SC Worst in Nation for DUI Deaths

DUI Deaths

MADD Finds that South Carolina Leads Nation in DUI Deaths

DUI DeathsNew traffic death information released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that South Carolina leads the nation in DUI deaths.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a national anti-DUI advocacy group, examined the information from the NHTSA, which shows in 2013, there were 335 South Carolina deaths from DUI-related accidents. That number was about 44% of all traffic fatalities in the state – the national average is 33% of traffic deaths being caused by DUI.

“Improvements aren’t being made fast enough, and it’s a shame that we lead the nation in such devastating circumstances,” said MADD South Carolina Program Director Steven Burritt in a released statement. “It forces us to ask ourselves as a state once again whether we’re doing everything we know we should to drive these numbers down. We know the answer is that we’re not.”

Although national DUI deaths reached over 10,000 for yet another year, the number of DUI accident deaths fell a small amount between 2012 and 2013 – there were 10,322 DUI deaths in 2012, and 10,076 DUI deaths in 2013, the most recent year for traffic fatality data.

MADD examines DUI fatality data as part of the group’s ongoing “Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving,” which calls for better law enforcement sobriety checkpoints, ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers, and better driver alcohol detection systems in cars.

The group was part of passing Emma’s Law this past year in South Carolina, and MADD South Carolina hopes that the effort will reduce DUI deaths in the state in 2014 and beyond.

“Emma’s Law is going to help with these numbers going forward, for sure,” said Burritt.  “But we did not go as far as 24 states have done to require these devices for every DUI offender, so we can’t expect the kind of massive drops those states had.  Also, Emma’s Law can only meet expectations if those who should be convicted of drunk driving actually are.  We know this isn’t happening.”

DUI Accident and Wrongful Death Litigation in South Carolina

If a loved one dies as a result of the negligence, recklessness, DUI, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death. A South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death.  Surviving family members may be entitled to damages; money that can help with the expenses caused by the loss of their loved one.

Common wrongful death claims arise as a result of a:

  • tractor trailer accident,
  • automobile accident, including DUI accidents,
  • burn injury,
  • brain injury,
  • motorcycle accident,
  • construction site accident,
  • defective product,
  • toys or childrens’ product,
  • medical malpractice claim,
  • nursing home neglect and abuse, or an
  • injury sustained while working on the job.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with DUI Car Accident Injury and Wrongful Death Cases

Although many of the people we represent in these cases are from right here in South Carolina, our lawyers routinely take clients from throughout the Southeastern U.S. and, in certain types of product liability or pharmaceutical cases, from across the country as well. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, whether from a defective product or was a victim in a DUI car accident, you may have a personal injury or wrongful death case. Contact the South Carolina personal injury accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

Bicycle Accident Deaths Increase in US

bicycle accident death

Wrongful Bicycle Accident Deaths Increase

On Monday, October 27th, the Governors Highway Safety Association released a survey showing that, between 2010 and 2012, bicycle accident deathbicycle accident deaths rose 16% in the US, after dropping steadily since 1975.

More people in the United States are using bicycles as a regular form of transportation, which means there are more cyclists on the road than in previous decades. Bicycle accident deaths caused by a collision between a bike and a car account for 2% of all deaths involving motor vehicles nationwide. California leads the country in bicycle accident deaths, with 5% of traffic accident fatalities involving a cyclist and a car; Florida came in second, with 4%.

Nationally, bicycle accident deaths jumped from 621 in 2010, to 680 in 2011, to 722 in 2012 – the last year data was available. Six states – California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Texas, in that order – accounted for 54% of all bicycle accident deaths in the two year period.

The report observed that “roads were built to accommodate motor vehicles with little concern for pedestrians and bicyclists. Integrating motor vehicles and bicycles in already-built environments presents challenges.”

“The report is just another sad reminder of how vulnerable people are when they ride a bike,” said Jim Merrell, campaign director for the Active Transportation Alliance, a Chicago-based organization that says it aims to make biking, walking and public transportation safer.

“These are high-population states with many urban centers and likely reflect a high level of bicycle exposure and interaction with motor vehicles,” said Dr. Allan Williams, the report’s author and a former chief scientist for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Although the increase in bicycle accident fatalities is shocking, the numbers are still lower than the current worst year on record – 1975, in which 1,003 cyclists died in traffic accidents.

