Local leaders have banded together in the fight for more provincial infrastructure cash.
Local leaders have banded together in the fight for more provincial infrastructure cash.
The latest statistics from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have both positive and disappointing news for Miami and the rest of Florida. According to the NHTSA, the number of fatal car accidents across the country dropped by 1.9% in 2011, when compared with 2010. In 2010, there were 32,999 fatalities linked to traffic accidents and only 32,367 in 2011 – representing the lowest number since 1949. Since 2005, traffic fatalities have declined 26%.
Florida, however, is still third in the national for the total number of car accident fatalities. Although car accident fatalities in the state dropped 1.9% in 2011 when compared with 2010, according to experts much still needs to be done to reduce these fatalities even more. In 2011, Florida saw 2,398 car accident fatalities. Only Texas and California had more. Experts believe that there are a number of things that can be done to help prevent traffic accidents in Miami and across Florida:
1) Improve awareness of seat belts, distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, and other risk factors through public education campaigns. Making drivers aware of the risks they take – and the dangers of those risks – can encourage more motorists to drive safely, which can help reduce the number of car and truck accidents in Miami and across Florida.
2) Improve law enforcement. In some cases, awareness is not enough and motorists continue to take risks that they know can lead to traffic accidents. In these cases, law enforcement can ensure that drivers are ticketed or even taken off the roads before they cause an accident.
3) Hold reckless drivers accountable for their actions. In cases where a driver’s negligence causes a car accident in Miami or anywhere in South Florida, injured parties can hold the at-fault driver responsible. Pursuing a legal claim can push a negligent driver into being more careful in the future, preventing other accidents. A legal claim can also help someone who has been injured get compensation for their injuries, so that they can pursue medical care. If you have sustained a personal injury in Miami or anywhere in Florida due to a traffic accident, consider speaking with a personal injury attorney before you make any decisions about your case. Your case may be worth more than you realize and there may be more resources available to you than you know about. You may be able to secure a free consultation with a personal injury attorney to review your options before you accept an insurance company offer.
Car accidents cause serious injuries across South Florida. Each year, victims of car accidents are rushed to Fort Lauderdale and Florida emergency rooms with head injuries, spinal cord injuries, burns, fractures, and other serious injuries. However, it is not just the accident and impact of the crash itself that can cause serious injuries. In some cases, a secondary cause can cause serious and even fatal injuries.
Some car accidents in Fort Lauderdale and South Florida, for example, involve not only another car but also utility poles. Downed power lines can seriously injure a driver attempting to leave their car. In some cases, victims of traffic accidents in Fort Lauderdale and across South Florida sustain serious burn injuries or are even electrocuted because of downed power lines.
The safest place is in your car
If you are in a car or truck accident in Fort Lauderdale or anywhere in South Florida and the accident involves utility poles and downed power lines, the safest place for you to be is inside your car. If possible, remain in your vehicle and call 911 as well as the local power authority. Even if the downed power line is not close to your car, the area could be electrified and could harm you if you attempt to get out of your car or approach a car that has been in an accident near a downed power line. Verify with emergency dispatch and the power company that it is safe to get out of the car before you attempt to do so.
If you must leave your car after an accident, use caution
If you are in a traffic accident in Fort Lauderdale or South Florida involving a downed power line but cannot safely remain in your car, you can tuck your arms close to your body and try to leap free of your car. You can reduce the risk of electrocution if you try to avoid touching the car and the ground at the same time. However, it is best to call 911 first and try to get the power shut off before attempting this.
If you do leap from the car, experts suggest keeping your feet together and shuffling or hopping, avoiding placing one foot in front of the other or lifting one foot higher than the other. If one foot is placed in a higher voltage zone than the other, this could make your body a conduit for electricity and this can lead to serious injuries.
This year, California introduced a law that allows cars that that can drive without driver input to be tested on the California’s highways. There is a great deal of interest in the cars, which use a range of sensors as well as cameras and computer programs to drive in a variety of conditions with no input from the driver. Advocates of the cars say that the cars will even allow the visually impaired to drive since the cars will do all the “seeing” for the driver.
