February 18, 2020
Reviewing truck driver hours-of-service regulations
Those people seen driving the many semi-trucks that are so often seen on Vero Beach’s roads are highly trained professionals. The demands that come with operating such massive vehicles require that they be. Yet even the driving skills that truck drivers develop, truck accidents continue to be a problem. Indeed, information shared by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that as recently as 2017, commercial vehicles were reported to be involved in 363,000 accidents that resulted in property damage, 107,000 collisions that produced injuries, and 4,657 accidents that resulted in fatalities.
Driver fatigue is often cited as one of the common causes of truck accidents. Long hours on the road can easily contribute to truck drivers becoming drowsy. To prevent the potential of having drowsy truck drivers on the country’s roads, federal lawmakers have established hours-of-service regulations that determine when and for how long truck drivers can work. According to the FMCSA, these are:
- A driver can only drive for up to 11 hours before being required to take 10 consecutive hours off
- A driver cannot drive past the fourteenth hour after having returned from a 10-hour off-duty period
- Truck drivers can only drive up to 60-70 hours in a 7-8 day workweek (taking 36 consecutive hours off duty re-starts a workweek)
- A driver cannot drive for more than eight consecutive hours without taking a break of at least 30 minutes
Some might wonder how adherence to these regulations is enforced. Truck drivers are required to maintain detailed logs of their hours worked. After having been involved in an accident, a review of these records may reveal that a driver’s failure to follow the regulations might have caused them to become fatigued behind the wheel.
January 22, 2020
Ways cyclists can remain visible on the road
Riding a bike is a healthy, sustainable way to get around Vero Beach, but it is not without its risks. Cyclists should go well out of their way to remain visible to motorists.
Bicycling magazine offers up several ways that cyclists can better their chances of remaining visible. Increased visibility decreases the risk of an accident with a motor vehicle.
Understand that drivers are not looking for cyclists
One thing that cyclists should bear in mind is that most motorists do not expect to see people on bikes, which means that they are not looking for people on bikes. Usually, whenever a motor vehicle hits a bicyclist, the driver comments that she or he did not see the bicyclist. Defensive riding becomes essential to help cyclists make drivers aware of their presence and avoid accidents. Just like drivers, cyclists should be sure to avoid riding distracted, which means biking without earbuds and not using a smartphone.
Always ride with lights or reflective materials
No matter if it is day or night, bicyclists should ride with a light. During daylight hours, fluorescent lights are a cyclist’s best bet, mainly because drivers often quickly and easily recognize fluorescent lights. At night, cyclists should switch to reflective materials. The reason for the shift is that fluorescent lights do not work as well without sunlight. Reflective materials, on the other hand, appear in artificial light. Wearing reflective materials on the lower body creates moving lights at night, making it easier to catch a driver’s attention.
It is impossible to avoid every biking accident. When bikers take more responsibility of their visibility and remain vigilant, they can better enjoy their ride.
January 12, 2020
Pedestrian accident risks on rural roads
For pedestrians, walking in busy cities is very dangerous at times due to hectic traffic and other risk factors. However, Tuttle Larsen, P.A. knows that pedestrians also face many risks on rural roads. In Florida, walking in a rural area is dangerous at times for a plethora of reasons. Inclement weather is a serious concern, especially when it comes to slick roads and a driver’s visibility. For example, fog, rain and other weather-related problems have caused many drivers to lose control of their vehicle or veer off of the road, hitting a pedestrian they were unable to see or avoid.
There are many other accident risks that pedestrians face in rural areas. Sometimes, drivers on these roads are less attentive to pedestrians because they simply do not expect pedestrian traffic (as opposed to cities that have high levels of pedestrian traffic). A driver who does not expect people to walk alongside the road may cross over the line, especially while going around a sharp turn or driving up a very steep hill. Moreover, in rural areas, it is often more difficult for pedestrians to identify appropriate places to cross the road and many rural roads do not have sidewalks for people to walk on.
