices of Tolbert Beadle and Musgrave LLC at 1-800-887-4030.

Missouri Auto Accident Risks Highest for Teen Drivers this Spring

Two teenagers – described by loved ones as “good friends” – were killed in a one-car crash in House Springs recently, after officers say the 18-year-old driver’s vehicle skidded off the roadway, struck a row of trees and flipped. The crash occurred shortly after 10 p.m. on a Saturday night. He and his 15-year-old friend were pronounced dead at the scene.

Accident attorneys in Missouri are concerned we may be seeing more serious crashes involving teen drivers and passengers in the coming weeks and months, with the combination of spring break celebrations, prom preparations and graduation parties.

It’s been well-established that teens are the most at-risk group of drivers on the road. Their inexperience combined with their greater propensity to take risks often puts them in grave danger.

Missouri licensing laws designed to bolster teen driver experience, reduce crashes

One of the ways that the state of Missouri has worked to mitigate these risks is with graduated driver’s license laws. These start with instruction permits available for 15-year-olds who pass a driver’s knowledge, road sign and vision test. These drivers may not drive unless a parent, legal guardian, grandparent or qualified driving instructor is seated in the front seat.

By age 16, drivers can qualify for an intermediate license, which bars driving between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. and for the first six months, disallows more than one non-family passenger under the age of 19. Beyond that, teen drivers can have no more than three under-19 passengers in the vehicle at a given time.

Unfortunately, we don’t believe the law goes far enough, at least with regard to the number of teen passengers. A study conducted last year by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute indicates that drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 are eight times more likely to be involved in a deadly wreck when they are carrying two or more teen passengers. Drivers under the age of 19 are three times more likely to die in a crash, and traffic fatalities are the No. cause of death for those in this age group.

It’s imperative parents take the time to work with their children and help them to cultivate better driving habits.

If your teen or college student is planning on taking a trip for spring break, make sure to review the following:

  • If a road trip is involved, make sure the vehicle is in good working condition to safely endure an extensive distance.
  • If you find yourself increasingly tired during the drive, either trade-off drivers or stop for the night. A night at a motel is far cheaper than the potential costs of falling asleep while driving.
  • Spring break is not an excuse to drink or to drink excessively. Those under-21 shouldn’t be drinking at all. More importantly, no one who has been drinking should be behind the wheel of a car. Better to call a taxi, seek public transportation or walk.
  • Do not allow anyone to drink inside your vehicle. This may leave you vulnerable to a citation for an open container violation. What’s more, a passenger who is increasingly intoxicated can also be increasingly distracting.

Missouri accident victims should contact the offices of Tolbert Beadle and Musgrave LLC at 1-800-887-4030.

Young Missouri Motorists at Higher Risk for Accident Injuries

One child has died and three more were seriously injured recently in Taney County, where the Missouri State Highway Patrol reports the early evening crash was the result of a driver who lost control and over-corrected.

A 6-year-old boy was killed.

The Missouri car accident lawyers of Tolbert Beadle & Musgrave LLC understand that such crashes remain a significant risk, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While a slight decline has been reported in recent years, there are still roughly 1,000 children each year killed in preventable traffic accidents. Far too many young lives are being lost, and more must be done to address the problem.

The CDC reports that according to research of federal traffic death data, some 9,200 children were killed in car accidents between 2002 and 2011.

Some lives are being saved due to more children being belted in, with 91 percent buckled up in 2011, versus the 88 percent who were strapped in when the study started in 2002.

One of the greatest areas of oversight appears to be with regard to older children. That is, caretakers may be diligent about buckling up babies or toddlers, but tend to get more relaxed about seatbelts as children age.

The CDC recommends that up until children reach the age of 2, they should be placed in a rear-facing car seat. After that point, they should be in a forward-facing car seat until they are about 5-years-old. Beyond that, they should use a booster seat until they reach 8-years-of-age or at such time that they can easily fit into an adult safety harness.

Among children who died in car accidents during the study, about one-third weren’t properly belted. The figure was even greater for minority children – approximately 45 percent for both black and Hispanic children (compared to 26 percent for white children).

The racial disparity was not fully explained by study authors, but they did theorize that perhaps socioeconomic factors may have played a role.

In Missouri, children are only required to be seated in a car or booster seat through the age of  7 and up to 80 pounds. However, the law makes exceptions for parents or other immediate family members who are transporting more children than there are safety belts.

Properly buckling your child up can reduce his or her risk of fatality by more than 50 percent, the CDC reports.