Advocates also claim that the cars will reduce car accidents since the sensors and programs can respond much more quickly than human drivers and are not prone to human error. Some even believe that the cars will take care of the problem of distracted driving, since owners will be able to text and engage in other activities while the car drives for them. However, will the new cars eventually reduce the risk of Miami traffic accidents – or contribute to the city’s accident rates?
Developers of the cars, which include Google technology, say that the cars have been tested for years now and the only accident in 300,000 miles of road tests was a minor rear-end crash that could be prevented in the future by installing heat-seeking technology in the trunk to detect approaching cars.
Critics weigh in
Critics of the cars are skeptical, noting that technology is imperfect and since computers and computer programs develop glitches or crash unexpectedly, the risks with a car fueled with this type of technology could be significant. After all, computers crash regularly and software is known for developing bugs and other problems that create crashes on personal computers. Drivers in an automated car are actually encouraged not to watch the road and may not notice a problem in time to stop a Miami car accident. Manufacturers of driverless cars have pointed out that the test cars in use have hundreds of thousands of kilometers of error-free driving on record.
Some critics also point out that if the cars become widespread they could put many professions, including car mechanics and traffic police, out of work. The financial impact of this could be significant. Manufacturers of driverless cars point out that driverless cars could actually make police and law enforcement authorities more effective, as time would be freed up to pursue other cases.
Cars raise questions about safety
In addition, the possibility of driverless cars raises the question of driver training and education. Will these cars allow the driving age to be lowered? How will drivers be tested to ensure that they safely drive a car that does not require their interaction? Currently, most states do not have laws about driverless cars and do not permit these cars on the road. However, since manufacturers of driverless cars claim that even blind drivers would be able to drive the vehicles, it raises questions about how drivers would be evaluated for safety. In addition, there are some questions about how roads could safely be shared between driverless cars and traditional cars. Would sharing the road lead to more Miami truck accidents and car accidents?
Many employers make company cars available for their workers, but does this mean that employers are responsible for how those employees drive? In a number of recent court decisions across the country, judges have held employers partly liable in cases where employees have caused distracted driving accidents while driving company cars on company time. In one Florida case, a woman was killed when a driver rear-ended the car because he was distracted. The employer of the man was ordered to pay .6 million in the case because the man was driving on company time. In an Arkansas judgment, an employer was forced to pay .1 million after one of its lumber salesmen caused a car accident that caused permanent injury.
The reality is that many employers now require employees to be available around the clock – and that means being available while the employee is driving. In some cases, employees are provided with company cars and company phones and may feel that they need to answer any work-related texts or phone calls as they comes in.
Experts recommend that employers should have written policies in place about cellphone use. These policies should clearly outline the dangers of using cell phones while driving and should provide clear directives to employees about what they should do if they are driving while expecting a work-related call or text.
These policies can, and in fact, should extend beyond the state regulations regarding mobile phone use. For example, in Florida, texting while driving is not prohibited but employers may still be held liable if an employee causes a Fort Lauderdale truck accident while texting. In situations where an employee on the clock causes a Fort Lauderdale car accident or traffic accident while distracted, the employee may still be held liable for reckless driving and the employer may be held liable for contributing to that negligence, even if texting while driving is technically legal in Florida.
Employers may be held liable if a distracted employee causes a Fort Lauderdale traffic accident while using a personal car for work use, while using a company car, or while using any company-provided device while driving. For this reason, it is important for employers to institute strict rules and to offer training to all employees about safe use of mobile devices. Even employees who do not drive in a company car regularly or do not drive for the company may get into an accident in which the business is partly liable.
After some homes have gone nearly five days without power, Manitoba Hydro expects to have the lights back on in southeastern Manitoba in time for turkey dinner.
A tragic car accident was reported around 11:15 Saturday night a few miles from Farmville, North Carolina. Police say that a man in a Ford Explorer crossed the center line while traveling south on NC 121. The SUV reportedly crashed with a Ford Focus driven by a 57-year-old woman from Greenville, North Carolina.
