Federal Law Could Mandate Interlock Devices for All Drunk Driving Offenders

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A new piece of federal legislation could help reduce the incidence of drunk driving accidents further. It would require all 50 states to pass laws that require the installation of ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving offenders. Failure to comply could lead to a reduction in the highway transportation funds that the state is eligible for.

The legislation has been proposed by Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (Democrat-New York) who says that even a first-time DUI offense is one time too many. According to the plan that she has proposed, all first-time DUI offenders must be required to install an ignition interlock device in all of their vehicles. States must pass laws that include this requirement. States that do not do so before the deadline will be eligible for a reduction in highway transportation funds. The deadline for complying with the legislation is October 1.

The beverage lobby, as expected, has spoken out against the proposal. According to the American Beverage Institute, the real problem drinkers, like binge drinkers, will not really be targeted under the law.

The fact is that many drunk driving accidents caused in the United States every year are caused by repeat offenders. When a person is able to get away with a mere slap on the wrist the first time that he is arrested for DUI, he is just more likely to drive under the influence, placing his life and other motorists’ lives in danger. California currently has a program in four counties, in which even first-time DUI offenders are required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. The program was kicked off in 2010, and under the program, even persons arrested for the first time for DUI are required to get the devices installed. The devices measure the amount of alcohol content in a person’s breath, and if the amount exceeds a certain limit, will prevent the vehicle from starting.

Can a Pedestrian Recover Damages If He Was at Fault in the Accident?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Sometimes, pedestrians may be at least partly to blame for their own injuries in an accident. This is covered under the doctrine of comparative negligence, and under this doctrine, Los Angeles pedestrians may be held partly liable for their own injuries.

That does not mean that they will not recover compensation for their injuries. However, it could possibly mean that the damages could be reduced to the extent of the pedestrian’s own negligence in causing the injuries. For instance, say that a person darted out into traffic, without looking left and right, and was too quick for a motorist to slow down in time to avoid hitting the pedestrian. In such cases, the insurer may claim that the pedestrian was partly to blame for his own injuries, because of his carelessness and failure to look left and right before crossing the street. A pedestrian may be held negligent if he was crossing out of a marked and designated crosswalk at night while wearing black. In such cases, an insurer could successfully argue that the motorist couldn't possibly have seen the pedestrian in time to avoid him.

In such cases, it doesn't mean that the pedestrian will not be eligible for damages at all. It merely means that the damages that he is eligible for will be reduced by the percentage that he's believed to have been at fault. If he is believed to have been 20% at fault, the damages will be reduced by 20%.

Even if have been partly to blame for the injuries that you sustained in an accident, you must speak with a pedestrian accident lawyer in Los Angeles before filing a claim. Many pedestrians make the mistake of simply giving up on the claim, or not bothering to file a claim at all, believing that they will not recover damages since they were at fault in the accident. This is a major mistake.

CarMax Targeted for False Promises of Safety

Sunday, June 15, 2014

CarMax, the country’s largest dealer of used cars, is named in a petition filed by a number of consumer safety groups. The petition claims that CarMax falsely claims in its advertising, that it inspects its automobiles for auto safety defects, before they are sold.

The petition was filed by a group of 11 consumer groups, who asked the Federal Trade Commission, to take strong action against the dealer. The consumer groups are especially concerned about the company's promise, that the cars that it sells are inspected for safety defects. Those promises are made even though CarMax does not have a policy of fixing recalled cars, before these are sold.

Those concerns about recalled cars are especially high, with the increased number of recalls in 2014. This year alone, the number of recalls is expected to exceed previous years. General Motors is expected to recall more than 20 million cars in 2014. Add to this recalls by other manufacturers, and the total could be very high this year.

There are concerns that defective recalled cars could make their way to used car dealers like CarMax when they haven't even been fixed, increasing the new owner’s risk of being involved in a car accident. CarMax proudly claims on its advertising that its cars are inspected before they are sold. However, the company does not have a policy of identifying which cars are involved in recalls, and fixing these before they are sold. The company claims that it inspects a number of car components for safety defects before the cars are sold. However, many of the safety components may have been involved in recalls, a fact that CarMax conveniently fails to mention in its advertising.

The groups want the Federal Trade Commission to get the car dealer to fix its advertising, so that it no longer makes such dangerously deceptive promises.

