January 2012 Archives

January 25, 2012

School Bus Accident in Alabama Injures 21 Students

A recent school bus accident in Alabama sent 21 young students to the hospital. On board the school bus were 41 students from both Goshen Elementary School and Goshen High School. The bus reportedly flipped over and landed on the driver's side, according to WSFA12.
The Pike County school bus rolled over at the intersection of County Road 2246 and County Road 2243 just after 7:00 a.m. Twenty-one of the students were transported to Troy Regional Medical Center. Reports indicate that most injuries were minor. One student was said to have suffered a broken arm, while a number of others reported only minor scrapes and cuts.

Our Montgomery school bus accident attorneys understand that the cause of the school bus accident has yet to be identified by officials. Investigations are ongoing. While we await more information on the cause of the accident, the larger issue is the trust that parents and guardians put into our state's school bus drivers to safely transport our young ones to and from school every day. School officials have a responsibility to provide safe vehicles and safe drivers to the students of the community.

"The bus was a mile from the school, fully-loaded and there were bad conditions. The rain was terrible," said Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety and Alabama State Troopers will be continuing the investigation into the accident. Currently, there are no charges pending on that bus driver and all of the students have reportedly been released from hospital care.

"We are fortunate and blessed that the injuries are no more serious than they are," said Dr. Mike Bazzell, Pike County Schools Superintendent. "The response by law enforcement and EMS was excellent."

Reports indicate that no other vehicles were involved.

School Bus Facts, according to the American School Bus Council:

-From 2004 to 2005, Alabama operated about 7,100 school buses.

-The 7,100 school buses in the state completed nearly 150 million trips that year.

-Children are nearly 15 times safer riding to and from school in a school bus than in other modes of transportation.

-School buses are the country's largest mass transportation system. These buses complete 10 billion passenger trips and nearly 4.5 billion miles of travel a year.

-Modern school buses are federally required to be equipped with a number of safety features, including fuel system protection, rollover protection, emergency exits, special mirrors, warning lights, better breaks, special passenger crash protection. These requirements are upheld to help protect our young school-aged passengers.

School Transportation Officials are required to ensure that vehicles, staff members and bus driver are well equipped with the proper tools, knowledge and skills to get our children to and from school safely each day. Our children's safety should be their number one priority.

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January 18, 2012

Distracted Driving in Alabama Kills another Innocent Motorist

Recently, an Auburn University student, Elizabeth Ainsworth, was killed as she rode in her boyfriend's pickup truck. As the two traveled down U.S. 280 in Lee County, her boyfriend lost control of the truck and flipped it over the median. Her boyfriend wasn't badly injured in the single-car accident, but Ainsworth was ejected from the vehicle. Because of the injuries sustained in the Alabama car accident, the girl was taken to a Columbus, Georgia hospital. Doctors report she had severe trauma to the brain. Tragically, she died in the hospital. Ms. Ainsworth was 20-years-old, according to The Anniston Star.
According to state officials, her boyfriend was typing the address of a nearby sports store into his GPS device when he lost control of his vehicle. The high school senior could face traffic-related homicide charges. These potential charges could result from the girlfriend's accidental death and the driver's admitted actions behind the wheel. The key word is that charges could result, but there's a possibility that they may never be filed.

Our Montgomery distracted driving car accident lawyers understand that the driver did in fact admit to engaging in distractions as the accident occurred. Safe driving experts see this recent accident as the perfect ammo to get legislators to ban all forms of texting for drivers in the state. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, only drivers who are 16-years-old (or those who are 17-years-old with an intermediate license for less than 6 months) are prohibited from text messaging while driving. All other drivers are free to take their mind off the road and their hands off the wheel to text as they please. Alabama has some of the most relaxed distracted driving laws in the country. So far, 35 states ban text messaging for drivers. Safe driving advocates say that it's about time Alabama joins these states.

The Anniston Star reports that the defense that "it would be tough for officers to enforce such a law" is no excuse for officials. It's no surprise that distracted driving leads to potentially fatal traffic accidents. Yes, there are a number of things that can distract us behind the wheel, including interacting with passengers, radios, children, etc., but text messaging is at the top of this list.

In the state of Alabama, there were about 14,000 traffic accidents in 2011. Of these accidents, about one out of every nine involved a distracted driver. In these accidents, more than 130 people died and another 4,400 were injured, according to estimates from the University of Alabama.

"What's clear from all of the information we have is that driver distraction continues to be a major problem," said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Administrator David Strickland.

