SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The family of the driver who lost his life in a Santa Clara County car crash filed a lawsuit against Tesla on Wednesday. The lawsuit claims that Tesla is beta testing autopilot technology on open roadways in California.
The man who was killed was riding in his Tesla, which was on autopilot at the time of the crash. His family is suing the car manufacturer and others for wrongful death.
The lawsuit is not only against Tesla, but it could also include subcontractors who helped design and build the autopilot system on Tesla’s Model X.
Walter Huang was killed in March 2018 when his 2017 Tesla Model X smashed into a barrier on Hwy.101 in the city of Mountain View while it was on autopilot.
His grieving wife Sevonne Huang told the press that this Tesla was her husband’s dream car.
“I gave the car to him for his birthday,” she said.
The family is convinced that the autopilot system is defective and probably the cause of Huang’s death.
Mark Fong, the family’s lawyer, said, “The car moved out of a safe lane, headed directly towards a solid concrete barrier while accelerating nearly 10 miles an hour in 3 seconds.”
Family members claim that Huang complained about the car constantly veering towards the same barrier at the very same location where the crash occurred. They also said that he took his car to the dealership a number of times to tell them about the malfunctioning autopilot.
The lawsuit is being filed on the grounds of defective product design along with intentional misrepresentation.
The company released a statement soon after the crash that said, “The driver took no evasive action even though he had a 5-second view of the divider before crashing into it.” The company went on to say, “Mr. Huang had received both visual and audible hands-on warnings earlier while driving and his hands were not on the steering wheel for a full 6 seconds before colliding into the barrier.”
Attorney Doris Cheng said, “Attempting to put the blame on Mr. Huang by suggesting that it was up to him to figure out what was wrong with his Tesla, is very unfair.”
The family also filed a lawsuit against the State of California, claiming that the highway median had no protective crash guard, which could have possibly prevented the death.
The lawsuit is for monetary damages, as yet unspecified.
Huang’s wife said, “I’m doing this so that other families don’t suffer through the same experience.”
The NTSB has not yet released the final report of its investigation into the accident. When asked, a Tesla representative declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A number of other Tesla drivers have lodged complaints and filed lawsuits against Tesla for autopilot errors.
The autopilot feature is one of Tesla’s most popular features because it is supposed to take over other functions, like steering, braking, changing lanes and speed.
Last year a Tesla driver whose car was on autopilot fell asleep while the car kept driving all on its own. Eventually CHP officers boxed the Tesla in with their cars, slowing it down until it stopped. They then arrested the driver when he couldn’t pass the field sobriety test.
Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP
According to the California Highway Patrol, there may be as much as a 70% increase in DUI arrests in marijuana-related traffic accidents. Last year they released 2017 stats for the CHP Golden Gate District :
For All of 2017:
DUI arrests just for using cannabis: 197
DUI arrests for both cannabis and alcohol: 183
Traffic collision causing property damage plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 22
Traffic collisions causing an injury plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 7
Traffic collisions causing a death and a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 0
When alcohol is combined with cannabis, injury collisions in 2017 rose to 24 and fatal collisions were at 7
From January to mid-April of 2018:
DUI arrests just for cannabis: 87
DUI arrests for both cannabis and alcohol: 60
Traffic collision causing property damage plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 9
Traffic collisions causing an injury plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 7
Traffic collisions causing a death and a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 0
When alcohol is combined with cannabis, injury collisions were at 4 and fatal collisions were at 1
The CHP began keeping track of incidents in which drivers were stopped for erratic driving and the officer detected marijuana due to drug paraphernalia being found or a passenger was stoned. In these cases there was no DUI arrest. Through April 2018 that number was 3,754.
Marijuana-related traffic accidents have been getting a lot of attention in the news these past few years since 9 states plus the District of Columbia started legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. These states include: Colorado, Washington, California, Oregon, Alaska, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.
Controversy still surrounds the discussion on exactly what a “marijuana-related accident” is because law enforcement in these states hasn’t yet completely defined the problem. The controversy began in 2016, which was 4 years after Colorado legalized the recreational use of pot, one of two states to do so at the time. Gary Johnson, who was running for President as the Libertarian candidate said, “’Marijuana-related’ hospital visits, fatal traffic accidents and school suspensions in Colorado have ‘not gone up significantly’ since the state legalized marijuana.”
