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Car Accidents on the Rise in Alabama – Is Distracted Driving to Blame?

As drivers, we know distracted driving is a potentially deadly habit, and yet so many of us continue to do it – a whopping 3 out of 4 people text while driving. You can sometimes spot the driver who has a phone in hand by their driving patterns.Alabama car crash types

A car barely going the speed limit in the fast lane with the driver looking down at their lap is a usually a telltale sign of distracted driving. So is a car that starts to drift into another lane without signaling and then suddenly jerks back between the dotted lines.  At best, these behaviors are frustrating to witness, and at worst, can be the cause of a deadly collision.

The attorneys at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums have represented victims of car, truck and motorcycle crashes for decades. We know firsthand one of the main causes of crashes on Alabama roadways today is distracted driving.

Distracted driving can involve anything that removes our attention from the road, but the biggest culprit by and large are cell phones, or an inappropriately mounted GPS device.

Attorney and Partner with the firm, Mike Bradley says, “From my experience handling car, truck, and motorcycle crash cases over the past 19 years, one of the main causes of motor vehicle crashes on Alabama roadways today is distracted driving. People are distracted with their cell phones, making and receiving calls, texting, looking at maps, finding a place to eat, or posting on social media.”

He went on to state, “statistics show that around 2.4 deaths occur each day in Alabama due to motor vehicle accidents. Distracted drivers have higher risks of failing to obey the rules of the road and cause crashes by speeding, failing to yield, tailgating, misjudging stopping distance, improperly changing lanes, swerving, crossing the center line, and simply not paying attention.”

Accident Causes in Alabama

Below are the main causes of accidents in our state in 2012. Keep in mind that although distracted driving is not a separate line item in this table, it often contributes to the accident.

Taking a Closer Look at the Numbers

2012 Alabama motor vehicle accident statistics revealed:

  • About 351 accidents occurred across the state each day in 2012, or 1 about every 4 minutes;
  • 870 people died in Alabama vehicle collisions in 2012, meaning a death happened roughly every 10 hours; and
  • 40,202 people were injured, or about one car accident injury every 13 minutes.

Better Habits for Safer Roads

Pittman, Dutton & Hellums encourages all drivers to avoid distracted driving habits, so we can all enjoy safer roadways across Alabama. If you or a loved one falls victims to a distracted or careless driver, please contact us 7 days a week at 866-515-8880. We will fight for your rights and maximize the compensation you receive for your damages and injuries.

 

Getting the Facts Straight About Whiplash

whiplash car accidentsHave you been in a rear-end, motor vehicle collision and felt your body propel forward upon impact? In that moment, your head may well have stayed in place as the rest of your body jerked violently. Your neck would then be exposed to a sudden and extreme motion of extension and flexion much like a whip. Such injuries to the neck are aptly called whiplash.

Whiplash actually refers to a range of neck injuries, mostly to the soft tissues, such as the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Whiplash is most commonly associated with rear-end, motor vehicle accidents, but you can be leveled with the painful symptoms of whiplash in any type of vehicular collision, or other accidents involving contact sports, head trauma, or slip and falls, to name a few.

Getting a Bad Rap

The term whiplash can conjure up a scene from a television courtroom drama: a victim is playing up their whiplash injuries with a neck brace and trying to get more money out of the defendant. Some people roll their eyes at the thought of whiplash, associating it with exaggerated or fake injuries.

The truth is that whiplash is very real and can cause extreme discomfort and pain, while seriously taking away from a victim’s quality of life.

Tip: Whiplash has more technical names, such as neck/cervical strain or sprain, or hyperextension/hyperflexion injury. It may be a good idea for sufferers to use these terms when talking with others, or when filing insurance claims, so that the severity of the injury is better communicated.

Other Common Misconceptions

A lot of people don’t understand that whiplash can occur even during low speed, low impact collisions. The causes of whiplash and its severity relate to a number of factors besides the force of impact. The positioning of the victim’s body, their head, and the seat and head restraints all play into it. Furthermore, the person’s height and gender, as well as the relative size and weight of the vehicles involved in the accident, can make it more likely for a passenger or driver to suffer whiplash.

Other major misconceptions about whiplash is that it does not last long, is not serious, and does not require treatment. These are all false. Whiplash victims may have symptoms that last just a few days, but more likely weeks and even months. It’s important to get checked out by a doctor if you suspect you have whiplash, so you can get on a treatment plan that helps alleviate uncomfortable symptoms.

Whiplash Symptoms

Keep in mind that symptoms don’t always surface right away. It’s not unusual for signs of whiplash to take several days to start showing up. You may experience:

  • neck pain and stiffness
  • reduced range of motion in the neck
  • arm, back or shoulder pain
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • blurred vision
  • ringing in the ears
  • unusual sensations, like tingling in the arms or a prickling feeling
  • trouble sleeping
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • other cognitive or emotional problems

Getting Help for Whiplash

Maybe whiplash has you feeling rotten and you’re ready to get better? There are two simple steps to put you on the road to recovery.

