Study Finds Truckers That Text While Driving Increase Crash Risk 23 Times
By Rachel E. Montes on Sunday, July 26, 2009
A new study that is scheduled to be released tomorrow shows that drivers of commercial trucks that text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in an automobile accident that drivers that do not engage in driving while texting (DWT). This is the first study of the relationship between the distraction drivers of 18 wheelers incur when they drive while texting or when they use of cell phones while driving.
The study was conducted by the Virgina Tech Transportation Institute and financed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which has as its mission promoting and improving the safety in the operation of buses and commercial trucks. The study involved outfitting long-haul trucks (interstate18 wheelers) with video cameras that monitored the actions of the drivers and of the truck during an 18 month period. It is certainly no surprise that the activity of driving while texting is a dangerous behavior or that it increases the risk of being in a crash. After all, driving while texting is a behavior, which by definition, that involves distracting the driver from his or her primary focus of watching the road and maintaining control over the truck. The study shows that the risk of being in a car wreck not only sharply exceeds previous estimates based on laboratory research, but it and far surpasses the dangers of other driving distractions. Rich Hanowski, who oversaw the study, characterized the level of distraction that driving while texting by saying that compared to other distractions, “texting is in its own universe of risk.” In light of these findings, it is no surprise that Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech institute, one of the world’s largest vehicle safety research organizations, echoed the feelings that our website has been saying for some time now. Mr. Dingus said the study’s message was clear. “You should never do this [driving while texting], and “It should be illegal.”
Sadly, only 14 states have made driving while texting illegal while other states continue to say that they need more data and more research before they decide to make it illegal. The problem with this wait and see approach is not only are more people going to be killed and seriously injured in an accident that could have been prevented or minimized, but that until the conduct is illegal most police agencies that investigate collisions do not gather or report information on accidents that are believed to have caused because the driver was distracted because he or she was driving while texting using a cell phone.
One of the most revealing findings that is being released from the study is that, “In the moments before a crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices – enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field.” In other words, drivers traveling at highway speeds lose at least 5 seconds of precious time to react to hazards and to reduce their speed in order to minimize the damage and forces involved when there is a collision.
Just recently, we saw locally how dangerous driving while texting can be for drivers of an 18 wheeler. As our blog reported, a chain reaction collision involving 9 vehicles, including an 18 wheeler has left two people dead and seven more injured in Gainseville, Texas along northbound Interstate 35 (I-35). According to reports, traffic was backed up and flowing slowly due to construction on Interstate 35 when Randy Crume, the driver of a semi truck failed to control speed and struck the rear of the stopped traffic causing multiple collisions. Fort Worth residents, Gervious Hinkle and his 13-year-old grandson Casey Ishak were both killed in the crash. Read the entire post in our blog under 18 Wheeler Accidents: 18 Wheeler Involved in Deadly Wreck In Gainseville: Possible Driving While Texting.
The results of the Virginia Tech study were somewhat surprising because the findings were so much greater than the findings of a University of Utah study of college students who drove a simulator while textings. In the Utah study of college students, the study found that the risk of crash was increased 8 times when the students were driving while texting as compared to when they were not texting. While the difference in the risk in these studies is significant, David Strayer of the University of Utah emphasized that “You’re off the charts in both cases. It’s crazy to be doing it.” As we all know, the problem is that so many people are doing it, and doing it so often. According to CTLA (a cellular telephone industry trade group), in December of 2008, phone users in the United States sent 110 billion messages, a tenfold increase in just three years.
Even though trucks take longer to stop and are less maneuverable than cars, the findings generally applied to all drivers, who tend to exhibit the same behaviors as the more than 100 truckers studied, the researchers said. Truckers, they said, do not appear to text more or less than typical car drivers, but they said the study did not compare use patterns that way.
Let’s hope that our state legislatures and that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Congress get the message we are sending. Driving While Texting is extra-ordinarly dangerous and needs to be illegal in all fifty states.