Several official sources immediately refuted that claim, showing that there had been a huge rise in those exact problems since the drug had been legalized. The issue is that there is limited data, which makes it utterly impossible to know precisely which of these incidents were caused directly by the use of marijuana. ProCon.org explained it this way, “Unlike with alcohol use, when you test positive for marijuana it does not definitively mean that you were under the influence of marijuana when the traffic accident occurred.”
In any case, marijuana use is at the forefront in a number of fatal traffic accidents in those states where the laws pertaining to marijuana use have become less stringent.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of motor vehicle negligence related to marijuana use and would like to speak with a Bay Area auto accident attorney, please contact us. At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley we have 50 years of litigation and trial experience. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.
If you live with stress and anxiety, you know just how great a toll both can take on your life. Worry, anxiety and other forms of emotional distress may make it difficult for you to concentrate at work, enjoy your downtime or live a generally happy existence. If another person or entity caused your mental anguish due to their negligence, you may be able to gain compensation for your suffering.
Mental Anguish as a Non-Economic Damage
More often than not, the courts will classify emotional anguish as a non-economic damage. If this is the case, the courts will likely categorize your distress as "pain and suffering." Depending on in which state you live, and the nature of your accident, you may not be able to recover for pain and suffering. If you can recover compensation for these damages, the state may cap the amount you can recover.
Emotional Suffering as a Medically Documented Illness
In extreme cases, stress is a medically-documented illness. For instance, PTSD is a medically-documented form of strain. Signs your anxiety is a medical condition and not just pain and suffering are as follows:
You cannot identify the source of your tension.
Your friends, family and advisors cannot pinpoint the cause of your anguish.
Your primary care doctor suspects the source of your strain is a symptom of a physical ailment and he or she has the means to help ease it.
Documenting Emotional Damages
Regardless of the cause of your stress, you need to document your damages to maximize the amount you may recover. Some steps you can take to strengthen your personal injury claim are as follows:
Identify the type of emotional distress you're experiencing (fear, anxiety, depression).
Keep a journal in which you discuss how you feel on a daily basis.
Keep the bottles or labels of prescription medications you use to control your emotions.
Consult with a personal injury attorney who can advise you on what more you need to do to fortify your claim based on your individual situation.
Emotional distress can be just as damaging to your life as physical injuries. If another person's actions caused you to live with emotional agony, contact a lawyer for guidance today.
Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP. The information presented in this article is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice.
If you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft accident, it can be hard to understand your rights when it comes to recovering injury-related expenses. That’s because ride-sharing apps occupy a legal gray area between the personal use of automobiles and commercial taxi operations in many states.
According to NOLO, the online legal reference library that works to break down legal concepts to the general public, ride sharing accidents usually fall under the driver’s personal insurance if the driver is at fault unless the insurance policy specifically excludes ride-sharing. Otherwise, a lawsuit on your behalf to recover damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance is common.
Immediately After an Uber or Lyft Crash
If you’re in a crash, take these steps to protect your legal rights down the road so you can get the medical treatment you need and recover the costs associated with your injury.
Contact 911 if the driver has not already done so, to report the accident.
Check to see if anyone in the car is injured and report it to the dispatcher if they are.
Get the insurance information from all the drivers involved so you can be sure you have what you need once fault is determined.
Contact the rideshare company’s customer service to report to them.
The Changing Insurance Landscape
More and more insurance companies are excluding rideshare time from their personal vehicle coverage policies. If an Uber or Lyft driver’s policy excludes rideshare, they should have a ride sharing insurance policy. One of the reasons it is important to contact customer service for your rideshare company is because they are carrying insurance on the drivers’ behalf more and more. According to a firsthand account in Fortune, the company began carrying its own insurance in 2013 in response to the rising tide of rideshare exclusions on personal policies.
The car accident attorneys at the law offices of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley provide legal expertise, strong trial skills and the essential investigation in order to successfully litigate your personal injury claims. If you have recently been in an accident and you have medical expenses or other losses associated with it, you should talk to an attorney before accepting any settlement. For a consultation with experienced attorneys, contact O’Connor, Runkel, and O’Malley LLP today.
