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Car sharing services have become a popular way for locals and visitors alike to get around Atlanta. In fact, services like Uber Atlanta describe themselves as “Atlanta’s best way to request a safe, reliable and affordable ride within minutes.” While these car sharing services can be convenient for people who need transportation and can bring in much needed income for drivers, there are also significant risks to both passengers and those who drive the vehicles. car accident 2

The problem that arises is: who is responsible in the event that a motor vehicle accident occurs. Passengers in car accidents can typically take legal action with the help of Atlanta car accident lawyers if they are hurt while riding in a friend’s car, provided they can prove that the friend is negligent or broke the rules of the road. Insurance pays the bills for losses and those who are harmed in a collision can be fully compensated for damages. However, insurance companies have demonstrated resistance to providing coverage in cases where drivers are offering their car as a de facto taxi service through ride sharing programs. This can make it more complicated for collision victims to pursue a claim for compensation.

Insurance Companies Take Tough Stance Against Liability for Atlanta Collisions Caused by Car-Sharers

The SF Gate recently reported on leaked documents showing one major insurance company’s position on car sharing services. The documents come from Geico, who has taken a strong stance against providing coverage for people who use their cars for commercial purposes. Geico is not the only insurance company to limit coverage under these circumstances, but the leaked documents make clear that auto insurers are taking a “hard line.”

The internal sales-training document urges customer service members to “group reject” policies of customers who are involved in ride-sharing. Customer service professionals are told to inform customers that they either must prove they are no longer driving for Uber or Lyft or they must seek insurance coverage elsewhere. Ride-service drivers are also referred to a fraud unit when they need to make claims.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America has spoken out on the issue of coverage for ride sharing drivers, indicating that “Private passenger auto policy isn’t intended to cover livery services,” because providing livery services is a “material change in the nature of the risk being insured.” Since it is a material change, many states will allow auto insurers to cancel coverage if it turns out that their insured driver is offering rides.

State Farm also said that livery use is not insured and that “customers should not depend on their personal auto insurance to protect them while driving for a ride-sharing service.” However, there are some insurance companies working to create hybrid policies that would allow motorists to buy additional coverage if they want to provide ride-sharing.

Unless a motorist has a policy that covers commercial transportation, those who get into a car with that driver are taking a risk that they won’t be fully compensated if a crash happens. If an accident has already occurred, it will become more complicated for victims to sue and they need to ensure they have a top-notch lawyer on their side.

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

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For nearly a decade, efforts have been made to prevent motorists from using electronic devices behind the wheel. Laws banning or limiting cell phone use have been passed throughout the country in more than 40 states, and public education campaigns have aimed to inform people about the tremendous risks associated with operating a vehicle while your brain is focused elsewhere. communication-2-1090898-m

Despite these efforts, however, a new article from USA Today suggests that the lessons aren’t sinking in. Drivers continue to focus on their phones or other electronics on the road, even when they are aware of the risks. These motorists put themselves and others in grave danger and victims of collisions caused by distracted driving need to know their rights. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help pursue a damage claim after a distracted driving crash so those who are harmed can be compensated for their losses.

Distracted Driving Behaviors Endanger Atlanta Motorists

Over the past six year period of time, the percentage of drivers who do activities on their smart phones while operating their vehicles has steadily increased. This troubling information comes from a survey that State Farm has conducted each year since 2009. The survey measures drivers behaviors, and their attitudes, about distracted driving. The research shows that driver behaviors don’t always match up with their beliefs.

While most drivers acknowledge that is is dangerous to take their attention away from the road, a full 26 percent of drivers said that they access the Internet while driving. This is double the 13 percent in 2009 who were on the web while operating a vehicle. The share of drivers who email or who use social media has also increased:

In 2009, 15 percent of motorists admitted to reading email while driving, but this year 25 percent said they email behind the wheel.
In 2009, only nine percent of motorists admitted to looking at social networks while driving their cars, but this year a full 20 percent said that they look at Twitter and other social networks.

This dramatic increase in the number of people online while operating vehicle has occurred at the same time as motorists have reduced the amount of time they spend talking on the phone while driving. Unfortunately, this means that motorists have traded one high risk behavior (holding their phone and talking) for another, even higher-risk, action.

The director of technology research for State Farm says it is unclear why Internet use has increased while people are driving. One possibility is that people tend to have misconceptions about what they can do while still being safe drivers. Many motorists believe they can multi-task and may think that looking at their phone or social media account will only take a second so it is safe.

Unfortunately, the reality is that it is really dangerous to try to text, read or send emails, or look at your social media sights in the car. No driver should be doing these behaviors and those that do need to be held accountable if their negligence and carelessness causes a crash to happen.