The Montes Herald Law Group, L.L.P. is a law firm with offices in Irving and Dallas Texas. We are experienced and qualified attorneys who dedicate our practice to the representation of personal injury victims, including victims of car accidents, premises liability claims, insurance and bad faith claims, construction accidents and other cases where people are severely injured through the negligence and reckless conduct of others. Please visit our website at www.MontesHerald.com for more information concerning our law firm and Rachel Montes and Tom Herald. If you desire a free consultation on a personal injury matter, please call us at (214) 522-9401 or email us at Rachel@MontesHerald.com or Thomas@MontesHerald.com for a free case evaluation.
Retired Mansfield Independent School District Superintendent Killed In Motorcycle Crash
By Rachel E. Montes posted in Motorcycle Accidents on Thursday, July 23, 2009
Vernon Newsom (61) the recently retired superintendent for the Mansfield Independent Schooli District was kill in a motorcycle wreck near Geddes, South Dakota. According to police, Mr. Newsom were traveling down Highway 50 on their Honda Gold Wing three-wheel motorcycle known as a trike and attempting to pass a 2-ton grain truck just as the truck made a left turn. In an effort to avoid a collision, Mr. Newsom drove into a ditch and lost control of the motorcycle. Mr. Newsom’s wife Nadyne (62) was traveling as a passenger on the motorcycle, and she is reportedly in critical condition.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of motorcycle accident or a wreck with a commercial vehicle, you should take steps to secure evidence immediately. The fact that the wreck takes place outside of the state of Texas does not mean that you should not hire attorney that is near you. Once the initial investigation is completed and usually with the assistance of expert accident reconstuctionists, it is not usually necessary to hire attorney that is located close to the site of the wreck. Decisions will be made by an attorney as to when a lawsuit should be filed, and where to file the lawsuit. While the county in which the wreck occurred may be a place where the lawsuit can be filed, frequently, there are better locations to file the lawsuit, often times in other states, that may greatly impact the outcome of the case. You need an attorney to conduct a thorough investigation of the wreck, and to help you make decisions about how to best proceed on your. Contact Rachel Montes or Tom Herald of Montes Herald Law Group, LLP. We are located in Las Colinas, Texas (centrally located in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex) and we handle 18 wheeler accidents across the State of Texas as well as across the United States. Call us at (214) 522-9401 for a free, no obligation consultation. Visit our website at www.MontesHerald.com for more information about our attorneys and the cases we handle.
Fort Worth Bus Accident Kills 1 and Critically Injures Two
By Rachel E. Montes posted in Auto Accidents: Fatality Collisions on Tuesday, July 21, 2009
A Fort Worth Bus (The T) crashed Tuesday on the eastbound side of Loop 820 at Mark IV Parkway, about a quarter mile west of Interstate 35W. The wreck involved 4 vehicles, all of which caught fire in the collision, including a MITS bus from the T’s Mobility Impaired Transportation Service and a blue dodge pick-up truck.
Fort Worth Transportation Authority operations manager Tony Johnson said, “It’s our understanding that a vehicle stopped in front of the van. The van may have hit the other vehicles, which probably caused the vehicle to catch fire.”
One person was killed in the collision and two others were critically injured and transported to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Two people who were non-critically injured were taken to a Fort Worth Hospital. Another person, whose identity has not been released, was treated at the scene and release.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident anywhere in the Dallas Fort-Worth metroplex, you need lawyers on your side who will investigate the issues not only of the wreck. This is particularly the case anytime a government-owned vehicle such as a bus is involved in the collision. In those cases, while you have two years to file a lawsuit, you must provide written notice of your claim much sooner (usually within 6 months of the date of the wreck) to the proper governmental agency. If you fail to provide the proper written notice in a timely manner, then you will lose your right to file a lawsuit later. At Montes Herald Law Group, LLP, our attorneys aggressively investigate cases to preserve evidence of the other party’s responsibility and of your pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, punitive damages and other damages that you are entitled to recover by law. Contact Rachel Montes or Thomas Herald at (214) 522-9401 to get a free case evaluation today, and visit our website at www.MontesHerald.com to learn more about our firm.
