Driver fatigue in any capacity is incredibly dangerous, often life-threatening. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a typical crash associated with sleepiness involves a high-speed roadway, no attempt by the driver to avoid the crash, and an increased overall severity of the accident. Clearly, driver fatigue is a real threat to all of the roads and highways in Florida. Unfortunately, when a large semi-truck driver is fatigued, the threat of danger expands tremendously. The government has regulated the number of hour that truckers are permitted to drive for years. These efforts focus on discouraging tired truck drivers to get behind the wheel of a tractor trailer.
The rules regarding truck driving hourly limits were recently altered. Now, truckers are able to drive up to 11 hours straight, without any rest, at a maximum of 80 hours per week. Statistically, this is a major concern for all Florida drivers. Each year there are approximately 4,000 fatalities and 100,000 injuries directly linked to large truck driver fatigue. In fact, 13 percent of all crashes involving semi-trucks were due to sleepiness of the driver. Far too many truckers admit to have operated a large truck while they were tired, many of which have admitted to falling asleep while driving the large vehicle. While a coalition of safety organizations challenged the new government rulings, the courts rejected them.
While this is all very discouraging and concerning for Florida motorists, a recent victory will hopefully play a role in increasing safety throughout the nation. A man’s family who was killed by a trucker received $58.5 million by a jury, $11.5 million in compensatory damages and $47 million in punitive damages. In addition, the jury cautioned the trucking company in saying that hopefully the judgment “will clearly communicate that we expect a much higher standard of safety and training in the trucking industry”. The trucker in this case had been on the job for 13 straight hours, had no big rig training, was driving with an expired registration, and had faulty equipment.
The above case proves that there is a long way to go in improving the safety of the roads in regard to driver fatigue, most notably in the trucking industry. As these truckers are pressured to make “good timing” with cargo deliveries, they often push themselves to drive longer hours than they are legally permitted. Raising awareness about the dangers linked to truck driver fatigue is the first step in reducing the number of truck accidents associated with the problem.
In the 1970s the use of asbestos in the United States was basically stopped. Over the last 30 years or so, asbestos exposure has been rearing its head into the lives of many who had been exposed prior to the knowledge of the serious dangers associated with the mineral. Years ago, asbestos was thought to be the best method of resisting heat and corrosion and was therefore used in a variety of industries such as in factories, on construction sites, and in automotive repair shops. Once the massive and severe number of health problems arose in relation to asbestos exposure, the mineral was banned. Unfortunately, the aftermath of asbestos exposure continues to haunt thousands of Americans each year.
From a statistical standpoint, the dangers of asbestos go without saying. This year, 10,000 people in the nation will die of asbestos-related diseases, most notably mesothelioma cancer and lung cancer. Today, there are about 200,000 people living with asbestosis, which is a respiratory disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Because this disease takes anywhere from 10 to 40 years to develop, victims are often unaware of the fact that they are sick until years after they were exposed to asbestos. While the health threats related to asbestos are well known today, there is still nearly 30 million pounds of asbestos being used each year in the U.S. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization points to the 54 percent of asbestos counts attributed to occupational cancers. This indicates the massive threat that currently exists.
Any type of exposure to asbestos is unsafe. However, as people are exposed to the mineral for longer periods of time at more intense rates, the likelihood of developing mesothelioma cancer or other asbestos-related diseases increases rapidly. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the EPA has classified asbestos as a known human carcinogen, which refers to a substance that causes cancer. While anyone is subject to the dangers related to asbestos exposure, certain groups like Navy veterans who served during the Korean Conflict and World War II have shown the highest frequency of asbestos-related diseases.
In the courtroom, asbestos exposure lawsuits are very tricky. In a typical asbestos lawsuit, dozens of manufacturers and employers are named as defendants due to the vast difficulty of pinpointing who is directly responsible for the asbestos-related injuries. Proving asbestos claims requires a great deal of research and evidence gathering to prove the connection between the injuries suffered and the asbestos exposure. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative to consult with an experienced attorney to handle the lawsuit together. Receiving a fair compensation always comes back to hiring a qualified lawyer to handle the asbestos case.
An 80,000 pounds semi-truck is intimidating for even the most seasoned drivers on Florida’s roadways. The intimidation factor is well-founded. From their large and dominating presence on the road to the thousands of 18-wheeler truck accidents that occur each year in the United States, it is completely understandable for motorists to fear the dangers of semi-trucks. Recent statistics point the severity of car versus truck collisions. In fact, when a large truck and a passenger automobile collide, fatalities take place in the passenger automobile 98 percent of the time. This number points to the serious nature of driving in close proximity to an 18-wheeler vehicle. To put this further into perspective, annual truck accident fatalities are equal to a major airplane accident every other week of the year.
