Archive for June, 2013

Cell Phones Not the Only Driving Distraction That Contributes to Missouri Car Accidents

Friday, June 21st, 2013

While few people are unaware of the dangers of the distracted driving epidemic, the focus for most people is on cell phone related distractions, such as calling, texting or checking Facebook on a cellular phone.  The growing popularity of more sophisticated phones capable of a range of distracting functions makes this focus appropriate, but drivers should keep in mind that there are many other types of distractions that can lead to inattentive driving.  Any of these driving distractions can and do lead to serious collisions involving cars, trucks and SUVs that may result in devastating injuries and even wrongful death.

While the president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety acknowledged progress in reducing cell phone-related collisions, he lamented the lack of progress in other areas, “I don’t think we’ve made nearly as much progress in those other areas of distracted driving.”

There are many types of more traditional driving distractions that have been overshadowed by the focus on texting and driving, such as:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Adjusting a CD player
  • Unsecured pets
  • Grooming and applying makeup
  • Conversations with vehicle occupants
  • Dealing with kids in the backseat

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the percentage of people injured in distracted driving collisions that are cell phone-related constitutes a relatively small portion of the total number of those injured by inattentive drivers.  While distracted driving accounts for almost 450,000 injuries and 5,500 fatalities annually according to the federal agency, cell phones are the source of the distraction in only eighteen percent of the collisions involving fatalities and five percent of those involving injury.

Two of the most common forms of distractions that can be particularly dangerous are loose pets and drivers eating or drinking in their vehicle.  While motorists driving a vehicle may see a dog poking his nose out of a cracked car window and find this cute, the dog may attempt to climb into a driver’s lap causing a major distraction, or the dog may even become a flying projectile if a collision occurs.

Many drivers try to eat and drink while driving, but there is a wide range of scenarios that may make such a practice extremely dangerous.  When a driver is trying to handle the food, the driver’s hands, eyes and hands may all be diverted from driving so that the driver is faced with all three forms of distraction – manual, visual and mental.  Many times messy food will drop onto the clothing of a driver or the upholstery of the vehicle so that the driver is distracted trying to clean up the mess.  When a large drink or a beverage that is hot spills into the lap of a driver, this also can easily lead to a collision.

The key point is that all forms of driving distractions are hazardous so drivers should always focus all of their senses and concentration on driving safely.  If you or someone you love is injured or a family member dies in a Missouri car accident caused by a distracted driver, we urge you to contact us if you have questions.  Our experienced motor vehicle accident injury attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP work diligently to obtain financial compensation for our clients’ injuries so contact us toll free at (877) 535-1163 to see how we can help!

Do Motorcycle Helmets Cause Accidents & Increase the Risk of Neck Injuries in Missouri?

Friday, June 7th, 2013

There are many motorcycle enthusiasts who advocate freedom of choice when it comes to the decision to wear a motorcycle helmet while riding in Missouri.  Although there can be considerable debate about whether the safety benefits of motorcycle helmets should trump a motorcyclist’s personal choice, sometimes this debate gets distorted with urban myths that obscure the legitimate issues while focusing on positions that are not supported by factual evidence.

One such urban legend is that motorcycles can increase the likelihood of car accidents by obscuring lateral vision and hearing and that the weight of a motorcycle helmet increases the risk of spinal and neck injuries.  While we respect the right of those who oppose Missouri’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law to disagree, this particular argument is based on misinformation that can lead new riders to make a regrettable decision to ride without protective headgear.

While urban myths about the safety drawbacks of motorcycle helmets are supported by a scientific study conducted long ago, this study has since been thoroughly debunked.  The study was conducted by J.P. Goldstein and concluded that motorcycle helmet use could contribute to neck injuries because the weight of the helmet added to head mass during a collision.  However, more than a dozen subsequent studies have reached a contrary conclusion.

The claim that motorcycle helmets increase the risk of a motorcycle accident by decreasing visibility also has been shown to be without merit through scientific studies.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study to determine the degree to which helmet use caused collisions by obstructing a motorcyclist’s peripheral vision or hearing.  The NHTSA research found that motorcycle helmets did not significantly affect a rider’s ability to hear a vehicle’s turn signals or detect that a vehicle in an adjacent lane was making a lane change.  The authors of the study found that the sound of a motorcycle engine was so loud that any noise the riders could hear over the sound of the engine they could hear with or without a helmet.  The study also found that motorcyclists merely turn their heads slightly more to compensate when wearing a helmet so they do not suffer any significant reduction in peripheral vision.

Because we see the tragic consequences when a motorcyclist falls victim to a drunken, distracted or otherwise negligent driver, we urge riders to wear a helmet and obey traffic safety law.  If you or someone you love is injured or a family member dies in a Missouri motorcycle accident, we urge you to contact us if you have questions.  Our experienced Missouri DUI car accident injury attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP work diligently to obtain financial compensation for our clients’ injuries so contact us toll free at (877) 535-1163 to see how we can help!