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

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Senior drivers can pose a danger to themselves and others on the roads. Unfortunately, as people get older, they may experience a decline in their physical, mental and sensory abilities. This can result in slowed reactions and poor judgment when behind the wheel, which increases the risk of collisions occurring. elderly

Seniors need to think carefully about whether they are safe to continue driving or not. Unfortunately, sometimes older people are not able to make that decision on their own. When this happens, family members need to step in and prevent an older motorist from becoming involved in a motor vehicle collision. If a senior does continue driving too long and causes a collision as a result of his inability to drive, victims of the crash may be able to take legal action against the older driver with the help of an Atlanta car accident lawyer.

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week Can Prevent Atlanta Collisions

To draw attention to the issue of senior driving risks, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) organizes an Older Driver Safety Awareness Week each December. In 2014, this week was scheduled for December 1 through December 5. While the week is coming to an end for the year, the lessons that are focused on during this public education event can provide important insight at all times of the year.

The goal of Older Driver Safety Awareness week is to “promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation,” in helping seniors to remain active in the community. Seniors need to know that transportation will not be a barrier that leaves them stranded at home, because otherwise this creates the incentive to continue driving even after they are no longer able to do so safely.

Each day during Older Driver Safety Awareness week, there is a different issue to focus on. These include:

  • Identifying changes that come with aging and that can affect driving. It is important to plan early for what happens when physical, emotional and cognitive changes make it impossible to drive.
  • Having conversations with family. The holidays, when families come together, can be a good time to open a dialogue about driver safety as a senior ages.
  • Screening and evaluations. Seniors should be evaluated by an occupational therapist, doctor or other medial professional to determine if they are still safe to drive.
  • Equipment that can help senior drivers. Adaptive equipment can sometimes make it possible for a senior with some physical limitations to continue driving for longer than he or she otherwise would be able to do so.
  • Adapting to changes. Seniors need to make adjustments to drive safely, and family and friends need to work with seniors to devise a transportation plan when driving is no longer an option.
  • By focusing on the major issues that affect older drivers, hopefully accidents can be prevented when unsafe seniors are kept off the roads.

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

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Prevention of drunk driving has clearly been a top priority for lawmakers and safety groups. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other advocates have a strong national organization dedicated to encouraging people to always drive sober. Lawmakers have imposed strict penalties on those who drive while impaired and the National Transportation Safety Board is even urging states to lower the permissible blood alcohol concentration limit to .05 down from the current .08 limit. drunk alcohol

Despite the fact that state lawmakers and safety organizations have worked hard to reduce drunk driving, the Centers for Disease Control report that 10,000 people still die each year due to collisions caused by impaired motorists. A recent study conducted by Boston University and the University of Minnesota sheds some light on why so many drunk driving deaths keep occurring: the policies that could perhaps best prevent these collisions are largely very unpopular.  This makes it difficult for lawmakers to pass regulations and rules that have a meaningful impact on bringing down the number of deaths caused by alcohol use.

Ultimately, regardless of what the specific laws are, drivers have a basic duty of care while on the road. Driving while impaired is considered unreasonably careless or negligent and a drunk driver can thus be sued or have a claim made against him if he causes a crash while intoxicated. An Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyer can help those who have been hurt by someone who is drunk to take legal action.

Taking a Close Look at Policies to Prevent Atlanta Drunk Driving Deaths

According to the MinnPost, experts recently reviewed and ranked 29-different policies related to alcohol use. Evidence-based research was done to rank the policies in terms of how effectively they could prevent fatalities or illnesses resulting from impaired driving.

Unfortunately, it turns out that many of the policies that have enjoyed broad support and that have passed in recent years are not all that effective at preventing impaired driving. In fact, between 1999 and 2011, there was a “big increase” in the number of policies passed that were considered to be less effective.

Policies that have been widely accepted and adopted generally focus on the reduction of underage drinking and driving.  Other laws that have passed in recent years in states throughout the U.S. also include instituting graduated driver’s licenses for young people; and holding adult hosts liable under some circumstances for the action taken by partygoers who leave events after having too much to drink.

Researchers however, found that policies that have been proven to work better at reducing alcohol-related fatalities have found little traction. For example, restricting where alcohol can be bought or raising taxes on alcohol can make a bigger impact on bringing the death toll down.

While these policies may continue to remain unpopular because of the importance of balancing freedom and liberty with protecting public safety, drivers need to remember that it is up to them to stay sober and avoid endangering others.  If a driver gets drunk and causes a crash, victims should call an experienced attorney for help.

