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Houston Personal Injury Law Blog

Distracted driving is a serious problem

While Texas residents probably know that drunk driving is a common problem in the state, recent statistics indicate that distracted driving is a significant concern as well. Most distracted driving accidents occur because drivers are texting or looking at their cell phone screens. There are other potential distractions as well, such as eating, grooming and interacting with passengers, that may lead to a car accident. While it may seem that distracted driving is less risky than some other behaviors, it is often just as dangerous as drunk or aggressive driving.

A concerning report from Texas Monthly indicates that distracted driving is particularly frequent in some Texas metropolitan areas. In fact, statistics show that Houston and Dallas were the top cities in the nation in terms of distracted driving. In both cities, data shows that drivers in the area used their phones over 9% of the time that they were behind the wheel. Austin also showed a high frequency of distracted driving, with drivers being on their phones nearly 8% of the time. Data from 2016 shows that distracted driving caused 3,450 fatal accidents nationwide, indicating that this behavior often has serious consequences.

Help police by recognizing drunk drivers

People who drive after drinking too much put other drivers in Texas at risk. Motorists can help prevent many accidents by being able to recognize when a driver may be operating a vehicle while under the influence. There are certain signs to look out for so one can contact the authorities and report erratic driving.

According to the Naples Daily News, alcohol is the cause of almost 30 deaths every day around the country, and other alcohol-related collisions cost around $44 billion every year. The legal limit is .08 and, depending on the person, it does not necessarily take that many drinks to reach that limit. That means that some people may feel they can totally drive but their BAC says differently. People who plan on drinking should plan for an alternative ride, whether it is a designated driver, calling a family member or using Uber or a cab. People who do get behind the wheel after drinking too much will display a variety of actions that help determine a potential DUI charge.

Speeding, road conditions and large truck accidents

Most Texas drivers are used to sharing the road with large trucks. However, sometimes the sight of a tractor-trailer may cause fear or concern, especially if the driver is speeding. Accidents involving large trucks may lead to severe injuries and significant property damage. It may be helpful to understand the relationship between speeding and truck crashes, especially when road conditions are less than ideal.

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Association report, the number of fatalities related to large truck accidents in 2017 rose 9% over the statistics from 2016. The vast majority of those fatalities (72%) were occupants of other vehicles involved in the crashes; only 18% of the deaths were occupants of large trucks. Texas had 621 fatal crashes involving large trucks, which was higher than any other state.

What teens should do after a car accident

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares that the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 16 and 19 are automobile accidents. In fact, in 2016, more than 2,400 teenagers died on roadways in the United States. Nearly 243,000 teenagers sought medical treatment following a car crash that year. 

While receiving your driver’s license is likely part of becoming an adult, you must be careful to stay safe on Texas’s many highways, roads, streets and bridges. If you do find yourself in the middle of an automobile accident, you must take certain steps to protect yourself and your passengers. 

Do not drive if you take certain medications

Many people in Texas are taking at least one type of over-the-counter or prescription medication, whether for an acute problem or a chronic health issue. What some do not realize is that there are numerous medications that negatively affect one's ability to drive or operate machinery. If someone drives under the influence of these drugs, not only does this increase the chances of accidents, but it can also result in a DUI.

Almost everyone knows that driving after drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs is against the law, but there are other legal substances that effect driving ability. Medscape outlines some of the classes of prescription drugs that drivers should not mix with operating a vehicle. These include opioid pain killers, CNS stimulants, antidepressants, antiparkinsonian agents, muscle relaxants, antiepileptic drugs and sedative-hypnotics.

How should you react to an aggressive driver?

There are many behaviors that may result in car accidents, including aggressive driving. While this problem does not always get as much attention as drunk or distracted driving, Texas does have laws in place that punish aggressive drivers with a fine and possible jail time. If you encounter an aggressive driver on the road, it is important to react in a way that limits the chances of a collision or confrontation. If you feel that you are in danger from an aggressive driver, you should call the police.

The Texas Department of Transportation provides information and safety tips for dealing with aggressive drivers. One of the first things you need to do is learn what counts as aggressive behavior. Some common examples of aggressive driving include tailgating, passing on the wrong side of the road and cutting in front of other cars. Aggressive drivers may also yell, honk excessively or use inappropriate hand gestures.

Costs related to car accidents

When someone gets into a car accident in Texas, there are numerous costs associated with it. There is usually property damage as well as injuries that need medical attention. There may also be a loss of work days. Depending on whose fault the crash is, one party may pay for these expenses or various parties may split the costs.

According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, the cost of car crashes affect not only the victims but also society in general. It varies per year, but the average claim associated with property damage hovers around $3,000. Claims related to medical expenses generally cost more, with the average claim being around $15,000. While insurance companies and the victims themselves pay for a chunk of the expenses related to accidents, there is also a big financial impact to uninvolved parties, as they pay via travel delay, taxes and increased insurance premiums.

A commercial trucker’s poor health may put you in danger

With its size and strategic location, Houston sees its fair share of commercial trucks. When you leave home, you likely pass dozens of semi trucks on I-45, I-69 or I-10. You may not, though, think much about the health of the individual behind the wheel of a big rig. 

According to a recent survey by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers tend to be less healthy than the population at large. While minor illnesses may not present much of a risk, other conditions may be downright dangerous. Here are a few times when a commercial trucker’s poor health may put you in danger. 

What to do about the surge in truck accidents

Drivers in Texas regularly share the road with truck drivers. While most drivers exercise caution when in close proximity to big rigs, some are reckless regardless of who they share the roads with. Even when careful, some drivers may become the unfortunate victim of another driver’s mistake. Maybe a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel or swerves to avoid a pedestrian and strikes the car in the neighboring lane.

According to a CNBC article published in 2014, there are 11 fatal truck accidents every day. These kill 4,000 people each year. Another 100,000 people are injured in these accidents each year. To put this into dramatic perspective, a commercial plane would need to crash every week and kill everyone on-board to have the same statistical effect.

Staying safe in work zones near commercial trucks

Commercial trucks go by many names. You may call them semi’s, big rigs, tractor-trailers or 18-wheelers. They are a common part of the highway landscape in Texas. Loaded with goods from salsa to tennis shoes, they weigh several tons. The weight makes stopping quickly virtually impossible. Now that summer has arrived, work-zones for widening roads and repairing damaged pavement are also numerous. At Charles J. Argento, we often represent clients injured in a collision with a big truck.

Several factors contribute to auto accidents in these areas. They include reduced speeds, traffic congestion, merging or shifting lanes and flaggers directing traffic. The Federal Highway Administration reports that nearly one-third of construction zone crashes involve big rigs. These accidents most often occur during the day, Monday through Friday. Most collisions happen in the No-Zone around semi-trucks. This is the blind spot area at the front, sides and rear of tractor-trailers.

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