Just as there are apps to help decrease standard automobile accidents, there are also mandates going into effect in the trucking industry in an effort to reduce truck accidents. Electronic Logging Devices keep track of how long a trucker has been on the road to better ensure she or he doesn’t sit across the table from a truck accident attorney after falling asleep at the wheel. But are the devices effective?
The Aim of the Devices
In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimated that ELDs could prevent roughly 1,700 crashes, 500 injuries and 20 deaths a year. This is because the devices make it so truck drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours in the road without resting. As truck accident attorney I can tell you that driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents.
Besides preventing accidents, logging devices can improve the trucking industry at large. Specifically, if truckers aren’t driving more than they should be, they’re less likely to burn themselves out. Fewer overworked truckers is likely to result in a lower employee turnover rate.
Are the Devices Reducing Salaries Along With Accidents?
For all the good they’re supposed to do, ELDs aren’t beloved by all truckers. One issue is the devices can actually make truckers drive a bit more recklessly than they normally would. This is because when drivers near their 11-hour limit and haven’t made it to their destination, some of them may speed up to get there faster.
There are still problems even when a truck driver hasn’t neared her or his destination when the 11-hour limit approaches. The issue is that not all truckers are able to find a safe place to park their vehicles when they reach their time limit.
If you were recently involved in an accident with a truck, it may have been due to reckless or fatigued driving. Either way, it’s best you reach out to a truck accident attorney to explore your rights.
O’Connor, Runckel and O’Malley LLP would like to announce our 2018 scholarship recipient, Tamar Anna Alexanian. Tamar received her bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University in 2016 where she double majored in Women's & Gender Studies and English Literature. Upon graduation, she spent a year as an English Teaching Assistant with Fulbright Taiwan and the following year as an AmeriCorps member serving under-resourced communities in Chicago. In the fall, Tamar will be attending the University of Michigan Law School where she hopes to study international human rights.
We look forward to seeing Tamar succeed in her upcoming years at the University of Michigan Law School.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) announced that the number of pedestrians killed in the U.S. in 2017 was nearly 6,000. After two straight years of significant increases, the number of pedestrians being killed on our streets seems to be holding steady.
According to GHSA, this number is the highest it’s been in the last 25 years. Although the rise “seems to be holding,” the “ongoing problem of so many pedestrian fatalities raises concerns about the dangers facing pedestrians on our streets.”
This is even more concerning when you realize that the number of fatalities resulting from other types of traffic accidents is falling. GHSA mentioned that enhanced vehicle safety features make collisions safer for people inside vehicles – but these are not helpful to pedestrians.
There was a rise of 27% in pedestrian deaths from 2007 to 2016, but during this same time deaths from other types of traffic accidents fell by 14%, GHSA reports. The result is that pedestrian fatalities account for a higher proportion of overall traffic accident fatalities.
The GHSA report is derived from early data from state highway agencies. A total of 23 states plus Washington, D.C., showed a rise in pedestrian fatalities. During the same time period there was a decrease in 20 states while the balance remained more or less the same.
Five states – Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Texas – made up 43% of pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2017. This is despite the fact that only 30% of the country’s population resides in those states.
Laurel Wamsley last year reported on NPR that a study was done by Smart Growth America revealing the most deadly cities in the U.S. for pedestrians. According to this study, eight cities out of the top 10 were in Florida. The study also revealed that the population most at risk is people of color, as she reported:
“People of color are disproportionately represented among the pedestrians being killed. Non-white individuals make up 34.9% of the U.S. population, whereas they comprise 46.1% of the country’s pedestrian fatalities.
“In some regions, this disparity is very pronounced. For example, Native Americans make up just 5% of the population of North Dakota, but this group accounts for almost 38% of pedestrian fatalities.”
The study also discovered that people with no health insurance, the poor and the elderly were more apt to reside in areas that are particularly deadly for pedestrians.
The most recent GHSA report does not categorize deaths by income, insurance or race. However, it does show that the elderly and children are “especially at risk.”
The question remains as to why pedestrian deaths have increased so much since 2014. Last year, when the GHSA report revealed an 11% increase over the previous year in pedestrian deaths, David Schaper of NPR took a close look at some of the possible causes:
“GHSA spokesperson Maureen Vogel said that there was ‘a perfect storm’ when a number of factors came together to spur the increase: There were more cars on the road due to a better economy and lower gas prices. People were just driving more, ‘but that doesn’t explain the whole story, so something else must be going on.’
