Recently, The Charlotte Observer reported an 80-year-old driver blew through a stop sign and crashed into a marked police cruiser in New Jersey. Ironically, the patrolman in that vehicle had been assigned to enforce the state’s “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” campaign aimed at curbing distracted driving. iphone

The driver was reportedly distracted by his cell phone navigation feature at the time of the crash. He failed to see the stop sign and breezed right through it, suddenly slamming into the police officer, who suffered a hand injury.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the National Safety Council recently conducted a survey showing 47 percent say they are “comfortable” texting while driving. Meanwhile, The Charlotte Observer reports pedestrian deaths in North Carolina have risen to the highest they have been in 40 years – a trend police attribute to higher rates of driver distraction. And a new report by CNN Money reveals distracted drivers are resulting in higher than ever insurance rate hikes. In fact, as The Charlotte Observer reports, the state Department of Insurance in North Carolina reported there will be an average 13.8 percent increase in auto insurance rates. If approved, those rates would go up Oct. 1st. Drivers “addicted to smartphones” are cited by the insurance industry as a top reason why insurance rates must go up.  Continue reading

A proposed class-action lawsuit alleges that vehicle manufacturer Tesla’s Model S and Model X are prone to unintentional, sudden acceleration. Several owners detail instances wherein their electric vehicles without warning barreled straight into a garage or wall, either as a result of human or computer error. More than two dozen cases of these unintended acceleration incidents are on file with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).drive

The lawsuit claims thousands of these vehicles have the potential to suddenly careen out-of-control.

Now, as the ABA Journal reports, the auto maker that specializes in high-end, fully-electric vehicles disputes the notion that it has a duty to consumers to design a vehicle that is fail-safe. The proposed class action lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Central California. It cited 26 reported incidents of sudden acceleration, 22 of which resulted in a crash. One of those crashes was accompanied with photographs in which a plaintiff reportedly was parking his vehicle in the garage and the vehicle allegedly propelled suddenly into the back wall of the garage. The wall collapsed partially into his living room. No one was home at the time, so the primary damage was to property. Continue reading

Uber has been operating in Charlotte, Asheville and several other major cities in North Carolina for several years now, asserting that their service helps lower the number of drunk drivers on the road. Some who use the service say it gives them a safe, affordable way to get home after a night of drinking. beer

However, regulators in California are now saying the company isn’t doing enough to make sure people who drive drunk aren’t on payroll. In fact, a $1.3 million fine has been proposed that would penalize the ride-share giant for not using due care in investigating or suspending drivers who are drunk. An order filed by the state public utilities commission, which regulates ridesharing services in that state, outlines how in 64 cases, drivers continued giving rides for at least an hour after a passenger reported the driver was drunk or impaired.

The state mandates all ridesharing companies adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drivers who operate vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The policy has to be posted online and in their apps, giving riders a way to report a driver and/ or make complaints. The companies must have a way to quickly suspend drivers to further investigate the claims after a complaint is filed.  Continue reading

All motorcyclists fear the possibility of dropping your bike in a low-speed maneuver or at a stop-sign. Most motorcyclists will tell you keeping the bike upright when you’re traveling above 35 mph usually isn’t a problem (unless you are struck by another vehicle). It’s those low-speed maneuvers – including those conducted to avoid collisions – that can make a motorcyclist more prone to fall.motorcycle

Now, one vehicle manufacturer has come up with a solution that may help riders avoid this outcome. The bike is able to balance on its own during low-speed crawls or when completely stopped.

It works like this: When the system is engaged, it increases the fork angle, lengthening the wheelbase and disconnects the front forks from the handlebars. The system also uses small steering inputs to keep the bike in perfect balance – all without large gyroscopes or mass-shifting devices. Continue reading

Younger drivers often get a bad reputation on the roads. As it turns out, the newest drivers aren’t necessarily even the worst. It’s the cohort just a few years older that reportedly has the worst driving habits.driver

That’s according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which revealed 88 percent of young millennials (between the ages of 19 and 24) had engaged in at least one risky behavior at one point in the last 30 days.

