Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law

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the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia
Proudly Serving the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia

Our Blogs Of Interest To You

Study Finds Vehicle Infotainment Systems Distracting To Drivers

New cars and trucks come with an array of safety features designed to reduce traffic accidents on roads in West Virginia and elsewhere. Unfortunately, many new vehicles are also stocked with distracting electronic gadgets, including infotainment and GPS systems, that could increase the risk of car crashes.

For example, a recent AAA study conducted by researchers from the University of Utah examined 30 different dashboard systems on 2017 vehicles and found that all of them required moderate or high levels of driver interaction. Specifically, seven of the studied systems required moderate levels of interaction, 11 required high levels of interaction and 12 required very high levels of interaction. None of the systems required low levels of interaction. The study also found that using GPS systems and sending texts were the most distracting interactions.

To come to these conclusions, researchers had drivers between the ages of 21 and 36 interact with dashboard systems while driving. The types of interactions required included issuing voice commands, using touch screens, executing phone calls, sending texts, changing radio stations and inputting navigation commands. The researchers then measured how long it took drivers to complete each interaction and how much visual and cognitive distraction was imposed by each task. The authors of the study said that automakers need to be more selective when choosing what types of infotainment systems to install in vehicles. Specifically, they need to install systems that prioritize safety.

Distracted driving causes thousands of serious car accidents across the U.S. every year. The victim of a distracted driving accident may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. This type of lawsuit could help the victim obtain compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, property loss and other accident-related damages. A lawyer familiar with car crash claims could evaluate a claim and provide detailed legal guidance.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law in Charles Town, posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

What’s Behind Most Drunk Driving Deaths

West Virginia residents 21 and older who are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher will be guilty of drunk driving. This is the legal limit through most of the U.S., though it is considered the highest limit in the world. Some countries, such as Brazil and Russia, have a zero-tolerance policy where no one can drive with alcohol in the blood.

What’s clear is that a .08 percent BAC is enough to impair drivers’ reaction times and raise their risk for a crash. Many drunk driving crashes are fatal crashes; in fact, drunk driving fatalities compose about one-third of all traffic-related fatalities. The ones who are most at risk are drivers under the age of 24, motorcyclists, those with prior DUI convictions and those who mix drugs or medications with their alcohol consumption.

Common causes of death in drunk driving crashes are head trauma, blood loss and internal organ damage. The impact of a crash could cause the driver’s head to hit the steering wheel or another hard surface. Flying debris could also cause trauma. Organs can be damaged and bleed if the abdomen is impacted by the steering column or pierced by glass.

For these reasons, it’s important to educate others about drunk driving. Individuals can help by dissuading friends and family from driving drunk.

When car accidents are caused by a driver who was drunk, drowsy, distracted or negligent in some other way, those who are injured through little or no fault of their own may be able to recover damages. Victims may want a lawyer to negotiate on their behalf for the settlement. Auto insurance companies have their own legal team ready to deny all claims, meaning that victims may need to litigate to be covered for their legitimate losses.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2018.

External Air Bags Could Increase Passenger Safety By 40 Percent

West Virginia drivers may be interested in learning how external air bags could make passengers safer. The idea of external air bags is not something new. In fact, technology is reaching the point where the concept is feasible. Testing has shown that external air bags may reduce the severity of passenger injuries by up to 40 percent.

The technology is designed to protect the sides of the vehicle. A split second before an automobile crash, the air bag will deploy and act like a large pillow, absorbing some of the collision force. One of the biggest challenges automobile manufacturers face is making the air bags deploy properly.

The vehicle would need to have the capability of determining when an accident was going to happen. Then, a split second before impact, it would need to fire the air bag. There are a number of vehicles that have predictive systems that engage certain safety features when an automobile accident seems imminent. For example, some safety features will tighten the seat belt or will make adjustments to the suspension to protect the car’s occupants.

Of course, having an air bag deploy is a lot more dramatic than the above-mentioned safety features. No one wants to have their automobile ruined because their air bag deployed prematurely or when it was not needed. Developers believe that advances in radar, lidar and ultrasonic technology will help cars do a better job of predicting accidents and deploying safety measures, such as air bags, appropriately.

When a person is a victim of an automobile accident, they may seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney. Legal counsel could hold the at-fault party accountable by filing a claim for damages on the victim’s behalf.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Thursday, December 13, 2018.