“One possible explanation can be seen during downtown Chicago’s rush hour traffic if you look at all the drivers inching their way through traffic and the dozens of pedestrians crossing the street in the intersections. You can clearly see that many of the drivers and the pedestrians as well looking down at their cell phones.
“ We are totally distracted," said Melody Geraci, who is the deputy executive director of a Chicago group called, the Active Transportation Alliance, that advocates for improved public transportation, walking and cycling. ‘Speeding and not yielding are the top two causes of pedestrian deaths, but the third cause is distractions, which are usually by mobile devices."
“There is a lot of documentation attesting to the fact that drivers distracted by their mobile devices cause traffic accidents. But, there is an increase in pedestrians being distracted too, causing them to be totally unaware of all the traffic whirling around them.”
Other factors would be speeding vehicles and alcohol – not just drunk drivers, but drunk pedestrians too. The GHSA most recent report said that 33% of pedestrian deaths involved a pedestrian who had a blood alcohol count over the legal limit for driving. Yet, there are no laws against walking down the street while drunk, but obviously this is a very dangerous practice, which can kill you.
Another factor was time of day with 75% of pedestrian deaths occurring at night in the dark. In 72% of the cases, the deceased was jay walking, or crossing in the middle of the street without being in the intersection.
This latest report also indicates that marijuana use may also be a factor:
“From 2012 to 2016 there were seven states plus Washington DC, that voted to legalized the recreational use of marijuana. These states were Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. These states reported a 16.4% rise in pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2017 vs. the first half of 2016. Interestingly, all other states had a collective 5.8% decrease in pedestrian deaths.”
However, GHSA cannot assert a “definitive association” or “direct correlation” in explaining those particular states’ much higher rates of pedestrian fatalities.
If you have a loved one that was killed in a pedestrian accident that was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to seek compensation. You need to know your legal rights and how to protect them and an experienced pedestrian accident attorney can help. The law offices of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley has handled hundreds of clients in similar situations. Call today and speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who will treat you with the respect and concern you deserve during this very difficult time.
Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP
The information contained in this article is not meant to serve as a medical diagnosis or advice, especially when it comes to treatment. If you have questions about a medical condition it is important for you to see your physician or another qualified health professional. Do not ignore the advice of a medical professional or delay seeking treatment because of what you’ve read in this article or somewhere else online.
The media has been giving concussions a lot of attention lately since the NFL has been forced to acknowledge the burgeoning evidence that concussions can cause victims lasting damage. Medical research has very clearly shown that concussions, especially when suffered repeatedly, cause long-term brain damage that includes memory problems, difficulty focusing and other cognitive impairments.
Diagnosing a Concussion
If you’ve received a head injury your physician will go over your medical history, assess your symptoms, and give you a neurological examination. You could very well be suffering from a concussion and not show any signs or symptoms until hours or even days after being injured.
Your doctor will most likely perform or provide a referral for the following tests:
Your doctor will first ask you some very detailed questions about how you were injured before performing a neurological examination or assessment. He or she will check your:
Strength and sensation
There are a number of tests your doctor will likely give you to evaluate your cognitive (thinking) abilities. These would include your:
Ability to recall facts and information
Ability to focus and concentrate
Brain Imaging Tests
If you are suffering from seizures, debilitating headaches, constant vomiting or have worsening symptoms, you may need brain imaging. These tests should be able to determine how severe your injury is and whether you have swelling and/or bleeding inside your skull.
The test that’s normally used to evaluate the brain immediately after being injured is called a cranial computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan takes a series of cross-sectional X-ray images of the injured skull and brain.
Another test called a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is often used to pin point any changes that may have occurred in the brain and/or to diagnose problems that can happen after suffering a concussion. To get such detailed images of the brain an MRI employs radio waves combined with powerful magnets.
After suffering a concussion you should either be hospitalized overnight or observed at home very closely for 24 hours straight with your doctor’s permission.
Someone needs to be constantly checking on you for 24 hours straight to determine whether you’re stable or if your symptoms might be getting worse.
During this time, your caregiver should wake you up on a regular basis to ensure that you are able to wake up normally.
If you have a concussion, your recovery will move along more quickly if you can simply rest, both physically and mentally.
