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Much like drunk drivers, distracted drivers think they’re safe

There is a well-known phenomenon involving drunk drivers where they consistently underestimate how alcohol has impaired their ability to drive. There are many reasons for this. Alcohol may increase someone’s sense of confidence and decrease their anxieties are reservations. People who drink frequently may be under the mistaken impression that they can better control their actions while impaired, especially compared to someone who doesn’t drink frequently. Unfortunately, that usually isn’t the case. Drunk drivers can and do cause a lot of damage to property and injuries to people. Distracted drivers are similar. They likely underestimate the risks they are taking, and they cause a large number of crashes every year. Distracted drivers may not believe that their choices put others at risk. They may really believe that they alone have the ability to safely text and drive. Confirmation bias helps people feel invulnerable at the wheel Many people think they are better drivers than they really are. This can lead people to make questionable decisions at the wheel and take unnecessary risks. Because they always arrive at their destination safely, these individuals feel that their experience of the world validates their opinion of their own safety. This is called a confirmation bias. People interpret situations to reinforce their existing beliefs, regardless of what evidence says. Someone who has repeatedly texted while driving without causing a crash probably thinks that they can text and drive safely. In reality, no one can safely look away from the road and take their hands off the wheel. Doing so is always a risk. The faster the distracted driver travels, the greater the potential risk for catastrophic crashes. If you believe that you can text safely, it may be time to reconsider that belief. Doing so will keep you and your loved ones safe in the future. Distraction can lead to serious injury and even death People who choose to text at the wheel probably aren’t doing so because they have a callous disregard for other individuals. Instead, they are overestimating their skill at driving and underestimating the risk they assume by looking down at their phone. While it may be a mistake, that mistake can cost other people dearly. Distracted drivers frequently cause crashes that result in serious personal injury and even death. For those who have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a collision caused by a distracted driver, there is a silver lining to that terrible tragic experience. Specifically, you likely have the legal right to hold that distracted driver legally and financially responsible for the damages they caused through a personal injury lawsuit. It may be time to talk to an attorney and find out what your options are under Texas law.

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Mysterious fires engulfing some BMWs

If you are in the market for a new BMW or have recently purchased one, you are probably drawn to the notion of the car being “the ultimate driving machine.” Indeed, BMW’s performance has wowed driving enthusiasts for decades. The technological advances have further increased their popularity. However, a recent rash of random fires has created a mystery that concerns engineers and safety advocates alike. According to an ABCNews.com report, random BMWs have spontaneously caught fire, destroying the vehicles. The fires have occurred in vehicles parked in garages at home, as well as in parking lots. One car reportedly caught fire after being parked for several days. The fires have challenged investigators because the engines were not running.  Some engineers believe that some of the technological advances could be the cause. Essentially, cars may not be completely powered down even though the engine is not running, as the vehicle continues to collect data for diagnostic purposes, or a certain amount of power is stored in preparation for remote starts. Theoretically, if a power surge occurs, the combustible materials around the power source could cause a fire. In the meantime, BMW has not issued a recall and is reportedly collecting information about the fires. This ostensibly is because an automaker maintains a legal duty to keep consumers safe from dangerous defects. If an automaker fails to adhere to this duty and a consumer is injured, the automaker could be held liable. If you have questions about your rights and options after being injured by a defective vehicle, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you. 

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The difference between aggressive and passive tailgating

Tailgating, no matter how it happens, is dangerous. Take one drive across town and you’ll see that people do it constantly, but the risks are enormous. It massively increases the odds of a chain-reaction accident. It also increases the odds of an easily avoidable accident when something unexpected happens. A dog runs into the road, for instance, and you slam on the brakes. You safely miss the dog and then the driver behind you slams in your car. It’s that driver’s fault. But that doesn’t make this any less dangerous. Typically, tailgaters fall into two categories: passive and aggressive. Both are dangerous, but in different ways. An aggressive tailgater is likely someone who wants you to move so he or she can pass. This is more dangerous because it can lead to road rage and it’s a pointless risk, but it’s less dangerous because you can usually allow him or her to pass and the danger — to you, at least — is gone. A passive tailgater probably doesn’t even know he or she is driving so dangerously. That driver doesn’t want to pass. There’s no anger involved. Instead, the driver just thinks that being a half a second behind your rear bumper is safe. To be clear, it’s not. Not at all. But the road is full of unsafe drivers who are honestly ignorant of the way they put others in danger. This can actually be more dangerous because it may last longer and because it could indicate that the driver is either not very experienced or not aware of basic road safety practices. Either type of tailgater can cause an accident and injure you in a split second. When this happens, make sure you know all about your legal rights. Source: Confused, “How to deal with tailgaters without losing your rag,” Owe Carter, accessed Aug. 24, 2017

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Safety trips for winter driving

Unfortunately, life does not stop and wait for bad weather to pass by. Through rain, sleet and sometimes snow, we still have to drive to work, school or just to the supermarket to stock up on hot cocoa. However, driving through Waco or getting out on IH 35 in bad winter weather takes on a new level of danger when you have your kids in the backseat. Before you find yourself driving through less than ideal conditions, take a few minutes to brush up on winter driving safety tips. Keep your headlights on Even during the daytime, in clear weather, you should drive with your headlights on to increase your visibility. This becomes even more important when you are driving in bad weather. Try to make it a habit to flip your lights on every time you get in the car. Keep a safe distance If you are already keeping three car lengths between you and the car in front, give yourself even more stopping distance by increasing this during bad weather. If the road is wet or icy, you will need more distance in order to come to a safe stop without rear-ending another vehicle. Slow it down When driving in bad weather, give yourself enough time to get to your destination so that you can drive at slower speeds. When the roads are slippery, it is much easier to lose control if you are driving too fast. This does not just mean more than the posted speed limit. In some cases, doing 10 miles per hour under the limit may still be too fast. Use your judgement to find a safe speed at which you can travel so that you reduce your risk of an accident. Prepare your car For winter weather driving, it is important to make sure your car is ready. This means checking your tires and ensuring the tread is in good condition and that they are properly inflated. Also, consider taking your car to your preferred mechanic to check the brakes and other systems that are vital to safe driving. While the above tips can help you navigate the roads safely this winter, you cannot control what other drivers do. If you have been the victim of a negligent driver, you might be able to take legal action for your injuries and the damages to your car.

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Drowsy driving: A national safety crisis that’s preventable

Around 2.6 percent of all fatalities recorded in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s database is related to drowsy driving. While that figure is from 2014, when 846 people died in crashes caused by this problem, it should be noted that the problem has remained fairly constant for as long as the records have been kept. The issue of fatigued driving continues to plague drivers on the roads today. Despite campaigns launched to warn people of the issue, the problem marches on. Here are some important points to remember about drowsy driving. Sleep is the only solution The human body needs sleep. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. When people don’t get the sleep they need, the body begins to suffer. The body’s circadian rhythm naturally regulates sleep. The late afternoon and from midnight to 6 in the morning are the two times when the circadian rhythm dips. Coincidentally, these times are the exact ones when there is an uptick in drowsy driving crashes. Short-term solutions aren’t likely to work You might drink an energy drink or coffee to perk yourself up, but these are only temporary measures that can’t be expected to last long. Drivers who are feeling like they are nodding off can drink some coffee if they must continue on their journey. Finding a safe place to stop for about 20 minutes while you rest is a possible solution, but it will only last a little while. Depth of the issue Drivers who are drowsy can nod off or become dazed. These are known as micro sleeps and can last around four to five seconds. In this amount of time, a vehicle that is traveling 55 miles per hour will move more than 100 yards, or the length of a football field. Measures taken to help drowsy drowsy drivers can alert them to the issue. These measures, such as rumble strips on the side of the road, let drivers know that they are drifting off the road. This is a signal that pulling over to rest must be a priority. Until all drivers decide that they are going to stop driving when they get drowsy, there are going to be crashes caused by this safety issue. Innocent victims will be injured or killed, which should be a call to action for everyone who gets behind the wheel.

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3 tips for keeping records after a car accident

You’re involved in a car accident, and a family member is injured. You stay at the scene as the injured party and another family member are taken to the hospital. You already know your family is going to be facing medical bills and a lot of related costs. To help, you need to record as much as you can about the accident. Below are three tips to keep in mind: 1. Write things down immediately. Don’t rely on your memory. It’s often hard to think of everything later, so writing it down in the heat of the moment is best. This is especially true if there is anything strange that you noticed about the accident or if you think the other driver will dispute your claims. 2. Take pictures. Even better than written notes are pictures and videos of the scene. People used to say you should carry a disposable camera; these days, your cellphone will do just fine. Take photos of the cars, the road, the traffic signals and anything else you think may be important. You could even take pictures of the cars’ VIN numbers and license plate numbers. 3. Talk to witnesses. Nothing helps your case like having a witness who backs up your story. If any pedestrians or other drivers saw the crash, talk to them and get their contact information. You may even want pictures of their cars or the places where they were standing. Overall, you’re already working to build your case. Be sure you know all of your legal rights to financial compensation in the wake of the accident. Source: CNN, “What to do after a car accident,” Craig Howie, accessed Jan. 17, 2018

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Watch out for drunk drivers in Waco this New Year’s Eve and Day

Next week will mark the start of a new decade. Many individuals will be heading out on New Year’s Eve to celebrate this event with other partygoers. Some will attend house parties at a friend or family member’s house. Whatever your plans are, make sure to remain extra vigilant for drunk drivers out on the roads here in Waco. There’s a significant uptick in drunk driving arrests and alcohol-involved crashes on both New Year’s Eve and Day according to NU Property Casualty 360. Data published by the American Automobile Association (AAA) shows that New Year’s Day is the deadliest day for motorists to take to the road. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2015 showed that 42% of all crashes that year on New Year’s Eve were alcohol-involved. Many jurisdictions have laws on the books that allow business owners and hosts to be held civilly and sometimes criminally liable for their party-goers actions. This is especially the case if they allow their customer or guest to leave a party and get behind the wheel of a car even though they know that an individual is intoxicated. Motorists who are intoxicated often have slow reflexes. This may cause them to unexpectedly accelerate their vehicle or to follow too closely to others in front of them. Individuals who are drunk or drugged may experience delayed reaction times when approaching a stoplight or sign. Intoxicated motorists may not have the visual acuity to see persons or things that enter their field of vision. These individuals may also have a poor ability to assess distances. These are all factors that make drunk motorists more apt to cause a crash. Medical treatment following an automobile collision can be costly. This is especially the case if you suffer a spinal cord or traumatic brain injury. You may find that you need a lifetime of care if this happens. This is why you need a car accidents attorney on your side. Your Texas lawyer can request compensation that will help you get the medical care that you deserve. In doing so, your attorney will be able to send a message to others that bad behavior behind the wheel won’t be tolerated anymore.

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Tired teens crash more often

Teen drivers face a lot of risks on the road. They lack experience since they simply haven’t been driving as long as adults. They may have distractions, such as friends or cellphones, in the car with them. These are all reasons that accident rates are so high. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA) notes that another serious risk could be a common part of life as a teen: a lack of sleep. A study was carried out to see if the timing of school classes played a role, and it found that kids who are headed to earlier classes are more likely to be involved in accidents in some cases. The NTHSA did admit that not all counties showed the same results, but they also called sleep deprivation a “significant factor” in these accidents. They noted that it can lead to: — Drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel. — Driver who do not notice emergency situations around them, such as other accidents or potential hazards leading to accidents. — Drivers who are simply not as alert. — Drivers who have reduced reaction times. This could lead to a chain reaction crash, for instance, when two other cars collide ahead of a teen driver and that driver, unable to stop in time, hits those vehicles. Drivers do have a responsibility to make sure that they are fit to drive before getting in the car, and that means understanding when they’re simply too tired for it to be safe. When they’re negligent and drive anyway, those who are injured in resulting car accidents need to know their legal rights. Source: NHTSA, “School Start Times and Teenage Driver Motor Vehicle Crashes,” accessed Sep. 08, 2017