Some of the most obvious contributing factors to the dangers of large truck collisions are as follows:
- Size and weight of semi-trucks
- Length of an 18-wheeler
- Increased room required for maneuvering
- Longer stoppage times
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Poor maintenance
- Aggressive driving
- Neglecting to yield to the right-of-way
- Adverse driving conditions such as bad weather
However, beyond the more obvious causes above, recent truck crashes indicate that the majority of them occur because of excessive truck size. This means that these large semi-trucks are actually hauling more than is safe. In addition, the length of the average 18-wheeler has increased significantly over the last 50 years, meaning much larger blind spots and, as a result, many more accidents. When a truck grows in length and weight, the time to stop the enormous vehicle grows in congruence. Finally, truck drivers involved in bad crashes are often found to have far less experience than they should. These elements all make driving near a large truck potentially very dangerous.
Unfortunately, trucking companies are involved in auto accident lawsuits all of the time. This means that they have become particularly skillful at defending themselves. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative to speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer in the event of a collision to determine your options and get what you deserve.
While it may go against common sense to the average person, the incidence of hit and run car accidents in America proves that far too many drivers are compelled to flee the scene of a crash. Even parked cards are not safe, as recent statistics point out that a mere 15 percent of hit and run accidents in a parking lot involve the guilty party leaving behind details and contact information. From pedestrians to cyclists to motorists, hit and run crashes affect all kinds of people in all sorts of situations. As such, understanding the right way to handle a hit and run accident is essential. Far too many are overwhelmed by the stress and frustration that comes with a hit and run accident, leaving them unable to make the most sound decisions. Knowing beforehand will help to increase recovery time.
First and foremost, drivers must understand how they are covered in regard to insurance. While liability only insurance policies save money, they leave accident victims responsible for at a loss in the event of a hit and run. Therefore, we recommend purchasing a full coverage auto insurance plan. In doing so, your accident injuries and damages will be covered if the guilty driver flees the scene of the crash. With the proper auto insurance coverage, hit and run accident victims are better able to remain composed in the event of a collision. The following steps should be taken if you are involved in a hit and run crash:
- Contact the police to file a report about the incident
- Ask any witnesses in close proximity if they saw anything occur
- If witnesses were present, try to gather as much detailed information as possible such as the license plate number, make, model, and color of the offender’s vehicle
- File the claim with your insurance company
- Be sure to remain in close contact with the insurance company as well as the police in order to stay on top of the status of your case
Sadly, many hit and run offenders are never found. However, with a proper handle on how to deal with a hit and run crash, the stresses and frustrations associated with the collision will be much easier to handle.
February 14th meets our nation with highly mixed emotions. For many, Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love and romance with their partner. For others, however, Valentine’s Day is a sad and depressing time that reminds them that they are alone and without a romantic partner. As such, whether a person is romantically involved or not they may be enticed to consume alcohol beverages on Valentine’s Day. From having an extra drink or two with your lover to drowning your single sorrows with friends, alcohol consumption heightens during this time of year. To avoid driving under the influence, it is important to plan ahead for your Valentine’s Day activities.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 100 million drivers in the United States get behind the wheel after drinking too much. Motor vehicle collisions involving alcohol account for approximately 1 in 3 traffic fatalities, which result in over 10,000 deaths each year. The bottom line is that deciding to operate a vehicle after a night of drinking puts not only you and your passengers at risk, but also jeopardizes the safety of all drivers on the road. In Florida, a driver over the age of 21 who has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is subject to a number of serious consequences. For those under the age of 21, Florida law maintains a zero tolerance policy. This means that drivers under the age of 21 cannot maintain a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher.
The following state the penalties for DUI first conviction in Florida:
- Fine – $250 to $500
- Community Service – 50 Hours
- Probation – Not more than 1 Year
- Imprisonment – Not more than 6 Months
- Imprisonment with BAL of .08 or higher with a minor in the vehicle, not more than 9 months
- License Revocation – Minimum of 180 days
- DUI School – 12 Hours
Palm Beach County is amongst the largest Florida counties and sees a high number of DUI convictions each year. Do not become a statistic this Valentine’s Day. When February 14th rolls around, be sure to plan ahead, designate a driver, and make sure to keep Florida’s roadways safe!
Almost every driver in Florida can recall at least one time where they were minding their own business driving along a road or highway and suddenly a pack of motorcycles loudly zoom by. Not only is this frightening, but it is often difficult to maintain safe driving habits when, as a motorist, you feel “surrounded” by motorcyclists. Often traveling in packs, motorcycle group rides are common throughout Florida. The truth is that riding with a group of motorcyclists is fun for riders. They enjoy the thrills together and feel a sense of camaraderie while riding along the roadways in a pack. While this is fun for them, it is typically terrifying for an unsuspecting car driver. Therefore, it is important to understand the best ways to safely navigate the road when in close proximity to a motorcycle rider.