Still, our personal injury lawyers know full well that no matter how many precautions parents make, it won’t stop the drunk driver. It won’t hinder the teen who is texting behind the wheel. It won’t halt the trucker who is so fatigued he can barely keep his eyes open.

Ultimately, these are the people who should be held responsible when a child dies or suffers a life-altering injury as a result of a crash.

If your child has been injured or killed in a crash, contact the Missouri personal injury offices of Tolbert Beadle & Musgrave by calling (800) 887-4030 or visiting us online at www.tbmlaw.com.

Missouri Makes the List of the Top 10 States with the Worst Drivers

23
Jan 2014
By: Tolbert & Beadle Law

Motorists in Missouri earned a dubious honor recently when the state made the list of the top 10 worst drivers in the country. The list is published by Car Insurance Comparison and it uses available data including information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in order to determine which U.S. states have the best and the worst drivers.

Car accident injury lawyers in Missouri note our state did not do very well on the list this year, as it was tied with North Carolina as being the state with the seventh worst drivers.  Sadly, this number seven position actually marks an improvement for local drivers, though, because the state had finished second on the list of the worst drivers last year.

Although the roads remain dangerous, hopefully the move from number two to number seven most dangerous is a sign that drivers are getting more careful and that trends suggest conditions are improving on Missouri roads.

Why is Missouri Among the States with the Worst Drivers?

Car Insurance Comparison used  a variety of different metrics to determine which state had the least safe drivers. For example, the data on Missouri showed that:

  • There were 29 fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled.
  • Missouri ranked 48th in failure to obey, which refers to obeying tragic laws such as seat belt rules and rules on traffic signals.
  • Missouri ranked 41 out of 50 states in drunk driving, which isn’t good news either since it suggests a lot of intoxicated motorists on the road.
  • Missouri residents also ranked #41 when it comes to drivers getting tickets by law enforcement for violating the rules of the road.
  • Missouri ranked 44th in the category of careless driving.

Car Insurance Compare indicates that the two categories that are some of the biggest indicators of which drivers are the worst include careless driving and the fatality rate per miles traveled. Missouri was the only state on the list of the top 10 worst drivers that did not finish in the bottom 20 in both of these categories.  Missouri was the 25th worst state when it came to careless driving and this was actually the state’s best ranking factor. The state’s worst ranking factor was failure to obey.

The news that Missouri moved from its number two spot as the state with the second worst drivers wasn’t all good news either. Although this change does reflect that there was significant improvement in the area of careless driving, the total score that Missouri received did not actually change from one year to the next. This means that Missouri, on the whole, didn’t get any better or safer in terms of drivers not causing accidents. Instead, Missouri moved up in the rankings because other states got worse, which is not good news for anyone who has to travel through the country and who may encounter a lot of dangerous drivers.

Call 1-800-887-4030 today to schedule a free consultation with Tolbert Beadle & Musgrave LLC in Missouri.

Are You At Risk of a Holiday Traffic Accident?

23
Dec 2013
By: Tolbert & Beadle Law

If you find yourself sitting in traffic this holiday season and feeling frustrated and angry, you aren’t alone. The holidays are a time when a lot of people feel pressure to find perfect gifts for family, to travel to see loved ones, and to cook great meals. For many people, this creates a situation of running all over town or where you are taking a lot of lengthy road trips even when the weather might not be so great.  Since everyone around you is doing the same, you’ll also be on roads that are busier and may find yourself stuck in traffic jams more often.

All of the downsides to the holiday season contribute to a significant increase in car accidents during this festive time of the year. As the Washington Post reports, for example, data has shown a 20 percent increase in car accident claims over the month of December. Car accident lawyers in Springfield, Missouri know that there are a lot of causes for this increase, including more people on the roads, more drunk drivers and more drivers who are angry.

Angry Drivers Make for Dangerous Holiday Driving

Drunk driving is an especially big problem on New Years Eve, which is one of the nights with the highest number of DUI crashes over the course of the entire year. Thanksgiving weekend is also a time when a lot of people drive drunk. However, an analysis of 10 years of car accident data has showed that the six days surrounding December 25th are actually the riskiest time for motorists. During this six days, there are 18 percent more accidents than over the Thanksgiving weekend and there are 27 percent more crashes than on New Years Eve.

