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New Data Shows Surprising Conditions for Motorcycle Accidents

Riding a motorcycle gives you the thrilling feeling of being on the open road, without the confines of a massive vehicle acting as a barrier between you and nature. It’s easy to see why there are more than 8 million motorcycles registered in the United States — riding a motorcycle gives you a sense of freedom you just can’t replicate in a regular car.

Motorcycles are also far more dangerous vehicles to ride, though. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports fatalities occur 27 times more frequently on motorcycles compared to other vehicles. What may surprise you is that a new report released by Motofire in July 2017 shows 96 percent of motorcycle accidents occur in clear conditions. A third of accidents happen when the motorcyclist is traveling at less than 40 miles per hour, and nearly two-thirds of accidents happen when the motorcyclist is riding for fun, as opposed to 21 percent to or from work. Drivers are riding on straight or open curve roads during 85 percent of accidents. At times you should feel safest — when you’re not stressed from work, riding at relatively slow speeds, on clear and straight or open curve roads — is when you’re likely to be in an accident.

Stats like these show just how important it is to take safety precautions at all times when riding a motorcycle. Considering that road conditions are not as likely to play a role in accidents as other factors, use these safety precautions to stay protected.

Don’t Ride Impaired

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Data Loss Institute reports in 2015, 28 percent of drivers who died on motorcycles had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. Motorcycle fatality incidents are climbing, increasing 8.3 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Insurance Information Institute. As the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use expands throughout
the country, overall vehicle fatalities are also steadily increasing, too.

Alcohol and other drugs impair your ability to judge time or distance and hinder your reaction time. Prescription drugs can also add a whole host of other negative effects to motorcyclists. The safest way to ride is to be completely sober, to keep you and other motorists safe.

Wear Noticeable Attire

Even in near-perfect conditions, motorists don’t always notice motorcycles and their drivers because of their size. Make sure others have you in view by wearing neon colors or reflective fabrics. Wear a helmet that stands out. An all-black ensemble atop a black bike may look cool to you, but other drivers may not see you until a crash occurs.

Focus on the Road

Since most accidents happen while motorcyclists are riding for pleasure, don’t let the fun you’re having decrease your safety. If someone is riding with you, make sure you’re both wearing protective, layered and visible clothing, as well as helmets. Depending on the state and age of the rider or passenger, wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is the law.

Avoid speeding or being distracted by a passenger, the sights around you or loud music. Strive to be consciously aware of other motorists, so you can avoid any dangerous driving behavior that is occurring near you.

Practice Before Taking Off

While you may be eager to move directly from driving a car to riding a motorcycle, the vehicles have totally different user experiences, which can pose a threat to novice motorcyclists. Motorcyclists who are killed in crashes are more than twice as likely than passenger car drivers to be riding without a valid license. Motorcycle riding licensure laws vary state by state — you can find them here on the AAA website. Often, to legally ride a motorcycle, you must undergo proper training to obtain the proper permit.

Even after you’ve obtained the appropriate license to ride a motorcycle, you should practice in relaxed conditions at slow speeds before riding on busy roads or freeways. Being a skilled rider means having a bike you feel comfortable on and that perfectly fits your body. You should practice a variety of maneuvers on the bike and feel confident executing all types of driving. Any hesitancy or uncertainty can negatively impact your performance and put yourself and other drivers in danger.

Be Prepared for Motorcycle Accidents

Even when you’re doing everything right on a motorcycle, other drivers are dangerous simply because their vehicles are larger, and they may not be paying attention to you on the road. Only ride in legal conditions, and make sure you have a camera on you when you ride so you can document accidents. If you are unfortunately in an accident while riding a motorcycle, contact a Birmingham motorcycle accident lawyer to receive legal advice and obtain the compensation you deserve.

 

 

 

 

 

Auto Accidents Where Marijuana Is Legalized

Legal marijuana use is increasing the number of car crashes, according to a June 2017 report issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS). In the first major study since marijuana was legalized in several states in 2014, the IIHS found three states with legal marijuana for recreational use — Oregon, Washington, and Colorado — now have car accident rates at a 3 percent higher rate than they would if marijuana was not legal.

The report states an increase in the number of people who admit to driving after using marijuana, a substance which is also being found in more people who are involved in crashes. The study used control states that had not yet legalized marijuana for recreational use. In Colorado, the frequency of marijuana-related car accident incidents was 14 percent higher than control states.

How Marijuana Affects Driving

Compared to a substance like alcohol, it is more difficult and complicated to determine exactly how and when marijuana impairs a person’s judgment. According to Live Science, marijuana impairment occurs when THC enters fatty tissue in the brain, and THC levels may be at their highest before impairment even occurs. Some states with legal marijuana laws, like Colorado and Washington, punish drivers with a certain amount of THC in their blood with a driving under the influence charge. Others, like Alaska and Oregon, have no clearly defined legal marijuana limit and rely on police officer feedback when determining charges.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety makes a strong case for the correlation between marijuana use and impairment, with a 2016 study showing fatal crashes with driver marijuana use doubled in Washington after marijuana was legalized. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shows side effects from marijuana use may include an altered perception of time, anxiety, panic and delusions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states marijuana use slows reaction time and decision-making ability, and impairs coordination.

Side effects become more extreme the more marijuana that is consumed. Because effects are felt at a delay, users may intake large amounts of marijuana, which can impair driving more.

How to Stay Safe Amid Increased Driving Risk

Because laws vary from state to state, marijuana use is not determined in all car crashes, and some states don’t even have minimum punishments for THC in the body, drivers must be aware of the driving risks posed because of legal marijuana use and work to ensure their own safety as much as possible. Here are some precautions to take.

