Articles Posted in Distracted driving

Who can watch the road with all this to see and do? 

171204174617-gm-marketplace-780x439Dashboards can do everything these days. Search for the latest tune on Spotify? Check. Know the latest NFL score? Of course.

But encourage you to order dinner? General Motors just added an application that allows drivers to place restaurant orders while driving. GM is launching the Marketplace app in millions of its new models so millions of hungry drivers can study menus as they drive at 70 MPH.

Just as unnerving, the driver can also book a hotel on Priceline or peruse shopping sites on this new app.

Of course internet connectivity can help improve safety if used responsibly. Instead of looking at a map, you can keep your eyes on the road while listening to voice-activated GPS directions. If you’re in a car accident in a remote area, your Wi-Fi could be a God send to get help more quickly.

But bad driving is already out of control in North Texas. We all see drivers not looking at the road and weaving into our lanes. Playing with these apps is unnecessary and dangerous. Shame on GM and the other auto makers for allowing them on dashboards. They should be illegal.

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Distracted driving, infotainment systemOne of the main selling points for a vehicle used to be its safety ratings. Now it’s the computer settings.

Why? We drivers want to be entertained while we go to our destinations. So automakers compete on which infotainment system best fulfills the instant demand for the internet, music, directions, phone connectivity, sports scores, stock quotes, and you name it.

The problem with this trend is obvious. Driving is not supposed to entertaining. It’s a dangerous task that requires the driver’s full attention.

Which infotainment systems are distracting?

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety rated the distracting qualities of 30 of the most popular infotainment systems.

Which were distracting? You guessed it — all of them.

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National Teen Driver Safety Week Is A Good Startimages.

Here’s a great idea that gives parents and schools the chance to focus on this critical safety issue.

The U.S. Department of Transportation devised this excellent awareness program to curtail the tragic loss of 2,333 teens and 221,313 teens severely injured after being in an auto accident in 2015.

Parents are not usually usually driving with their teens so they must teach and enforce these five crucial driving behaviors to prevent car and truck crashes:

  • No using a cell phone or texting
  • No piling passengers in the car
  • No speeding
  • No drinking alcohol
  • No driving without wearing a seat belt

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dreamstime_s_34718220The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released its highly anticipated 2016 crash report this week. The results are very discouraging.

More people died in traffic crashes last year than in any year in the past decade.

And what’s more, there were increases in every means of transit. Death rates increased for those driving cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, motorcycles, pedestrians and bicycles.

Overall traffic deaths increased by almost 2,000 people — an enormous 5.6 rate of increase from 2015. Since 2008, traffic fatalities had been on a downward trajectory but began to climb in 2012. We’ve now surpassed the 2008 numbers with no apparent end in sight.

I’ve been riding my bicycle long distances to stay in shape as I turn 63 next month (yikes!) and this picture of a “ghost bike” memorializing the death of a cyclist is especially disturbing to me.

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These helpful apps can lower your chances of being in a car wreck

For the first time in Texas history, texting while driving is illegal. Finally! We were almost the last state to outlaw this incredibly dangerous practice. The new law just started on September 1st and many people still don’t know about it.

And the common habit of tweeting or surfing the net at 60 MPH will be hard to break. After all, we are all addicted to our cell phones.

Is there a way to prevent getting a ticket or far worse, causing an auto accident? Yes, fortunately. The Fort Worth Star Telegram just reviewed several new apps that you might find helpful. I discussed some of them here.

1. Do Not Disturb While Driving. On Tuesday Apple unveiled the new iOS 11 software and iPhone 8 which include an exciting Do Not Disturb feature that you can enable when you get into your car — or make your teenager do. The feature blocks text messages and phone calls and sends an automatic reply that the user is driving. The driver can still receive phone calls through a hands-free device. The app eliminates the temptation to take a peek when a ping announces a text message.

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iphone-textingThe law couldn’t come soon enough

Texas is about to become the 48th state to outlaw texting while driving. Okay, so at least we weren’t last.

The law takes effect on September 1. But, why wait? Why not just go ahead and put the phone away?

If you need convincing, consider that distracted drivers caused 109,000 accidents and killed 455 people in Texas in 2016. Distracted drivers were responsible for more than 8,200 crashes that killed 23 people in Tarrant County and more than 7,000 accidents that killed 16 people in Dallas County.

It is impossible to look at a phone screen and drive safely at the same time. A driver who does so is just an accident waiting to happen. Some people will text and drive regardless, but many others will stop to avoid a traffic fine and points on their driving record. Continue reading

dreamstime_xs_567292Good news: for years teenage traffic fatalities declined in Texas. From 2005 to 2014, the number of teen deaths dropped by 51 percent. Texas’s graduated licensing program, education, and safer cars seemed to be making a positive impact.

Bad news: in 2015 things took a turn for the worse when teen deaths unfortunately spiked by 9 percent. And based on what I’ve seen in my practice as an injury lawyer, I’m not optimistic about the release of the  2016 statistics.

How can we stop this from happening? And what can you do if you crashed into by a teenage driver?

Teens: drunk driving and speeding are nothing to brag about

Last week’s horrific YouTube video of an 18 year-old driving drunk and killing her younger sister and a Snapchat video which recorded a woman partying in the days before she was killed in a drunk driving crash have gone viral.

These videos ended tragically, but others in which drunk and speeding teen drivers miraculously survive continue to pop up on social media and actually be liked by peers and followers. The teens enjoy a few moments of minor fame for their risky escapade, which may be encouraging others to follow suit.

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drive-now-text-later-300x93Texas finally became the 47th state to pass a ban on texting while driving two weeks ago.

But for many of us, stringent restrictions on texting have been in place for years.

102 cities got tired waiting for state lawmakers to get on board with the rest of the country and passed their own cell phone ordinances.

In our DFW area, Arlington, Bedford, Grand Prairie, Hurst, Watauga, White Settlement, and other cities cracked down on negligent drivers. Arlington, for example, did this back in 2011.

That’s because it was obvious that texting while driving caused an obscene number of deaths and personal injuries. It is the number one cause, greater than driving while intoxicated and speeding combined.

In Texas last year, texting caused 455 people to lose their lives and over 3,000 others to be seriously injured — and those are just the cases where the police could get the at-fault driver to admit he or she was texting.

Here in Tarrant County, 22 drivers died and 236 suffered serious injuries. That’s maddening, right? Especially if you’ve been crashed into by someone texting.

Ironically, many Texans may see their local laws weakened now that the state has belatedly tiptoed into this important safety issue.

That’s because Governor Abbott has called a special legislative session in a few weeks. On the agenda is a law that will make the state’s anti-texting law supersede the stronger local laws that these cities and counties have on the books.  Continue reading

imagesFeature To Disable Phones While Driving

Cell phone use caused at least 391,000 traffic accidents and killed 3,477 people in the U.S. in 2015. But many drivers can’t break their addiction to this dangerous practice. A majority of people admit to texting while driving.

Apparently nothing short of the phone automatically shutting itself off can get texters to stop.

That’s the idea behind a long overdue feature on the newest version of the iPhone to be released this fall.

Your smartphone already detects when it is moving quickly. And there are apps already available that permit you to disable your phone while driving, including Carplay and Driver Mode.

The Apple’s iOS 11 will automatically disable iPhones once the vehicle begins moving. That means you won’t receive calls or text messages or be able to use certain distracting apps while you drive.

Apple had a patent for this technology since 2008 according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tyler. It seeks damages on behalf of the estates of two women who were killed and a 7-year-old boy who was rendered a paraplegic when their SUV was rear ended in East Texas in 2013 by a woman who was texting while driving. Other similar lawsuits have been filed across the country.

This new software clearly should have been installed many years ago.

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dreamstime_xs_44085862Today’s Star Telegram editorial wisely observed that “Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick should bring the texting-while-driving bill to the floor and let senators vote or explain why not at every victim’s funeral.”

Just a few weeks ago, the House again passed a bill for the fourth straight session that would ban texting while driving throughout the state. Our representatives know that distracted driving is incredibly dangerous and voted to do something about it.

I see far too many car wrecks as a personal injury lawyer that are caused when a driver admits he or she didn’t see the car in front was at a complete stop because they were looking down at their cell phones.

We need to stop drivers from texting while driving. But once again, this common sense law appears to be in jeopardy of passing.

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