The six days surrounding December 25th may be so dangerous because there are a lot of stressed people on the roads all at one time.  Christmas Eve and Christmas, for example, are usually pretty safe days with no one on the roads while this year experts expect that the Friday before Christmas is going to be the highest-risk time. On this Friday, you will have commuters trying to get home, people leaving for their trips to see family, and people finishing up shopping and preparations at the last minute.

Drivers on the road during this time tend to compound the problems associated with more motorists, because many get angry and make dangerous choices like cutting people off or tailgating or failing to yield. A State Farm Insurance survey revealed that 32 percent of drivers are more prone to road rage and are more likely to become aggressive during the holiday season.  Since a poll this summer already showed that 12 percent of drivers said they felt rage on the road on a fairly regular basis, anything that increases driver anger is a recipe for disaster.

If you are on the roads during this time, you could face a serious risk of holiday crash both because of other drivers being overly aggressive and if you make dangerous choices behind the wheel yourself. Remember to stay calm, watch out for other motorists and leave early to get where you are going so you won’t have to rush.

Car accident attorneys in Springfield, MO can help if you’ve been involved in a crash. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-887-4030.

Missouri Traffic Safety: Texting, Drunk Driving, Most Dangerous Driving Behaviors

26
Nov 2013
By: Tolbert & Beadle Law

If you ask most drivers what they believe the most dangerous behavior is behind the wheel, the likely answer would be drunk driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other public safety groups have done a tremendous job in stigmatizing drunk driving behavior and in making people aware of just how risky it is to operate a vehicle while impaired. Now, however, evidence indicates that drunk driving is not the biggest threat to driver safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded that texting and driving is actually six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.

Texting while driving accident lawyers in Missouri know that the majority of drivers acknowledge the dangers associated with texting behind the wheel, and that this practice is banned or limited in almost all 50 states. However, drivers also believe that they are going to be safe when they text and drive, even though they know that the behavior is risky. This helps to explain why, as Distraction.gov reports, 660,000 drivers at any given daylight moment are using a handheld device as they drive.

Dangers of Texting and Driving

Forbes reported on the NHTSA data about texting being more dangerous than driving drunk, and also provided some additional frightening statistics about the consequences that texting drivers cause to innocent victims.

According to Forbes:

  • Texting causes 25 percent of total accidents per year, with the National Safety Council citing 1.6 million crashes.
  • Texting injures 330,000 people every single year.
  • A total of 47 percent of adults admit to texting as they drive.

A big part of the reason why so many people may continue to text even though they know they shouldn’t is because they have done so in the past and been safe. As the Huffington Post reports, distracted driving is something that pretty much everyone has engaged in at some point.

Drivers do this because each time they engage in the texting behavior, they become more confident that they are the exception to the rule and able to drive safely as the multiple incidents mount where no crash happens.

Unfortunately, of course, it only takes one time for a driver who has texted many times before to look away at the wrong time. A driver who is either reading a text or who is sending a text will look away from the road for around 4.6 seconds. At 55-miles-per-hour, the driver could travel the length of a football field as he is engaged in the process of texting and not looking at the road.  A lot could happen during this drive time, like the motorist hitting a pedestrian, weaving into another lane, or hitting a car that has stopped short in front of him.

It is the lengthy time period that motorists are required to look away from the wheel that helps to explain why driving distracted is more dangerous than driving impaired. A study published in the Canadian Family Physician indicated that having a conversation on a cell phone had been found to reduce driver reaction time by 18 percent. Having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of  the legal limit of .08 only slowed reaction time by 12 percent. Texting is generally considered even worse than talking on a cell phone and the risks of this behavior are unacceptable for any driver to take.

Texting while driving accident attorneys in Springfield, MO can help if you’ve been involved in a crash. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-887-4030.

Avoiding Slip and Fall Accidents as Winter Comes to Missouri

The winter holiday season provides many opportunities for festive fun, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and religious celebrations such as Chanukah and Christmas.

Unfortunately, any slip and fall lawyer in Missouri knows that the holiday season is a time when there are many factors increasing the risk of slip and fall injuries. Just a few of the added risks that make fall injuries more likely include bad weather, overcrowding of stores and increased time spent outside of the home visiting family or friends. Individuals and property owners need to be aware of holiday risks and should plan carefully to stay safe.

Slip and Fall Injuries at Home Over the Holidays

Halloween is a time when many homeowners could find themselves on the hook for injury to others. The Springfield Police provided a number of tips to improve Halloween safety, but one of the most important pieces of advice they gave to homeowners is to: “prepare homes for trick-or-treaters by clearing porches, lawns, and sidewalks and by placing decorations away from doorways and landings.” Kids (and adults) who visit could trip as a result of debris, broken sidewalks or cluttered decorations in the path of a walkway and the property owner could be held responsible if found to have been negligent in carefully maintaining the property.