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6 frightening facts about car accidents

You don’t worry about car accidents. You’ve been driving for years and you have never even been involved in one. You have certainly never gotten hurt. You feel like they get a lot of talk on the news, but you do not think they’re all that big of a threat. Of course, you know they happen. You have seen those news reports almost every single day. You just do not feel like they happen that often. The truth may surprise you. The fact that you have not gotten into an accident may be luck as much as anything else. To help paint the real picture, here are a few concerning facts about motor vehicle accidents in the United States. 1. Most people get involved in car accidents with injuries Really. A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that two thirds of all motorists will get in an accident that results in injuries to at least one person in that accident. 2. On average, drivers crash one time per decade You may have incredible skill behind the wheel, but that’s not all that matters. Other drivers make mistakes. There’s nothing you can do to stop someone else from running a red light. If you have been driving for 10 years without a crash, you are probably due. 3. When you do get in an accident, the odds that someone will get seriously hurt sit at 1 in 20 That does not mean you will get hurt, but someone in the car will. It could be a family member, a co-worker or a friend. Those are the statistical risks you face every single day when you pull out onto the road. 4. For most age groups, car accidents remain the leading cause of unintentional death Nothing takes more lives for those between 5 and 35 years old than car accidents. The same is true for anyone between 55 and 64. For five out of nine age groups, car accidents are the leading cause of death. 5. It’s the second leading cause of death for everyone else The other four age groups see accidental drowning, poisoning and falls as their leading causes of unintentional death. Car accidents are not far behind, ranking second for each group. That means they are the first or second leading cause of unintentional death for everyone in the United States. 6. Drivers get complacent Never letting your guard down is an important part of defensive driving, but can you really do it? For how long? Eventually, even safe drivers tend to get bored and complacent. Post-accident options As you can see, the chances are very good that you will be involved in an accident eventually. Make sure you know what options you have if it happens.

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Distracted driving is a serious concern for Waco residents

Each April, different organizations commemorate distracted driving awareness month. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), there’s a good reason for these groups to draw attention to distracted driving. Just last year, over 95,000 crashes occurred in Texas. At least 394 people died. AAA’s data doesn’t state how many of these crashes were caused by distracted driving. Some Waco residents know first hand just how dangerous it can be, though. One of those people was just 21 years old when a motorist crashed head-on into her car. Her injuries were so severe that she ended up having to be airlifted to a hospital. Crash scene investigators ultimately determined that the woman who caused the crash was distracted by her radio, phone or her daughter when it happened. The Baylor University student spent three weeks in the hospital after the crash. She underwent several surgeries on her broken back, toes, nose and sternum before her release. She ended up with more than $700,000 in bills. Ultimately the 38-year-old woman who struck her was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. It’s unclear how much time in jail she will face. As for the victim, she struggles with memory problems more than a year after her accident. This is caused, in large part, by her having been knocked unconscious by the crash. She still struggles to walk and she’s only recently tried to learn how to run again. This is just one of many stories of how distracted driving has impacted a Texan’s life. Texting while driving became illegal in Texas in September of 2017. Anyone who violates this state law can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and be fined up to $99 as a first time offender. Those who violate the law a second time may be assessed a $200 fine. Despite there being laws on the books in Texas that make it illegal to text and drive, many motorists take their chances and do it in the hope that they won’t get caught. It’s not worth the risk of putting your life or someone else’s in danger. Compensation for car accident injuries is available for those who have been hurt or killed by a negligent driver. A car accidents attorney can evaluate your case to see if you qualify to file a claim.

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