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Safety Tips for Summer Road Trips

Summer is fast approaching and many are planning road trips with family and friends.  In order to ensure a good time for all, keep the following safety tips in mind: Prepare:  Be sure to inspect your vehicle to ensure it

Distracted Driving Prompts New Cell Phone Restrictions in California

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On September 26th, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new state law (Assembly Bill 1785) expanding California’s restrictions on cell phone use while driving.

As of January 1, 2017, “holding and operating” a mobile phone for any reason while driving in California will be against the law. The exception to this rule is motorists using smartphones that are mounted to the dashboard or windshield for functions that require a single swipe motion or tap of the driver’s finger. Launching apps and surfing the web is outlawed.

According to Distraction.gov, here are the current California state laws including the latest restrictions:

Note: California defines novice drivers as drivers of all ages under the age of 18.

The first restrictions on cellphone use while driving in California were passed by the Legislature in 2006. Existing laws ban drivers from calling and texting while on the road unless using a hands-free device (e.g. Bluetooth). However, using navigation apps was not illegal under current law. The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Bill Quirk in order to prevent distracted driving.

80 percent of all crashes result from distracted driving/driver inattention. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyers | California Car Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, caused by another party’s negligence, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers to help protect your legal rights. Call us at 888-997-5170 for a free case consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for accident-related expenses such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Texting While Driving & Employer Liability

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Texting While Driving Statistics

As technology advances and the popularity of mobile devices increases, so do the number of fatalities and injuries associated with texting while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 18% of all fatal crashes in 2012 were caused by driver distraction. In one year alone, 3,328 people died and 421,000 people were wounded.[1] In 2010, one of every eleven traffic fatalities was caused by driver cell phone use.[2] Overall, studies have estimated that twenty-eight percent of traffic accidents occur when people talk on cellphones or text while driving.[3]

Legislation

Congress has not enacted legislation implementing a national ban on texting or using a wireless phone while driving, but a number of states have passed laws banning texting or phones usage or requiring hands-free use of wireless phones while driving.[4] In June 2012, the National Safety Transportation Board (NSTB) issued a recommendation to ban the use of all cell phones while driving, including hands-free devices. California has legislation addressing each. Subject to a few exceptions, California Vehicle Code § 23123 forbids driving while using a wireless phone unless the phone is specifically designed to allow hands-free operation and is used in that way. And California Vehicle Code § 23123.5 outlaws texting while driving unless the device is designed to allow voice-operated, hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text and is used in that way.

Employer Liability

Evolving legislation may create questions for employers who require employees to communicate via telephone while operating a vehicle. Generally, the doctrine of respondeat superior (vicarious liability) allows employers to be held liable for their employee’s negligence in the operation of an automobile if the employee’s conduct was within the scope of his or her employment. The often critical question is determining, in an accident caused by texting or phone use, whether the cellular communication was within the scope of the employees employment. Employers who encourage their employees to use hands-free devices as a safe alternative while driving may reduce their liability in an accident. However, determining the full scope of liability is dependent on multiple factors, and parties with questions should consult a California personal injury attorney.

[1] https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/dangers-texting-while-driving

[2] Isaac A. Hof, Wake-Up Call: Eliminating the Major Roadblock That Cell Phone Driving Creates for Employer Liability, 84 Temp. L. Rev. 701 (2012).

[3] Danielle Lenth, Chapter 570: Paving the Way for Autonomous Vehicles, 44 McGeorge L. Rev. 787, 795 (2013)

[4] https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/dangers-texting-while-driving

Tragic Orland Car Accident Kills 15 Year Old

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On Tuesday, June 7,  a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer crashed into stopped traffic in a construction zone on the I-5 in Orland, CA . The officer, distracted by his computer, failed to see the traffic slowing down ahead of him and rear-ended a Hyundai Elantra. The resulting crash tragically killed 15-year old Willows resident Weston Sites and injured two other teenagers, who were taken to Enloe Medical Center in Chico. CHP officers on the scene stated that a separate investigation team would be handling the investigation.

Distracted Driving Statistics

Distracted driving poses a significant risk to drivers everywhere. Using devices such as computers or handheld electronic requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention, thus increasing the likelihood of accident while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) , in the US in 2014 alone, 3,179 deaths and 431,000 injuries resulted from motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. The National Occupant Protection Use Survey reports that approximately 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices at any given moment across America, and that this number has been consistent since 2010.

Legal Rights of Those Injured

Legally, drivers owe a heightened duty of care when compared to pedestrians due to the potential significant damage a vehicle can cause if misused. A driver’s breach of this duty of care subjects the driver to civil penalties such that the harm done to others may be mitigated. Those in Northern California suffering injury resulting from a distracted driving incident, or those whose loved ones have suffered such harm, would do well to seek the services of a Northern California personal injury attorney.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Weston Sites. We wish the injured teenagers the best in their efforts toward recovery.

The holidays are here, and so are the accidents.

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The holidays are a time for celebration and togetherness but they are also a time for last-minute shoppers and holiday party-goers. Whether people are making a “Happy Holidays!” phone call from behind the wheel, dashing to the next holiday function, or drinking “spirited” eggnog,  drivers exhibit dangerous behaviors  this time of year.

Driving when you’re distracted, impaired or tired is always dangerous. However, low visibility, rain, ice and snow, and the pressures of the holidays makes December a dangerous month to be on the road. Whether you’re driving a sleigh or a car, drive safely this holiday season!

Avoid these four most dangerous holiday driving hazards:

1. Distracted Driving: driving while using your cell for talking and texting, browsing the web, and engaging in any activity other than driving.

