Sudden acceleration can cause dangerous collisions. Sudden acceleration is described by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as “unintended, unexpected, high-powered acceleration, accompanied by an apparent loss of braking effectiveness that typically occurs from a very low initial speed when the driver is attempting to stop the vehicle.” dashboard-1151759-m

Over the past 40 years, NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have received numerous reports of sudden acceleration and have launched myriad investigations.  No vehicle defect has been identified during this time to explain the sudden failures of both the braking system and throttle.  Instead, pedal application data from vehicle event data recorders over the past five years suggests accidents in which sudden acceleration has occurred likely happened because a driver accidentally hit the gas instead of the brakes. These investigations have led NHTSA and NTSB to conclude reports of sudden acceleration were all likely caused not by a vehicle problem but by pedal error.

A driver who accidentally hits the gas instead of the brake can cause a dangerous high-speed collision. Innocent victims should consult with an Atlanta car accident lawyer at Sammons & Carpenter for assistance in pursuing a case for damages when pedal error has occurred.

Reducing the Risk of a Collision Resulting from Pedal Error

Pedal error occurs any time the driver accidentally steps on the accelerator instead of on the brake. It may also occur if the brake is hit instead of the accelerator or if the driver steps on both the brake and accelerator at the same time.  When this occurs, the vehicle may accelerate suddenly and rapidly with no brake force slowing the car down.

Pedal error often happens when a motorist is trying to park a vehicle, at intersections and highway exit ramps where braking is routinely required, and in situations when a driver is traveling at a low speed. Motorists who make a pedal error usually recognize what they have done but cannot correct the error in time to prevent a collision.

Each year, pedal error causes an estimated 16,000 preventable motor vehicle accidents. Motorists and pedestrians sustain serious injury from these accidents and property is routinely damaged.  Drivers responsible for the mistake may be required to compensate victims for resulting losses if the victims can prove the driver was unreasonably careless or negligent in stepping on the gas instead of the brake.

The NHTSA has tips and advice for preventing crashes caused by pedal error. NHTSA advises motorists to:

  • Become familiar with any vehicle they do not normally drive before they operate it.  This includes adjusting mirrors, seats, steering wheels, and adjustable pedals.  Motorists should take the time to become familiar with how the brake pedal and accelerator feel before starting to operate the car.
  • Aim for the center of the brake pedal each time you hit the brakes. This can reduce the chance of pedal error and reinforce muscle memory.
  • Wear correct shoes when operating a vehicle.  Heavy boots, high heels, and flip flops all contribute to an added risk of a pedal error crash.

These are just a few keys tips to follow to avoid causing a crash that could lead to serious injury, death, and liability for losses.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a negligent driver. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

Over a five year period in the United States, 556 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in side swipe truck accidents. Left and right hook truck collisions occur when a truck is turning and hits a pedestrian or bike rider who is going straight or who is walking across the road. These accidents can be especially deadly for the bike rider or the pedestrian because the walker or bicyclist is likely to be forced underneath the large wheels of the commercial truck. tow-truck-1192535-m

Side guards could prevent these tragedies and keep pedestrians and bicycle riders from going underneath a truck that hits them; however, there is no federal law mandating the use of side guards and there are few state laws imposing a requirement side guards be used.  Trucking companies that want to reduce the chances of deadly accidents (and thus reduce potential liability) may wish to consider voluntarily installing side guards in order to keep pedestrians and bike riders safer.

If you or someone you love was hurt or killed in a truck accident in Atlanta, you need to contact a truck accident attorney with experience and compassion.  Your attorney can advise you of options for pursuing a claim for compensation and can assist in fighting for full and fair payment for all losses.

Side Guards Could Reduce Atlanta Truck Accident Deaths

Next City reports side guards have been required in the United Kingdom and in the European since 1986 and 1989, respectively. Following the mandated use of side guards for large commercial trucks in the UK, there was a 20 percent reduction in the pedestrian death rate and a 61 percent reduction in the bicyclist death rate when walkers or bikers were involved in truck crashes.

Although the safety benefits of side guards are not in dispute, they are not commonly used in the United States. A few cities, including Washington D.C. Portland, and Boston, have moved towards requiring side guards on commercial trucks with a weight of 10,000 pounds or greater that do business with the city or are owned by the city. New York also has a pilot program in place where side guards are installed on 240 trucks and are likely to be installed on as many as 10,000 trucks owned or contracted with the city. The University of Washington is also requiring its campus fleet to be equipped with side guards.

Outside of these limited exceptions, most trucks do not have side guards and most cities and states do not require them. The National Transportation Safety Board is hoping to change that, by asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to impose a requirement mandating side guard use on large commercial vehicles. The NHTSA, however, has declined to take action and impose a mandate.

Side guards cost an estimated $1,500 to install on a vehicle, but the savings they can provide cannot be measured. Side guards can prevent lives from being lost and can help trucking companies to avoid accountability for deaths if sideswipe accidents occur. Trucking companies may wish to install side guards voluntarily to reduce the chances one of their drivers will kill a bicycle rider or pedestrian while performing work tasks.

The Atlanta truck accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a negligent driver. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

Atlanta drivers, like most drivers throughout the United States, respond to road and environmental conditions when deciding how fast to go. Although speed limits serve as a guide (and are legally enforced), drivers will typically go slower than the posted limit during poor conditions and will exceed the speed limit and drive at a speed that feels safe when road conditions are more optimal. An Atlanta car accident lawyer knows that if a driver is operating his vehicle in an unsafe way and going too fast for the road he is on, those who are harmed as a result can pursue a claim for compensation. welsh-country-lane-1444598-m

One of the factors that impacts how fast a driver will go is how wide the roads are. Road widths need to be designed with a variety of different safety criteria in mind, but some recent evidence from Streets Blog suggests roads are being designed to be too wide based on faulty and outdated research.  These wide streets lead to excess speeds that increase collision risk and put all motorists, especially pedestrians, in danger.

Wide Streets Endanger Atlanta Motorists and Increase Collision Risks

Streets blog reported on a recent studying showing the appropriate width of a two-lane street is between 10 and 10.5 feet. Accidents are more likely to occur, and more likely to be serious, once a road becomes much wider.  When comparing Toronto with Tokyo, roads in Tokyo are much narrower than those in Toronto. On Toronto’s wider roads, average speed at the time of impact in a motor vehicle crash is 34 percent higher.  Drivers change their behavior on wide roads and go faster because they feel they can see better and have more room to maneuver.

Despite the fact that wider roads are riskier, many roads in the United States are 12 feet wide. The reason wider roads are common is because of the adoption of Forgiving Highways policies in the 1960’s. Project for Public Spaces explains the background behind Forgiving Highways policies, which were adopted as a safety measure to try to bring collision risks down.

The theory is a wider highway is more “forgiving” of inevitable mistakes and human errors people make while driving. When a highway is wider and more forgiving, there is more space for a motorist to come to a complete stop if he goes off the road and there is more area for the driver to be if he veers off the road path.  The result is supposed to be a reduction in collisions, but evidence does not support this since people drive differently on the wider roads.

With new questions being raised about whether Forgiving Highways is best, municipalities need to carefully consider whether to continue embracing wider roads.

Regardless of what road design decisions are made, drivers need to ensure they are not letting misconceptions about their feelings of safety impact their driving. Even if a motorist thinks he can go faster on a given stretch of road, he should still obey the speed limit. Not only will following the rules help to avoid accidents and a ticket, but it can also be a form of protection from liability. A driver who is speeding may be presumed to have caused a collision and may thus be held accountable for causing a crash by violating a speed limit safety rule.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a speeding driver. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

The prevention of pedestrian collisions has become a top priority as data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continually shows an increase in the number of walkers killed in accidents. Even as other types of crash deaths decline, pedestrians are dying in ever-larger numbers with increases in the death toll almost every year. NHTSA data from 2012, for example, showed a six percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from the prior year and there were more pedestrians killed over the course of that year than in the five years before. walking-away-1418812-m

There are many factors explaining why pedestrians are becoming more likely to die in accidents even as drivers are less likely to be killed. One issue is that infrastructure is still generally designed to accommodate vehicles rather than to prioritize pedestrian safety.  Driver negligence is also another big factor leading to pedestrian deaths, especially when drivers operate their vehicles in a manner unsafe for the conditions of the road.

After a collision, an Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyer can provide assistance to victims in determining if road design was the crash cause or if driver carelessness was to blame. Determining who was responsible is essential for recovery of compensation for collision losses.

What Road Features Make Pedestrian Crashes in Atlanta Less Likely?

While efforts are made to improve road safety for pedestrians, it is not always clear exactly what makes a road safe for someone to walk on. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) provided a road safety assessment checklist in a recent presentation about improving conditions for pedestrians.

Some of the key factors that determine whether a road is a safe place for pedestrians to be include the following:

  • The presence or absence of sidewalks. When no sidewalks are present, a road shoulder that is wide enough for people to walk on can also provide a safe walking space.
  • The condition of sidewalks.  Sidewalks need to be maintained adequately and shouldn’t have debris or other temporary or permanent obstacles that prevent safe passage.
  • The design of sidewalks. Sidewalks about be designed to ensure they are not too steep for people to walk on. There should be clear signs pointing to pedestrian crossing areas and to access ways.
  • The continuity of sidewalks. Sidewalks should be continuous without large gaps. There should be minimal driveways that people could come out of to hit pedestrians on the sidewalks.
  • The accessibility of sidewalks. Sidewalks should be accessible from mass transit areas and should be accessible to residential areas. There should be steps taken to ensure those with visual impairments can identify where sidewalks begin and end. If there are stairs, ramps should be available to allow for the passage of people with handicaps.
  • The visibility of sidewalks. Sidewalks should be clearly visible and there shouldn’t be obstacles that make it harder for drivers to see people walking on the sidewalks.  There should be plenty of light on the sidewalks, including street lights, both so pedestrians can see and so drivers can see them.
  • The size of sidewalks. Sidewalks should be big enough to accommodate all pedestrians, even during peak times.

Far too many streets fail in many of the key criteria.  Steps need to be taken to design infrastructure with pedestrian interests in mind if crash prevention efforts are to be effective.

The Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury while you are walking. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

As smart phones have developed more capacity to keep people connected at all times, distracted driving has become an increasingly serious problem. Recently, Vox.com published a comprehensive report on all of the different things motorists are doing instead of paying careful attention and keeping their hands on the wheel while driving. The report is troubling and shows clearly why distracted driving is rapidly becoming one of the single leading cause of car accidents on U.S. roads. 

If you or someone you love is injured or dies in a car crash due to a driver’s distraction, you need to take legal action and fight for your rights to be fully compensated for harm. Texting and driving is illegal and the dangers of distracted driving have been well-publicized, so there is no excuse for people engaging in high-risk behaviors that can result in someone else’s life being taken.

These Distractions Increase Risk of Atlanta Car Accidents

Vox reported on a survey done recently showing how severe of a problem distracted driving really has become. The survey was conducted by AT&T of 2,067 adult drivers between the ages of 18 and 65. The adults surveyed owned a smartphone and responded to the telephone survey asking about the types of things they do while they are operating a motor vehicle. According to their responses:

  • 61 percent of motorists text while driving.
  • 33 percent of motorists send and receive emails.
  • 28 percent browse on the Internet.
  • 27 percent utilize Facebook.
  • 17 percent take pictures using a telephone camera.
  • 14 percent use the social network Twitter, with 30 percent of the drivers admitting to Twitter use indicating that they sign on and use the site “all the time” while behind the wheel.
  • 14 percent use Instagram.
  • 11 percent say they utilize Snapchat.
  • 10 percent participate in video chatting

Drivers who do all of these different things are not focused on operating their vehicle safely. Because their attention and their eyes are on their phones, they may not see obstacles like cars or people in front of them.  They will have a delayed reaction time as a result, and are likely to be unable to stop their cars before hitting someone.  Their brain energy is also focused on the phone and people are not good at multi-tasking. Drivers who are distracted have impaired judgment and suffer from cognitive blindness. They cannot see and react to things quickly.

Motorists are aware of the fact that they are engaging in a high risk behavior when they do any of these distracting things as they drive.  Just 27 percent of the people responding to the survey who said they video chat while driving said they believed they could do this safely.

Despite knowing the risks, and despite laws prohibiting these behaviors, people can’t seem to stop.  A total of 22 percent of people who used social media while driving said they do so because they are “addicted.”

Addiction to social media is no more an excuse for distracted driving than addiction to alcohol is an excuse for drunk driving.  Every motorist needs to stay focused on what is important while operating a vehicle, and people who go online or use their phones while driving should be held accountable for damage they cause.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a distracted driver. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

Driving under the influence of drugs causes around 18 percent of motor vehicle deaths in the United States. Driving under the influence of alcohol is also extremely dangerous, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving indicating that thee are more than 10,000 fatalities each year as a result of impaired motorists. cannabis-817594-m

An Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyer should be consulted in situations when a driver is impaired by alcohol, cannabis (marijuana), or other prescription and non-prescription medications. Motorists who make the unsafe choice to operate a vehicle while impaired should be responsible for paying for all losses and damages incurred by innocent victims who are harmed as a result of the illegal and unsafe acts.

Now, recent evidence suggests that drivers who use cannabis and alcohol may have a greater chance of getting behind the wheel when impaired as compared with people who do not use both of these substances. Since marijuana use is becoming much more widely accepted throughout the United States as laws are relaxed and public opinion shifts, this new evidence is bad news when it comes to accident prevention.

Could Marijuana Use Make an Atlanta Motorist More Likely to Drive Drunk?

According to Health Day, a person who has consumed marijuana and alcohol at the same time is twice as likely to drive his vehicle while he is drunk as compared with a person who has used alcohol only and not also used marijuana.

Researchers believe that the majority of people who use both marijuana and alcohol tend to use both substances together. A large-scale study of drug and alcohol habits was conducted, which reviewed data from more than 9,000 different survey respondents. The data was collected between 2005 and 2010, which was before public attitudes and public policy started to shift towards finding cannabis use more socially acceptable.

The results of the survey showed that 89 percent of people used alcohol but did not use cannabis.  A total of 11 percent of people who responded to surveys used both pot and alcohol.  The survey respondents who used both substances generally tended to use them together. Only four percent of people used alcohol and cannabis primarily at different times.  A total of around 7.5 percent of people said that they used the alcohol and cannabis products together.

Alcohol and cannabis can be dangerous independently. Using alcohol before getting in the car can double the risk of a motor vehicle accident. The exact specifics of how marijuana use affects the risk of an accident are not yet known. However, research into the effects of cannabis on driving abilities has shown that drivers are at greater risk of a crash due to impaired judgment and delayed reaction time.

When the two substances are combined together in the body, motorists may be even more affected and less able to make safe choices to avert accidents and keep the roads safe. This means it is very bad news that people who use alcohol and cannabis together are more likely to drive impaired compared with people who use the substances independently or who only drink.

Motorists need to be aware of the added risks of alcohol and cannabis consumption. Drivers who choose to make the dangerous decision to drive drunk and high need to be held accountable for their actions.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a drunk driver. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

Throughout Atlanta, drivers are at risk of becoming involved in a motor vehicle accident as a result of being distracted by their smart phones or other electronic devices. This April, during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a new product was released that is likely to make the risks of distracted driving accidents exponentially worse: that product was the Apple smart watch. worker-adjusts-watch-1365362-m

While Georgia has laws in place to restrict the use of electronic devices in an effort to prevent distracted driving, it is not 100 percent clear what impact existing laws are going to have on motorists who purchase and wear the Apple watch.  Motorists who do choose to wear this watch and who are distracted by it can be held accountable if they cause a crash due to their unsafe behavior. An Atlanta distracted driving accident lawyer should be consulted to provide assistance to victims of accidents caused by a driver distracted by a smart watch.

Smart Watches Are Going to be Dangerous for Drivers

According to Fast Company, the law has not yet caught up to the new technology and so motorists may be able to use the Apple watch in their vehicle without breaking the law. This does not mean that they should choose to do so.

The use of the Apple watch could significantly increase the dangers of a motor vehicle accident. There have not been a lot of studies done yet on how a smart watch is going to impact a motorist’s ability to safely drive his vehicle.  Despite this, the studies that have been completed seem to present bad news.  One study showed that the use of a smart watch by drivers was significantly more distracting than the use of a smart phone.

A smart watch is more distracting than a phone because it is always accessible since it is right on a driver’s wrist. The driver does not have to reach for the watch or make a conscious choice to keep the phone in arm’s length when he is in the car since the watch is always right there. Since the watch is more accessible, the driver is more likely to take a look at it. Not only that, but the research also suggests that a motorist is more likely to look at the watch for a longer period of time than he would look at his phone for.

If further research confirms that smart watches are more dangerous, this could have a devastating impact on accident rates.  Apple sold around a million smart watches during just the first week after releasing the product at the end of April. The company is going to sell around 30 million more smart watches this year based on current estimates. A significant portion of the population is soon going to have a watch on their wrist that is continuously and repeatedly taking their focus away from the road.

Drivers need to be responsible for their own actions and need to understand that the use of a smart watch when in the car is going to make accidents far more likely. Drivers need to take off their watch or otherwise take steps to ensure it is not a distraction behind the wheel.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a distracted driver. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

In the state of Georgia, teens do not get their full license immediately. Instead, drivers between the age of 15 and 18 participate in a graduated driver’s license program established by the Teenage & Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA).  TADRA was put into place as a result of a collective effort of lawmakers, educators, the media, businesses, and highway safety advocates after a number of high-profile tragic motor vehicle accidents that led to unfortunate deaths among young drivers. drive-time-676275-m

Teen drivers do not have the experience or the maturity level to make smart and safe choices behind the wheel. Unfortunately, this means that young people face a significant risk of becoming injured in a motor vehicle accident.  An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help victims of motor vehicle crashes to take legal action against those who are responsible for causing losses. When a teen driver causes a crash, victims of the accident can still file a lawsuit even though most teens have no personal assets to pay for losses, because teens must have motor vehicle insurance to pay for the damages they cause.

Graduated Driver’s Licensing Helps to Reduce Atlanta Car Crashes

TARDA involves a three-step education process that young people must go through before they are given the right to drive in Georgia.

  • When a teen turns 15, the teenager becomes eligible for an instructional permit. The teen who drives with this permit must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21-years old.
  • After a teen has had an instructional permit for 12 months and passed a driving test, the teen is eligible for a Class D Intermediate License. This license allows the teen to drive, but with restrictions. The teen is not allowed to drive between midnight and 5:00 AM, with no exceptions.  During the first six months after the Class D license is issued, the teen cannot drive a car with any passengers who are not members of his immediate family. During the second six months, the teen cannot have passengers (other than family members) who are under 21. Finally, after the second six month period, the teen is not allowed to have more than three other non-family members who are less than 21.

Graduated licensing programs like the one in Georgia have made a substantial impact on reducing the number of young people who become involved in motor vehicle accidents. Nerd Wallet reports that the number of fatal crashes involving teens nationwide has fallen by more than half of the past decade. There were 5,724 teens aged 16 to 19 involved in fatal crashes in 2004 compared with just 2,568 teens in deadly accidents in 2013.  Graduated licensing programs, specifically, have been credited with causing anywhere from a 10 to 30 percent average reduction in teen collision rates.

Parents and teens should be aware of the positive impact of graduated licensing rules and should be certain that all Georgia teens follow the restrictions imposed by TARDA as they move through the process of getting their full license to drive.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a teen driver. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

Atlanta accidents can happen any time of the year, but there are certain days that are much more dangerous for motorists than others. Yahoo News has listed 10 days of the year when there is a significantly greater chance of becoming involved in a motor vehicle accident. Most of the days on this list are holidays or special occasions during which people significantly increase their road travel and there are many more people on the roads. The high-risk days also include times of the year when people are significantly more likely to consume alcohol and then drive their vehicles. calendar-1072482-m

Motorists need to refrain from drinking and driving and exercise care at all times while operating their vehicles, especially if there are more people on the roads. If a driver is careless, an Atlanta car accident lawyer can help victims of any crashes resulting from the driver’s negligence. Crash victims or their surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for all losses caused by a motorist who is behaving in an unsafe way.

When are Atlanta Car Accidents Most Likely to Occur?

The 10 days on Yahoo’s list of the most dangerous times for drivers include:

  • Memorial Day
  • The start of daylight savings time
  • Black Friday
  • Days when there are NFL games being played
  • Friday the 13th
  • New Year’s Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • St. Patrick’s Day

This month, motorists need to understand the added risk that memorial day represents.  There are around 400 deaths in car accidents over the three day Memorial Day weekend each year, which is a 13.1 percent increase in the number of deaths compared with other non-holiday weekends.

Memorial Day, like many of the other high-risk days, involves both more motorists and a greater chance of people being intoxicated. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, the Fourth of July, and St. Patrick’s Day are also days when there are far too many drunk people on the roads.  On St. Patrick’s Day each year, for example, around two of every five motor vehicle collisions involve a driver who has consumed too much alcohol.

Black Friday’s risks are based on the fact that there are so many more people on the roads than usual. Around 70 million people go to malls on Black Friday to get their holiday shopping done. One insurance company has reported that claims made for accidents on Black Friday are double claims on normal Fridays.  The risk of parking lot accident claims increases by 36 percent on this shopping holiday.

Daylight savings, on the other hand, is a very dangerous time for motorists because of the change in drivers’ routines. Motorists have to cope with different light patterns that can affect visibility and make it harder for them to see obstacles on the road.

Regardless of the specific reasons why these days are so much more dangerous than others on the road, drivers need to be aware of the added risk and make smart choices to keep themselves and their passengers safe.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a negligent driver. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

In the past 20 years, more than 30 percent of all deaths in motor vehicle accidents have occurred in crashes involving at least one motorist who was intoxicated at the time of the fatal accident. Costs associated with drunk driving losses total around $60 billion annually when considering medical and legal expenses, wage loss, and lost productivity. glass-of-wine-1423645-m

An Atlanta DUI accident lawyer at Sammons & Carpenter can help victims who got hurt in drunk driving crashes so they can pursue a claim for compensation. A driver who was drunk and who causes an accident must compensate victims for their injuries or compensate surviving family members of people killed in crashes. Far too many families end up facing the grief of a permanent injury or death due to a drunk driver, and Georgia laws aim to get these victims the money they need so they can try to pick up the pieces and move on.

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