Bicycle Accident Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina

Unfortunately, injuries from bicycle accidents are very common.  Negligent drivers send several hundred thousand cyclists to the hospital every year.  Some cyclists protect themselves by wearing a helmet, using a camera like a GoPro to film potential accidents, and obeying traffic laws, but sometimes that is not enough to prevent serious personal injury from a bicycle accident.

South Carolina bicycle accidents most often lead to:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head trauma, including traumatic brain injury
  • Road rash
  • And sometimes death

Whether were hit in a crosswalk, intersection, or on the road by a car following too closely, distracted driving, aggressive driving or failure to yield the right of way, the South Carolina personal injury accident lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC will fight to secure fair compensation for your injuries.

If a loved one is severely injured or dies as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit filed asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death.  Surviving family members may be entitled to damages; money that can help with the expenses caused by the loss of their loved one.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Bicycle Accident Personal Injury Cases

If you are unsure of your rights, as a driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist, and you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, emotional damages, or funeral costs. The experienced lawyers at Strom Law, LLC, can help. Please contact us for a free consultation regarding your personal injury case. 803.252.4800.

Ridesharing Services Required to Purchase Personal Injury Insurance

California Governor Signs  Insurance Bill for Ridesharing Services Into Law to Cover Passenger Personal Injury

shutterstock_1155408-2In September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that would require ridesharing companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar to purchase insurance covering for their drivers, and to cover personal injury and wrongful death in the event of an accident while the driver has a fare.

Although Uber has argued for the past year with local and state governments across the country regarding the nature of the service, many state governments either will not allow ridesharing services to move into their area, or place tough restrictions on them. Uber has often claimed that the company is a mobile app, not a taxi service, and the application allows drivers to connect with people who need rides. However, much discussion about the nature of ridesharing services has ensued because the drivers are independent contractors of the mobile app companies, which means they are not employees. State governments believe the ridesharing companies are therefore taxi services.

This means that ridesharing services need increased insurance coverage in the event of a car accident, which can lead to personal injury or death.

Until very recently, ridesharing services relied on their drivers’ personal insurance coverage – in fact, the companies would not hire drivers that did not have automobile insurance – but those plans only cover a certain dollar amount of damages in a car accident, including medical bills due to personal injury. And, many insurance companies will not cover damages from a car accident if the driver has accepted payment for the ride, because the automobile insurance is for personal use, not business use.

Uber and Lyft have purchased better insurance for their drivers since the complaints began, but until California signed the bill, the ridesharing services’ employee drivers fell into a legal gray area, where their insurance companies could deny coverage, but they were not required to have commercial driving insurance.

California’s ridesharing insurance law requires ridesharing companies to cover their employee drivers as soon as those drivers turn their app on to find fares, so the driver is covered whether they have passengers or not. The personal injury insurance must cover at least $50,000 per person, $100,000 in the event of a wrongful death or personal injury, and $30,000 for property damage. The bill also requires an excess $200,000 of “just-in-case” coverage.

“We have agreed to a compromise that provides clarity for the ridesharing community in California,” Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said in a statement. Uber did not immediately respond.

The bill was championed by California assembly person Susan Bonilla, who said the bill “creates a personal insurance firewall to ensure personal insurance auto policyholders will no longer subsidize the commercial activity” of ridesharing companies.

The Strom Law Firm Defends Victims of Car Accident Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed because of an accident, whether it was caused by distracted driving or DUI, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. The sooner you hire one of our accident lawyers, the sooner we will be able to investigate your case and the stronger your case will be. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to call us. 803.252.4800

Rear-View Cameras Help Prevent Backover Accidents

backover accident

Car Accident Prevention Advocates Promote Rear-View Cameras to End Backover Accidents and Deaths

backover accidentAAA Mid-Atlantic safety officials say that recent tests conducted using rear-view cameras in some vehicles show that the added safety feature helps prevent backover accidents and deaths, especially involving children.

Recent tests conducted by AAA using rear-view cameras showed that the safety addition improved visibility behind the car, SUV, or truck an average of 46%. The researchers evaluated 17 vehicles from 11 different manufacturers, and used both factory-installed and aftermarket rear-view camera systems. They found that cars that were lower to the ground, like sedans, had 36% improved visibility behind the vehicle, while hatchbacks and SUVs had 75% improved visibility.