In order to do this you will need to avoid any kind of physical activity that exacerbates your symptoms. This would include activities that require you to physically exert yourself, like playing sports or doing anything involving vigorous movements. Avoid these types of activities until they no longer cause you any symptoms.
In terms of mental activities, avoid anything that requires you to exert yourself mentally, trying to concentrate or think things through. You should avoid schoolwork, using a computer, reading, watching TV, texting and/or playing video games if you notice your symptoms acting up or getting worse due to this mental activity.
If you’re a student your doctor will likely want you to shorten your school days and workloads. If you are employed your doctor will want you to work shorter days and take frequent breaks throughout the day while recovering from your concussion.
Once your symptoms start improving, you can add more mental activities, such as taking on more schoolwork or projects at work. You can also gradually increase the number of hours each day that you spend at school or work.
Before resuming any physical activity you will want to consult with your doctor. It may be that he or she will allow you to do some very light physical activity once your symptoms totally subside. These would be things like gentle jogging or exercising on a stationary bike for short periods of time. As long as these activities do not trigger or make your symptoms worse, they should be okay.
In time, after you are no longer experiencing any symptoms of a concussion, you can consult with your doctor as to what precautions you would need to take in order to stay safe playing sports. If you start playing sports too soon after suffering a concussion you increase your risk of another concussion and a serious and perhaps deadly brain injury.
For headaches, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen, the most common being Tylenol, but there are other brands as well. If you take aspirin or ibuprofen, which would be Motrin IB, Advil and others, you risk an increase in bleeding.
Getting Ready for Your Doctor’s Appointment
It is vital that a medical doctor examine anyone with a head injury of any kind, even if it doesn’t seem like an emergency.
If it’s your child who has suffered a head injury, get on the phone right a way to call his or her pediatrician. The doctor may ask you to bring your child in immediately, depending on the seriousness of your child’s symptoms.
How to prepare for the doctor’s appointment:
What to Do
Find out if there are any instructions you need to follow or restrictions prior to seeing the doctor. In the meantime, avoid any physical or mental activities that exacerbate your symptoms. Do not participate in any physical activities including sports. Avoid as much as possible any stressful, prolonged or difficult mental activities.
While making your doctor’s appointment, find out what you or your child can do to assist in the recovery and avoid reinjury. Athletes should not resume playing their sport until they have undergone a medical evaluation.
Make a list of all signs and symptoms that you or your child has been suffering. This should include when each symptom started and how severe each one is.
List any other medical issues that you or your child is receiving treatment for. Include any previous head injuries. List all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications as well as vitamins, minerals and any other supplement you or your child takes.
Bring someone along with you to the doctor’s. Since you have a head injury it may be difficult for you to take in all the medical information and advice. If you bring someone along they may remember things that you may end up forgetting.
Questions For Your Doctor
If you think you might have a concussion, you will want to ask the following questions:
What exactly is a concussion?
What tests will I need to have?
Do I have a concussion?
What approach to treatment do you think is best?
When do you think my symptoms will begin subsiding?
Am I now more at risk of having another concussion?
What is my risk for having long-term effects or complications?
When do you think it would be safe for me to start exercising again?
When do you think it would be safe for me to play sports again?
Would it be safe now for me to go back to school or return to work?
Is it safe now for me to drive or run heavy equipment of any sort?
I’m dealing with other medical conditions. Can they all be managed at once?
Do I need to see a specialist? Will my health insurance cover a specialist and if not, what would it cost? You may need to check with your insurance company for these answers.
Do you have any informational leaflets or brochures for me to take home? Are there any websites that you suggest for further information?
You may also have additional questions that occur to you during your appointment, so don’t be shy about asking all your questions.
The Doctor’s Questions for You
Be ready to answer the following questions from your doctor regarding the head injury and its symptoms:
Do you participate in any contact sports?
How did you injure your head?
What symptoms did you notice having right after being injured?
Do you recall exactly what occurred right before being injured? Right after?
Were you knocked unconscious from the injury?
Have you experienced any seizures?
Have you felt nauseous or been vomiting since you were injured?
Have you experienced any headaches? If so, when did they start?
Are you having any problems now with physical coordination?
How has your memory been since the injury? Any problems concentrating?