These are dangerous behaviors, and include red-light running, texting while driving and speeding – all of which exponentially increases the odds of a crash. Continue reading

A debate is raging about big trucks. Specifically, will longer large trucks improve efficiency and reduce the number of trucks on the road, or will they cause greater wear-and-tear on the road and be so difficult to drive they cause more serious crashes?trucking

At issue is the proposed twin 33-foot trailer. It’s been a highly divisive issue in the trucking industry for years, though mostly for economic reasons. Smaller carriers say if the government opens the door to these larger vehicles, they will have no choice but to update their fleet if they want to stay competitive. Most of these smaller companies say it would be impossible to do so in a manner that would be expedient and cost effective. Larger companies, meanwhile, argue that fewer trucks on the road means heightened safety on several fronts. Drivers could carry more in one haul, so they would be less pressed traveling to-and-from destinations. The need for fewer trips would mean lesser need for more trucks, which would mean fewer trucks on the road. That helps cut down on the wear-and-tear of our aging transportation infrastructure. They argue a shift to these larger trucks would help save $2.6 billion in transportation costs. One finding released by Americans for Modern Transportation indicated national adoption of twin 33 truckers would reduce truck miles driven by 3.1 billion, resulting in 4,500 fewer truck accidents annually.

Last year, a transportation funding bill would have permitted twin 33-ft. trailers on interstate highways passed the House, but the Senate ultimately backed away from that allowance. Now, trucking companies have promised they will fight for it again this year.  Continue reading

A tractor-trailer crash in North Carolina recently killed a 19-year-old girl on N.C. Highway 258 in Onslow County, after officials say the young woman crossed the center lane and struck the trailer head-on. teen boy

According to WNCT CBS North Carolina, the teen was traveling south on the highway in her Jeep Cherokee at around 3:30 in the afternoon. After crossing the center line, she struck the northbound trailer head-on. Troopers with the North Carolina Highway Patrol say neither speed nor alcohol was a likely factor in the crash, and they do not expect charges to be filed against the truck driver.

So where does this leave the heartbroken family of this young girl? From a civil liability standpoint, there may be few options, but it’s always worth at least speaking to an attorney. It does not appear, simply based on the cursory facts we know, that the trucker was negligent. It’s plausible distraction was a factor, given that we know speed and impairment were not factors and that teens have a higher propensity to be distracted by cell phones than their older cohorts. As injury attorneys, we might examine the design of the highway to determine whether there are any defects or dangerous conditions that might have played a role, although no source has suggested that as a possibility at this point. We might also look at the make and model of the vehicle and determine whether there were any defects or dangerous conditions there that could have been a factor.

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A North Carolina trucker who faced criminal charges in Massachusetts for the death of one pedestrian and the serious injury of another pedestrian will now only receive probation. truck

That decision was part of a plea bargain with prosecutors in the Commonwealth, who had charged the trucker with motor vehicle homicide. That charge was dropped in exchange for the trucker’s guilty plea to a charge of negligent driving. The judge in the case also suspended the trucker’s driver’s license for three years, retroactive to the date of the May 2015 crash.

The pedestrian-truck accident claimed the life of a 24-year-old woman and seriously injured a 25-year-old man who was with her. According to the Worcester Telegram, the crash happened shortly before 9:30 p.m. as the trucker pulled his 18-wheeler to the side of the road in order to allow a fire truck that was behind him to pass. However, he then started to move forward to enter a roundabout. But as he did so, the trailer of his vehicle struck a stop sign and a light pole. When that pole fell over, the young woman standing nearby on the sidewalk was knocked over as well and was caught in the truck’s wheels.

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A motorcycle accident in North Carolina left the operator with serious injuries. motorcycle

But one major problem with collecting compensation? The driver of the truck involved didn’t stop. What’s more, it wasn’t the truck that actually struck the motorcyclist, but instead debris falling from the truck. So when the plaintiff in this case before the North Carolina Court of Appeals sought compensation, his uninsured motorist coverage carrier denied the claim because the two vehicles didn’t actually make contact.

Unfortunately for the plaintiff, the appellate court sided with the defense in this matter.

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The ride-share industry has exploded in North Carolina and beyond since bursting onto the scene just five years ago. As of last year, Uber alone reported it offered two million rides daily. Other competitors, such as Lyft, report only slightly lower rates. highway at night

However, the question of whether these services are adequately covered with auto insurance remains. It was only recently that both Uber and Lyft promised up to $1 million in liability and uninsured/underinsured auto coverage for passengers. But that policy is only applicable under certain circumstances.

Recently, a new survey indicated that many drivers for these services don’t purchase enough of their own insurance to fully protect them at all times, and they may not fully understand the risks involved. That has implications not just for the drivers if they are involved in a crash, but also for anyone with whom they might collide and potentially also with passengers.

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