Who’s Responsible for the Duck Boat Disaster?

On July 19, 2018, a tour boat known as a “duck boat” capsized during a storm on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri. Among the two crew members and 29 passengers on board, a total of 17 died—16 passengers and one from the crew. One woman lost nine of her family members in the tragedy. The sinking near Branson is far from the first duck boat fatalities in the U.S. Over the past 20 years, almost 40 people have died in duck boat accidents, either on the road or in the water (a duck boat can navigate both). Thirteen people died when a duck boat sank on a lake near Hot Springs, Arkansas, in May, 1999. What is a Duck Boat? Duck boats come from the military. During World War II and the Korean War, the U.S. military used DUKW (duck) boats to move goods and troops over both land and water. The boats are amphibious, meaning they can move smoothly from land to water and vice versa. The boats were never intended to have a long life span, and yet a number of them are still in use as commercial tourist transportation. It has been determined that the duck[…..]

What Are the Odds?

When something unusual occurs, we may wonder out loud, “What are the odds?” As it turns out, when it comes to how people die, we can determine what the odds are of certain types of death for an entire population. We don’t mean to be morbid, but the truth is, everyone dies eventually. Perhaps you’re afraid of dying in an airplane crash or from a terrorist attack, or maybe because of a lightning strike. According to the CDC, about 2.6 million people died during 2014 in the U.S. That’s about 824 persons per 100,000 in the population. Remember that these odds are enormous generalizations across all ages and health conditions. For example, you do not necessarily have high odds of dying from cancer if you don’t have certain genetic or lifestyle risk factors—or if you die young from an accident. (Most cancers happen to us when we live a long time.) What We Aren’t Worrying About There are many causes of death, and some of them don’t worry us as much as they probably should. What kills a large number of us is disease and addiction. Judging from the way some of us treat our bodies, we probably aren’t worried[…..]

“Do Not Disturb While Driving”

When you see a distracted driver on the road, perhaps you’ve wished for a magic “do not disturb” feature that would keep other folks’ minds on their driving. While no magic is involved, Apple has implemented a new iPhone function called Do Not Disturb While Driving with their latest operating system, iOS 11. If you have an iPhone or other Apple device, you may be able to update to iOS 11 and use the new function. iOS 11 was released on September 19, 2017. Helping Drivers Avoid Temptation Many people cannot resist the lure of text messages, even when they know they should not be looking. Do Not Disturb While Driving (DNDWD) addresses the problem. The “Do Not Disturb” function has been available on iPhones for some time, but the new function takes things a step further. DNDWD can be set up to detect automatically when you’re driving, hiding messages and keeping your phone silent to prevent distraction. You can also configure DNDWD to send an automated reply to a texter that informs them you’re driving. Suppose you have a passenger? They can indicate to the phone that they are not the driver in order to disable the “locked” aspect[…..]

When CSI is Really SCI

Maryland Auto Wreck Attorney

It was 1970 when serious accident investigation began at Volvo. They wanted to determine which were safer—lap belts or “three-point” seat belts. Engineers at Volvo formed a team and studied the results of crashes where the “three-point” seat belts were in use. It’s one reason we have the seat belt design we do today. In 2017, we have teams that involve both the automakers and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis’s (NCSA) Special Crash Investigations (SCI) Program. The SCI Program has provided detailed data to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) since 1972. Every year, more than 100 crashes are chosen for study. The investigators focus on certain data points concerning the road, the vehicles, the occupants and their injuries, and the safety systems installed in the vehicles. Basically, SCI is similar to CSI; Dr. Carl Schulman, a surgeon and injury prevention specialist at the University of Miami’s William Lehman Injury Research Center, has noted that “instead of a crime scene, it’s a crash scene.” How Does the SCI Program Operate? Cases are selected by the NCSA based on what the agency believes it needs to study. These days they often want to check the performance of emerging[…..]

PTSD Impacts Vehicle Crash Victims – Especially Children

Maryland Vehicle Accident Lawyer

We like to think that we have a certain amount of control over ourselves – how we think, how we feel and how we react to the things around us. In many aspects of our personal lives, we do have control. But our subconscious minds can be much more complicated and powerful than we realize. Recent research has shed light on one way our bodies respond to traumatic events. Specifically, one study examines how children are affected physically and emotionally after being involved in a vehicle crash. Before we look at the results of this study, let’s understand how our biology is shaped by traumatic events. Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder We are hardwired to respond to certain situations in ways that are simply beyond our control. Consider the reflex test that doctors give you, the test where they strike below your knee and your leg goes flying without any direction from your conscious mind. Likewise, our minds are conditioned by the experiences we’ve had and our brains then use certain defense mechanisms to protect us from future harm. Post-traumatic stress disorder is like the response we have to the reflex test. Built into our biology is a system that responds[…..]