Are you experiencing any unusual sensitivity, problems with your hearing and/or vision?
Have you noticed any unusual mood swings, including agitation, anxiety or depression?
Are you feeling more fatigued since being injured?
Are you having difficulty getting to sleep, sleeping or waking up?
Has your sense of smell or taste changed in any way?
Have you been dizzy or experienced any vertigo?
Are there any other symptoms that you’ve noticed that you are worried about?
Is this your first head injury or have there been others in the past?
Taking Care of Yourself Until You See Your Doctor
The best thing you can do for now is to avoid doing anything that exacerbates your symptoms. This means you need to avoid participating in any physical activities, including sports, which will raise your heart rate. Taking long walks, jogging or doing anything physically strenuous, like lifting weights is out of the question.
Also, do not get involved in any mental activity that may exacerbate your symptoms, things that require a lot of concentration. For example, doing schoolwork, using the computer, playing video games, texting and/or watching TV.
If you’re suffering from headaches, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen, the most common one is Tylenol, but there are other brands. It is best to avoid taking aspirin or ibuprofen, which would be Motrin IB, Advil and others because these will put you at risk for an increase in bleeding.
If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion as the result of the negligence of another, contact O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley and we will provide you with a free consultation with an experienced concussion attorney. At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley, we make sure you have the resources necessary for the evaluation and diagnosis of all types of head injuries, and we will help you recover your losses.
Weather conditions can have a huge impact on driver safety. It can affect driver visibility and control as well the vehicle’s maneuverability, stability, and traction. Rain, high winds and extreme temperatures affect roadway conditions, pavement friction and the flow of traffic, all of which can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Weather conditions affect roadways, the flow of traffic and the operational decisions that follow.
In an average year there are more than 5,748,000 car crashes occurring on U.S. roadways. Statistics show that in approximately 1,259.000 (22%) of these accidents, weather played a role. Weather-related traffic collisions are defined as car crashes that happen in bad weather. It could be fog, rain, snow, sleet, heavy crosswinds, the wind blowing sand, debris or snow across the road, and/or slick/slushy pavement caused by rain, snow, or ice. As a result of these weather-related collisions, nearly 6,000 people lose their lives and more than 445,000 are injured every year.
The overwhelming majority of these accidents occur when it’s raining and on wet pavement: 46% occur when it’s raining and 73% occur on wet pavement. Other weather-related collisions happen during typical winter weather conditions: 3% happen in the fog, 13% happen on icy roadways, 14% happen on snowy/slushy roads and 17% happen during sleet or snow storms.
What Drivers Should Do to Stay Safe
Everyone’s driving is affected by extreme weather. Heavy fog, rain, snow, sleet, ice and dust will all diminish your visibility.
Of all the various weather conditions that driver’s face, fog is considered the most treacherous. If you find yourself driving in heavy fog, slow down and turn on your car’s low-beam lights. If the fog is so thick that you barely have any visibility, pull off the road to safety and wait until the fog lifts to resume driving.
When it first starts drizzling, raining or snowing, slow down because this is exactly when roads are the most slippery. When moisture in the air mixes with dust and oil on the road, it can get very slippery, causing reduced traction. Under these conditions you are at risk of losing control of your car.
It’s not just cold winter weather, rain, sleet, ice and snow that can affect your driving, but high temperatures, heavy winds and glare from the sun can cause problems as well.
Bright sunlight and/or how light reflects on a streaked or dirty windshield will diminish visibility and this puts you at risk. Before starting your car you should remove dew, frost, or ice from not just your windshield, but all the windows as well.
It’s up to you to ensure that you are able to see clearly and be seen by other drivers. If you’re driving in rain or snow, stop regularly to wipe any mud or snow off all the windows, as well as the side mirrors, headlights and even the taillights. In an abundance of caution, even in daylight during perfectly clear weather, keep your headlights on so that other drivers can see you.
When it’s windy outside it can affect how well you can control the steering. Head winds can slow you down, whereas tail winds will push the car forward, increasing your speed.
Crosswinds can push the car sideways, causing it to swerve. This affects larger vehicles like vans, SUVs and trucks more. If you find yourself driving in a crosswind, slow down and steer very carefully. If heavy winds persist, pull over to safety until the winds die down.
