Here at Hastings & Hastings, we have been diligently protecting the rights of accident victim in Arizona for over 35 years. We believe in taking a client-focused approach to personal injury law. This philosophy is what gave birth to out legendary Discount Accident Fee. David Hastings, the founder of Hastings & Hastings believed that accident victims, the individuals who suffered physical, mental, emotional, and financial hardship as a result of an accident, should be entitled to the bulk of any financial settlement. Such settlements cannot turn back time and undo the damage caused by an accident, but they can help accident victims as they move forward in their lives.
Every year hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur, resulting in tens of thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars of property damage. At Hastings & Hastings we are fierce supporters of accident prevention. An accident can change an individual’s life forever. If our efforts in accident prevention can keep even a single accident from happen, we would consider it worth it. Our ability to learn from the past is one of the best ways to support and promote accident prevention. Every year organizations such as the Department of Transportation and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration gather statistics documenting every accident that occurred in the United States. By looking at this information we can clearly identify the causes of most accidents.
In today’s blog, we are going to put together a guide to driver safety. We are going to focus on the three issues which we think are key to driver safety: driving under the influence, distracted driving, and defensive driving. Driving under the influence and distracted driving are THE leading causes of accident-related fatalities in the United States while defensive driving can help protect you from the reckless behavior of other drivers.
In 2014 alone, car crashes took the lives of over 35,400 individuals. According to statistics, 26 percent of these fatalities were cause by distracted drivers. Distracted driving fatalities have been on the rise for several years.
Distracted driving is defined as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” This distraction could be the result of any number of things. A typical list might include eating and drinking, talking to passengers, navigating, or personal grooming.However, you can add up all of the accidents cause by the previously mentioned distractions and the total will not come close to equaling that of the number one cause of distracted driving accidents – smartphones.
Smartphones provide more distractions than everything else combined; text messaging, phone calls, music, Instagram, Snap chat, Twitter, Facebook, all of these things are begging for our attention throughout the day. The world moves fast, and people feel like if they are not constantly in touch with their cellphones they will miss something. If you are hurt or killed in a car accident you will miss everything! It isn’t worth the risk. Take a few minutes to respond to texts and emails before or after a drive. Checking a text takes an average of 5 seconds, which is an eternity on the road. Be smart and be careful. If you cannot resist temptation, place your smartphone out of reach when you are in the car.
Even hands-free devices can be dangerous. You can be distracted even if your hands are not occupied. Studies have shown that true multi-tasking is almost impossible. The brain cannot engage in two activities at one time. Instead, it quickly toggles between multiple tasks. Further studies have shown that the area of the brain responsible for processing images has its performance decreased by as much as 33 percent when talking on the phone. Finally, avoid be distracted by other drivers who are likewise distracted. We have all seen drivers who are traveling while their face is buried in their phone. However, you noticing this is an active distraction for you! Keep your eyes on the road, avoid distractions, and avoid becoming a statistic.
Driving Under the Influence
Earlier this month we took a deep-drive into Arizona’s DUI laws and regulations. We are revisiting it here today because it is such an essential topic. Approximately 33.8 percent of fatal car accidents are directly caused by alcohol consumption. 9,967 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2014 according to data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average drunk driver has gotten behind the wheel of vehicle while intoxicated 80 times before their first arrest. Almost 20 percent of individuals arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders. Now that we have covered the rather frightening statistics concerning drunk driving, we will discuss the topic of prevention.
Prevention is primarily accomplished through legislation, education, and personal responsibility. Drunk driving laws have made it illegal nationwide to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) equal to or in excess of .08 percent. For individuals under 21 years of age, there is a zero tolerance policy. Additional, police use sobriety checkpoints to catch drunk drivers and to dissuade individuals from driving drunk in the first place. In Arizona, anyone who has been caught driving drunk will have an ignition interlock device installed in their car to prevent future incidents. The penalties for drunk driving arrests include mandatory jail time and steep fines.
Education as to the dangers of drunk driving is provided by a wide range of national and local organizations. Large, national mass-media campaigns run by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration and the AdCouncil, supported by millions of dollars of funding spread word as to the danger of driving while intoxicated. Drivers are taught the dangers before there are allowed to obtain drivers license. Schools teach the dangers of drunk driving. All of these educational efforts are designed to promote personal responsibility. When it comes down to it, driving drunk is a persona choice made by an individual. It can only be prevented at the personal level.
If you know someone who may drive drunk, say something. If you are going out for the night and know you will be consuming alcohol, arrange transportation ahead of time. Taxis and popular ride sharing programs like Lyft and Uber are excellent options in addition to nominating a designated driver.
The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, ANSI/ASSE Z15.1 defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time and money, in spite of the condition around you and the actions of others.” This definition is taken directly from the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course handbook.
Defensive driving is built upon the tenants of personal responsibility and awareness. It holds individuals accountable for not only their own safety but for the safety of other drives on the road as well. Defensive driving is a call to action. It asks individuals to drive first and foremost with safety in mind.
The scope of defensive drive is quite large, so we will focus on just a few of its tenets here today. One of the most important is the Two-Second Rule. This rule calls for drivers to maintain a minimum distance of at least two second between their car and the car they are following. Two seconds equals approximately one vehicle length for every 5 mph a driver is traveling. If someone is driving 50 mph they should stay at least 10 vehicle lengths behind the car they are following, if they are driving 75 mph they should stay at a minimum of 15 vehicle lengths behind the car they are follow.
Defensive driving also teaches about the importance of checking blind-spots when performing lane changes. It is possible for another vehicle to be hiding out of site between the fields of vision provide by the side and rear-view mirrors. These vehicles are typically so close that they would not have time to perform an evasive maneuver if you merged into them. You should look briefly over your shoulder to check these areas before performing a lane change. Additionally, use your turn signal and wait several seconds before performing the maneuver as a way to clearly communicate your intentions.
Even if you familiarize yourself with all that we have covered here today, you may still find yourself in an accident one day. Unfortunately, some accidents are just unavoidable. If you have been involved in an accident, it is important to explore your legal options. You have rights as an accident victim. Let Hastings & Hastings help you explore those rights. To learn more or to schedule a free legal consultation, call (480)706-1100 or click HERE.