Safety for All in Work Zones

Maryland Work Zone Accident Lawyer

You’ve seen the signs, such as “Give ‘em a brake” and “Let ‘em work, let ‘em live.” But maybe you still can’t help being a bit unhappy when a slowdown in a work zone occurs. We all have family to take care of, work to accomplish, and appointments to keep; all of us get that. But the workers have lives, too. They have a job to do, and they deserve to stay alive and unhurt while doing it. The belief that work zone workers should be safe while doing their jobs underscores the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) observance of National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), which occurs in 2017 from April 3 through 7. The FHWA has been backing this annual reminder since 1999. This year, the national kick-off event is in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Tuesday, April 4, at 10:30 a.m. The 2017 NWZAW slogan, “Work Zone Safety is in Your Hands,” is supposed to keep drivers cognizant of their actions while traveling through work zones. Serious injury and death can befall work zone workers simply through the careless actions of drivers who don’t obey posted speed limits, who don’t follow traffic directions from signs and flaggers, or who[…..]

Drunk Driving Halved in the Last 30 Years – Thank MADD For That

Maryland Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

For decades, drunk driving-related crashes consistently accounted for around half of all traffic fatalities in the United States. Even though we had the technology to detect the presence of alcohol in a driver’s system since the 1930s, and even though several studies had been conducted about the dangers of driver impairment on our roads, there seemed to be little will among legislators to pass any meaningful laws to address the problem. For nearly 60 years, drunk driving rates held firm. In 1980, this meant that around 25,000 lives were lost because of impaired drivers. To put it another way — 25,000 families lost a loved one because of drunk driving. It was in 1980 that a group of mothers decided to do something about it, and they succeeded where so many before them had fallen short. Led by Candace Lightner, the mother of drunk driving victim Cari, these mothers became tireless advocates for what is perhaps the most important movement in the history of road safety in America. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was born out of tragedy, but it paved the way for legislation and safety awareness campaigns that have made every American safer. MADD is a testament to our[…..]

Combating Distracted Driving by Improving Devices

In late November, 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put forward guidelines meant to deal with the problem of driver distraction due to portable electronic devices in vehicles, including mobile devices such as smartphones. The announcement revealed the second phase of the NHTSA’s voluntary guidelines. The first phase addressed systems or devices that were already built into vehicles. These guidelines are meant for manufacturers, not drivers, in order to encourage the implementation of features such as “Driver Mode”—a simplified interface that would help users who might be on the road. Driver Mode would have both an automatic option and a manual option; automatic would mean the device would start Driver Mode if the device detected it was being used by the driver. Driver Mode would not activate when a non-driver was using the device. Another functionality that the NHTSA would like to see implemented includes pairing, where a portable device links to the vehicle’s infotainment system. In the press release, the NHTSA said, “Both pairing and Driver Mode will reduce the potential for unsafe driver distraction by limiting the time a driver’s eyes are off the road, while at the same time preserving the[…..]

Zero Traffic Deaths: A Realistic Goal?

Maryland Traffic Fatalities Lawyer

In October, 2016, the federal government set a goal of completely eliminating traffic deaths and injuries in the U.S. by 2046. Officials in the Department of Transportation revealed a plan that focuses on increasing seat belt usage; campaigns against drunken, drugged, and distracted driving; and increases the use of rumble strips (strips across the road that use vibration and rumbling to alert a driver of road changes or hazards). The Department’s statement claimed that various technologies, including self-driving cars, will make it possible for the goal to be accomplished relatively quickly. Fully-autonomous vehicles, it is believed, could potentially eliminate all human error, which contributes to 94 percent of all crashes. Eliminating all, or almost all, traffic deaths and injuries through technology sounds awfully good, doesn’t it? Hold on for a minute. The Transportation Department’s plan came about because of a 7.2 percent jump in traffic fatalities in 2015, the biggest annual percentage increase in 50 years. And, if you think that increase is upsetting, hear this: In the first six months of 2016 alone, highway deaths surged 10.4 percent over the same time period in 2015. And supposedly it’s mainly because of apps on smartphones, such as Snapchat (the cause[…..]

Liability in Ridesharing (Uber) Accidents

Popular ridesharing companies, including Uber and Lyft, differ from traditional taxi companies considerably. Because of these differences, the issue of liability in the event of an accident is controversial and confusing. About Ridesharing Ridesharing companies allow consumers to hail vehicles directly from their smartphones. A nearby driver accepts the job, and the consumer is able to travel to his or her destination for a set price. Money changes hands electronically, allowing for a quick and efficient transaction. In many cases, this service is faster and more affordable for consumers than a traditional taxi. However, these companies don’t have the same requirements with regard to liability insurance, which poses a risk to Uber passengers, as well as to the drivers and passengers of other vehicles on the road. The Potential for Liability Most Uber passengers make it to their destinations safely. Unfortunately, in some cases, Uber or Lyft drivers are involved in automobile accidents that lead to serious injuries and/or property damage. When this occurs, the issue of liability always surfaces. Although these services cover their drivers with sizeable insurance policies, these policies won’t always be able to provide adequate compensation to injured parties after an accident. If this occurs, injured[…..]