Big Rigs and Travel Safety

The consumer safety watchdog group Public Citizen has warned against the increase of heavy trucks on local roads and interstates. Several major federal studies have shown that trucks heavier than the 80,000-pound trucks currently allowed by federal law have a greater risk of crashes, according to opponents of the heavier rigs.
Citizens and political representatives have not been told the truth about the significant safety risks, infrastructure damage and costs of allowing overweight trucks on the Interstate. And they have been misled into thinking big trucks will disappear from local roads if allowed on the full Interstate. This is untrue,” said Public Citizen president Joan Claybrook

Auto Accidents and Your Health

Because we see them every day or read about them in the newspapers, we gloss over the severity of car accidents. Every day, people like you and me lose their ability to function normally due to the results of auto accidents. They suffer from compression fractures, herniated disks, RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), and sometimes, traumatic brain injuries. Lives are derailed and dreams are dashed due to these types of accidents. If we’re involved in an auto accident, we need to seek prompt and thorough medical attention and seek good legal advice to protect our rights. We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones.

Ford Recalls 3.8 million Pickups and SUVs due to engine fire concerns

Ford just announced the recall of 3.8 million of its pickup trucks and SUVs due to concerns over engine fire concerns. Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday recalled 3.8 million pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles for a cruise control switch suspected of causing engine fires. It is the fifth largest auto industry recall in U.S. history.
Ford said the recall of 1994-2002 model-year vehicles includes the company’s hot-selling F-150 pickup truck, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Ford Broncos. The company said it would start sending out recall notices to vehicle owners immediately.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the No. 2 U.S.-based automaker have been investigating complaints of engine fires linked to the switch.
NHTSA has received more than 550 complaints of engine fires from the cruise control switch. There have been allegations of three deaths in cases cited in news reports or lawsuits in Iowa, Georgia and Arkansas.
The affected vehicles include: 1994-2002 model F-150s, 1997-2002 Expeditions, 1998-2002 Navigators and 1994-1996 Broncos equipped with factory-installed speed control.

Auto Safety Initiatives Part of Latest Transportation Bill

Sweeping auto safety initiatives included in a transportation bill passed by Congress on Friday make it the most comprehensive traffic safety legislation in years. Congress is ordering the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to impose a number of more stringent safety measures, including the first performance standards aimed at decreasing the likelihood of a rollover. Currently, the agency conducts rollover testing, but the results are only used to determine star ratings on cars and light trucks for consumer information. In addition, 15-passenger vans will be subject for the first time to government crash tests.

Info for Victims of Auto Accidents in Florida

Auto accidents remain the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 34. Each year, 40,000 people lose their lives in auto crashes. The resulting psychological, economic, and physical toll places tremendous strain on families and individuals alike. If the accident is not stressful enough, the aftermath can be a nightmare dealing with issues such as medical treatment, car repairs, mounting hospital bills, lost time from work, and lost wages. Yet, the decisions you make during this stressful period can have lasting impact upon you and your family.
If you’re involved in an accident what should you do?
Call the Police immediately
Fill out an accident report thoroughly
Obtain names and phone numbers of witnesses
Seek medical treatment even if you feel ok at the scene (your adrenaline may mask a serious injury)

What is PIP and how does it work?
As a no fault state, Florida requires that each insured driver pay for their own auto accident related medical expenses. This is done through what is commonly known as PIP or Personal Injury Protection and MP or Medical Payments coverage. PIP provides for the following:
80% of all reasonable expenses related to treatment for the auto accident. This includes medical, surgical, x-ray, dental, and rehab services.
Accident victims may also recover for replacement services which are whatever ordinary services they could perform on their own but can no longer due as a result of the accident.
What is Medical Payments Coverage and what does it do?
MP coverage pays the remaining 20% of expenses not paid by PIP. It also will cover expenses related to the accident if PIP is exhausted.
As you can see, this gets complicated, especially if you are injured or disabled as a result of the accident. I’m a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who’s been handling auto accident cases for my clients for more than 20 years now. My office staff and I will help you with questions about getting your car fixed or replaced and answer any questions you may have regarding lost wages. I have the experience and the understanding to help you in your time of need.

Nissan Maxima and Suzuki Verona Receive Marginal Ratings in Crash Tests

According to a report published today the 2005 Nissan Maxima and the Suzuki Verona received marginal ratings in crash tests. The problem concerned side impact collisions.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Chevrolet Malibu and Audi A4 its top score, good, in side impact tests of five 2005 model midsize sedans. The Volvo S60 rated the second-highest score of acceptable.
According to the report, passengers in the Nissan and Suzuki vehicles may sustain rib fractures and back injuries as a result of side impact crashes.

Auto Safety or Auto Privacy?

According to the National Highway Transportation Administration, about 15 percent of vehicles — or about 30 million cars and trucks — have black boxes. About 65 percent to 90 percent of 2004 cars and trucks have them, according to the NHTA.
Rusty Haight, director of the Collision Safety Institute, which researches crashes and trains accident investigators, said black boxes were introduced in cars along with air bags in the 1970s.
Air bag sensors already collected the information and it was a small step to allow researchers to see how well other systems were performing, Haight said.
North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Bethke said crash investigators must have a warrant to access information from a recorder. He said the patrol collects such information less than once a month and has never used it in court.
John Buchanan, a Miami accident reconstruction expert, said investigators must compare what the recorder says to the physical evidence at an accident scene.
“I’m a big believer in the box,” he said. “But you cannot just take a box, read what it says and say that’s what happened.”
Insurance companies already have limited access to some data.
State Farm requires its customers to help with investigations, including allowing insurance employees to look at their vehicles, said Dick Luedke, a spokesman for the Illinois-based insurer.
Progressive Insurance began a voluntary program last year in which the company gives drivers a chip similar to a black box that can be used to transmit data, said spokeswoman Shannon Radigan.
Progressive offers drivers the possibility of a break on their insurance rates based on when, how much and how fast they drive, she said. The average discount is between 12 percent and 15 percent, she said.
North Dakota auto dealers say they have not heard many complaints about black boxes. Sales people say customers rarely ask about them. And police say the devices are not common.
“They’re just not very prevalent,” said Fargo Sgt. Joel Vettel.
“Most people don’t realize these devices are in their vehicle, that the information recorded may be used against them and there’s no sort of regulation about who owns that information,” he said.
North Dakota is one of 11 states considering black-box regulation this year, said Pam Greenberg, who tracks privacy issues for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
California has a law on the books requiring dealers and vehicle rental companies to inform drivers when a car has a black box. In New York, it is illegal for rental companies to use global positioning system technology to track drivers and use the data to charge extra fees or penalties.
Accident investigators argue that the privacy concerns are overblown.
“These guys are trying to roll back North Dakota courts to the Dark Ages,” said Jim Harris, owner of Harris Technical Services, a Florida-based accident investigation company. “What are you going to do? Leave out videotapes?”

Child Safety in Vehicles

CBS/AP) According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 3,300 children between the ages of 4 and 7 died in a motor vehicle crashes between 1994 and 2002.
On Sunday, March 27, New York State joined more than two-dozen other states requiring that children from ages 4 to 6 sit in booster seats when riding in a car.
Kim Kleman, managing editor of Consumer Reports Magazine, tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler booster seats are important for children because when they get out of toddler seats, they are too small for a regular seat belt to hold them properly.
She explains, “The top catches the child’s neck and the bottom part goes around the child’s abdomen as opposed to the hips where it’s supposed to go.”
Therefore, if there is an accident, a regular seat belt can strangle a child or cause abdominal bleeding. The booster seat hits the child in the right place – that is around the hips, which are the strongest part of the body, she notes.
Demonstrating how toddler booster seats work, Kleman says, “The good thing about these is you buy it when your child is forward-facing, when they’re about 20 pounds. When they get about 40 pounds, you take off the harness in the back and it can be used as a booster.”
While the state law covers children until age 7, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends children remain in booster seats until they reach 4-feet-9 inches tall or 80 pounds. Since the weight limits of booster seats vary by model, parents should check the guidelines on the seat they buy.
“They’re really not expensive. These are 40 to $45,” Kleman notes.
Previous New York State law required children up to age 4 to be in a booster seat. The law covers all children in the front and back seats, so parents car-pooling kids to kindergarten, first or second grade will have to have a car seat for every child.
Only liveries, taxis and public buses are exempt. Failure to comply carries a $25 to $100 fine and could cost drivers three-point infractions on their licenses.
In July, a similar law will go into effect in Indiana that will require children under age 8 to use a booster seat. Similar laws are pending in 16 other states.