The woman suffered fatal injuries in the tragic accident. She was pronounced dead at Vidant Medical Center. Several passengers in the SUV suffered injury. The man accused of driving the Ford Explorer is now facing charges for driving while impaired in the aftermath of the tragic accident. Police claim that the 26-year-old man was under the influence of alcohol Saturday night.
Authorities arrested the man accused of crossing the center line on several charges, including DWI, driving with a revoked license and death by motor vehicle-a felony level offense.
News reports do not indicate what led police to believe that the man was under the influence at the time of the crash. Any car accident story can pull hard on a reader’s heart strings. But it is important to note that our legal justice system provides a person accused of driving while impaired with the right to be presumed innocent of the charges unless, and until, proven guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Tragic car accidents are difficult for victim’s families, and a family’s loss is not only heartbreaking for the family, but generally for the community as well.
However, a defendant still has an important right under our Constitution to a complete defense to any criminal charges that may flow from a tragic accident.
Source: The Greenville Daily Reflector, “Farmville man charged in fatal crash,” Jane Dail, Oct. 2, 2012
New information from the AAA shows that teen drivers are more likely to be in deadly car collisions when they drive with passengers who are under 21 years of age. According to the statistics, having one young passenger and no adult in a passenger vehicle with a teen driver increases a teen driver’s risk of a fatal car accident by 44% when compared with driving without passengers. As each additional young passenger is added, the risk of being involved in a fatal car accident increases. The same research, however, finds that when a passenger in the car is an adult over the age of 35, a teen driver’s risk of being in a fatal car collision is actually decreased by 62%
According to the AAA and other experts, these statistics show what has already been known anecdotally; younger passengers distract teen drivers and may encourage risky behaviors while having an adult in the car can encourage teen drivers to drive more cautiously. According to experts, even when younger passengers are quiet, they can be a distraction for a young driver. Distracted drivers may experience what is known as “inattention blindness.” This occurs when a driver is looking at the roadway but is distracted enough to not process everything in front of them. When this occurs, the driver cannot react in time to obstacles, in many cases, and this can result in Miami pedestrian accidents and traffic accidents.
The implications of the research is clear: if parents want to ensure that they teens are not involved in Miami traffic accidents, it is important to place limits on passengers. Parents may also want to restrict other distraction in the car and even ask teens to drive with an adult passenger during the first few months after being licensed.
Another study, out of Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, shows that road accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths around the world. International research showed that injuries were the result of 40% of fatalities to young people between the ages of 10 and 24. The single leading cause of death in this age group, according to researchers, was car accidents. Researchers in the study also found an alarming trend: while fatality rates for young children under the age of five have declined over 80% internationally in the past five decades, teen fatalities have not significantly declined in the same time period. Worse, the US has the highest teen fatality rates of 27 developed countries, in part due to the rate of car accidents and violence across the country.
Some countries, including Australia, have reduced teen mortality rates by reducing road speeds, improving licensing programs, and improving road and vehicle quality. It may be time to get more serious about preventing Miami car accidents so that the rate of teen fatalities can be reduced.
Each summer, many tourists choose to visit Miami and the rest of Florida to enjoy the warm hospitality and the natural beauty of the region. While most visitors are careful and responsible, some residents do feel that tourist season can lead to an increase of Miami traffic accidents. One reason is because tourist season can mean more cars on the roads. Visitors to the state may bring their own cars or may rent cars, but many tourists choose cars to see more of the state. In addition, summer inevitably means more students home from school and therefore a slight increase in local traffic. Unfortunately, more cars on the road can mean more congestion, frayed tempers, and therefore Miami car accidents.
Tourist season can also mean more pedestrians and other forms of traffic sharing the roads. Many visitors choose to see Miami on foot. Cruise ship visitors, for example, do not bring their cars with them and may choose to see the city by walking. There are also shops offering tourists bicycles and motorcycles for rent. Some visitors may choose these transportation options to see more of the city, and local residents may also choose to bike and walk to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, this can also mean more types of traffic sharing the road, which can increase the risk of Miami motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents.
Tourist season means more drivers who may be unfamiliar with city streets. Some of the drivers on Miami’s streets in the summer are enjoying their first glimpse of the city. While most do everything they can to drive safely, unfamiliarity with the streets can be dangerous. Visitors may be watching for signs more carefully because they are unfamiliar with the area or may be distracted by all there is to see in Miami.
Unfortunately, tourist season coincides with road construction. This can also be a problem. When construction and road repairs coincide with an influx of drivers, the result can be even more traffic congestion as well as confusion about detours and alternate routes. The stress and congestion can easily lead to road rage, Miami pedestrian accidents, and other traffic problems.
Alcohol can make tourist season driving even more dangerous. Tourist season does coincide with many summer holidays, and many summer events and parties do include alcohol. Unfortunately, Miami drunk driving accidents are a concern all year long, but can be an especial problem during the summer, when people celebrate with a cool beer or drink. Summer’s heat can also exacerbate the effects of alcohol, making car crashes even more likely.
The right to fight for your country, to enlist, serve, and potentially die, is an oft-cited justification for an 18 year-old drinking age. “If you are old enough to die for your country,” so the maxim goes, “then you are old enough to sit down and buy a beer.” It’s a powerful argument, and a common one at that. But it is only a part of something far greater that is often over-looked when used to rationalize an 18 year-old drinking age argument. There is great injustice in the fact that you can die for a country against your will (to be drafted) that doesn’t grant you with the fullest privileges of adulthood. But in some way I think it means more that you can voluntarily join the military and risk your life, yet still be denied a mug of beer.
It’s about justice. For better or worse, the United States has determined that at age 18 you become an adult. By the widest of definitions, this means that you are now legally responsible for your actions. You can buy and smoke cigarettes even though you know that, with time, they’ll probably give you lung cancer. You may even purchase property, strike binding legal contracts, or go into debt. But most importantly (for the sake of this argument), is the fact that, at 18, you can vote and hold office. 18 is the age of majority, the age at which one finally becomes part of the ruling faction, the democracy’s people. Sure, you can die for your country and not be allowed to buy a beer, and that is a travesty, but it is the over-arching disenfranchisement of responsibility for those who are in all respects legally responsible that is abhorrent.
Critics are quick to point out that 18 is not an Age of Majority, but one age amongst many that together mark the gradual path to adulthood. This argument notes that young adults cannot drink until 21, rent cars until 25, run for the U.S. Senate until they are 30, and run for President until 35. This is evidence of a graduated adulthood. But this argument is simply not sound. First and foremost, rental car companies are not legally kept from renting cars to those under 25, it is a decision made by insurance companies. In fact, some rental companies do rent to those under 25, and higher rates compensate for the potential liability. In short, 25 is not an age of increased adultness.
Neither is 30. Article II Section 3 of the US Constitution mandates that: “No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years.” But strangely enough this clause has not preemptively kept individuals from running for Senate. Indeed, the man who John F. Kennedy called one of the 5 best senators in the history of the Republic, Henry Clay, was first elected to the Senate at age 28. While no one has yet to challenge the legitimacy of the Presidential Age Requirement, it is clear that the Constitutional age requirements are something quite different than graduated adulthood markers. As the lone mentions of age in all of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the are requirements are more appropriately seen as exceptions to full adulthood, rather than benchmarks of adulthood.
So as it stands now when you turn 18 you are legal to engage in all things other adults do except drink alcohol and run for President. It’s bizarre but accurate. Somewhere along the line, our society failed to remember that individuals, by becoming an adult, become responsible for their actions. Whether you are 18, 19, 20, 38, 39, or 40, you are an adult, and when you drink and drive, just as when you smoke in public areas or ignore traffic laws, you are responsible . By maintaining a drinking age different than 18, our society sends a signal that drinking and driving (the original target of the 21 MLDA) is worse in consequence for young adults than it is for older adults. This opens up a Pandora’s box when it comes to expanding the logic against real and perceived public health threats. Targeting groups by age beyond some measure of adulthood validates the fears raised in the Federalist Papers that a democratic system of government offers too little protection for the rights of minority factions against the will of the masses. Above and beyond its deleterious consequences, the 21 year-old drinking age threatens the integrity of egalitarianism in an otherwise representative democracy. 18 year-old drinking age is an act of justice.