Whether a pedestrian is hit in a rural area or in a bustling city, the consequences they face have the potential to completely disrupt their life. Broken bones and other physical injuries cause a significant amount of suffering. However, the financial and emotional toll of these accidents not only shatters lives but often causes long-term suffering. Please visit our page on accidents to read more about some of the legal strategies that are available to pedestrians struck by reckless drivers.
January 7, 2020
What should I know about Florida’s ban on texting while driving?
Recently passed laws designed to ban texting while driving in Florida began full enforcement on January 1, 2020. If observed driving while texting, an officer can pull you over for a primary offense violation.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, if you are in an accident in which either an injury or death occurs, the call records from your cellphone or from one belonging to another involved driver may serve as evidence in court. Sending or reading a text message while operating a motor vehicle may prove to be a significant factor in determining culpability for a roadway injury or death.
According to figures supplied by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were more than 82,500 crashes in the Sunshine State that resulted in injuries during the first six months of 2019. During that same period, 1,529 crashes resulted in fatalities. Further statistics compiled by the FLHSMV for the entire year 2018 show that greater than 1,000 crashes each week were the result of distracted driving.
Nationwide statistics reported by the CDC show that a distraction while driving accounts for the deaths of as many as nine people each day. The federal agency views texting while operating a motor vehicle as an especially dangerous form of driver distraction.
In an effort to make the Sunshine State’s roads safer, Florida’s legislators passed the Wireless Communications While Driving law. The law prohibits typing into a wireless device to email, send an instant message or text while operating a motor vehicle. An exception to the new law permits motorists to text while stopped at a red light. You may send, receive and read text messages as long as your vehicle is not moving.
December 5, 2019
Vehicle safety features may not protect pedestrians
Florida’s warm climate and beautiful scenery make it a natural place for people to want to spend time outside. Whether strolling through town, taking the dog for a walk or going for a run, people should be able to feel they are safe to enjoy the activities they love. Unfortunately, it seems that when on foot, people face a growing risk as pedestrian fatalities are on the rise.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of people on foot killed in automobile accidents jumped by 35% from 1990 to 2018. An NPR report on the data indicates that last year, the nation recorded over 6,200 pedestrian deaths. The 2018 pedestrian fatalities represent an increase of four percent over 2017.
The Verge explains that the advanced safety features often found in new vehicles today do not seem to be working in all instances, at least in terms of protecting pedestrians. A study conducted by AAA found that pedestrian dummies were hit in 60% of test cases. The crash test vehicles used for the study were all equipped with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection alert systems. The study was conducted in the daytime and the vehicles were only traveling at 20 miles per hour.
Driver distraction is one factor that may contribute to the jump in pedestrian deaths. The preference for larger vehicles may also contribute to the trend given their increased weight and size that may result in more extensive injuries to a pedestrian upon impact compared to those induced by a smaller car traveling at the same rate of speed.
November 20, 2019
Catch up to frantic hit-and-run drivers with strong evidence
You were just passing the Barber Bridge when a car came out of nowhere and hit you. Before you could process what happened, the other driver left the scene. It can be hard to know what to do amid the whirlwind following a wreck, but keeping your head can make all the difference.
Drivers flee the scene of an accident up to 40 times a day in Florida. That leaves a lot of people behind, wondering what happened and how they’re going to recover. If you’re one of those people left dazed and confused, make sure you get to a safe place and start the process of getting the help you deserve.
Building a case
There are a few important steps to follow after a car accident:
- Get over: Getting the plate number and the make of the car that hit you can be critical, but chasing after them will likely do more harm than good. The driver that hit you probably isn’t going to start driving safer now that they’re running from an accident, so your best bet is to pull over somewhere safe.
- Make notes: Jot down everything you can think of before you get too distracted. When an accident has your head whirling and your adrenaline rushing, it can be hard to concentrate. Make sure you get any information in writing before the excitement runs away with crucial details.