ONE KILLED, ONE INJURED IN HEAD-ON COLLISION
By Rachel E. Montes posted in Auto Accidents: Fatality Collisions on Monday, July 20, 2009
One person was killed and two were injured in a head on collision at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Weatherford. , Weatherford police say that the truck traveling westbound in the 500 block of West Foruth Street crossed over into oncoming traffic and struck head-on into a van that was traveling eastbound. The driver of the truck died at the scene. PHI Air Ambulance transported the driver of the van to Harris Hospital in Fort Worth while the passenger of the van was treated and released. A third vehicle was clipped by the truck after it struck the van, but the driver was not injured. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident anywhere in the Dallas Fort-Worth metroplex, you need lawyers on your side who will investigate the issues of the wreck. At Montes Herald Law Group, LLP, our attorneys aggressively investigate cases to preserve evidence of the other party’s responsibility and of your pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, punitive damages and other damages that you are entitled to recover by law. Contact Rachel Montes or Thomas Herald at (214) 522-9401 to get a free case evaluation today, and visit our website at www.MontesHerald.com to learn more about our firm.
The Fight to Keep Your Constitutional Right to a Jury Trial
By Rachel E. Montes posted in Recent Court Decisions on Monday, July 20, 2009
A recent opinion from the United States Supreme Court’s in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 US ____ (2009) is dramatically changing our legal system and how Courts view the right to your day in court and the right to a jury trial. The opinion even drew criticism from one of the more conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg told a group of Federal Judges that the decision in the Iqbal case was both “important and dangerous.” “In my view,” Justice Ginsburg said, “the court’s majority messed up the federal rules” governing civil litigation.
The Iqbal decision is a case that concerned the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The court ruled that a Muslim man who was swept up on immigration charges and detained could not sue two Bush administration officials for what he said was the terrible abuse he suffered while in detention. In Iqbal, Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani Muslim who was working as a cable television installer on Long Island, said he was subjected to intrusive searches and vicious beatings after being arrested on identity fraud charges two months after the Sept. 11 attacks.
For more than half a century, it has been well established that in federal cases a plaintiff must file a lawsuit that provides “a short and plain statement of the claim” to put the Defendant on fair notice of the claims and facts involved in the case. The parties would then engage in discovery that would enable the parties to discover the truth behind those facts and claims to see if the case had merit. After the parties engaged in discovery, there are procedures available that enable a Defendant to request the Court to dismiss the case claiming that the case has no merit. The discovery process is very important to parties because we all know that most defendants do not admit that they did something wrong or publicize their negligent conduct when someone is injured. To the contrary, defendants do their best to try to keep information about their improper or illegal activities a secret.
The Iqbal decision now requires plaintiffs to come forward with concrete facts at the outset before they have had an opportunity to investigate the facts thoroughly to even uncover truthful information that has been hidden which would show the defendant is liable to the Plaintiff. As a result of the Iqbal decision, federal judges are being instructed to dismiss lawsuits as implausible. Courts have already begun dismissing lawsuit citing the Iqbal decision that the cases are implausible. One federal judge dismissed a disability discrimination suit. Another federal appeals court dismissed a breach of contract and securities fraud suit. In a federal case that was filed by members of the Duke University lacrosse team that wear falsely accused of raping a woman, and were not only later proven innocent but also resulted in disciplinary action against the prosecutor for his wrongful conduct in prosecuting the defendants, a federal judge has asked for briefing on whether their lawsuit can pass muster under Iqbal. Clearly, this decision is going to radically change the legal landscape for many parties.
As a result of the Iqbal decision, a party can lose the right to a jury trial and his day in court because a judge does not have like the lawsuit even if the party has not been given the chance to prove that his case has merit. This decision puts a lot of power in the hands of one person, and can directly eliminate a fundamental right of all Americans to a trial by jury. Thus, it is not surprising that this change in federal law is considered to be both “important and dangerous” by Justice Ginsberg.
