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Riverside County Personal Injury Law Blog

Teen distracted driving linked to high crash rate

Drivers in California are often wary of teens behind the wheel, believing them to be more reckless, inexperienced and accident-prone. Car insurance payments and many statistics back up those beliefs, even if every driver needs to go through a teenage phase in order to improve their own skills. With concerns about distracted driving on the rise, many people are particularly concerned about teen drivers' connections to their phones, social media and other interactive devices. Statistics indicate that teens are the driving demographic most likely to drive while distracted and the most likely to get involved in car crashes.

Car accidents linked to distracted driving can cause severe injuries and even fatalities, and many driver education programs focus on telling teens to put their devices in an inaccessible place to prevent temptation behind the wheel. One study, released by Michigan State University to coincide with Teen Driver Safety Week, examined the types of distractions drivers face behind the wheel and which distractions are more likely to be linked to collisions and other serious safety incidents. The researchers examined 3,200 drivers between 2011 and 2013, using in-car devices to monitor driver behavior and conduct behind the wheel. They noted that police crash data often relies on inaccurate self-reported narratives.

Deadly Verrückt waterslide accident the result of negligence

California residents should know that water parks can be dangerous places. Back in 2016, the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas, was closed down after a 10-year-old boy riding a waterslide was decapitated. That waterslide, called the Verrückt, was 169 feet (approximately 17 stories) tall and was, in fact, the tallest of its kind in the world.

The investigation into the death revealed a dark story. It turns out that a co-owner of the water park and the senior designer of the waterslide fast-tracked the construction of the Verrückt so that they could appear on a reality show about amusement parks. Neither party had a mechanical engineering background. Safety tests involved little more than sending sandbags down the slide to see if they would fly off.

Tips for safe motorcycle riding in Palm Springs

The weather may be getting chilly in other parts of the nation, but Palm Springs is reaching its season of beautiful weather. The moderate temperatures are ideal for motorcycle riding. However, the downside is that the beautiful weather brings with it a high risk of accident and injury.

Although current motorcycle accident rates are declining, they are still much higher than they were 20 years ago. In 2017, motorcycle riders and passengers made up 14.1% of total traffic fatalities, reports the Governors Highway Safety Association. With your safety still at risk, it is imperative to know how to stay safe on the road.

IIHS: newer pickups put passengers at high risk for injury, death

Since 2012, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been conducting driver-side small overlap frontal crash tests. However, it was only in 2017 that it began to test frontal crash protection for the front passenger's side. After testing several newer two-row pickups, the IIHS has concluded that passengers are, in fact, at a higher risk for injury or death than drivers are. Pickup owners in California may want to know more.

Auto industries tend not to see driver and passenger safety as equally important. In the crash tests, it was discovered that the passenger's side in these modern pickups would struggle to maintain its structure upon colliding with a vehicle or other object. The Toyota Tundra had the worst performance and was rated "poor."

Practical ways to avoid car accidents

Around 40,000 people died in the year 2018 because of car accidents. It is estimated that about 4.5 million individuals were injured. It is likely that drivers in California and other states are interested in learning about practical ways that they can avoid car accidents.

One major way to prevent car accidents is to never get behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. It seems obvious, but drinking and driving is responsible for taking nearly 10,000 lives every year. No one should ever drink and drive but should instead appoint a designated driver or get a cab.

Different seasons carry certain risks for auto accidents

Seasonal changes can lead to a variety of dangers while driving. This is true even in California's relatively agreeable climate. When heading out on the road, it is important to be prepared for certain potential risks. Understanding what dangers are possible in the fall is a way to avoid auto accidents with injuries and fatalities.

Fall carries specific possible problems for drivers. The new school year begins in the fall. With that, there will be more young people going to and from school. More pedestrians on the road increases the potential for a crash. There can be a range of weather in the fall with rain and other poor conditions making the roads treacherous. It might add to the aesthetic to see the color change of leaves, but when they are on the road, it can block markings and potholes. The leaves can become slippery when wet. In the mornings, fog can inhibit visibility.

Parents surveyed about distracted teen driving

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death for teenagers in California and around the country, and many young drivers crash when they are distracted by friends or cellphones. Strict graduated driver's license programs are designed to reduce the risks, but the primary responsibility for teaching teenagers how to behave responsibly behind the wheel still falls on their parents. Researchers from the University of Michigan recently asked about 900 parents about their road safety concerns, and more than 40% of them said that teens traveling in groups, loud music and cellphone use were among their biggest fears.

Distraction was likely a common theme because six out of 10 of the parents surveyed said that their children had a friend or acquaintance who regularly lost concentration while behind the wheel. More than 40% of the respondents told the researchers that they responded to this danger by limiting highway driving, and almost half of them said they curtailed the amount of time their children could spend on the road with friends in their vehicle.

El Paso shooting victims sue Walmart for inadequate security

On Aug. 3, a Walmart Supercenter in El Paso became the site of a mass shooting. One of the families affected by it has now filed a lawsuit against Walmart, claiming that it could have prevented the incident with on-site active security. California residents should know that in cases involving violent acts on another's property, plaintiffs must meet a high standard when it comes to the burden of proof. This lawsuit may change things.

Not only the lawsuit but also news media reports on the shooting attest to the fact that the El Paso Walmart had no discernible security presence. A spokesman for the El Paso Police has stated that all the Walmarts in that city had off-duty officers on the premises but that this practice was discontinued sometime before the shooting spree. After the spree, Walmart once again began to recruit off-duty officers.

Drivers can take precautions in foggy driving conditions

Weather conditions in California can change the safety of a particular road or highway very quickly. Drivers should be especially aware in dense fog or other extreme weather conditions that reduce visibility. Motorists who must travel in fog should drive at lower speeds because they will not be able to see the road or other vehicles as well. Reducing speed gives the driver more time to react to objects and other vehicles on the road.

Additionally, drivers should make efforts to minimize distractions by silencing any smartphones and turning the car radio down. It can be a good idea to put cell phones in the glove box where it will not draw attention. Driving with the window down can be helpful in a thick fog because it allows the driver to hear other cars, including emergency vehicles, that they might not be able to see otherwise. Reflectors on the side of the road can be used as guides for drivers to stay on the road if they cannot see well.

I-10, midnight, an 18-wheeler and the circadian rhythm

Traffic on Interstate 10 between the Palm Springs area and Los Angeles is lighter late at night. Some motorists appreciate that and join the big rigs that travel the freeway well after dark.

Fatigue is a problem, however, especially for truckers who spend long hours on the road. Like every other driver, they are susceptible to the danger related to lulls in the circadian rhythm.