- Call 911: Contact the authorities right away to report the accident. Police can put any officers in the area on the lookout for the car that hit you, and they might be able to give you assistance. Now is also the best time to seek medical attention if you’ve been injured, for your own health and for linking your pain to the accident for eventual claims.
- Gather evidence: See if anyone nearby saw the crash. Check with pedestrians in the area, people in nearby restaurants or see if any shop owners have outward-facing cameras. Any additional eyes that can support your side of the story may prove crucial when it comes time to prove negligence.
Knowing what to do after a hit-and-run accident can be hard as your emotions run high. Take a deep breath, stay safe and start building your case. Your actions right after the crash could make the difference when it comes time to build a case.
August 26, 2019
What are the road laws for bicycles?
When the weather is nice, riding a bicycle can be a fun activity in Florida. However, many times bicyclists fail to obey the law or do not know the laws pertaining to legally riding a bike on roadways. This puts riders, pedestrians and those in vehicles at risk of accidents. Knowing and obeying the law is essential to staying safe and being able to teach children how to safely ride.
The Florida Statutes explain that in general, bicycles must follow all the same rules as motor vehicles. However, there are some specific rules you need to know that apply only to bikes.
To begin with, it is important that you prepare for riding. If you will ride after dusk or before dawn, you need to equip your bicycle with a white headlight and red rear light. It also must have a rear reflector. If you are under the age of 16, you must wear a helmet when riding.
If you will carry passengers, you need to make sure your bike is set up for that. In general, you cannot have more than one person on a bicycle unless it is specifically designed for multiple riders. However, if you do want to carry a passenger under the age of four or who weighs less than 40 pounds, you may do so as long as you have attached a proper safety seat.
As you begin your ride, keep in mind that you must use the bicycle lane when one is available. Otherwise, you should ride as close to the right side of the road as possible. If you are on a one-way street, you should ride as close to the left side of the road as possible. You should never ride on sidewalks.
Keep in mind that as a parent, you are responsible to ensure your child knows and follows these laws. This information is for education and is not legal advice.
July 5, 2019
Can a car crash paralyze you?
If you suffer a spinal cord injury in a Florida car crash, the result will be a catastrophic life-changing one. These types of injuries partially or completely sever your spinal cord, resulting in parts or virtually all of your body becoming paralyzed, forcing you to live the rest of your life in a wheelchair.
The Mayfield Clinic explains that your spinal cord and its nerves represent the way in which messages travel from your brain to the rest of your body and back again. When you injure your spinal cord, these messages can no longer get through and you lose the ability to feel much, if anything, below your point of injury. You likewise cannot voluntarily move those parts of your body.
Your back’s structure
As you know, your spinal cord and its surrounding vertebrae run down the middle of your back. What you may not know, however, is that your back is divided into the following five regions:
- Cervical region containing the seven vertebrae located in your neck
- Thoracic region containing the 12 vertebrae located between your neck and your waist
- Lumbar region containing the five vertebrae located between your waist and your lower back
- Sacral region containing the five fused vertebrae below your lower back
- Coccyx region containing the four fused vertebrae making up your tailbone
Paraplegia and quadriplegia represent the two types of paralysis that you could suffer if you sustain a spinal cord injury in your car crash. Para means two and quad means four. Therefore, paraplegia means paralysis that affects your legs and feet and quadriplegia means paralysis that affects your arms and hands as well as your legs and feet.
Paraplegia generally results from an SCI to your lumbar region or the lower portion of your thoracic region. With this type of paralysis, you cannot walk or move your legs much if at all. You also usually cannot control your bladder or bowels, and have little or no feeling in your legs and feet or in your torso below your point of injury.
Quadriplegia generally results from an SCI to your cervical region or the upper portion of your thoracic region. Quadriplegia is a truly catastrophic condition in which you are unable to move or feel your arms, hands, legs, feet or any part of your body below your point of injury. In other words, quadriplegia renders you virtually helpless. Someone else must feed, hydrate, bathe and dress you, comb your hair, brush your teeth, perform your bowel and bladder routines for you, and move you from your bed to your wheelchair and back again.
This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.