The automobile accident attorneys at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley are well known and respected throughout the legal community and among our clients. From our offices in Contra Contra Costa County, San Francisco and Sacramento, we serve clients throughout Northern California. Our experience and expertise are available to you.
Roads in the Bay Area are becoming more dangerous, not just for drivers trying to navigate the crowded highways, but for pedestrians and cyclists, as well who are increasingly getting killed making their way through city streets.
MTC researcher David Vautin said, “There are definitely more people living in the Bay Area and using the roads, which may be responsible for a portion of the increase. Plus, more drivers are coming in from further away, on long boring commutes.”
The increase in the area’s population and the longer distances commuters are driving still cannot account for the increase in the number of people being killed on Bay Area roads and highways during those years, according to Vautin. In 2010 there were 318 fatal crashes, which rose to 455 in 2016. In five out of those six years, the fatalities increased and this was after declines during the previous four years. However, 2016 wasn’t the year with the most because there were 509 deadly crashes in 2003, which was the high point in the 16 years that the study spanned.
Some traffic experts think there are more “distracted drivers,” with people using their cell phones to make calls, send text messages or check Facebook while driving, he explained. While others blame the decrease in life-saving technology after the widespread adoption of anti-lock brakes, shatterproof windshields and seat belts. New breakthroughs have not been implemented to the same extent.
But, at the end of the day, the real problem is basic human error, according to Stephanie Mak, an MTC data analyst. In analyzing reports of fatal collisions that occurred between 2010 and 2016, she discovered three major culprits: excessive speed, unsafe turns and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Mak concluded that it was “unsafe behavior on the part of drivers” that caused the majority of fatal crashes, nothing more, nothing less.
This situation is not exclusive to the Bay Area. Across California and the nation at large, fatal collisions have been on the increase ever since the recession, according to spokesman Chris Cochran of the California Office of Traffic Safety. He said that deadly traffic collisions rose 33% in California between 2010 and 2016, adding that this wasn’t totally unexpected.
What usually happens is that in an economic down turn, fewer people are on the roads traveling or commuting for recreation or work. Once the economy improves, people start hitting the roads more often.
“We’re basically returning to pre-recession figures,” he said. “However, there is a real danger that we could move beyond that.”
Cochran went on to say that recent technological developments, like interactive dashboards in cars can be very distracting. But other automatic innovations, such as “driver-assist” technology in the form of alarms that sound when you are about to collide with another vehicle or when you swerve out of your lane, can certainly help, he added.
However, these highly advanced features are not prevalent in most vehicles. Driverless cars, which are being touted as the no-collision option, are many years away from being adopted by the masses.
Until that time comes, Mak has been conferring with other officials working in regional transportation planning agencies as well as her colleagues at the state to determine what they are doing to lower the numbers of fatal crashes. She’s trying to figure out what could specifically be done better in the Bay Area. In the end, it could be more effective enforcement for impaired drivers and those who speed, she said. Or, possibly more campaigns and outreach to better educate motorists.
There are some cities in which residents and business owners are speaking up about their desire for safer streets, wanting their streets designed to be safer. San Jose, Fremont and San Francisco have decided to join the “Vision Zero” traffic safety movement, which is promoting an effort to redesign city roads and highways in ways that will eliminate deadly collisions.
The roads that have already been redesigned seem to be making a difference, according to Cathy DeLuca, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group, Walk SF. In 2014, the city of San Francisco enacted Vision Zero as a policy. As a result, the number of deadly crashes in 2016 went down, according to preliminary data. DeLuca remarked that figures for 2017 look promising, with approximately 33% fewer deaths having occurred on roads so far this year.
Ginger Jui, spokeswoman for Bike East Bay, a nonprofit group advocating for cyclists, said that there are more cyclists than ever navigating the roads in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and this could be the reason for the increase in fatal crashes. However, she commented that the addition of protected bike lanes and adjustments to city streets designed to slow down speeding vehicles are definitely working to save lives.
She said, “Whenever you can reduce speeding, it benefits everyone on the road.”
The auto accident lawyers at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley are very experienced in this area of the law and highly respected in the legal community. We provide our legal expertise to people throughout Northern California from our offices in Sacramento, San Francisco and Contra Costa County. Please reach out to us if you or a family member has been in an auto accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of another. We will gladly offer you our legal advice and expertise.
Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP