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Articles Posted in Unsafe vehicles

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.


A Dallas woman who was paralyzed in a van-truck crash was awarded a $37.6 million jury verdict on Thursday. She sued Honda, claiming her horrific injuries were caused by its defective rear seat belt. Sarah Milburn, who is now 27, was a passenger in the third row in a Honda Odyssey minivan on a December night in 2015.

She and her friends were celebrating her upcoming college graduation. Her future was bright. The women called for an Uber to drive them home.

Unfortunately their Uber driver ran a red light on McKinney Avenue. The van was hit so hard by a pickup truck driven by a man who was DWI that it rolled over two times and landed upside down.

Sarah tragically suffered a fractured neck and is now a quadriplegic.

After months in a hospital and rehabilitation facility, she had to move home with her parents.

Her lawsuit alleged that Honda’s seat belt was defective because it required the passenger to buckle two different belts. One hung down from the ceiling, which she buckled. A second had to be latched into the seat. Almost every one who tested them out couldn’t figure out how to safely secure them, which obviously angered the jury.

It’s way too dangerous to drive. There are over 80,000 car accidents each year here in Dallas and Tarrant Counties.

But ironically the very safety devices you count on to protect you if you are in a car wreck can be lethal.

A whopping 42 million vehicles in the United States and 100 million around the world have had to be recalled due to deadly problems with the Takata airbags.

There are still over 60,000 of these dangerous cars, trucks, and SUVs on American roads.

Are you driving one of these so-called “time bombs?”

Jewel Brangman unfortunately was. The 26-year old rear-ended a minivan while driving a Honda rental car in California.  Although the impact was minimal, the airbag exploded and Ms. Brangman tragically bled to death from a neck artery severed by metal shards.

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

Dashboards can do everything these days. Search for the latest tune on Spotify? Check. Know the latest NFL score? Of course.

Distracted Driving

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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I always tell my clients whose vehicles have been totaled to buy the biggest truck or SUV they can. That’s because over half of the vehicles on the road are pickup trucks or SUVs in Texas.

And that’s not counting all the 18 wheelers and other commercial trucks racing around making deliveries.

When a collision happens between a large vehicle and a smaller one, the occupants of the larger one almost always suffer fewer, if any, personal injuries.

So which vehicle should you buy?

Exterior styling, gas mileage, price and payment options are top reasons why we choose vehicles. Volvo used to brag about its safety ratings. Not any more. Safety is usually a secondary concern for car buyers. But we should all focus on how our vehicles will hold up against much larger, heavier SUVs or trucks.

Even if safety is at the top on your list, how can you tell which vehicles are the safest? Generalities like big cars are safer don’t always hold up. And a vehicle that looks safe may have serious flaws in its design and manufacturing.

Here’s a list of the 12 most dangerous vehicles in the U.S. Predictably, small sedans most often received failing grades. But even some SUVs, minivans and pick-up trucks were substandard. Some of the models have fortunately been discontinued, probably due to safety concerns. Continue reading

Here’s some horrible news: on Saturday a 19-year-old woman from Central Texas left her two and one-year-old daughters in a hot vehicle for 15 hours, causing their deaths. How can this happen?

The high today will be 92 degrees, but people don’t realize that inside a car without air conditioning, that temperature will quickly climb to a deadly 165.

Being in a hot car even for a short time can result in heat stroke or death.  Continue reading

Visibility Ratings Not So Bright

While driving at night along one of North Texas’s residential streets or deserted country roads at night, obstacles can seemingly appear out of nowhere — an animal, a bicyclist, a jogger or a fallen tree limb — forcing you to swerve or slam on the brakes.

You may have felt at times like your eyes were going bad. After reading this study, you may now realize that your eyes are not the problem.

Your headlights should allow you to spot an obstacle in plenty of time to slow, stop or maneuver safely. Instead, your headlights may not be lighting the way.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a recent study of vehicular headlights, and the results were enlightening:

  • IIHS rated the 82 possible combinations of headlights on 31 midsize cars.
  • Only the Toyota Prius v earned a good rating.
  • 11 vehicles were rated “acceptable.”
  • 9 cars received “marginal” ratings.
  • 10 cars only came with poor-rated headlights.

Even the Prius rating comes with a catch. Prius owners had to purchase the advanced technology package that included the highly rated LED lights and high-beam assist to achieve optimal visibility. Otherwise, the Prius comes equipped with the poorly rated halogen lights and without high-beam assist that provides substandard visibility.

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We Need This To Happen Now

Even though safety advocates have been fighting for years to prevent rear end collisions, the auto lobby has fought back.

It was recently announced that the deadline for automatic braking systems has been delayed for up to eight years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a voluntary agreement which would make automatic emergency braking standard in most new cars in six years. It will take eight years for heavier SUVs and pickup trucks to have this technology.

But the NHTSA announced with great fanfare in November that its 5 Star Rating System would be required in 2018. Many major manufacturers, including GM and Ford, promised to add this technology quickly.

The failure of the government and auto industry to take faster action to insure our safety is troubling.

After all, auto makers already have the technology for automatic braking and every one knows that it greatly reduces the number and severity of auto and truck crashes.

Berenson Injury Law has noted for years that the case load of personal injury lawyers has dramatically increased due to rear end collisions caused by distracted driving and DWI’s, among other negligent acts.

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A pre-wedding celebration turned into tragedy when a drunk driver broadsided a limousine two weekends ago. Four women were killed and four women and the truck driver were seriously injured in the horrific accident.

Limousines Are Stripped of Safety Features

Limos are the embodiment of success and glamour but they have serious safety flaws. A stretch limo is created by cutting a car in half and then adding side, floor and roof panels between the two ends. In the process, the manufacturer removes life-saving safety features, such as seat belts and airbags, meaning limo passengers have little protection if the vehicle is involved in an accident. And the fact that most (if not all) passengers aren’t seat belted just adds to the danger.

Auto manufacturers are not permitted to sell vehicles that don’t meet rigorous safety standards, but limo companies are somehow exempt under federal laws.

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Congress Castigates Corporation – Again

The U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation released a scathing report yesterday detailing Takata’s deplorable safety practices. It cites internal emails in which executives decided to halt safety audits of its plants to save money. The committee held another hearing on Takata’s devastating corporate conduct today – the fourth time Congress has met over the air bag fiasco in the last eight months.

Takata Altered Airbag Design To Save $2.00 Per Unit

Takata began recalling millions of vehicles that contained defective airbags last year. By May that number had reached 34 million automobiles, making it the largest auto recall in history. One out of every seven vehicles in the United States is affected. 

The problem arose when the company made the fateful decision to use a cheaper propellant in its airbag canisters. The new propellant was highly volatile and often exploded, sending metal shrapnel flying into the cabin of the vehicle. The flying fragments killed at least eight people and injured hundreds of others. The new propellant cost the company $2.00 less per unit. 

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