Most legal scholars concede that one of the biggest legal battlegrounds over the past 10 years has been the battle of corporate America to eliminate the constitutional right to a jury trial. More and more, corporations are forcing employees to sign agreements that they will arbitrate all employment disputes. In addition, corporations that enter into contracts with their customers are increasing adding language to those contracts at the suggestion of their attorneys and insurance companies that try to force legal disputes to be arbitrated instead of being tried before a jury because of fears that juries will treat the parties fairly.
Most Americans understand that the right to a jury trial and the right to have your day in court is an important right. It is not only important, but it is a fundamental right that is guaranteed under the Constitution. Under the Federal Constitution, the right to a jury trial is a fundamental right. It was significant enough to the Founding Fathers of our country that the right to a jury trial is mentioned in two of the amendments of the Bill of Rights. Under the Sixth Amendment, the Constitution guarantees all Americans:
- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Under the Seventh Amendment, the United States Constitution guarantees every American:
- In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
In addition to the protections under Federal law, Texas has also enacted a State Constitution which also provides that “The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.” In addition, the Texas Constitution acknowledges the necessity of the right to have your day in court which is directly linked to the concept of the right to a jury trial. Specifically, the Texas Constitution provides that “All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation shall have remedy by due course of law.”
Nevertheless, if you turn on your radio or watch some of the political shows on TV, you will no doubt hear the cry that someone should not have the right to file a lawsuit or cries against runaway juries. However, those same pundits rarely talk about surveys from judges that say the idea of a runaway jury is a myth. The United States Department of Justice conducted a study which concluded that the fears of a runaway jury were unjustified. Attached is a copy of a summary of the study. In addition, you can read the Department of Justice study by going to the following link. (Article no longer available online).
A survey of Texas judges further confirms that the fears of runaway juries and fears that juries award large amounts for damages that are not supported by the evidence is simply not true. Among the findings of the study are:
- More than 83 percent of the Texas district court judges had never observed a single instance of a “runaway” jury verdict on either actual or exemplary damages during the preceding four years.
- More than 85 percent of judges had not, or had in only one instance, granted relief during the past four years due to an excessive award of actual damages. No judge in the entire sampling had granted such relief during the prior four years in more than three cases.
- More than 83 percent of Texas judges had not witnessed a single jury award compensatory damages that were too high.
- 15 percent of Texas trial judges observed that juries do not award punitive damages even when those judges believed such an award was warranted.
- 44 percent of the judges had not personally observed a single frivolous lawsuit in their courtroom during the prior four years.
- 99 percent had observed no more than between 1 percent to 25 percent (the lowest percentage category available) of the cases filed before them as being frivolous.
- 85 percent of the responding judges had not punished a lawyer for violating the courts’ rules more than one time during the previous four years.
- More than 86 percent of the responding judges believed there is no need for further legislation addressing frivolous lawsuits.
Please continue to monitor the Montes Herald Law Group, LLP blog for updates on new laws and court rulings that have a direct impact on the citizens of Texas. Montes Herald Law Group, LLP is located in Irving (Las Colinas), Texas. View our website at www.MontesHerald.com and our blog to find out more about our attorneys and the cases we handle.
Tollway Officials Slow to React To Wrong Way Drivers
By Rachel E. Montes posted in Auto Accidents: Fatality Collisions on Monday, July 13, 2009
In a news story that aired on CBS 11 Dallas, reporter Bennett Cunningham did a follow up on the recent rash of fatality, head-on collisions that have been occurring on the the Dallas North Tollway over the past few months. While the Tollway indicates it is continuing to investigate these accidents and to look for ways to improve safety, CBS simply drove the tollroad and found road signs that were obscured by trees, roadsigns that were so faded that they were no longer reflective, and road signs that could not even be seen by motorists due to the location and placement of the signs. In addition, the story also highlighted that studies have shown that if “Wrong Way” and “Do Not Enter” signs are lowered closer to the roadway, driver’s are more likely to observe these signs, and that where such signs have been lowered, there has been about a 20 percent reduction in wrong-way, head-on collisions.
We encourage you to visit the CBS website to read the full story and to watch the video of the story CBS aired as like so many other corporations, safety seems to be more important to corporations when their conduct is publicized.