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

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Backover accidents are a common cause of injuries and fatalities, especially among children. Backover collisions occur when a driver is reversing, usually from a driveway or a parking space, and runs over a person who is behind the vehicle. Frequently, the driver who runs over the victim simply cannot see who is behind him because the victim is in the driver’s blind spot. In some cases, drivers are also negligent and don’t look behind them or check their rearview mirrors to make sure the coast is clear before pulling out. car accident 1

Negligent drivers can be held accountable if they are unreasonably careless or don’t follow safety rules by checking to ensure the coast is clear before pulling out. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can assist victims of backover accidents in understanding their legal rights and pursuing a damage claim to obtain compensation for the crash. Unfortunately, nothing can ever truly make up for the losses a collision can cause. Preventing backover crashes needs to be a top priority and rear-view camera systems may be one answer.

Can Rearview Cameras Prevent Atlanta Backover Accidents?

According to The Auto Channel, rearview cameras could make a big difference in reducing the number of people who die in backover accidents. AAA evaluated 17 different vehicles with rear-view cameras. The vehicles were manufactured by 11 different car makers. Some of the vehicles had factory-installed rear-view camera systems while other vehicles had after market systems.

All of the different cameras made a substantial difference in how well the motorist could see what was behind him. The increased visibility from the camera ranged from a 36 percent improvement in smaller vehicles like sedans to a 75 percent improvement in larger vehicles like hatchbacks. There was also increased visibility in large trucks, which fell right in the middle range in terms of improvement in safety resulting from rear-view cameras.

A spokesperson for AAA was careful to note that the cameras should be considered a “supplement for drivers” and that they do not replace the need to check around the vehicle for obstacles before backing up. However, the cameras can make a big difference in terms of helping drivers to better see the first 10 feet that are directly behind the vehicle. The first 10 feet are the most hazardous in terms of the risk of a backover crash causing injury or death to a young child.

In addition to the size of the car, other factors also affected how effective rearview cameras were at stopping backover crashes. For instance, rain and slush can cloud the camera and impede visibility since the driver may get only a fuzzy picture.

Still, while not perfect, the cameras may save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety administration recognizes the safety benefits and mandates that all passenger vehicles come equipped with a rearview camera starting in 2016.

Drivers should take advantage of the cameras, but still need to remember that it is ultimately their personal responsibility to make safe choices and avoid causing backover accident deaths.

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

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In recent years, the number of bicycle riders losing their lives in motor vehicle collisions has increased even as the overall number of motor vehicle accident deaths has gone down. However, not every demographic group is at equal risk of dying in bike accidents. A recent report published by the Governors’ Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) reveals that certain groups are much more likely to die in a bike crash than others. In particular, the GHSA warns that “bicycle fatalities are increasingly an urban phenomenon.” bike

For riders and drivers in Atlanta, the risk of bike accidents is a significant risk. Drivers need to be aware of bicycle riders on the road and take reasonable steps to protect these riders from getting hurt. When a bike collision happens, an Atlanta bicycle accident lawyer should be consulted for help taking legal action.

Who is at Risk of Atlanta Bike Accident Fatalities?

Although the number of people dying in car crashes has generally been trending downwards, this is not true for bicycle riders. Between 2010 and 2012, overall motor vehicle deaths increased just one percent while annual bicycle accident deaths increased 16 percent. The number of bicycle riders killed in motor vehicle collisions increased in a total of 22 states during this time period.

The demographics of who is riding, and who is dying in crashes, has shifted during as more people have embraced bicycle riding. In 1975, for example, adults aged 20 and up represented only 21 percent of bicycle accident fatalities. In 2012, adults in this age group accounted for a full 84 percent of the people who were killed. It is not just kids riding bikes who are in danger today, but instead an ever-increasing number of older people who commute on bicycles are facing the risk of injury or death in accidents.

Those in urban centers, such as Atlanta, are facing the greatest risks. Bikers in urban areas accounted for 69 percent of bicycle accident deaths in 2012 compared with just 50 percent of fatalities in 1975. Since there has been a 62 percent increase in bicycling commuters since 2000, this phenomenon makes sense. The high populations in urban centers means that there is a higher level of exposure to bicycles as well as more interaction between bikes and cars. This naturally increases accident risks.

State highway safety offices are reportedly recognizing the risks that riders face and are dedicating more resources to ensure that bicycle riders, as well as all road users, are safe. Infrastructure changes and education of bicyclists and drivers are some of the tactics being usd to help bring the death rate down. Ultimately, however, it is up to the individual rider and driver to ensure that they are exercising an appropriate level of care to avoid bike collisions that could be deadly.

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

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Around eight million vehicles on the roads in the United States today may have defective airbags. CNN reports that the problem with these air bags is that they can explode, causing passengers to be struck by shrapnel. Obviously, this significantly increases the risk to motorists when a collision occurs. Dozens of serious injuries have been linked to these airbag problems and four fatalities may have been caused by the exploding safety devices. b10scripts002

A recall has been instituted because of the defect, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unfortunately, the airbag manufacturer, Takata, does not have enough parts to replace all of the millions of defective airbags in people’s cars. The proposed solution is to disable the potentially defective airbags. Unfortunately, some safety experts are indicating that this solution could pose an even greater risk to drivers and passengers.

Airbag manufacturers and car makers have a basic obligation to the public to make sure they don’t release defective and dangerous products. They also have a duty to ensure they handle recalls and repairs in a responsible way. When manufacturers fail to fulfill the obligations to make safe products, victims can recover compensation. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can provide assistance with pursuing a claim for damages after injuries caused by a defective airbag.

Defective Airbags and Dangerous Recalls Increase Atlanta Collision Risks

Airbags serve a very important safety purpose in vehicles, helping to cushion the blow when a collision happens. Without an airbag, a driver or front-seat passenger is more likely to suffer severe facial injuries, traumatic brain injury and other traumatic injuries due to the force of an impact. This is why it is so troubling that Takata plans to simply disable defective airbags when no replacement parts are available.

Takata airbags are installed in cars by many manufacturers including BMW, Mazda, Toyota, Subaru, General Motors, Ford and Honda. The millions of people with the defective airbags may find themselves with no airbag at all if they take their vehicle in for repairs due to the recall and Takata disables the safety device.

The executive director for the Center for Auto Safety cautions that the risk from the disabled airbags could actually be worse than the chances of the airbag exploding. More people may be endangered by the disabling of the airbags since just a small percent of the Takata airbags actually explode upon impact. Drivers at least have a chance that their airbag will work to protect them (and not explode). When the airbag is disabled, there is nothing to provide that protection.

Takata needs to carefully evaluate whether disabling airbags is the best approach to take. Those who have a defective Takata airbag also need to understand their legal rights, both if they have an airbag that explodes and if the company disables their safety device and a collision and injuries subsequently occur. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help those who have been hurt to determine if the airbag or vehicle manufacturer is to blame for damages caused by a crash.

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

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Drivers education classes can help to lower car insurance rates for families with teenagers. More importantly, drivers education provides young people with invaluable advice about learning how to drive safely and effectively. Most of these types of programs also require supervised driving practice with a qualified instructor so teens can learn how to make the best choices behind the wheel. teens-995274-m

Unfortunately, many young people are now skipping driver’s education classes. This has serious consequences as these teens are not getting the best information and experience before they get their license and start driving. Motor vehicle collisions are a top cause of death for teens and young adults, and drivers within this age group are also the most likely to cause a crash and hurt themselves or others. The lack of driver’s education is only likely to exacerbate this problem.

Being a teen is not an excuse for making dangerous choices behind the wheel, and teens are held to the same standard of care as any reasonable driver on the road. If you or a loved one is the victim of a crash with a teen driver, it is important to call an Atlanta car accident lawyer for help taking legal action as soon as possible. The teen won’t have to pay personally to compensate you; auto insurance covers car accident losses. This means it may make sense to sue a teen who caused a crash even if the teen has no financial resources, and you should consider doing so even if you were a passenger who was a friend of the teen.

Drivers Education Can Reduce the Georgia Crash Rate

ABC reported on the decline in the number of teenagers taking driver’s education courses. Drivers ed used to be offered as an option to teenagers in public schools but there has been a diminishing availability of these types of programs.

When driver’s education is not readily available in public schools, young teens may need to go to a commercial driving school to get training, education and supervised practice time. If teens simply forego drivers education when they determine their school is not offering it, then the result of this is that there ends up being even more young and inexperienced motorists on the roadways.

Drivers education makes a big difference in whether a teen is likely to follow the rules or make safe choices. For example, one study shows that the crash rate for a young driver who has been through a driver’s education program may be as much as four percent lower. The rate of traffic citations varies even more substantially between teens who attended drivers ed and those who did not. For example, traffic citations are cut by as much as 40 percent if a teen takes a driver’s education course.

Parents need to be aware of the importance of driver’s education and should try to get their child into some type of program to provide assistance. If a teen doesn’t learn the right driving skills and subsequently causes a collision through negligence or wrongdoing, the young person can be held accountable. Call an Atlanta car accident lawyer for help.

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

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Talking to your car is not as crazy as it sounds. There are a whole host of in-dash tools and electronic equipment installed in most vehicles. Voice-activated smart phones and in-dash entertainment systems are examples of some of the electronic components that may integrate with your vehicle and that you may be able to “talk” to. mobile-phone-in-hand-1438231-1-m

Unfortunately, many people believe that talking to their electronic devices while driving is safe.  There are many motorist who avoid picking up their handheld devices or holding their cell phones as they drive, but who feel perfectly comfortable using voice-activated controls. The reality, however, is that even talking to your car can be very dangerous and can significantly increase the risk that a motor vehicle accident will happen. An experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer should be consulted by victims involved in a collision for help understanding their legal rights if a distracted driver causes a car accident to occur.

Talking to Electronics Increases Car Crash Risks

According to Yahoo News, several recent studies have found that many voice-activated electronic systems are “so error-prone or complex that they require more concentration from drivers rather than less.”

In other words, motorists trying to make the safe and smart choice to talk to their phones, GPS devices or other in-vehicle electronics may be actually at greater risk of getting hurt in a car crash than those who choose to hold the devices and enter data by hand.

The studies revealing this troubling information was released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, working jointly with the University of Utah.  One study examined infotainment systems in popular vehicles made by Mercedes, Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler and Hyundai. Another study took a close look at whether using Apple’s virtual assistant Siri was safe while driving.  The motorists in this study navigated, sent texts, posted on Social media accounts or used their calendar by asking Siri to take care of the tasks for them.

The different systems were graded on a scale of one (least distracting) to five (most distracting) and were tested by 162 different university students and other volunteers in a lab setting, in a driving simulator and while driving in a neighborhood in Salt Lake City.

Apple ended up receiving the worst rating in the study. Drivers who were using Siri in a driving simulator rear-ended other vehicles twice.  Because Siri was so distracting, Apple’s system received a rating of 4.14.

Among the infotainment systems, Chevrolet’s MyLink received the lowest rating of just 3.7.  The infotainment system from Chevrolet, as well as from Mercedes, Ford and Chrysler, were found to be much more complicated than just using a cell phone would have been.

Drivers need to be aware that their hands-free devices are not necessarily safe and should make it a priority to stop using all electronics in any form while driving and instead to remain focused on the road at all times.

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

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Fall football season is a time when many young people attend homecoming and other games with their friends. Unfortunately, many teenagers choose to drink at these events. Winter dances and holiday parties are another time of the year when young people may feel pressured to consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel. breathalyzer-465392-m

An Atlanta car accident lawyer knows that teenagers are the age group with the highest rate of motor vehicle collisions and that car accidents are a leading cause of death among teenagers. Preventing teens from getting in the car drunk during fall and the upcoming holidays could help to save lives. Parents should be aware that one of the biggest influences on whether their kids choose to drive drunk is who their children’s friends are.

Peer Pressure and the Risk of Teen Drunk Driving

A study that was published on the website of the National Institute of Health (NIH) reveals that teenagers are very susceptible to peer pressure when in their vehicles. According to the study:

  • Teens who have friends or peers in their car with them are focused on peer approval and their driving safety is compromised. There is a significant risk of a motor vehicle collision among teens who have friends in the car with them, and there is no such comparable risk among adults driving with others.
  • While less popular teenagers are generally very susceptible to peer pressure, more popular adolescents are at the greatest risk of consuming alcohol when underage as a result of pressure on this specific issue from their peer group.
  • A teen whose peer group disapproves of impaired driving is significantly less likely to consume alcohol and then operate a motor vehicle.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving recognizes the influence that a teen’s peer group can have and aims to use positive peer pressure to help encourage kids to drive sober. MADD has a Power of You(th) program that provides facts to young people. For example, according to surveys published by MADD, only 30 percent of teens responding to one survey indicated that they had consumed alcohol in the prior month and only 20 percent of teens said that they had engaged in behavior classified as binge drinking. Many young people might assume that a larger number of other teens drink.

As a part of the Power of You(th) program, MADD also has chosen national teen influencers. These are young people who have felt the effects of impaired driving on their own lives or who have been leaders in local clubs and organizations that fight against impaired driving. The influencers will attend and participate in MADD events to help convince young people that drinking and driving is never OK.

Parents need to know that a child’s peer group has a profound impact on his or her behavior behind the wheel. This football and holiday season, parents should be sure that they know who their children are with when they go to dances and other events. By talking to your kids and getting to know their friends, you can determine if your child’s peer group is a positive influence or is a group of kids at risk of getting into an impaired driving accident.

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