Risk of Americans Becoming Immune to Auto Recalls Very Real

Monday, June 02, 2014

In 2014 alone, millions of General Motors cars have been recalled due to a number of defects, including the most prominent defective ignition switch. Those aren’t the only recalls this year, however. As the number of recalls every year continues to mount, there is a very real risk that Americans will stop considering recall notices as background noise, and will fail to respond to these altogether.

In 2014, the recall juggernaut was kicked off by General Motors which recalled more than 2.6 million cars across the world. That recall was one of the most serious ones this year, and has been linked to 13 fatalities. The recalled was linked to defective ignition switches that can cause sudden disablement of the engine and airbag systems. So far, the company has announced a staggering 38 recalls in 2014, covering more than 14 million cars. Other automakers have recalled more than 8 million cars in 2014 alone.

Every year, an average of 21 million cars are recalled for a variety of defects. We are barely half way through the year, and are already close to meeting the annual target already. Los Angeles car accident lawyers believe that when consumers are bombarded with regular recall notices like the one General Motors seems to be sending out an almost daily basis, those recall alerts lose their significance. They become background noise, and there is a risk that owners will fail to respond to the recalls.

That is definitely dangerous because many recalls are linked to serious auto defects that can cause injuries and fatalities. Consumers who don’t respond to alerts don’t stop driving their cars, and don’t take their cars for repairs and maintenance at their local dealer. These motorists are at risk of driving a defective vehicle that can increase their risk of being involved in a car accident.

The Hundred Deadliest Days of Summer

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The deadliest days of the year for teenage drivers are already here. The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are considered some of the most dangerous of the year because of their high risk of accidents. Those days are even deadlier for teenage drivers.

According to the AAA Foundation, while Memorial Day kicks off the year's most awaited season, it is also the beginning of the 100 most accident-prone days of the year. Those days are especially more dangerous for teenage motorists, who are already inexperienced, impulsive, and under severe peer pressure to indulge in dangerous driving practices. Besides, summer is when teenagers feel freer, have no pressure from schools and homework, and are therefore much more likely to hop into the car and drive around aimlessly with their friends. Teenagers are more carefree and excited about enjoying the holidays, which only pushes safety out of their minds. There are more numbers of teenage motorists driving around, and for most of them, safety is hardly a priority. The volume of teenage driving spikes over the 100 days of summer.

According to statistics, an average of 251 teenagers die during each of the summer months, into accidents. During this time, there's a 10% increase in car accident fatalities involving teenagers, compared to the rest of the year.

If you're the parent of a teenage driver, act to reduce the risk of your teenage child being involved in an accident. Set limitations on the amount of driving that they can do, and minimize the number of trips they take without any purpose. Your teenager should only be driving if necessary, and only with your permission. Make sure that your child is obeying all restrictions on the number of passengers in his car as well as the number of hours that he drives at night.

Teen Binge Drinking Spikes Accident Risks

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Los Angeles teenagers, especially those in the 12-to-14 age category could possibly be at risk for binge drinking.

According to a new study that was conducted in Canada, binge drinking is not confined to college or high school students. The findings of the study were published recently in the Journal ISRN Public Health, and were based on a study of approximately 6,200 children in 2005. The study found that approximately 4% of the 12-to-14-year-old population in that country represented in the survey admitted to binge linking at least once over the past year.

Binge drinking is a phenomenon in which a person drinks several alcoholic beverages in a single session. For an adult male, the number of alcoholic beverages that must be consumed is five alcoholic beverages. Binge drinking is a highly undesirable behavior, because it increases the risks of intoxicated driving. A driver who has drunk excessively may be too drunk to drive responsibly behind the wheel.

The researchers found that some young teenagers may be at a much higher risk of binge drinking than older teens. They found that teenagers who were currently struggling with three or more physical health conditions were also at a much higher risk of binge drinking. Among this category of teenagers, the risk was approximately twice as high.

It's highly likely that similar findings would be discovered in this country as well. Binge drinking among teenagers is a highly underestimated problem in the U.S. It's no secret that teenagers drink alcohol even when they are not of the minimum age for drinking, and underage drinking is definitely a challenge that colleges, universities, schools and communities need to tackle more strongly.

San Diego Wildfires Wreak Havoc

Saturday, May 10, 2014

There are multiple fires burning throughout San Diego County and many are threatening heavily populated areas. Instead of burning in rural areas like many Southern California wildfires often do, many of the fires have forced evacuations of large suburban neighborhoods and large business complexes.