Get medical attention – Since neck injuries can cause a range of health problems, be sure to seek medical attention as soon as you can after an accident. If you do get appropriate medical attention, find out under what circumstances you should return for evaluation. Worsening symptoms or developing new ones are usually signs it is time to be seen again by a health care professional.

Prepare a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit –  A personal injury claim can give you the financial tools needed for a safer, speedier and easier recovery. Medical expenses and lost wages are just some of the costs you can be compensated for under a claim. But you have to be well prepared in order to win your claim – there can be a lot of paperwork and red tape to overcome. Be sure to keep a detailed record of the accident, your symptoms, and related medical treatment and bills.

With You Every Step of the Way

The best way to ensure you get the compensation you need is by relying on an accident attorney. Pittman, Dutton & Hellums built a well-respected practice on successfully representing accident victims and securing the money victims deserve. If you or a loved one have whiplash following a motor vehicle accident, find out how our decades of experience can go to work for you.

 

April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Google “distracted driving” and you’ll find pages of Top Ten lists enumerating the ways that drivers get distracted behind the wheel. Reaching for things, personal grooming, eating, smoking, fiddling with the stereo…isn’t there one that we’re missing?

Oh yes. Texting.

We’re all guilty of these things, and we all seem to agree that we should stop doing them. We’re continually warned by statistics and tragic anecdotes how dangerous these behind-the-wheel distractions are. (A recent study showed that twice as many highway deaths take place because of texting as from drunk drivers.)

Nevertheless, even though 94% of drivers support a texting while driving ban, 75% text while driving.

So why do we continue to indulge in distracted driving?

Scientists have been investigating this question from a brain science perspective, and uncovered some revealing explanations.

Overconfident Multitasking

A recent article from Scientific American presents research that the majority of people are chronically overconfident. While we may not think ourselves the “best” at something, or admit to feeling insecure, most of us do in fact believe our intelligence and physical ability to be greater than it actually is.

Furthermore, the worse we are at something, the more likely we may be to judge ourselves as competent at it.

This article focused on how this overconfidence plays out in people’s driving habits. Test subjects were asked to rate their abilities with regard to multitasking and to describe their driving habits. They were then tested on those abilities.

The results were dismal. Those who rated their multitasking ability highest had the worst performance results on the test. The conclusion: thinking highly of your ability in this area is a good sign of your poor ability.

Thrill-Seeking Personalities

The study also revealed the people who admitted to multitasking while driving scored high in the areas of impulsivity and thrill-seeking.

It seems that for the people likeliest to indulge in distractions, scare tactics simply won’t deter them. If anything, fear is a reason to give it a try.

Texting: Almost Like a Drug

Dr. Paul Atchley, a psychologist with the University of Kansas, says that the act of texting sends off a dopamine boost within the brain. This is in fact the same brain reaction that happens when a person experiences a romantic thrill or feels the effects of a drug—both things known to impair human judgment.

The effect of this dopamine boost in the brain overrides our memory of the dangers of texting while driving. Even people who have experienced “narrow misses” because of texting while driving are likely to have those memories suppressed by the pleasurable effect supplied by texting.

So Are We Doomed?

Not only does brain science explain the cause behind these behaviors, but it also offers the solution. Thanks to the brain’s innate plasticity (ability to change), the compulsion toward distracted driving can be overcome through consistent applied effort.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which means there’s no better time to start transforming your brain to be part of the solution.

 

How the Canary App Is Reshaping Safe Driving Habits

Distracted driving is when you operate a vehicle, but are paying attention to something else besides the road. This term is mostly applied to when we use our phones, although it can include horsing around, eating, applying makeup, or other bad habits.

Using a smartphone while driving can cause a potentially deadly accident. Sadly, this is becoming a trend in this country and is on the rise. New data reveals that the leading cause of death among teenagers is texting while driving.

Every parent’s nightmare is getting that phone call from the sheriff’s office saying their child has been involved in a car accident. Fortunately, an app is now on the market that can make it less likely to get that dreaded call.

The Canary app is designed to help your child stay safe on the road by:

  • tracking your teen driver’s location and speed;
  • alerting you if they have unlocked their phone;
  • allowing you to set maximum speed limits and receive notification when your teen exceeds them;
  • viewing your teen’s location;
  • seeing where everyone in the family is with the family map;
  • setting a perimeter on the map that the teen driver is supposed to stay within;
  • sending immediate alerts and location info in the event of an emergency; and
  • notifying you of severe weather near your child so you can monitor driving conditions.

Not only is the app loaded with great features, but it’s easy to use. The analytics provided come in simple charts, graphs, and detailed lists. There are also customizable settings that give you easy access to driving summary reports.

Why It’s Important

The data that the Canary app provides essentially gives parents some control over their child’s driving patterns. This data on your child’s driving tendencies – rather than guessing or asking them to self-report – provides a great opportunity to have an ongoing discussion about unsafe driving with your teen.

Believe it or not, talking with teens about driving behavior is proven to help them develop good driving habits. A recent Parent & Teen Safe Driving Survey by Travelers Insurance Company shows teens who feel their parents are positive role models as drivers are half as likely to be in a car accident. Furthermore, the survey found that an overwhelming 96% of teens had discussions with their parents about safe driving.