How Breathalyzer Tests Work

When police stop a suspected drunk driver, standard protocol is to have the driver complete a set of field sobriety tests and take a breath test to determine their blood alcohol content. Each time a person with alcohol in their system breathes out, they expel a small amount of vaporized alcohol. Breathalyzer machines are calculated to detect the infrared radiation, or IR, of ethanol, the chemical in alcoholic beverages that causes intoxication. Different organic compounds have different IR wavelengths.

Most Breathalyzer machines require a person to blow into the machine for several seconds. This is so the air that enters the machine comes from the deepest part of the lungs. Otherwise, the machine could pick up mouth alcohol that is on a person’s breath right after they have taken a drink. Most machines will not register unless a person has blown a sufficient sample of air into the machine.

After a sufficient sample is inside the chamber in the machine, an IR beam is blown through it. An IR detector measures the amount of ethanol in the sample and calculates the person’s BAC based on the amount.

A person who has been arrested for drunk driving charges can refuse to take a breath test, but in most states, that will result in suspension of a person’s driving privileges. It is legal to refuse to submit to field sobriety tests on the side of the road. It may be a good idea for individuals who have physical conditions that could cause them to fail the tests to refuse.

An attorney may be able to help a person facing drunk driving charges stay out of jail or even work to get their case dismissed. The outcome of a DWI case is highly dependent on the facts involved as DWI cases often turn on technical requirements, especially in cases where a suspected drunk driver had few obvious signs of impairment.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Thursday, November 29, 2018.

CVSA Sidelines Almost 5,000 Trucks In Brake Inspection Spree

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held its annual Brake Safety Week from Sept. 16 to 22, inspecting trucks and other commercial vehicles at random to check for compliance with brake safety rules. Truckers in West Virginia may remember it, but even if their vehicles were not checked, they will want to know the results of the spree.

In all, 35,080 commercial vehicles were inspected in the U.S. and Canada. Inspectors placed 4,955 of those vehicles out of service for brakes violations; that comes to 14.1 percent. The 2017 brake inspection spree, though it lasted only one day, saw 14 percent of vehicles sidelined. Brakes violations continue to be an issue; in June, when the CVSA held its annual 72-hour International Roadcheck, poorly maintained brakes formed the majority of violations at 28.4 percent.

The focus of the 2018 Brake Safety Week was on vehicles that require antilock braking systems. ABS is meant to help drivers maintain control of their vehicles during certain situations, so it can endanger everyone on the road if the system is poorly maintained.

Of the 26,143 air-braked power units that were inspected for ABS violations, 2,176 or 8.3 percent were pulled out of service. 4.4 percent of hydraulic-braked trucks were discovered to have violated ABS standards. The highest number was among trailers that require ABS: 2,224 out of 17,857, or 12.5 percent.

Negligent truck maintenance is sometimes the cause behind truck accidents. In such cases, the negligent driver’s trucking company may face an injury claim from victims. Those who are injured through little or no fault of their own might retain a lawyer to prepare their case for the negotiation table. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, the lawyer may speak on the victim’s behalf in court. A successful claim might cover medical expenses, lost income and other applicable losses.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2018.

Distracted Driving, An Overlooked Threat Among Truckers

Distracted driving is on the rise throughout West Virginia and across the U.S., but it’s a threat that many trucking companies are ignoring. Truckers are especially prone to distracted driving not only because of increased smartphone use but also because of a “productivity culture” that forces them to stay awake longer. Texting and fatigue are frequently behind trucking accidents.

Experts say that texting constitutes a visual, manual and cognitive distraction. It can take a driver’s eyes off the road for up to five seconds, which means that one driving at 55 mph could travel the entire length of a football field without once looking up from the phone. Inattentive driving leads to truckers swerving or drifting into other lanes and compromises reaction times.

Though federal guidelines are in place that require truckers to take a certain number of rest breaks, truckers often drive drowsy. Sleeping 5.5 to 6.4 hours in the previous 24 hours will double the risk for fatigue compared to sleeping one or two extra hours.

Safety advocates say that fleet owners should therefore aim to create a safety-oriented culture among their employees. It could begin with policy changes. Owners can then help employees identify risk factors in their own driving and establish sustainable goals, using exposure rather than injuries as the measurement of improvement.