Rear-view cameras are a great supplement for drivers and are especially helpful for viewing the first 10 feet behind the vehicle, which are the most hazardous in terms of back-over risk for young children,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “However, while these cameras dramatically improve rear visibility, they do not replace the need to check around your vehicle for obstacles before getting in to your vehicle and backing up.”

Although the study did not completely prevent backover accidents, AAA said that the safety feature would go a long way to saving lives and preventing serious personal injury from such accidents. According to one safety group, KidsAndCars.org, 61 children were killed in backover accidents across the country in 2013 alone. The predominant age of children injured or killed in backover accidents is 1 year old – between 12 and 23 months. Tragically, in 70% of those accidents, a parent or relative is behind the wheel of the car that causes the accident.

“You can’t avoid hitting something you simply cannot see. Most people don’t realize how prevalent this problem is,” Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Cars, said. “Or how preventable it is.”

“Everyone would agree that the worst thing that can ever happen is to lose a child,” Janette Fennell stated. “Add to that that you were somehow responsible — that you were the driver of the vehicle. Most parents never get over it.”

Consumer Reports offers a tool to measure the blind zone – not just a blind spot – around your vehicle so you as a driver can be aware of the backover and rollover potential of your vehicle. KidsAndCars.org adds that it is important to walk around your vehicle and inspect it closely to make sure no children are in the area before driving away, especially if you are in the vicinity of a child under the age of 5.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Car Accident Injury and Wrongful Death Cases

Although many of the people we represent in these cases are from right here in South Carolina, our lawyers routinely take clients from throughout the Southeastern U.S. and, in certain types of product liability or pharmaceutical cases, from across the country as well. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, whether from a defective product or in a car accident, you may have a wrongful death case. Contact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

Settlement Talks Begin in Comedian’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit Tied to Tracy Morgan Walmart Crash

wrongful death lawsuit

“Jimmy Mack” Family Begins Settlement Talks in Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Tracy Morgan Walmart Car Accident

wrongful death lawsuitIn June of last year, comedians Tracy Morgan and James “Jimmy Mack” McNair were involved in a severe car accident with a Walmart truck, which killed McNair and left Morgan with a serious traumatic brain injury.

About 1 AM on Saturday, June 7th, 2014, Tracy Morgan’s limo van was hit by a Walmart truck on the New Jersey Turnpike. McNair died in the car accident, and Morgan was hospitalized with a broken nose, broken ribs, broken leg, and a traumatic brain injury that left him spending at least 5 months at a skilled nursing facility undergoing physical therapy. Morgan reportedly still suffers physical and mental difficulties due to the tractor trailer accident.

Reportedly, 35-year-old truck driver Kevin Roper had been awake for 24 consecutive hours before causing the tractor trailer accident. Morgan and McNair’s family filed separate lawsuits – Morgan filed a personal injury lawsuit against Walmart for negligence, and McNair’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the retail giant.

The 62-year-old McNair grew up with Morgan in Peekskill, NJ, and was a friend and mentor for decades.

Although Walmart refutes the validity of Morgan’s personal injury lawsuit, the retailer reportedly has begun settlement talks in the wrongful death lawsuit for McNair, which involved McNair’s two children – 26-year-old Jamel, and 19-year-old Danita.

“Nothing will bring back their father,” the family’s attorney said. “But this settlement takes care of them and allows them to carry on their father’s legacy.”

“You don’t have to be a celebrity to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” Jamel McNair said. “My dad made a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives.

The terms of the wrongful death lawsuit settlement have not been publicized, and so far Tracy Morgan has not commented on Walmart’s offer. When Morgan filed his own personal injury lawsuit last November, the retailer tried to blame the accident on Morgan and McNair, claiming that their limousine was erratic or dangerous in some way. However, criminal filings against Roper, the tractor trailer driver, allege that he was driving between 60 and 65 miles per hour on the New Jersey Turnpike, which normally has a speed limit of only 55 mph, and at that time had reduced the speed limit to 45 mph due to construction.

“After I heard what Walmart said in court I felt I had to speak out,” Morgan said after the personal injury filing. “I can’t believe Walmart is blaming me for an accident that they caused. My friends and I were doing nothing wrong. I want to thank my fans for sticking with me during this difficult time. I love you all. I’m fighting hard every day to get back.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help You with Your Wrongful Death Claim

If a loved one dies as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death. A South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death.  Surviving family members may be awarded money for damages; money that can help with the expenses caused by the loss of their loved one.

