Archive for the ‘Civil Court Suit’ Category

How to Prevent A Drowsy Driving Accident or Fatality

November 29, 2010

AAA Foundation for Traffic Society findings show that more than 40% of drivers have fallen asleep while on the road.

drowsy driving accident investigation road trip UHP fatality AAA fatigued driving accidents Cleared2Drive Good2GoAlmost half of the traffic fatalities on Utah County highways this year have been the result of drowsy driving.

“We’re mystified and really quite frustrated,” said Lt. Al Christianson with the Utah Highway Patrol, adding that last year, the county had only seven fatalities all year. “This year we’ve already had 23, and the year’s not over yet.”

Three of the six fatigued driving accidents that resulted in fatalities were on Interstate 15, two were on U.S. 6 and one was on U.S. 89. In each case, Christianson said, the drivers didn’t think they were quite as tired as they were. He pointed to a triple fatality in September, when a family’s van rolled on I-15 near Santaquin. They were returning to Provo after a long trip.  “They’re within 20 miles of their destination when their driver falls asleep, and they die,” he said.

What’s even scarier is the number of near-misses. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Society released findings showing that more than 40 percent of drivers have fallen asleep while on the road. That’s two out of every five drivers, or about 164,000 of the approximately 400,000 drivers on I-15 in Utah County on a daily basis.

The frightening aspect of driving while tired is that anyone could fall victim to it and not realize it at the time. While in the past there had been no device or technology to measure exhaustion, there is a new technology now available called the Cleared2Drive System that measures impairment even from fatigue or sleep deprivation.   Many people don’t realize how tired they are when they get into their car, or they overestimate their ability to remain alert but the Cleared2Drive System can and will prevent them from being able to start their vehicle.

But if the statistics tell drivers anything, it’s that they need to evaluate before a road trip if they are awake enough to make it and be willing to pull over if they’re not; UHP has even put road signs along I-15 encouraging drowsy drivers to exit.  Springville resident Jack Angus said when he starts running over the rumble strips on the freeway he’s too tired, and he’ll pull off at the next exit and catch a quick nap or switch drivers if someone else is in the car.  “I would never take a chance,” he said. “That’s worse than driving drunk or something.”

It’s at least on equal footing; a person who has been awake for 24 hours has the equivalent mental state and reaction time as a person with a blood alcohol content of .10.  Police officers are trained now to watch for drowsy drivers and are no longer accepting “I’m just tired” as a reason for unsafe driving.

Police officers can cite people for drowsy driving, although it is difficult to prove. They look for poor driving patterns like swerving or not staying in their lanes, but most often they realize a driver is too tired only during an accident investigation. People should avoid traveling too late at night or allowing all the passengers in their car to fall asleep instead of relying on temporary fixes.

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Ignition Interlock Summit Helps States in the Fight Against Drunk Driving

November 16, 2010

Last year, 10,839 people died because of alcohol-related car crashes.

Although this number declined 7.4 percent from 2008 to 2009, none of these deaths ever should have happened. And even a single death due to drunk driving is one too many.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control met with members of the Governors Highway Safety Association for a National Ignition Interlock Summit. This was a full-day work session to help state safety professionals figure out how to get a handle on drunk driving.

Impaired driving is involved in 32 percent of all crashes on American roads. But an ignition interlock system that blocks a convicted drunk driver’s vehicle from starting when that driver is impaired can prevent many of those crashes and save lives.

In 2006, MADD launched a Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, calling for increased use of ignition interlocks for impaired driving offenders. The Department of Transportation has been a strong supporter of this campaign, and in the last four years, interlock use has more than doubled from approximately 100,000 in 2006 to 212,000 in 2010.

But that covers only a small percentage of the 1.4 million drunk drivers arrested last year in the US.

Today, all states except Alabama and South Dakota have laws that authorize ignition interlock use for at least some offenders. Yet we know that one-third of those 1.4 million arrests involve repeat offenders, and we know that many fatal drunk driving crashes also involve repeat offenders.

 

MADD DOT NHTSA CDC Ignition interlock system impaired driving alcohol-related car crashes US Department of Transportation

Alcohol Related Traffic Fatalities per State

That’s why 13 states have passed mandatory ignition interlock laws for all drunk drivers–including first offenders.

And that’s why DOT is providing technical assistance and support to help states move toward increasing their interlock use and strengthening their laws and interlock programs.

As I said in September, when I announced the drop in drunk driving deaths, our roads are the safest they’ve ever been. But, to make America’s roads even safer, we are committed to continuing our vigorous fight against drunk driving. Ignition interlock systems are a critical part of that fight, and I urge states to make the best use of this valuable tool.

Reprinted from the US Department of Transportation

$62.7 Million Settlement in Fatal Truck Accident

October 20, 2010

Hopefully this will serve as a serious wake up call for every company with a fleet of vehicles.  Yes, education is important, but it is only as good as the people hearing it want it to be; yes, a video showing exactly happened is important so we can learn from it; but let’s be completely honest about what is MOST important here . . . Preventing this type of situation from ever happening and Cleared2Drive is the only technology available that can do that!

A $62.7-million settlement was reached in a civil court suit brought by the relatives of eight victims of a horrendous crash in Oklahoma caused by Donald Creed a 76 year old driver for Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG).   In all, 10 persons were killed and five more injured by the accident.

Creed, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of negligent homicide, a misdemeanor in Oklahoma, in a plea deal, was sentenced to a year of probation on each count. He must serve 30 days in a county jail and wear an electronic monitoring device in his first year of probation. He is also barred from obtaining a commercial driver’s license.

AWG is a retailer-owned grocery cooperative based in Kansas City, KS, that serves 1,900 members. AWG’s attorney Jim Secrest said the company was facing an additional claim of independent negligence for allowing Creed on the road. The company was prepared to fight that claim, he said, adding that AWG had “state-of-the-art” equipment in the truck and that witnesses who had seen Creed throughout his shift would have testified that Creed appeared “normal” that day.

“To this moment, we know what happened, but we don’t know why,” Secrest said. “This guy [Creed] had five-million miles without one personal injury accident.” Secrest said that AWG’s fatigue management program was not as strong as it could have been. The company has improved the program since the accident, he said.  “It was not as intense as it should have been and I think AWG acknowledged that,” Secrest said.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the cause of the crash was the result of Creed’s fatigue due to acute sleep loss, mild sleep apnea and circadian disruption associated with his shift schedule.

Creed had just returned from a vacation and was still adjusting to the shift, which began shortly after 3 a.m., NTSB said. The Board said that Creed never reacted to the backup of traffic due to an earlier accident along Interstate 44 near Miami, OK. Creed drove his truck, traveling at 69 mph in a 75-mph zone, into the back of a stopped sport utility vehicle. The truck continued forward and hit three additional vehicles, pushing the third vehicle into the rear of a livestock trailer being towed by a pickup truck. That vehicle then collided with yet another vehicle.

The accident occurred at 1:19 p.m., roughly 10 hours after Creed had started his shift. NTSB said that Creed failed to apply brakes or take any evasive measures before the collision.

“This crash points out the need for three important actions by federal regulators that would go a long way to reducing this type of accident on our roadways: a fatigue management system would have helped the driver get the rest he needed to perform well behind the wheel, event recorders would have provided our investigators with the details about the crash once it occurred, and a collision warning system would have significantly reduced the likelihood that this accident could have ever happened,” said NTSB chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The time to act on all three of these safety fundamentals is now so that this kind of horrific tragedy will not occur again.”

NTSB also has called upon FMCSA to require all heavy commercial vehicles to be equipped with video event recorders, to improve its fatigue educational materials and to require all motor carriers to adopt a fatigue management program based on the North American Fatigue Management Program.