If drowsy driving or texting and driving is to blame for a truck accident, a victim can rest assured that they will have good grounds for a claim. However, they may need experts to gather the proof, including the police report and the trucker’s work log or phone records. This is where a lawyer and their network of professionals can come in. The lawyer can negotiate on a victim’s behalf for a settlement that covers all losses, such as medical bills, lost wages and vehicle damage.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Monday, October 29, 2018.

How Alcohol Impacts A Driver

If a driver in West Virginia or any other state drives with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, he or she is committing a crime. It is usually labeled as either driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. Drivers should know that driving after consuming any amount of alcohol can be dangerous. They should also be aware that they can be impaired without showing any symptoms.

Those who drive after drinking alcohol could experience a slower reaction time and a lack of coordination. It can also reduce the level of concentration that a person has while behind the wheel. A lack of concentration could cause a driver to swerve into another lane or drive faster than the speed limit. Alcohol can also lower a person’s inhibitions, which can make it harder to properly deal with others on the road.

If an individual gets into a car accident, it could cause financial problems for him or herself. It may also cause financial problems for victims of the accident. Anyone involved in an accident may not be able to go to work, which can make it harder to pay medical expenses or legal fees. Each year, accidents related to drunk drivers costs the American economy $44 billion.

Individuals who are facing drunk driving charges may lose their ability to drive. They may also be required to pay a fine or spend time in jail as part if convicted of the charges. An attorney may work to help a person negotiate a plea bargain, get a charge dismissed or obtain an acquittal in a DUI case. This may be done by casting doubt on a police report or asserting that an individual experienced a medical condition that resulted in erratic driving.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

AAA: Most Drivers Depend Too Much On Safety Tech

There’s a good chance that many West Virginia residents with driver assistance systems in their vehicles are relying too much on them to stay safe. As a result, they may be putting themselves and others at risk. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has called attention to this fact in a report, and some of its statistics are alarming.

A total of 29 percent of drivers with adaptive cruise control, for instance, say that they are comfortable engaging in other activities behind the wheel. More than 40 percent of those with automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warnings cannot differentiate the two technologies.

Perhaps the worst trend of all involves blind-spot monitoring systems. A whopping 80 percent of drivers overestimate the ability of these systems to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians while 25 percent put so much trust in them that they never check for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

AAA believes that automakers, dealers and rental car companies are not doing enough to educate customers about the limitations of these safety features. The organization also believes that the way they are marketed has misled many people.

Despite these troubling statistics, driver assistance systems can reduce the number of car accidents by 40 percent and accident fatalities by 30 percent. The only question is whether drivers can adapt to semiautonomous vehicles, which will require driver input from time to time.

When safety tech does not prevent a car accident, the victim will want to know what caused it. If it becomes clear that the driver was negligent, the victim may be able to file a claim and be covered for medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle damage and anything else that applies. It will likely take a lawyer, though, to negotiate for the settlement because the other party’s auto insurance company will be aggressive in denying the claim.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Tuesday, October 2, 2018.

Inspection Spree Sidelines Thousands Of Trucks

West Virginia drivers often have to share the road with large commercial vehicles. This is one of the reasons why the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance periodically performs roadside inspections to identify possible safety violations. During an inspection blitz that took place in early June, more than 11,800 trucks and buses and 2,664 drivers were placed out-of-service. The primary focus of this round of vehicle assessments was hours-of-service violations, which ended up being responsible for more than 40 percent of the problems that affected drivers.

The purpose of these CVSA inspections is to minimize big rig accidents as much as possible by keeping drivers and vehicles with violations off the road. Over three days, approximately 67,000 roadside inspections were conducted. Of the 45,000-plus vehicles subjected to level I inspections, just under 22 percent ended up being placed out-of-service. Results from level I, II and III inspections kept approximately 4 percent of drivers from immediately getting back behind the wheel.

Nearly 30 percent of the trucks taken off the road had issues with brake systems. Problems with tires and wheels were discovered on 19 percent of the vehicles, and a little over 16 percent of trucks inspected were sidelined because of brake adjustment issues. Most of the drivers were cited for hours-of-service violations. Other driver-specific issues involved license class discrepancies, record of duty status, and not adhering to license restrictions. Just over 8 percent of vehicle drivers were caught driving with a suspended license.