Common wrongful death claims arise as a result of a:

A South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for:

  • medical bills and funeral expenses
  • loss of income
  • loss of consortium and loss of support.

Depending upon the circumstances, our South Carolina wrongful death attorneys may also assert a claim for punitive damages intended to punish the wrongdoer and discourage others from engaging in such behavior.

If a loved one is the victim of a wrongful death, through no fault of your own, we may be able to help. We understand the emotional and financial impact of serious personal injuries. Our firm offers free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.

SC Paid $5 Million for Car Accidents Caused by Bad Roads

car accidents

South Carolina Spent $5 Million on Car Accidents and Personal Injury Claims Caused by Bad Roads

car accidentsLast year, a statewide survey showed that South Carolina has some of the least up-kept roads in the nation, which can result in accidents leading to South Carolina car accident and personal injury claims. Now, information obtained about the extent of the damage caused by the state’s poor road maintenance shows that South Carolina paid at least $5 million to motorists last year due to bad roads.

Records from South Carolina’s Insurance Reserve Fund showed that the state paid $5.1 million in personal injury, wrongful death, and car accident claims, along with another $2.3 million in legal fees. That was just 2014 – the preceding three years saw the state pay out $18.7 million in personal injury and car accident claims to motorists.

According to a report released on January 15th by TRIP, a Washington, DC-based national transportation organization, 46% of South Carolina’s roads are in such poor condition that they can cause vehicular damage, car accidents, traffic congestion, and personal injury or wrongful death. Deficient roads cost drivers in the state at least $1,250 per year in the form of car repairs, lost time, and fuel delays. The bad roads in the state cost motorists an estimated $3 billion every year – a financial investment that, if paid in taxes instead of personal injury or car accident costs, could go a long way to fixing the problem.

“The South Carolina Department of Transportation manages the 41,000 miles of state funded roads with the third lowest motor fuel user fee in the nation.  With an estimated additional $1.5 billion needed per year for the next 25 years to “get to good”, they are currently having to do the best they can with what they have,” said Eric Dickey, vice president of Davis & Floyd, Inc. and chairman of the South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads (SCFOR).

“To me it’s a large chunk of money. Would we rather continue to pay out funds like this and put people in danger rather than come up with a viable solution to fix our roads and bridges?” said Rep. Chandra Dillard, a Greenville Democrat who sits on a House committee studying the state’s infrastructure needs.

Sen. Ray Cleary, a Georgetown County Republican who has spearheaded road-funding efforts in the Senate, said he was unaware that people could sue the state due to road quality-related personal injury and car accidents. “In the last five years, we’ve raised the cost of fixing the roads in South Carolina by $14 billion,” he said. “If that’s not a waste of taxpayer money, then what is? Why aren’t people like the Tea Party demanding these roads be fixed?”

“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Congress can help by approving a long-term federal surface transportation program that provides adequate funding levels, based on a reliable funding source. If not, South Carolina is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge repair projects, loss of jobs, and a burden on the state’s economy.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with South Carolina Car Accidents and Personal Injury Caused By Bad Roads

Our car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom, and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills; lost wages and future earnings; your pain and suffering; and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Contact the South Carolina accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. today for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case and how we can help. 803.252.4800

SC Orders Uber to Halt Services in State

As Uber’s Legal Woes Continue, South Carolina Demands Mobile App Cease and Desist

UberOn Thursday, January 15th, the Public Service Commission of South Carolina ordered popular and infamous ridesharing service Uber to stop its operations in the state.

Uber has faced numerous accusations, including personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, as the mobile app company expands rapidly across the globe. One of the most common accusations has to do with the company’s employee screening process: although Uber company spokespeople have repeatedly claimed that the rideshare startup company screens its potential drivers as thoroughly or even more thoroughly, than state regulations require, many passengers have said they were victimized.  Allegations include assaults, such as sexual assaults and rapes, as well as other types of personal injury, and even wrongful death accidents.  Many believe that these issues have arisen because the drivers are not screened carefully enough to keep passengers and pedestrians safe.

For example, Uber faces a wrongful death lawsuit in San Francisco, in which a driver who was using the mobile app to pick up a fare while operating his vehicle, struck and killed a 6-year-old girl on New Year’s Day 2014. He hit two other members of the family as well, who survived. The driver himself faces criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter and distracted driving, but the family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the ridesharing company because they claim the mobile app nature of the business encourages drivers to use their phones while operating a vehicle.  It’s this mobile nature that can be a deadly combination.

