Archive for the ‘Accident Attorney’ Category

Columbia Drivers Too Distracted to Drive Safely?

Driver distraction is increasingly a major cause of motor vehicle collisions. Many drivers are aware of the dangers of talking on a cell phone, texting or using other electronics while driving. Unfortunately, the solution that some motorists have come up with involves using hands-free kits or voice control. Recent evidence suggests that this is not a good approach to improving road safety and could actually end up making things worse.  

A personal injury lawyer knows that the only way to minimize the chances of a collision caused by distracted driving is to focus only on the roads. Our brains are not good at multitasking and drivers simply do not do an effective job of driving when they are talking to electronic devices.

Talking to your Electronics Can be Dangerous While Driving

Yahoo News reported on recent studies determining whether voice-controlled electronics were safe for drivers to use. The researchers looked at the use of in-vehicle infotainment systems by major car manufacturers including Chevrolet, Mercedes, Chrysler and Hyundai. The researchers also looked at the voice-control assistant, Siri, on Apple iPhones. Each of the different devices that were included in the study were assigned a distraction ratio between one and five, with one standing for the least distraction and five standing for the greatest amount of distraction.

Siri, the virtual voice-controlled assistant on Apple phones, did the worst of any of the devices tested. It received a distraction score of 4.14. On a simulated driving course, several motorists who were trying to use Siri to accomplish tasks were so focused on what they were doing with their phones that they ended up rear-ending the vehicle that was in front of them.

Out of the infotainment systems that were included in the study, the MyLink was found to be the most distracting of the systems. This system received a distraction score of 3.7. While the other in-vehicle systems performed slightly better than this one, all of the voice-controlled electronics were found to be more of a distraction for drivers than simply using a cell phone or a manually-controlled system would have been.

The bottom line is, it is not using your hands that causes the problem but devoting your brain energy to something other than the road. A recent article on Forbes discussed just how ineffective people are at multitasking. You are not able to focus effectively or accomplish your tasks as quickly or easily if you try to do multiple things at once. Further, people who are the most likely to multitask on a regular basis are actually the worst of all at multitasking.

According to Forbes, frequently trying to do multiple things at once can actually have a long-term negative effect on brain function. You become less able to filter out irrelevant information, less able to recall information, less able to concentrate your focus on one particular task, and less able to effectively change tasks. This could suggest that drivers who are the most likely to be multitasking and distracted are even more dangerous than initially expected since they are likely to be less focused in general than other motorists.

Contact Columbia injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700 or visit http://www.matthewsandmegna.com. Serving the entire Florence, Darlington, Columbia, Midlands and Pee Dee, SC area. 

Columbia Bicycle and Pedestrian Crash Prevention Benefit of New Initiative

A South Carolina bicycle crash nearly killed a cyclist in Greenville recently, after state troopers say he was struck by a pickup truck while attempting to cross the road.  It was believed at first that the cyclist would not survive, but authorities now say he is likely to pull through. 

Our accident lawyers in Columbia, SC understand that such incidents are at the core of why legislators are aggressively working to pass the Safe Streets Act of 2014, also known as S. 2004. The measure would require all federally-funded road construction projects to follow the guidelines set forth by the Complete Streets model.

Whereas many of today’s current transportation infrastructure is focused on safety and efficiency for motor vehicle drivers, the Complete Streets initiative focuses on ensuring better streets for all travelers, with specific care paid to bicyclists, pedestrians and those using public transportation.

Aging “baby boomer” generation leads to increase in pedestrian traffic

Pedestrian safety will only grow more important over the next decade or two, as the baby boomer population ages. Those who have reached a point where they can no longer safely operate a motor vehicle must rely more heavily upon public transportation and walking.

The baby boom generation is the largest in U.S. history, and in 2011, the first wave turned 65. The last of these will not reach age 65 until 2030.

What’s more, The Atlantic recently published an article referencing a study last year by the National Alliance for Biking and Walking that indicated the southern U.S. states are the most dangerous per biker per miles traveled – by a wide margin.

For example, if you ride a bicycle in South Carolina, you are 10 times more likely to be hit and killed by a vehicle than if you rode a bike in Oregon (one of the country’s safer states for cycling). In North Carolina, you are eight times more likely to die. In Mississippi, you are 13 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury on a bicycle.

Can South Carolina do more to prevent pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities?

A recent report on transportation spending, conducting by the Advocacy Advance, discovered that southern states as a whole spend the least on biking and walking safety infrastructure. Where Massachusetts allocated more than 5 percent of its transportation budget to pedestrian and bicycling facilities, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Louisiana and Florida spent one half of one percent of their total transportation budget on the same.

This is despite the fact that bicyclist fatalities increased 9 percent from 2010 to 2011. This increase occurred even though overall motor vehicle fatalities have been on a steady decrease over the last several years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that nearly 680 bicyclists were killed across the U.S. in 2011, and another nearly 50,000 were injured. A third of these incidents happened in a rural setting.

The average age of pedalcyclist fatalities in 2011 was 43. The average injured was 32. These are both sharp increases from what we saw in 2002, when the average age was 36 for bicycle fatalities and 28 for injuries.

The Safe Streets Act, which is currently before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, would require all states to become compliant within two years of passage.