2. Impaired Driving: involves the consumption of alcohol or use of drugs. During the winter holidays, there is an increased number of drunk or impaired drivers on the roadways. The number of tragedies including serious injuries and loss of life increases significantly as a result of impaired driving. There are multiple ride share programs and taxi businesses available for use during the holidays.

3. Pressured Driving: Forgetting to purchase gifts, meeting deadlines and getting home in time for supper are factors that can increase the pressures and stress created by trying to accomplish multiple tasks in a small amount of time. Stressed out drivers may drive faster for current conditions, aggressively and dangerously change lanes, fail to yield or stop properly, and disregard others’ safety when on the road.

4. Tired Driving: The winter holidays increase activities and demands that cause a decrease or lack of sleep.

As personal injury attorneys, the trend we see the most is distracted driving more than the others combined. People are rear- ended by drivers texting or making phone calls. Don’t text and drive. It can wait. Be safe these holidays from Kershaw, Cook & Talley.

Distracted Driving is Deadly Driving

Distracted Driver Kills Father, Son Left In Critical Condition 

Sacramento, CA- CBS Sacramento reported on a father who was killed and his son left in critical condition after a car hit them Sunday morning. Mustafa and his son Andrew were biking in their neighborhood when a distracted driver was texting and drifted into their bike lane. Unfortunately, Mustafa and Andrew were not wearing helmets yet rode their bikes in the bike lane. Just a week ago, the family immigrated to the United States from a village in Afghanistan in fear of ISIS retaliation. They came to the United States to start a new life, a safer life.

Distracted Driving Statistics 

Distracted driving is deadly driving. In 2012, 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 were injured in distraction-affected crashes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and VTTI.

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Potential Legal Claims

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) states the driver stayed at the scene and the investigation is ongoing. No arrests were made. Texting while driving is against the law in Sacramento County and in the state of California. In this situation, the at-fault party is generally liable for injuries or losses occurring as a result of their distracted driving.

If you are involved in an accident resulting from the distracted driving of another driver, you are potentially entitled to compensation.  Our experienced distracted driving accident attorneys in Sacramento will seek maximum compensation for you or your loved one’s full recovery.

Freedom from Distracted Driving: July 4th Safe Driving Tips

The fourth of July weekend is a chaotic travel period in California, and the deadliest on the roadways. Focus on fun and safe driving. Distracted driving will ruin your weekend, and can put your life or someone else’s at risk. “This is a time for celebration, not tragedy,” said California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Celebrate this Independence Day by having fun but also by being responsible in the choices you make.” Here are 10 safe driving tips to start your Independence Day off right:

Ensure your car is in good working condition before leaving. Get a tune up; check tire tread and pressure, oil and fluid levels, working lights and windshield wipers, etc.

Buckle up. Last year during the Independence Day weekend in California 32 people were killed with 70 percent of those killed not wearing a seat belt. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50%. Adults who live in rural areas are 10% less likely to wear seat belts (78% usage) than adults who live in urban and suburban areas (87% usage). Also, secure infants and children in properly fitted car seats and booster seats. In the majority of accidents, seat belts save lives.

Don’t drink and drive.  California law defines driving impaired as a crime with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent (0.08 g alcohol per 100 ml blood). Last year on Independence Day, more than 1,300 people in were arrested by the CHP for driving under the influence.The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides fast facts about driving under the influence. According to the CDC, one 12-ounce beer is equivalent to one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Drinking alcohol slows reaction time and impairs judgment and coordination, all skills needed to safely drive a car.  The more alcohol consumed, the greater the impairment. If you drink, don’t drive. Designate a sober driver or use a taxi service, private car or ride share.

Sobering Facts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during Fourth of July periods from 2008 to 2012, 765 people were killed in DUI-related crashes nationwide. The CHP will be out in full force during the holiday weekend in an effort to reduce roadway deaths and prevent injuries. The Independence Day Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) begins on Friday, July 3, at 6 p.m. and continues through Sunday, July 5, at 11:59 p.m. All available officers throughout the state will be deployed during the MEP to focus enforcement on occupant restraints, speed violations, and those driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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Observe speed limits.  Think ahead and allow plenty of time for arriving to your destination. You will share the road with thousands of other drivers, road construction, and traffic is probably unavoidable.

Stay alert. Take a break if you are tired or drowsy. Take advantage of rest stops. Drive alert.

Avoid distractions. Don’t talk or text on your cell phone while driving. Talking or texting while driving is against the law in Sacramento County and anywhere else in the state, the CHP warned. Program your GPS before leaving or when stopped, never while driving. Ask your passenger to be in charge of music. Don’t put on makeup while driving. Don’t eat, open or close food packaging while driving. Other vehicles may be getting in your lane, turning, or slowing down. In-car distractions diminish your chances of driving defensively when you need to most. One or two seconds of distractions can negatively impact your life and the lives of others.

Load SUVs properly. When loaded down with additional weight—such as passengers, luggage, and equipment—SUVs become less stable. Compared to most sedans and station wagons, SUVs have a higher center of gravity. With the extra weight, which typically rides above a SUV’s center of gravity, the vehicle can tip over more easily.

Drive cautiously on rural roads. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more accidents occur on rural roads than other venues.

Secure your pet. Most likely you wear a seat belt. What about your pet? Cats and dogs should be secured in crates that are secured by straps or bungee cords in the event of a sudden stop. A loose pet or a hurling crate can crash through the windshield. Protect your 4-legged friends.

Act like your life depends on driving safely. It does.

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We understand personal injury cases are often emotionally and financially straining. Our team of top personal injury attorneys in Sacramento is committed to seeking justice for individuals injured as a result of another's negligence or intentional misconduct. At Kershaw, Cook & Talley, our experienced personal injury attorneys will hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.

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