In Chicago, a 22-year-old victim has filed personal injury charges against the company after her Uber driver drugged and sexually assaulted her while she was drunk.

Ridesharing companies like Uber, and its major competitors Lyft and Sidecar, also face accusations that the businesses rely on individual drivers’ personal insurance, which does not provide adequate, if any, coverage for passengers that suffer personal injury in the event of a car crash. These companies recently changed their driver policies to pay for insurance to cover cars while they are working for the rideshare service, but some opponents of the ridesharing services question if the coverage is enough, when these companies still try to dodge responsibility for personal injuries and wrongful deaths, often pointing to the drivers themselves, who are independent contractors with the companies, not full employees.

South Carolina demanded that Uber cease and desist operations in the state because the company refuses to register as a taxi service, which could help customers and drivers in the event of a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

“Consumers benefit from, and deserve choices in, the marketplace,” the directive states. “However, those choices must be consistent with state law intended to protect the public.”

“Despite working closely with the PSC for the past several months on a permanent solution for Uber in South Carolina, today’s actions are unexpected and not reflective of the progress made thus far,” Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said. “We will challenge the order and remain committed to providing South Carolinians with greater opportunity and choice.”

Uber faces similar regulatory questions in its home base, San Francisco, as safety regulators in the city try to decide who can inspect Uber’s vehicles for safety and emissions regulations.

“We believe the vehicle inspections mentors conduct are very rigorous,” said Chelsea Wilson, a Lyft spokeswoman. “They’ve gone through training and have an exhaustive checklist. We very much stand behind the safety of those inspections.”

However, safety inspections for taxis are much more rigorous than the self-appointed inspectors for Uber and Lyft, so many states have raised concerns about vehicular safety.

The Strom Law Firm Defends Victims of Distracted Driving in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed because of an accident, whether it was caused by distracted driving or DUI, the South Carolina personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. The sooner you hire one of our accident lawyers, the sooner we will be able to investigate your case and the stronger your case will be. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to call us. 803.252.4800

Smart Phones Causing More Distracted Driving

smart phones

Distracted Driving Less from Talking, More from Smart Phones

smart phonesA new survey of distracted driving in the US shows that fewer people are talking on their phones, but more people are texting and driving, writing emails, or checking social media through their smart phones.

State Farm has conducted an annual survey every year since 2009 to measure drivers’ attitudes and behaviors toward various forms of distracted driving, from texting to talking to eating. The number of drivers who report having a conversation using a cell phone has decreased, but the number of drivers who admit to texting, writing emails, taking selfies, or composing social media messages has increased.

According to the survey, 26% of drivers admit to surfing the internet while behind the wheel; 25% admit to reading emails; and 20% admitted to reading messages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

“We’re not sure why (these behaviors) are increasing,” says Chris Mullen, State Farm’s director of technology research. “But they are just as dangerous. People have a perception of what they are able to do with the attention span they have (while driving). They believe they have available attention they can spend on something in addition to driving. They will spend that time with various behaviors.”

However, drivers seem to know that these behaviors are dangerous, and choose to engage in them anyway. The State Farm survey reported that 80% of drivers knew that sending a text was “very distracting,” while 68% responded that reading a text was “very distracting.”

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows just how dangerous distracted driving can be. One-third of all crashes – 36% – occur at intersections, mainly because of driver recognition and decision errors, which includes failure to see potential dangers. Driver decision errors account for 84% of all crashes in the US.

The survey showed that, although most drivers choose to engage in these distracted driving behaviors anyway, some were beginning to self-regulate. State Farm reported that 63% of motorists said they were more likely to check their phone while stopped at a traffic light, then put it down to drive.

These numbers are especially disturbing this holiday season. AAA estimates how many travelers will be driving during the holiday season, and since gas prices are their lowest in years, the automotive agency believes more people will drive to their destinations. This means there will be more stressed out drivers on the roads, trying to coordinate with friends and family, which can lead to more distracted driving accidents.

At least 44 states have, so far, passed some form of distracted driving legislation. This year, South Carolina passed a statewide ban on texting and driving, although other forms of distracted driving are legal.

The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina distracted driving accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.

App Solutions Offered for Distracted Driving

distracted driving

Some Apps Offer Solutions to Prevent Distracted Driving

distracted drivingState Farm recently released information from its distracted driving survey, which found that fewer people talk on the phone while driving, but the advent of smartphone technology has led many drivers to read, text, Tweet, and chat message while driving.