In all, it’s going to take a lot more than a promise or quick discussion to get all drivers, including teens, to stop speeding and using phones while behind the wheel. Technologies that provide crucial data, such as this Canary app, are powerful tools that can help alter behavior.

Teens’ Reactions

The app is not only helpful for parents, but can be eye-opening to teens who may not realize exactly how much they are using the phone while driving. Coming face-to-face with reports on how often they are unlocking their phone to use it, or seeing how fast they are really going, can go far in convincing them to adopt safer driving habits.

While some teens may at first see the app as a way for them to get in trouble with Mom and Dad, it’s important to frame the app around the idea of safety.

Essentially, it’s important to emphasize that the purpose of the app is not about keeping tabs on your teen – who no doubt is yearning for freedom. The app is about keeping your kids from hurting themselves and others, while establishing good driving habits that last a lifetime.

Keeping You & Your Family Safe on the Road

Pittman Dutton & Hellums is a Birmingham law firm that focuses on representing victims of automobile and trucking accidents. We are passionate about informing the public about tools that can help keep our roadways safer. Becoming injured in a vehicle collision is a terrible situation that nobody wants. If you do find yourself the victim of an accident, please reach out to our firm today.

Bike-Sharing Comes to Birmingham

bike sharing birminghamIf you’ve traveled to any major cities over the past five years, you may have noticed a long line of shiny new bicycles parked against a rack on a busy downtown street. Look a little closer, and you’ll notice that all these bikes are of the same design and color. Many may have baskets or even bells affixed to the front and, more likely than not, they share a logo that represents an innovative frontier in today’s share-based economy: bike sharing.

“Bike sharing” is a system in which a fleet of bicycles are available for shared use to individuals on a short-term basis. The central attraction is that a person can borrow/rent a bike from one location, ride it around, and return it to any of a number of hubs within a city, usually at a very low cost per hour. The affordability and the at-will nature of these rentals makes them very attractive to tourists, young people, and professionals who have only occasional need for a vehicle.

Bike Sharing: A European Import Becomes a U.S. Revolution

The movement of bike sharing in the United States was largely inspired by the trend’s birth and growth in European cities, where urban bicycling is far more commonplace than in American cities. In fact, in Europe, the practice of bike sharing has existed in one form or another since 1965. But it truly came into viable form in the mid-2000s, as information technology became more ubiquitous. These days, bike sharing around the world is largely enabled by smartphone mapping apps that show nearby stations with available bikes and open docks.

The U.S. bike-sharing movement was spearheaded in Portland in 1994 by a group of environmental activists. While the movement had its kinks at the outset, the system was refined over time and received a huge boost in popularity during the 2007 political conventions in Denver, CO. and St. Paul, MN. Tourists in town for the conventions greatly enjoyed the bike-sharing program, and both cities implement permanent bike-sharing systems in the months that followed.

Financial, Physical and Civic Profits

By 2013, New York City’s Citibike showed the world the viability of bike sharing as a profitable business. As of today, the company is the biggest bike sharing system in the U.S. with 6,000 bicycles and 330 docking stations and plans to double their fleet by 2017.

But not only is bike sharing profitable, it has myriad beneficial effects on the city that implements it—effects that extend well beyond a more physically fit population. An increase in bicycling reduces traffic congestion and its side effects, such as smog and heavy traffic control. It also makes it easier for visitors to explore parts of cities that are off the beaten path and otherwise might not benefit from tourism.

In fact, bike sharing is often found to be a tourist attraction in itself, as it represents a “green” aspect to the city that is increasingly important to today’s world traveler.

In addition, research suggests that access to bike paths and proximity to docking points is linked to higher rents in a city. For example, eight out of ten Washington, D.C. residents said they were more likely to visit a business, shop, or restaurant if it had easy access to a bike-sharing dock.

The cautious will be reassured that, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, bicycle collision and injury rates are actually lower among bike-share participants than those for individual bikers. However, with the increase of use, risks still arise and bike riders, pedestrians, and drivers should all be ready to share the road safely.

“Zyp” Your Way Through Birmingham

Last fall, Birmingham received its very own bike-sharing program. Known as Zyp, the program offers 24-hour, year-round bicycle access to Magic City residents (and visitors too, of course). Riders can either rent bikes for short trips with the swipe of a credit card, or sign up for annual membership that lets you take out a bike any time, as many times as you like, all year long.

Zyp will bring a new technological element to the mix—it will offer “smart” bikes which use electricity to offer a little extra power when needed. These bikes include a battery that is recharged through pedaling, and can be activated while going up hills. They also coordinate with the Zyp app to allow riders to check their routes, speed, and other details of their rides.

In fact, Birmingham is the first city in the Western Hemisphere to use this added technology in its bike-sharing program. Planners are excited to place the city among the forefront of bike-sharing systems around the US.

Zyp BikeShare launched in October 2015 with an already dense network, offering 400 bikes at 40 kiosks around Birmingham. With spring in the air and Birmingham’s downtown Rotary Trail newly opened, the timing could not be more perfect to give Zyp a try.

 

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