The most dangerous aspects of group rides for motorcyclists are as follows:
- Too much road coverage, hindering car drivers’ ability to safely operate their vehicles
- Vast mix of skill level with such a mix in motorcyclists
- Overall chaos surrounding the majority of group rides
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study several years ago regarding the recent upturn in motorcycle accidents and injuries throughout the country. In the study, it was found that while different riders have varying preferences in terms of solo rides versus group rides, many do enjoy the sense of community associated with riding in packs. The most notable reasons in support of rider groups included:
- The ability to relax after dealing with life’s day-to-day pressures
- Experiencing the open road
- Enjoying the satisfaction linked to operating such a powerful piece of machinery
- Being a member of an elite group
Motorcycle riders enjoy group rides for a reason. As car drivers, it is important remain calm when a group of motorcyclists are driving near your vehicle. Remember, maintain your speed and continue driving as you would normally. Any jerk reaction can jumpstart a domino effect of dangerous road behaviors. As motorcycle riders, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep group rides fewer than 10 motorcyclists
- Plan ahead to determine lead riders, sweep riders, and the general formation for the ride
- Strategize with the group to make sure the route, planned stops (take a lot of breaks!), and ride duration are all understood
- Always bear in mind the skill level of your least experienced rider
- Have a thorough understanding of your pass formation
- Never tailgate, surround, or “bully” any cars on the road
Motorcyclists often get the short end of the stick when it comes to car vs. motorcycle accidents. Keep our Florida roads safe by taking group rides seriously.
Children love to play with dogs. Whether they have a dog of their own at home or not, it is the natural inclination of a child to reach out and pet a fluffy animal. In fact, those kids with dogs of their own are often even more susceptible to danger, as they expect every canine to behave in the manner of their own dog. Each year in the United States 4.5 million people suffer from dog bites – half of these bites are children. While some bites are certainly worse than others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in five dog bite injuries are so serious that they require medical attention. As dogs continue to remain our nation’s most beloved and widespread pet, it is absolutely imperative to teach our children how to safely interact with a dog in every situation.
According to the American Humane Association, 50 percent of dog bites in children involve victims under the age of 12. This means that the youngest of our children are most vulnerable, particularly those between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. Even more terrifying is that fact that the most common area that a dog attacks is the child’s head and neck. Without proper education and supervision, every child is at risk of being attacked by a dog. In Florida, dogs are commonplace on the sidewalks of our neighborhoods. Together, we must make our streets a safe place for children to play.
Take a look at the following tips for talking to your kids about dog safety:
- Never be unkind to a dog. Never kick, hit, slap, or pull on the dog’s ears, paws, or tails.
- When a dog is busy playing with a toy, sleeping, or eating, leave the dog alone!
- Service dogs must always be left alone. Be sure to teach your child how to recognize a service dog.
- Do not approach an unknown dog, especially if they are behind a fence, tied up, or in a vehicle.
- When a dog is with their owner, ask permission prior to meeting the dog. If the owner gives permission, reach your hand out in a fist for the dog to sniff.
- Be calm around all dogs. No yelling and no sudden movements.
- Dogs do not like to be kissed and hugged. Never try to hug a dog or lean in to kiss the dog on its face. Face-to-face contact is one of the most common causes of dog bites on children’s faces.
Supervision is by and far the greatest preventer of dog attacks and dog bites. Your child needs to be educated about the safest ways to approach, interact with, and prevent an accident. Remember to tell your kids that if they begin to get frightened that a dog is going to attack to stand still like a tree. Dogs will eventually lose interest and walk away from the child.
As more and more motor vehicle collision figures pour in, the growing concerns of texting and driving continue to prevail and expand. Today’s world is full of distractions. Unfortunately, these distractions have made their way into the day to day lives of the average driver. In Florida, distracted driving continues to be a serious issue that haunts the highways and roadways throughout the Sunshine State. In an effort to deter the number of people using their cell phones while behind the wheel, a number of mobile carriers have taken it upon themselves to take a stand. From Sprint’s “Drive First” to AT&T’s “DriveMode” to Verizon’s “Safely Go”, these companies have all made it clear that they understand the vast dangers associated to texting while driving.
Texting is not the only issue when it comes to cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle. Recent polls suggest that drivers, especially teen drivers, are likely to be using things like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms while they are driving. In a world where everyone must feel “connected” at all hours of the day, it is frightening to think about the growing number of motorists who using driving time to accomplish so many other things on their smart phones. As a reminder, text messaging is said to take the motorist’s eyes off of the road for an astounding 4.6 of every 6 seconds. These are scary statistics and we must take a stand now.