Continue reading "Distracted Driving in Alabama Kills another Innocent Motorist" »

January 13, 2012

NTSB's Proposal Not Expected to Halt Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Alabama and Elsewhere

The distracted driving laws in Alabama are still pretty relaxed, despite all of the federal attention on the dangers and risks associated with distracted driving. In our state, all drivers, except those with intermediate driver's licenses, are allowed to talk on a phone and text message while driving a motor vehicle, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
According to CNN, everyone, including teenagers, parents, employees, business owners and government officials, may be forced to hang up the phone while driving if officials get their way in 2012. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is creating a nationwide proposal to make it illegal for drivers of all ages to use a portable electronic device at the wheel. This nationwide proposal is intended to help reduce the risks of distraction-related car accidents in Montgomery and elsewhere. The ban would include both hand-held devices and hands-free devices. But not everyone is on board with the idea.

Our Alabama car accident lawyers understand that recent studies conclude drivers distracted by portable devices can cause fatal car accidents. Some even say that distracted drivers are just as dangerous as drivers who are drunk. Others fight for their personal rights and claim that they're should continue to be allowed to use these devices as the wheel. Many drivers underestimate the dangers associated with the habit and feel they a good enough driver to avoid the consequences resulting from distracted driving.

"No call, no text, no update is worth a human life," said Deborah Hersman NTSB chairman.

No one knows yet if the NTSB's proposal will sway government officials. The proposal asks all states to enact laws prohibiting drivers from using communication devices. Still, many states have yet to act. Why would they do it now? Some states have banned drivers from texting but not from making phone calls, so it's difficult for officers to enforce. How do you determine if a driver is typing a text message (which is illegal) or dialing a phone number (which is permitted)?

Matt Richtel from the New York Times says that it's not just drivers. Cell phones are endangering everyone. He says that he's reported on events in which a neurosurgeon made a personal phone call right in the middle of an operation! He adds that, according to a recent poll, at least half of technicians who run bypass machines admit to texting during operations.

It's no secret that business owners are looking for ways to squeeze as much work out of employees as possible, even if that means conducting business behind the wheel. Some businesses have enacted anti-cell phone laws for company drivers, but many turn a blind eye to the dangerous habit.

Hersman continues to push a nationwide ban on cell phone-using and texting drivers. She says there's got to be an ending point, a time when we've seen enough needless deaths on our roadways from distracted drivers. However, CNN is reporting that the NTSB is likely to fail in this proposal.

Continue reading "NTSB's Proposal Not Expected to Halt Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Alabama and Elsewhere" »

January 4, 2012

Reduce Risk of Montgomery Car Accidents -- Be a Better Driver in 2012

Few resolutions will have a greater impact on the safety of you and your family than resolving to be a better driver in 2012. As our Montgomery personal injury attorneys recently reported on our Alabama Injury Lawyer Blog, there is much room for improvement.

Alabama car accidents are a leading killer of kids, teens and adults under the age of 34. In so far as age groups are concerned, teenagers and retired adults are most at risk. Bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcycle riders also share outsized risk. But that doesn't make the rest of us safer. Make no mistake about it, car accidents are your family's leading risk for a traumatic accident. 1243146_asphalt_series__3.jpg

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently reported, more than 860 motorists died on Alabama roadways in 2010 -- representing an increase in traffic fatalities in our state even as the nation as a whole recorded a reduction in traffic fatalities.

Nationwide, nearly 33,000 people died on the road.

Leading causes included:

Drunk Driving: One-third of traffic fatalities nationwide involve a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Don't drink and drive.

Bicycle Accidents: More than 600 riders were killed and another 51,000 were seriously injured in fatal bicycle accidents in Alabama and elsewhere. Men in their 30s and 40s have become among the most common victims as cycling has increased in popularity for both recreation and fitness. These accidents often result in very serious, debilitating injuries and can have a devastating impact on a family's finances.

Pedestrian Accidents: The number of pedestrians killed in accidents nationwide continues to rise. In 2010, a total of 4,280 walkers were killed -- compared to 4,109 in 2009. More than 70,000 were seriously injured, an increase of 11,000 accident victims over the previous year. School children and senior citizens are among the most at risk.

Motorcycle Riders: The number of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2010, a total of 4,502 riders were killed -- compared to 4,469 in 2009. Another 82,000 were seriously injured. Like cycling, motorcycle accidents often result in very serious or fatal injuries -- and victims are typically a household's primary wage earner.

The common thread in all these accidents is driver behavior. More than half of all motorcycle accidents that involve another vehicle are the fault of the other vehicle's driver. Failure to yield is the most common cause. Bicycle and pedestrian accidents share common causes. And drivers can prevent drunk driving accidents simply by not climbing behind the wheel after having too much to drink.

Other common causes of motor vehicle crashes in Alabama include speeding, distracted driving, aggressive driving, red-light running and failure to yield at intersections, in parking lots or when pulling onto the road from a private drive.

Do your part to keep the roads safe in 2012. The life you are saving could be your own or that of a friend, family member or loved one.

Continue reading "Reduce Risk of Montgomery Car Accidents -- Be a Better Driver in 2012" »

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