  • Know state laws. If you’re going to drive in a state where medical marijuana or marijuana for recreational use is legal, know that you are likely to be on the road with people who have used marijuana — for some, use may be immediately before getting on the road, or when effects from THC consumption are settling in. It is vital to be vigilant of all drivers on the road. Look out for swerving, sudden stops, driving significantly below or over the speed limit, drifting into other lanes and other dangerous behaviors. Pull off to the side of the road, and call the police to report the license plate number if you suspect dangerous driving. Then, take an alternate route to avoid that vehicle.
  • Don’t drive when you’re under the influence. In most states, if a police officer suspects you are under the influence of marijuana, and you are involved in a traffic incident, the police officer may order an immediate blood test. Refusing to comply may mean the loss of the ability to use your license, depending on the state you’re in. Your marijuana use may also be a factor in any pending lawsuits. Besides the legal implications using marijuana poses for drivers, using marijuana is often unpredictable and may affect you in ways you never anticipated, even if you’re a regular user. Poor reaction time and impaired driving can lead to your arrest, and even worse, the death of someone on the road. Realize the threat you pose to yourself, other drivers and pedestrians if you drive while high.
  • Be prepared for accidents. An accident is one of the most stressful situations you can be in. Don’t let the anxiety from an accident affect your legal rights. If you suspect the other driver may be under the influence of marijuana, communicate that to police. Document the accident scene with photos of the vehicles and any injuries you experience. If you suspect drugs of any kind were a contributing factor to an accident that you are a victim of, contact a seasoned law firm with many years of accident experience in all areas of accident law. 

The uncertainty of how substances like marijuana affect drivers makes getting on the road today riskier than ever. Know the dangers that are around you every time you drive, be conscious of driving behavior of others, and do your best to stay calm if you’re in an accident.

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The Venus Williams Car Crash: What We Know, What You Can Learn

In June 2017, the world was rocked with the news of a deadly car crash involving tennis star Venus Williams. Renowned in the sports world for her professionalism and tennis prowess, the car accident that caused injuries that led to the death of 78-year-old Jerome Barson showed spectators that anyone can be a victim or party involved in a fatal accident.

Williams has since been hit with a lawsuit from the crash, amid her participation in the Wimbledon world tennis championships. As of July 26, 2017, the Williams law team had responded to a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Williams by Barson’s family with a countersuit. Here’s what we know about the accident and what you can learn from it.

How the Crash Happened

According to a police report released after the accident, Williams collided with the vehicle driven by Linda Barson, wife to passenger Jerome, on June 9 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The police report records that Williams claimed she was in the median of an intersection because of other traffic and did not see Barson’s car approaching via a green light when she crossed the intersection. Driving at 5 miles per hour, Williams collided with Barson, causing damage to both vehicles and injuries to both Linda and Jerome Barson, who were both hospitalized as a result of the accident.

The report stated that Williams was at fault for violating the right of way of the Barson vehicle in the four-way intersection, though there is no mention of Williams being cited for the accident or receiving any traffic violations. According to a statement by Williams’ attorney to CNN, Williams entered the intersection on a green light when Barson crashed into her vehicle. On July 7, a new report issued by police stated that after reviewing security footage of the crash, the original statement that Williams was at fault was rescinded. The new statement said Williams legally entered the intersection on a green light and was subsequently struck by Barson’s vehicle.

Damage to the Barson vehicle included shattered front and back windows, damage to the back rear side and airbag deployment, while the lawsuit also states Williams’ car was damaged. The lawsuit filed by the Barson family alleges negligence against Williams and insists there was no way for Linda to avoid colliding with the Williams vehicle, which cut in front of the Barson vehicle. Injuries sustained by Linda, as mentioned in the lawsuit, included a cracked sternum, a shattered right arm, and a broken right hand, wrist and fingers. The lawsuit states Jerome experienced internal bleeding, organ damage and a fractured spine among other injuries, and died in the hospital on June 22 after undergoing multiple surgeries.

The Aftermath

On July 26, Williams filed a countersuit against the Barson lawsuit, claiming Jerome was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. The Williams lawsuit also states the Barson vehicle was not maintained up to legal standards. The lawsuit states because Jerome failed to wear a seatbelt that could have prevented injuries, those factors should be barred or removed from the Barson lawsuit.

The Barson family responded with statements that both Linda and Jerome were wearing seatbelts and that their vehicle was in perfect working condition. The Barson family has also requested phone records from Williams to determine if she was distracted by talking or texting at the time of the crash. Williams has not yet handed over phone records.

Lessons from the Williams Car Accident

While the lawsuits filed by Barson and Williams are still playing out, the accident is a reminder to be careful and employ your own safe driving practices to avoid a fatal crash yourself. Here are some takeaways.

  • Always follow all driving rules. These include your state’s laws regarding wearing a seatbelt and using a phone to call or text while driving. Even if a security camera is not in plain view, like this case shows, footage may be obtained later from an unlikely source.
  • Be a defensive driver. Even if you’re following driving laws, like the Williams lawsuit insists, a crash can still happen because of the behaviors of other drivers. Be alert and aware of other drivers around you, so that you can avoid a collision even when you’re doing everything correctly.
  • Carefully document everything after an accident. Take photos of both vehicles and all passengers to document damage and injuries. Be honest in statements to police, and take a personal record of what happened during the crash for potential future use. Do not make statements that may incriminate yourself, and always consult an attorney immediately if you feel the need to.

 

Even accidents that seem minor may have major implications for your wallet and your personal life. An accident that includes driving at just five miles per hour can be deadly. Consult with a Birmingham car crash lawyer if you have any questions about an accident you’re in so you can ensure your protection and obtain due compensation.