Below are some of the most beneficial and useful apps to download for both you and your children in order to prevent texting and driving:
- Quiet Zone
Each of these apps offers a unique way to either disable cell phone use, send automatic responses to text messages, or some other combination of safety precautions. At the end of the day, no matter what app you choose, it is absolutely imperative to stop texting, emailing, and checking social media while operating a vehicle. Together, let’s take a stand against distracted driving!
While the winter months bring snow to much of the country, Florida receives rain and a lot of it. Just last week South Florida received about 18 inches of rain over a quick 24 hour period. With over a foot of rainfall, much of Palm Beach County and St. Lucie County had to deal with flooded streets and flooded homes, even forcing schools to close throughout the area. In fact, I-95 was even closed for a portion of time near Boynton Beach. As Flood Warnings will continue over the next several months, it is extremely important for all Florida drivers to understand not only the implications of heavy rains, but also the safest ways to operate vehicles during and after these storms.
First and foremost, Florida motorists need to spend time brushing up on Florida laws in relation to driving in the rain. For instance, did you know that Florida law requires drivers to turn on their headlights when it is raining? Turning headlights on does wonders to increase visibility on the roads, a critical aspect to safe driving in the rain. Motorcycle riders are required to keep their headlights on at all times, even during the clear daytime. Drivers are encouraged to turn on their headlights even in light rain. It is always better be safe and visible than unseen and sorry. When in doubt, turn on your headlights!
Another great example of Florida law confusion is in regard to hazard lights. Can you drive with your hazard lights on during heavy rainstorms in Florida? No! According to Florida law, drivers must only turn on their hazard lights in they are pulled over on the side of the road or stalled – only when the vehicle is stationary. Hazard lights may seem like the right idea during blinding storms, but they are not! Not only do hazard lights disable turning signal lights, but they also make it difficult for the person driving behind you to tell whether or not you are braking. The Florida Highway Patrol encourages all drivers to pull over if they are uncomfortable driving in a heavy rainstorm. In this case, you may turn on your hazard lights once you have pulled over and are stationary.
Weather projections for Palm Beach County suggest on and off rains all day today. Beyond making sure that your vehicle is visible, be sure to understand the traction limitations that are present in the rain. Even light rain will affect a vehicle’s ability to stop. Always leave for extra braking time while operating a vehicle in the rain. Also, when the rain gets very heavy it is important to remain in the middle lane, as the outside lanes are known to pool water. And remember; never drive if you are not comfortable with the weather conditions. In severe thunderstorms, it is best to wait before getting in the car. On behalf of Larmoyeux & Bone, stay dry and stay safe!
“Snowbirds” are no stranger to Florida. While many other states in the country would believe this term referred to some sort of flying animal, Florida residents are well-aware of this phrase and what it means to the roadways and highways each winter season. More often than not, snowbirds are retirees from the Northeast, Midwest, or Pacific Northwest of the United States as well as residents of Canada. These people flock to Florida in order to spend their summers in the warmer regions of the nation, most notably, the Sunshine State.
Snowbirds are not always bad for Florida. They help to boost our tourism sector while brining an overall economic benefit to the state. However, while the economic advantages are advantageous, the amount of road congestion that they bring poses a serious concern. As of late, many will notice the massive influx of vehicles on the roads and highways throughout Florida. Naturally, these overcrowded streets increase the risk of an auto accident. While driving safely is vital year-round, Florida’s winter months mark the most critical time of year to pay extra attention on the roads. Distracted driving, for instance, causes more motor vehicle collisions during the winter months, as there are too many cars on the road to look down for even a split second.
Keep these driving safety tips in mind this winter, especially during rush hour traffic:
- Know your speed! It is easy to get caught driving fast when traffic is frustrating and makes you late to work. Prepare for more cars on the roads during rush hour and leave early!
- Do not succumb to road rage. Snowbirds often bring out the worst attributes in drivers as they become overly aggravated by the number of cars on the roads. Take a deep breath and remember that being 5 minutes late is better than being involved in an auto accident.
- Never drive under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The winter months are a time for parties and get-togethers. Always plan ahead and appoint a designated driver.
- Buckle up! This may seem like a no-brainer, but far too many drivers neglect to wear a seatbelt. A snowbird that is lost will not care that you were just driving down the block, always wear your safety belt!
- Never tailgate! This is one of the most common mistakes when the snowbirds arrive in Florida. Snowbirds are often driving without knowing exactly where they are going. If this is the case, they may stop short and if you are following behind too closely you will not be able to avoid a collision.
The snowbirds are here in full force and instead of festering feelings of frustration and annoyance, try to relax and make the best of it. Be sure to drive carefully this winter, while Floridians may not have to deal with the dangers of driving in the snow; we certainly have to deal with the hazards of driving with the snowbirds. Drive safely!