A writer for TechCrunch laments the “Pavlovian response” drivers have to their smartphones. She wrote that she has deal-finding apps downloaded to her iPhone, and they consistently make noise when she drives past stores and malls. She suggested built-in apps on the phone that would automatically silence app and text alert noises, even if the user forgets to put the phone on silent. Some third-party phone apps already discourage distracted driving by disabling texting or count the number of times you text while driving – which is illegal in most states.

The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis recently looked at distracted driving data and found that 1.6 billion vehicle accidents per year were the result of texting or messaging while driving. These accidents kill 11 teenagers per day, according to the research, and are as dangerous as driving after consuming four beers. The number of deaths caused by distracted driving from mobile phone use is higher than the number of deaths caused by running red lights. Worst of all, distracted driving is completely preventable – but drivers have to want to stop, so companies find they might need encouragement.

Automobile manufacturers are also looking at ways to prevent distracted driving. Many of these same companies have begun to build in touch screens and wireless connections so that the driver can hook their phone into their car, and talk or access apps while on the go. One automotive manufacturer, Ford, has recognized that this technology boom can encourage distracted driving even further, and the company says it has now partnered with mobile app developer Life360 to build in not just the GPS feature of the original app – which allows friends and family to track each other based on the phone’s GPS signal – but also to develop a “Driving Mode” for the vehicle version, which would text all the driver’s contacts when the car is on and inform them not to text while the vehicle is in motion. When the driver arrives at their destination and parks the car, the app would alert friends and family that the driver is available again – hopefully preventing the bemoaned Pavlovian response to phone noises by asking for community support against distracted driving.

At least 44 states have, so far, passed some form of distracted driving legislation. This year, South Carolina passed a statewide ban on texting and driving, although other forms of distracted driving are legal.

The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina distracted driving accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.

New Hands-Free Technology Leads to Distracted Driving

hands-free technology

In-Car, Hands-Free Technology Can Cause Distracted Driving

hands-free technologyTwo new studies show that hands-free technology, as well as built-in technology in many modern cars, can cause distracted driving.

A study conducted by AAA and the University of Utah, which looked at hands-free and voice-activated controls, found that even those devices can cause distracted driving, which increases the risk of a car accident. Many distracted driving laws allow drivers to use blue tooth headsets or speaker phones to make phone calls, and many vehicles have systems that can link to your phone so you can use an in-car program to make phone calls to friends or restaurants.

A companion study also investigated voice-activated smart phone features, particularly Apple’s popular Siri, and found that those programs can also lead to distracted driving issues. In fact, two participants in the study caused virtual crashes while dealing with Siri in a driving simulator.

“Common voice tasks are generally more demanding than natural conversations, listening to the radio, or listening to a book on tape,” the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety researchers wrote.

“We already know that drivers can miss stop signs, pedestrians and other cars while using voice technologies,” said Bob Darbelnet, chief executive of AAA. “We now understand that current shortcomings in these products, intended as safety features, may unintentionally cause greater levels of cognitive distraction.”

“In the situations where you have a system that’s very difficult to use, is extremely frustrating to use, then, yes, you’ll be paying attention to that and not paying attention to traffic lights and pedestrians and other cars,” David Strayer of the University of Utah explained. In his study, a driver requested the name of a restaurant on Siri, but because voice-prompt technology is new and flawed, Siri’s response was, “Sorry, I didn’t get that. Please select a restaurant.” The driver, in her frustration, missed a prompt that measured her attention to the road.

Both studies measured “cognitive distraction,” or the mental workload caused by dealing with multitasking. Many previous distracted driving studies examined visual distraction, such as texting and driving or GPS navigation, in which the driver took his or her eyes off the road.

“The primary task should be driving. Things that take your attention away make you a poor driver,” Strayer said. “Even though your car may be configured to support social media, texting and phone calls, it doesn’t mean it is safe to do so.”

Although Toyota scored one of the best vehicles to prevent cognitive distraction while driving, a spokesman said that neither study conclusively showed a link between distracted driving and hands-free or voice-activated systems.

“The results actually tell us very little about the relative benefits of in-vehicle versus hand-held systems; or about the relationship between cognitive load and crash risks,” said Mike Michels on behalf of Toyota.

The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina distracted driving accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.