Contact Columbia injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700. 

Columbia Car Accidents Deaths Remain Serious Risk for Children

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brightly asserts that child fatalities stemming from motor vehicle accidents are down 43 percent over the last decade. 

But of course, the Columbia, South Carolina personal injury lawyers of Matthews & Megna, LLC know there is a lot more to this story.

You may recall just recently the car accident death of a 7-year-old in Sumter County. The South Carolina Highway Patrol reports it happened around 7 a.m. on a Monday, when a Mazda and a Saturn collided on the highway. The Mazda driver was unhurt, but the man in the Saturn was injured, as was an 8-year-old passenger. The 7-year-old in that car was pronounced dead at the scene.

All had been wearing their seat belts, authorities say, and the crash remains under investigation.

The fact is, traffic collisions remain the top cause of fatalities for children who are under 4 and also for kids between the ages of 8 and 14. They are one of the leading causes for kids of all ages.

In South Carolina, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were 31 child traffic deaths in our state in 2011, the last year for which finalized figures are available. Of those, eight were between the ages of 1 and 3; seven were between the ages of 4 and 7; and 16 were between the ages of 8 and 14.

We rank in the top 15 states in the nation for the number of child deaths attributed to motor vehicle crashes.

The South Carolina Budget and Control Board reports that while traffic deaths of children under the age of 5 have been on the decline here in the Palmetto State, they continue to be a leading cause of death for children in this age group.

The recent drop-off is partially attributed to stricter child safety restraint laws and better parental education of those requirements. Still, South Carolina has one of the most lax child restraint laws in the country. It is among 12 other states that only require child safety restraints up to age 5. The majority of other states require them until age 6 or 7. Two states, Tennessee and Wyoming, require them until the child reaches 8 years-of-age.

About one-third of the 9,000 children who were killed in traffic crashes from 2002 through 2011 weren’t wearing a proper safety restraint, the CDC reports. Among black children, that figure was 45 percent. Among Hispanic children, that figure was 46 percent.

The study did not further explore why these racial differences were so pronounced, though the authors did suggest that socio-economic factors may play a role.

This is troubling, of course, but it also means that the majority of parents are buckling their children the right way. Seat belt use overall increased from 88 percent in 2002 to 91 percent in 2011 among children 7 and under.

Where researchers identified the biggest lapse was among older children, between the ages of 8 and 14. South Carolina statistics bear out those findings as well.

Properly belting in your child won’t prevent a fatigued trucker or drunk driver from causing a collision. It can, however, give your child a fighting chance for survival in the face of a serious motor vehicle collision.

Call Matthews & Megna in Columbia, SC today at 877-253-7705 or visit www.matthewsandmegna.com for a free consultation.

Are You At Risk of a Holiday Auto Accident?

An auto accident is a surefire way to ruin the holiday season, especially if you or a loved one is seriously hurt in the collision. Unfortunately, car accident claims increase by 20 percent during the month of December. This increase can partially be explained by the fact that there are more people on the roads getting holiday shopping done or traveling to visit their family members. However, the increase can also be partly explained by another more troubling factor: more angry drivers and more instances of road-rage. 

Personal injury lawyers in Columbia, SC know that aggressive and angry drivers often make dangerous driving decisions, such as cutting off other motorists or following too closely behind the vehicle in front of them. Unfortunately, data shows that holiday stress tends to make drivers more angry and more aggressive, thus increasing the chances of a road rage accident happening.

Road Rage Could Cause Holiday Crashes

State Farm Insurance recently conducted an in-depth study into how holiday stress affects travelers and found that 32 percent of drivers were more likely to become aggressive during the holidays. This is bad news, especially since a Washington Post poll taken earlier this summer showed that as many as 12 percent of drivers already said they experienced road rage fairly often and 21 percent of motorists said that they occasionally felt hostility to others on the road.

The increase in angry drivers occurs throughout December, but certain days of the month are worse than others. A study of 10 years of auto accident data has revealed that the six days around December 25th tend to be the worst time for car accidents. During these six days, there are 18 percent more accidents than Thanksgiving weekend, which is the heaviest travel period of the entire year. There are also 27 percent more car accidents than occur on New Year’s Eve, which tends to be a day when there is an extremely high number of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.

While both December 24th and December 25th are usually safer days because people aren’t on the roads as much, the Friday before Christmas this year is expected to be an especially dangerous day. The risk on Friday will be compounded by the fact that there are many people traveling on that day to see friends and family, at the same time as there are also going to be commuters coming home from work and people scrambling to finish up last minute shopping.

Are You At Risk?

Because you are likely to encounter a lot of traffic and a lot of angry drivers, you and your loved ones could be at risk when you travel in the car during this time of year. While there is nothing you can do to make other people behave in a more safe way, you can control your own behavior and try to reduce the chances of becoming involved in a collision.

The best thing to do is to make sure you leave yourself ample time to arrive to where you are going so you won’t feel pressure to speed or go too fast, and to make sure that you stay calm, alert and aware of what other drivers are doing. If you follow these tips, you can hopefully stay safe through the New Year.

Car accident lawyers in Columbia, SC can help auto accident victims. Contact the attorneys at Matthews & Megna today at 877-253-7705 today for a free case consultation