Homeowners who want to invite guests onto their property on Halloween should also remember that putting the outdoor lights on usually signifies that kids can come, while outdoor lights turned off sends a message that you aren’t participating in giving kids candy. Property owners still need to ensure the property is safe whether they give out candy or not, since the law even imposes limited protections for trespassers. However, by inviting people willingly onto the premises, owners assume a greater responsibility for insuring the invited guests don’t suffer a fall injury due to dangerous conditions.

If there are dangerous railings, uneven changes in flooring surface, carpets rolling up at the covers or other conditions that make it more difficult to walk in and around the home,all of these things can increase the risk that a holiday guests will slip and fall. With CDC estimating that 2.3 people visit the emergency room each year because of fall injuries, potential liability should be taken seriously by homeowners having guests over.

Slip and Fall Injuries in Stores and Shops Over the Holidays

While individuals need to maintain their homes to avoid hazards, they also expect that the places they visit will be reasonably safe. This includes not just private homes of friends or relatives, but also stores and restaurants as well.

Many people go out on Black Friday – the Friday after Thanksgiving – in order to try to catch great shopping deals. Unfortunately, overcrowded aisles, negligent security, debris in the aisles and massive crowds can result in pushing, pulling and falling. A fall injury on Black Friday or any other shopping day during the holiday season could make the store liable for resulting damages to the victim.

A slip and fall lawyer in Missouri can help if you’ve been hurt. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-887-4030.

Missouri Traffic Safety & Accident-Avoidance Technologies

19
Sep 2013
By: Tolbert & Beadle Law

Cars today have more safety features than at any time in history. It may seem hard to believe, but seat belts were not standard equipment in cars until Volvo added them in 1959, and the first seat belt laws weren’t passed until 1970 (the first laws were passed in Victoria Australia.)  Today, the Consumer Reports Guide to Auto Safety Features indicates that cars not only have seat belts but also have a host of other devices designed to protect drivers as well, including front, side and rear air bags and even specialized air bags to protect the legs and torso.

Many of the safety features developed over the past several decades have shared one central focus: protecting drivers when a crash happens. Car accident attorneys in Springfield, MO know that these safety features keep driver’s from flying out of the vehicle, cushion the force of impact and aim to make it easier for the body to withstand a collision. They’ve also had a marked impact on reducing car accident deaths, with an article published in Car and Driver in 2011 indicating that fatalities in crashes have generally been on the decline for more than half a century.

A recent article from Edmunds, however, suggests a shift in the types of technologies that are being developed today.

New Car Safety Technologies Focus on Avoiding Crashes

Both National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland and former Edmunds Vice Chair Jeremy Anwyl spoke at this year’s Governor’s Highway Safety Association conference on the shift from collision-survival technologies to crash avoidance technologies.

In other words, the new safety features being added to cars aim not to help drivers survive when a crash happens but instead to  help drivers prevent the crash from occurring in the first place.

Many of these crash avoidance features can be readily seen in new cars on the market today. For example, electronic stability control helps drivers who have lost control of their vehicles by using the brake to aid the car in steering.  Electronic stability control works to give drivers better traction by detecting and responding to loss of control of the steering wheel. Forward collision warnings and lane departure warnings are two other popular features which alert the driver to an obstacle in the front or let the driver know he’s straying to the side and out of his lane.

These new safety features and others designed to avoid crashes may have a significant impact on reducing the number of collisions that occur. This is especially true since NHTSA data indicates that a mistake made by a driver is the cause of as many as 90 percent of all car accidents.

Still, while cars can do a lot to help drivers prevent accidents, ultimately it is up to each individual motorist to ensure that he or she is being safe and operating the vehicle in a responsible way.

Car accident attorneys in Springfield, MO can help if you’ve been involved in a crash. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-887-4030.

Brain Injury Victims Can Face a Lifetime of Struggle

Suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be devastating. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that as many as 1.7 million people each year are diagnosed with a serious head injury. A TBI can not only have an impact on your life at the time the injury occurs, but can also stay with you for the rest of your life and can, in many cases, cause further medical complications in the future.

As new studies reveal additional risks of brain injury, our Springfield, MO brain injury lawyers know that preventing head injuries is more important than ever. A new documentary released by HBO may help to bring the subject of traumatic brain injury to the forefront and can serve as an important reminder to protect your head whenever you can.