A personal injury lawyer may use available inspection data when evaluating cases involving truck accidents that has harmed clients who were occupants of other vehicles. For instance, a truck company may be considered a responsible party if they allowed trucks to remain in service with known brake, suspension, exhaust or steering problems. If driver fatigue was a contributing factor to an accident, an attorney might check for hours-of-service issues.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2018.

Reducing Backup Crashes With Advanced Safety Features

West Virginia residents may want to learn more about rear automatic braking because a new report has shown how effective it is in preventing backup crashes. In fact, it can reduce the number of backup crashes by 62 percent, and that number jumps up to 78 percent when the tech is combined with rearview cameras and sensors. This is important because backup crashes often result in extensive property damage and serious injuries. Many young children have died in backup crashes, too.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested the combination of rear automatic brakes, rearview cameras and sensors in several recent vehicle models, giving superior ratings to the 2017 Subaru Outback and Cadillac XT5 SUV and advanced ratings to four other models. One vehicle, however, failed to brake automatically as it approached a dummy car parked at an angle, so the technology is not perfect. Rear automatic brakes are meant to primarily avoid obstacles, but they could develop to the point where they avoid pedestrians.

Only 5 percent of new vehicles offer rear automatic braking as an option, but other automakers are adding them to their models. The importance of rearview cameras and front automatic braking has been nationally recognized; the former became mandatory on all U.S. vehicles from May 2018 while the latter will become standard on most cars by 2022.

Unfortunately, safety features cannot eliminate car accidents so long as there is a human factor involved. Drivers can choose to act negligently, and if doing so causes them to get in an accident, they can be held liable. Anyone less than 50 percent responsible for a crash can file an injury claim. Victims may want a lawyer to negotiate on their behalf since auto insurance companies can be aggressive in denying claims. The lawyer could assist with litigation if a settlement isn’t reached.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.

Roundabouts Can Help Reduce Serious And Fatal Accidents

Dangerous intersections in West Virginia could be made safer if roundabouts are installed instead of stop signs or traffic lights. According to studies by the United States Department of Transportation, roundabouts reduce serious and fatal accidents by 78 to 82 percent. A serious motor vehicle accident, also known as an “A” accident, is defined as an accident that causes broken bones, massive loss of blood or unconsciousness to occur.

Though traffic lights have been found to reduce the number of vehicle crashes overall, the accidents that do occur at traffic lights are often more serious. This is especially true when there are intersections on roads with high speed limits. Roundabouts force drivers to slow down, which reduces the severity of the collisions.

Overall, roundabouts are more likely to cause minor injuries. While collisions may be more frequent, the consequences will be less severe. This is why safety advocates believe that installing roundabouts in rural areas may prove beneficial for the health and safety of community members.

Car accidents that happen at intersections often are the result of speeding, drug or alcohol intoxication or distracted driving. When a driver doesn’t exercise the proper duty of care while operating a motor vehicle, he or she may be held responsible for criminal and civil damages. In the case of someone who caused a serious accident to occur, a lawyer could look at the police report, cellphone logs and drug screening results in order to prove fault. These efforts could help the victim receive damages for medical care and loss of employment as a result of the accident.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2018.

Study Says Women Are More Prone To Distracted Driving

In a recent study regarding distracted driving, 68 percent of respondents were not easily convinced of the hazards of texting while behind the wheel. This could be of major concern for West Virginia motorists. Overall, the researchers found that certain groups are more prone to distracted driving. These include females as well as those who are less concerned about safety and individuals who frequently use tech devices.

Many states across the nation and even other countries around the world have put laws into place that require drivers to remain hands-free of mobile phone devices while driving. The need for these laws has occurred because people who talk on the phone while driving are twice as likely to cause an accident. Furthermore, the probability for crashing increases six-fold for those who text and drive.

The study, which was published by the Society for Risk Analysis, also showed that drivers are inclined to depend on their own discretion when it comes to cellphone usage. For example, may use more caution when traffic is busy or roads involve a lot of turns. In some cases, the presence of law enforcement may deter distracted driving.

In the United States, it is estimated that 25 percent of all car accidents are related to distracted driving caused by mobile phone utilization. Someone who has been injured in a vehicle accident involving smartphone usage might want to seek the help of a personal injury attorney who understands the most recent laws that have come into effect surrounding this subject.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.