North San Diego County has been particularly hard hit: the Ranch Bernardo fire, the Poinsettia fire, and Camp Pendleton fire have had firefighters working round the clock in unusually hot temperatures. The fire danger has been exacerbated by the early arrival of Santa Ana winds and years of extreme drought throughout Southern California. At least six serious fires are burning throughout San Diego County. Hundreds of schools have been closed in Carlsbad, Oceanside and San Marcos including California State University, San Marcos which is the home to more than 10, 000 students. Carlsbad's Legoland was also closed due to a power outage caused by the fire. Smoke blankets the sky throughout the picturesque county that is extremely popular with tourists from all over the world.

Thus far, several homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed by the fires but the worst may be yet to come as temperatures are expected to remain high for the next two days with a significant drop in temperatures and winds over the weekend. Unfortunately, no rain is in the forecast. Read more here.

Etiwanda Fire Indicates a Tough Fire Season Ahead for Southern California

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Firefighters have been able to stop the growth of a recent wildfire burning east of Los Angeles, ABC News reports. Despite wind gusts of up to 100 miles an hour and extremely low humidity, the Etiwanda fire has been controlled. 

As of May 1,  evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes in the Rancho Cucamonga area. More winds are forecast for the weekend and temperatures are expected to be extremely warm but fire officials are fairly confident that the worst is over. However, residents are encouraged to be prepared: evacuation at a moment's notice may still be necessary if the fire becomes uncontrollable again. 

Fire officials and Rancho Cucamonga residents are feeling extremely fortunate that the fire did not get swept up by the wind and wreak havoc throughout the area. Because of high winds, the crucial air support that is often necessary to fight Southern California wildfires was unavailable. Planes and helicopters were grounded. But as a result of the fire fighters herculean efforts on the ground, more than 1,600 residents who had been evacuated from their homes were allowed to return. Several area schools were closed for several days due to smoke.  No serious property damage, burns or other injuries have been reported. KTLA News reports that the fire has burned an estimated 1,627 acres and that it has been more than 50% contained as of May 1.  

Though this fire may be under control and its cause will be the subject of continued investigation,  the unusually high temperatures and early arrival of Santa Ana winds indicate that a challenging fire season may be on the horizon for Southern California.

New Apple Patent Would Help Discourage Texting While Driving

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Apple is in the process of developing a patent that would discourage motorists from texting while at the wheel.

The company already has its CarPlay technology, which allows iPhone users to perform several activities including making phone calls, listening to music, via voice command. However, the new technology aims to prevent drivers from texting while driving. The feature would involve a lockout mechanism that would automatically disable the iPhone’s texting functions, when the car is in motion.

According to reports, several functions on the smartphone could be disabled for a certain amount of time. The technology will involve the use of GPS data, cellular data, sensors, and accelerometer that will determine whether the car is in motion. If the phone detects that the phone is, in fact, in motion in a traveling car, then these distracting activities will be shut down. Those functions would be available for use only after the phone determines that the car is in a safe position - not in the hands of the motorist at the wheel.

The phone can be used to set a predetermined number of restrictions on the phone. For instance, parents of teenage motorists might want to change the settings to ensure that their children cannot use the text messaging feature while driving. However, the teen may be allowed to continue to GPS functions. That ensures that the teen can use certain emergency functions and services, while all the distracting functions are shut down temporarily.

NTSB Makes Several Trucking Safety Recommendations

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The National Transportation Safety Board has made several recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urging the federal agency to take more steps to increase tractor-trailer safety, and reduce the risk of truck accidents involving these vehicles.

The recommendations were triggered by a safety study that was conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board in 2013. One of the most important recommendations involves the mitigation of blind spots behind and around the tractor-trailer. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the blind spots around the tractor-trailer can easily cause accidents involving passenger vehicles simply because the truck driver cannot see these vehicles.

Every vehicle has its blind spots. Even your average passenger vehicle driver will have several blind spots in his field of vision, which prevent him from seeing motorcycles or bicycles that are in these areas. However, the blind spots that exist for a truck driver are much larger, and because of the sheer impact that a trucking accident can have, it is important to mitigate these hazards. Additionally, there are a number of factors including location, characteristics of the truck mirrors and windows, and the design of the vehicle that can affect the driver's ability to identify and locate passenger vehicles around the truck.

The National Transportation Safety Board in its recommendations especially focuses on the blind spots that exist on the right side of the truck, because it interferes with a large section of the truck driver’s field of view, and therefore, very often results in pedestrian, passenger vehicle, and bicycle accidents.

Motorists must educate themselves about the blind spots in a truck driver’s field of vision, and avoid being in the spot for too long when they're driving around the tractor-trailer.

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