Brain Injuries Can Be Lasting and Pervasive

While the CDC reports that as many as 75 percent of all brain injuries lead to concussion, a brain injury can also put you into a coma or result in death. In fact, TBI-related injuries account for 30.5 percent of all deaths caused by injury each year.

A person who lives through a TBI but who awakens from a coma may wake to a different world where his physical, mental and social functionality has dramatically changed.  The brain-injury victim may need to relearn basic life skills again, which can take months or even years.

This process was recently illustrated in an HBO movie called The Crash Reel, which Forbes described as “the definitive film on brain injury.” The Crash Reel followed the story of Kevin Pearce, a pro-snowboarder whose promising career and Olympic hopes were dashed by a severe head injury. Pearce was attempting a technical trick called a cab double cork when he struck his head and went into a coma.

After surviving his injuries, Pearce spent 10 months in a rehabilitation facility re-learning how to talk and to walk. His doctors indicate that while he has made progress, his vision and his memory will never make a full recovery.  Furthermore, while Pearce hopes to one day snowboard again, he is at great risk if he ever suffers another blow to the head.

The HBO documentary has focused on showing the pervasive nature of the injury and how it affects Kevin Pearce’s life, but also his family as well.   The documentary, however, focuses mostly on the present consequences of a brain injury, which are just the tip of the iceberg.

The fact is that a brain injury can create significant future medical complications. For example, a number of NFL players are currently suing the National Football League because their repeated concussions left them with permanent brain damage and susceptible to developing dementia. A new study published on Medscape also showed that the potential link between brain injury and ischemic stroke may be as strong as the link between hypertension and ischemic stroke, which is a big issue because hypertension is currently the leading risk factor.

Tragically, this all means that a brain injury victim could spend the rest of his life dealing with medical issues. It is important for victims to understand the full extent of their injury – and all of the consequences that injury can bring – when making a personal injury claim against those responsible.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident, contact our Springfield, Missouri personal injury lawyers by calling toll-free at 1-800-887-4030.

Drivers Express Concerns About Increasing Truck Size

Federal lawmakers are currently taking a close look at the weight and size limits that apply to commercial trucks. These limits currently require commercial vehicles to weigh no more than 80,000 pounds across five axles. Lawmakers have now proposed that transportation could be made more efficient and costs cut if the weight limit is increased to 97,000 miles on six axles.

Our Springfield truck accident lawyers know that larger trucks could present many dangers and complications. A major organization of professional truck drivers, motor carriers and owner operators is also concerned about the problems that could arise if lawmakers decide to act and increase the truck weight and size limits. These professional truckers are speaking out to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Truckers Express Concerns to the FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration has been vested with the task of exploring the impact of increasing truck size and weight limits. This assignment was made as part of a law called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21 as it is often abbreviated.  The FHWA must present their information by fall of 2014 and has currently opened up the issue to comments from the public.

According to Landline Mag, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers’ Association (OOIDA) has taken the FHWA up on the opportunity to comment on the proposed increase. OOIDA is made up of more than 150,000 members that work as motor carriers, professional truck drivers and owner operators. The OOIDA has consistently fought against any increase in size and weight limits and they have not changed their position with this new proposal.

In fact, the OOIDA has indicated that the change to the size and weight limit would have a profound negative impact on the trucking industry. Not only would the new regulations significantly increase costs for truckers but many safety issues would also be raised as well.

One safety issue stems from the fact that the infrastructure in the United States was not designed to support such large trucks. In fact, when much of the infrastructure was designed, it didn’t even take into account trucks of the size we have now.  Making the trucks even bigger would either force significant changes in the routes that truckers take or could result in trucks being driven along roads and in areas where it may not be entirely safe for them to travel.

Another issue stems from the fact that an increase in weight and size significantly raises the chances of an auto accident occurring. Larger trucks could be prone to rolling over, could have even longer stopping distances, could have bigger blind spots and could just generally be much more difficult to operate. As three OOIDA members with a combined 70-years of trucking experience said: “Any seasoned driver will tell you that extra weight means extra responsibility and a reduced margin for errors.”

Lawmakers need to carefully consider this advice and information from those who drive trucks every day in order to make an informed choice about whether it is smart or safe to increase the weight and size limits on commercial vehicles.

If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, contact our Springfield, Missouri personal injury lawyers by calling toll-free at 1-800-887-4030.