Drowsy CMV Drivers More Likely To Crash When Far From Rest Areas

Researchers have come out with a study showing that fatigued commercial vehicle drivers are more likely to get in accidents the farther they are from rest areas, truck stops and weigh stations with rest havens. Truckers and other work vehicle drivers in West Virginia will want to take note of the findings.

The study considered crash data in Kentucky from 2005 to 2014. Out of the 7,538 incidents where the trucker was at fault, 284 were fatigue-related. Researchers found that these crashes were 2.5 times more likely to occur in areas that were between 20 and 40 miles away from the nearest rest option. When these options were more than 40 miles away, the risk for a crash rose seven times.

Fatigue-related CMV crashes where the drivers are at fault occurred most often at night and on dry pavement. Parkways, which have fewer rest stops on average than interstates, saw the most of such crashes. These roads are part of the National Network of approved truck highways.

Researchers stress the need for more truck parking along parkways and for the expansion of existing rest areas. They also encourage companies to implement CMV driver fatigue alert systems and create schedules that reduce nighttime driving.

When fatigue contributes to a truck accident, the trucking company could be held liable for losses sustained on the other side. A victim may want to speak with a lawyer about filing a claim. Legal counsel could hire experts to gather the police report, the trucker’s work log, evidence found at the crash site and whatever else is available before deciding on a fair amount for a settlement.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

Study Shows Distracted Driving More Common In Summer

Residents of West Virginia who are thinking of taking a road trip during the summer should know this season is an especially risky one for drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that the summer sees 20 percent more miles driven than the winter; the months of June, July and August also see 29 percent more road deaths than December, January and February.

With more people on the road, there is more chance for distracted driving. TrueMotion, a smartphone telematics platform, studied the behavior of more than 20,000 drivers during the 8.4 million trips they took between January 2017 and May 2018. By considering sensor data from the company’s mobile app, TrueMotion Family, researchers were able to conclude that drivers spent more time distracted by their phones in June, July and August than other months.

Moreover, drivers were distracted for an average of 15 minutes out of every hour they drove. This came up to an increase of nearly 10 percent from the rest of the year. To raise awareness of this danger, the Travelers Institute hosted its Every Second Matters™ event. Travelers intends to get the conversation going about distracted driving so that this danger can be seen in the same light as driving drunk or without a seat belt.

When car accidents arise because of distracted driving or another form of negligence, victims who were not to blame might consider filing a third-party insurance claim. This may help cover losses like medical expenses and lost wages. With a lawyer, victims may have someone to speak on their behalf during negotiations or at the courtroom trial. A lawyer might also be able to factor in any contributory negligence and get investigators to gather proof against the defendant, such as cellphone records.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

Getting Fatigued Drivers Off The Road

Officers in Iowa and other states across the country are investigating transfer trucks and their drivers under more scrutiny during road checks to determine if driver fatigue could be the cause of accidents. When officers check trucks, they look at the log that the driver keeps to ensure that proper rest breaks are taken and to ensure that the proper safety and mechanical inspections of the truck have been performed. These inspections take place at weigh stations along interstates.

A Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance event is held once a year and takes place over three days. During this time, officers perform a 37-point inspection. After checking the vehicle, officers will talk to the truck driver. The goal of the event is to make drivers aware of being fatigued while on the road or staying off the road if the driver is sick. Drivers who don’t obey the rules are the ones who officers are trying to get off the road while making sure the drivers who are abiding by the rules continue driving.

For most drivers who are taken off the road, they aren’t in compliance with hours of service regulations. Impairments related to drinking, fatigue and drug use played a part in 157 crashes that resulted in at least one fatality in 2016, which is why officers are inspecting drivers and vehicles more carefully. A test is given to drivers who officers suspect might be fatigued or impaired for another reason. Electronic devices are often used to log rest breaks and other information.

At times, a truck driver might not notice being fatigued while driving until an accident occurs. Individuals who are injured as well as family members of drivers who are killed in truck accidents may wish to seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney. Compensation might be awarded for lost wages, medical treatments and other monetary losses that occur as a result of the accident.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

More Deaths In 2016 From Trucking Accidents

Truck accidents that cause injuries and even deaths are on the rise in West Virginia and across the country, according to statistics released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. While the number of trucks involved in deadly accidents increased by 3 percent from the year before, the total number of deaths saw an even larger increase, 6 percent. These figures reflect the fact that several of the most serious accidents took multiple lives.

In 2016, 4,317 people were killed in truck accidents on American roadways, an increase of over 220 from the 4,094 people killed the previous year in crashes that involved large trucks or buses. This increase is not new; on the contrary, it reflects the continuation of a documented rise in the number and the severity of deadly truck collisions. While deaths due to trucking accidents decreased by 34 percent between 2005 and 2009, most of that significant improvement has been wiped away in recent years. Between 2009 and 2016, fatalities increased by 28 percent, a trend that has continued to rise year over year.

In addition, while fatal crashes may be among the most severe, they are a small minority of all of the motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks and buses. Many more crashes lead to personal injuries, which can often be severe and lasting. These numbers are also on the rise. In 2016, 145,000 people were hurt in 104,000 crashes that involved large trucks. This was a major jump from the 2015 numbers, when 116,000 people were injured in 83,000 crashes.

Truck accidents can have lifelong effects on their victims, and accident injuries can be severe and disabling. People who have been injured in a trucking crash through no fault of their own might benefit from working with a personal injury lawyer. An attorney may help accident victims to pursue the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018.

Seat belt Use Linked With Lower Risk Of Severe Liver Injury

While many drivers in West Virginia think that wearing a seat belt is unnecessary, the proof of its effectiveness is stacked against them. A recent study from NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn adds to that list, as researchers have found that seat belt use lowers the risk for severe liver injuries in a car accident.

Injuries to the liver, along with the spine, are the frequent result of internal abdominal trauma. Mild symptoms include shallow lacerations and blood clots, and these usually don’t require surgery. Severe symptoms require immediate treatment. Liver injuries are more likely to be fatal because, unlike spleens, livers cannot be surgically removed as a last resort. When drivers remember that every year in America, accidents lead to 2 million emergency room visits, they might rethink their current habits.

The study was based on the 2010-2015 crash data found in the National Trauma Data Bank. Researchers ranked a total of 51,202 cases in terms of injury severity: 15 percent of the people who suffered severe liver injuries died, compared to 8 percent of patients who suffered mild or moderate injuries.

Seat belt use lowered the risk for severe liver injuries by 21 percent and 26 percent if combined with working air bags. Air bags and seat belts depend on each other, and air bags alone, researchers found, cannot even reduce the injury severity.

Accident victims must be honest about whether or not they were wearing a seat belt, as it will most likely be noted in the police report and can be used against them if they file a claim. Any auto accident attorney knows, however, that contributory negligence does not necessarily rule out the possibility of a settlement; it will simply lower the amount achievable. Victims may benefit from hiring an attorney to negotiate for them and take the case to court if negotiations fall through.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

Safety Coalition Hopes To Reach Zero Traffic Deaths By 2050

Safety initiatives by the Road to Zero Coalition may make roads in West Virginia and throughout the country less dangerous in the decades ahead as the coalition has set a goal to end all traffic fatalities by 2050. The CEO of the National Safety Council says that although autonomous cars are likely still some way off, safety technology can still play a significant part in reducing fatal traffic accidents. The coalition has identified other focuses as well to bring down the numbers of deadly motor vehicle crashes.

The numbers rose in 2016 after several years of decline, with a 5.6 percent climb compared to 2015 resulting in the deaths of 37,461 people. Large trucks were involved in accidents that claimed 4,317 of those lives. Several of the initiatives proposed apply to trucks as well such as getting seat belt compliance to 100 percent from 90 percent. The coalition also plans to push toward a culture more focused on safety and away from behaviors such as driving under the influence, distracted driving and speeding.

One coalition member, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, supports low-tech solutions for truck safety such as rear and side underride guards. The organization has also found that accidents would be significantly reduced or made less serious if all trucks had lane departure warnings, forward collision warning and mitigation, blind spot detection and stability.

Truck accidents may be serious for several reasons including the size of big rigs compared to that of passenger vehicles. Trucks may also jackknife or roll or could be carrying hazardous materials, and for those that do not have underride guards installed, shearing the tops off passenger vehicles is a possibility. If people are injured in a truck accident and it is the fault of the truck driver, the victims might want to talk to an attorney about obtaining compensation.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Monday, April 30, 2018.

Product Aims To Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue

West Virginia truck drivers often deal with fatigue while operating their vehicles. It is not uncommon for a commercial trucker to drive 70 hours or more each week. This is partially why the turnover rate can exceed 90 percent. In addition to high turnover rates, drowsy driving is thought to cause at least 100,000 accidents per year involving commercial vehicles.

However, the roads could safer thanks to a company called BlyncSync. It aims to use smart glasses to capture data regarding how often a driver blinks. The company says that it can be a sign of whether a driver is drowsy. Other signs that indicate a driver could be drowsy include a tilting head or yawning. The glasses are designed to be less intrusive than cameras mounted in the truck’s cab.

In developing its business plan, the company talked with drivers and others in the trucking industry. It learned that there is a driver shortage caused partially by the high turnover rates. The goal is to both make roads safer and improve the driver experience at the same time. Doing so may make it easier to keep drivers from leaving while also helping to bring down insurance rates for truck owners as there will be fewer accidents.

A tired truck driver may not have the reaction speed needed to avoid an accident. Truck drivers may not stop or slow down at all because they were too tired to realize a collision was about to take place. Generally speaking, fatigued driving is considered to be negligence. Therefore, the operators of commercial vehicles that cause truck accidents may be held liable for the losses that injured victims incur.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2018.

Texting While Driving Is A Roadway Menace

Far too many drivers in West Virginia and across the United States continue to operate a vehicle while distracted, according to the results of a survey published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Since 2013, the number of drivers who report holding cellphone conversations behind the wheel on a regular basis has risen 46 percent. At the same time, 88 percent of participants expressed serious concern about distracted driving, noting that it is a rising issue that is becoming more prominent.

The survey was conducted as part of the Traffic Safety Culture Index, which aims to identify popular attitudes and practices related to safety on the roads. It gathered data from 2,613 licensed drivers across the country aged 16 and older. The participants were asked about their own driving practices. Nearly 50 percent of the respondents said they had spoken on a handheld phone behind the wheel recently, and almost 45 percent of the participants said they had read text messages or emails while driving. Another 35 percent of the people who were surveyed said they had sent a text or email while operating a vehicle.

Despite their own reported practices, however, 58 percent of the respondents said that talking on the phone while driving is dangerous, and 78 percent of the participants identified texting while driving as a significant danger. Statistics show that individuals who talk on a mobile phone while operating their cars are four times more likely to crash than those who do not. Texting drivers are eight times more likely to be involved in a car accident.

Despite the growing awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, negligent driving practices take place far too frequently on the roads. People who have been injured in car accidents that were caused by another person’s dangerous behavior can consult with a personal injury lawyer. An attorney can help victims fight to receive the damages they deserve for lost wages and pain and suffering.

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Friday, April 6, 2018.

Uber’s Self-Driving Fleet Taken Off Road After Deadly Accident

If you were to picture a world where self-driving cars were everywhere, would you see it as a world without accidents? That is certainly the goal of autonomous vehicles. Ultimately, we want to be free to read a book, check our cellphone, or talk with friends in a car that drives itself, all while not having to worry if it will make it from point A to point B without getting into an accident.

Such a sci-fi utopia may be in the cards, but days like this past Monday put the potential problems of self-driving cars into focus. A crash in Arizona killed a 49-year-old woman, and left Uber and the police scrambling to figure out what exactly happened.

The accident happened when the 49-year-old woman attempted to cross the street with her bike. As she was doing this, a self-driving Uber vehicle that was going 40 miles per hour in a 35 MPH zone crashed into her. There was no attempt by the vehicle to brake or stop, according to police. The self-driving Uber vehicle did have a test driver behind the wheel of the car, but he was not operating the vehicle at all. It was in “autonomous” mode.

Answers to the many questions that people have about this accident are fleeting for the moment, but the investigation will certainly provide some needed information soon. Uber’s response to this crash will also be very interesting.

Source: CNN, ” Uber self-driving car kills pedestrian in first fatal autonomous crash,” Matt McFarland, March 19, 2018

On behalf of Bottner & Skillman Attorneys at Law posted on Friday, March 23, 2018.

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