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Articles Posted in Auto Safety

Bill-Berenson-running-near-US-CapitolNew federal legislation will curb giant injury and death toll on roads

Hurray! The U. S. House of Representatives has just passed the Moving Forward Act. It allots one-half trillion dollars for transportation initiatives that will make our roads safer. It now moves to the Senate, where hopefully it will be passed and then signed into law. This legislation is urgent.

(The photo was taken during the Marine Corp Marathon when Mr. Berenson was running a marathon in every state.)

That is because, forgotten in the grim daily news about the pandemic, is that each year over 36,000 Americans die and two million others are injured in motor vehicle collisions. They happen 24/7. They can happen to anyone who is driving. Here in Texas, we have not had a day without at least one death on our highways for almost 20 years. That’s disgraceful.

Virtually all of these car and truck crashes are caused by human error and are clearly preventable. But we need to crack down on them since relying on drivers to follow the traffic laws and simply keep their eyes on the road has clearly been unsuccessful.

The Moving Forward Act (H.R.2) includes a grab bag of badly needed safety measures. These will make our highways and vehicles safer by doing the following things:

  • Requiring driver assistance systems like lane drift warnings, blind spot monitors, and emergency automatic braking to be standard (not expensive package price options as they are now) features in new vehicles. They can stop collisions before they happen.
  • Implementing technology to curb DWIs and DUIs by detecting intoxicated or impaired driver behavior, leading causes of crashes in our highways; a
  • Enhancing commercial truck safety by improving under ride and side guards and keeping tired 18-wheeler drivers off of our roads.

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Child deaths are incredibly devastating. Why is Texas number one in this horrible statistic and why aren’t we doing more to stop them?

Today the Star Telegram sadly reported that Texas has ranked #1 in the country over the past 30 years for child deaths in hot cars and trucks. We have lost 135 of our youngest Texans during that time and the country has lost almost 1,000 small children due to the criminal negligence of their drivers.

Here’s another terrible fact: Texas somehow suffers twice as many of these tragedies as California, but they have 10 million more people than we do.

BLOG-W-FT-W-CRASH-FRIDeadly car and truck accidents happen across the DFW area almost every day. One happened near our office last week when an SUV rolled over on I-30 which critically injured several people and took the life of a 22-year-old woman. Here’s a photograph from the scene. And on Sunday night, two people were ejected from a truck in a rollover accident east of Dallas. Since rollovers accidents have the highest fatality rate of any collision, this is an important public safety topic for all of us.

Causes of rollover accidents

Rollovers happen for a number of reasons and are more complex from a liability viewpoint than other vehicle accidents.

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Our state’s annual Click It or Ticket” campaign kicked off last week. It reminds us that we face a fine of $250 if we don’t wear seat belts in Texas and also lets us hear from the families of people who chose not to and lost their lives. The campaign is urgent. Almost 1,000 unbuckled drivers and passengers died in auto accidents in Texas in 2016 — up almost 100 from the year before.

Statistics show that seat belts have prevented the deaths of over 300,000 people and reduce injuries and deaths by up to 60%.

And it won’t be much of a surprise to learn that the leading group of drivers and passengers who refuse to buckle up are teenagers.

Somehow despite laws and plain common sense, there are still hundreds of thousands of people who won’t wear seat belts in Texas. As you can see from the chart below, 10% of Texans choose to ignore the obvious safety risk.

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When is owner at fault for letting unsafe driver drive his car?

Drinking and Driving

People usually cannot be found to be responsible when someone else is negligent. But what happens when someone loans his vehicle to another person who he knew — or should have known — was not a safe or qualified driver? A car accident could result due to the negligent entrustment of the vehicle and in some cases, the owner can also be at fault. Giving a dangerous driver access to a potentially deadly 6,000 pound vehicle can be just as deadly as handing a child a loaded gun.

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Wrecks and bad roads increasing at rapid pace.

Between all the drivers staring at their cell phones, our roads that are rated a D, and the thousands of new residents pouring into North Texas, you are probably lucky not to get into a car accident when you drive around Dallas-Fort Worth. Adding to the chances are the pavement problems caused by last year easily being the rainiest in our history with a whopping 53 inches falling, a lot of it last month. The latest reported example is a  10 foot wide pothole in Fort Worth that shut down an intersection for two weeks after a car sank into it and had to be towed out. You may be wondering if the state or local government is liable for your damages if you are injured in a car or truck wreck caused by bad roads, broken stop lights, missing stop signs, or poor highway design or maintenance. This post will explain how Texas law works.

Road Defects

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Enjoy Family Dinners and Football Games … and Try to Stay Clear of Drunk Drivers 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I thoroughly enjoy sharing a meal with my family and enjoying my blessings. I’m looking forward to seeing my Texas Longhorns win and there are a lot of other great games on this weekend. 

I will also be very careful about when I drive this weekend. 

Electric Bicycles To Be Available in Fort Worth Soon

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You are starting to see a few people riding around on electric bicycles and electric scooters and might think they are good ideas. They encourage people to exercise, reduce our ever-increasing road congestion, and help protect the environment, so I was interested when Fort Worth just announced that its B-Cycle bicycle sharing program will add 50 electric assisted bicycles in April.

B-Cycle had test rides available yesterday so I hopped on one at City Hall before work to check them out.

Future transportation vehicles on display here this weekend

On Saturday I drove my wife and myself to Arlington to demo some crazy future transportation shuttles and I was very impressed with what I saw. The van we rode in drove, stopped, and steered safely all by itself. There was no chance of any distracted driving, driving while intoxicated, speeding, or other stupid driver actions that anger me as a Fort Worth car accident lawyer that I see on a daily basis.

I hope these new vehicles can help make our roads safer and reduce the 54 car wrecks in Tarrant and Dallas Counties on an average day. With the rapid changes technology is bringing to our lives, we are on the cusp of innovative changes in the way we move around. Within our lifetimes, it is predicted that vehicles out of a sci-fi movie will be norm.

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But are self-driving vehicles safe?

Three vans that move slowly without drivers will be available to ride around the stadiums/Six Flags area in Arlington starting today. Presumably other Texas cities are considering the use of self-driving vehicles. But while some people say they are the future of transportation, most are frightened.

Proponents of this new technology say that these vehicles are far safer than the ones on the road now. With 84,000 crashes each year just here in Tarrant and Dallas Counties, that’s hard to dispute. And disability advocates argue that handicapped people will be able to get around easier.

On the other hand, skeptics point to several fatal collisions and argue that there are not enough safety procedures to protect the driving public from robotic vehicles on the open roads.

Both sides are right.

Congrats to Arlington, “America’s Dream City,” for pushing the Dallas-Fort Worth area forward and trying to make our streets safer. The new service from an exciting California start up company called driver.ai starts this weekend. Next weekend, the hours will be from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

I am always advocating for safer roads and am planning to ride one of the vans tomorrow to learn more. I’ll give you a full report Monday.

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