Cars have become an inextricable part of our daily lives, especially here in America. We use them for nearly everything, from carting the children to and from school to picking up the groceries and doing our daily commute. They are such an essential part of our routine, in fact that we tend to forget what a dangerous endeavor we are undertaking when we get behind the wheel. However, the fact remains: unless you’re a professional skydiver, driving a car is probably the most dangerous thing you do every day.
It’s no profound statement to say that the invention of the car changed this country in countless ways. Automobiles allowed us to spread out to the suburbs. They gave us a sense of freedom that plays into our American heritage. They also allowed us to move things with relative ease. Because of this, we rely on them perhaps more than any other country in the world, taking 233 billion trips per year in our vehicles.
But with the good comes the bad. A shocking one in 2,000 of these excursions are undertaken by a drunk driver. Even more appalling is the fact that an intoxicated driver is responsible for one in every three traffic fatalities.
Riding a motorcycle is an awesome experience. You’re out in the open air, enjoying the scenery from a perspective that a car just can’t offer. But the things that make motorcycles so enjoyable are the same things that make them so dangerous. You’re completely exposed to the elements, and, even with protective gear like helmets, a meeting with the unforgiving pavement often spells disaster for the rider. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to the inattentiveness or unawareness of passenger cars, whose drivers often show an unwillingness to share the road.
A tragic motorcycle accident in late June in Texas put an exclamation point on this fact. A motorcyclist was headed north on a road in McKinney and proceeded through an intersection, as was his right. That’s when a Chevy Tahoe failed to yield to the motorcycle and entered the intersection, plowing into the bike. The driver of the motorcycle was killed instantly. The driver of the Tahoe was not injured in the crash.
Usually, when we talk about accidents, it’s about drunk driving or negligence on the part of one of the drivers. But there are other factors that cause car accidents that are less obvious, but just as dangerous. City planners, in an effort to stay within a budget or save money, often cut corners or simply overlook dangerous conditions at intersections around Texas.
When that happens, the consequences can be devastating. One such intersection exists in East Texas and it has been the site of dozens of tragic accidents over the years. Local residents have known about the problem for a many years. They say that the intersection’s blind spots and fast traffic make the potential for wrecks extremely high and have lobbied Upshur County in an effort to make administrators take action.
Sometimes in Texas, you come across traffic incidents that just make you scratch your head. More often than not, they involve intoxicated drivers doing foolish and dangerous things that no reasonable person would ever do. The resulting drunk driving accidents are often tragic and sometimes involve innocent victims.
A Texas woman is facing charges of driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of 15, intoxication assault with a vehicle and injury to a child. The charges stem from an incident in mid-June in Crowley in which the woman allegedly had six children, some of them her own, ride on the outside of a car while she drove it. They were coming from a pool, the kids were still wearing wet swimsuits, and the woman purportedly didn’t want them to damage the upholstery of the Chevy Malibu she was driving.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve probably seen the headlines that comedian and actor Tracy Morgan was involved in a severe accident. According to reports, the driver of a semi truck didn’t see that traffic ahead of him had slowed. When he noticed, it was too late. He swerved, but still ended up rear ending Morgan’s limo, which ultimately landed on its side.
The fallout from the truck accident has been devastating. One of the passengers in the limo died and the others were injured, including the comedian, who was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. The driver of the 18-wheeler has been charged with four instances of assault by auto as well as one count of death by auto.
There's a common misconception out there about car accidents and lawsuits. Many whose loved ones died in a motor vehicle accident here in Texas may think that the only winnable cases are ones involving drunk driving or other impairing substances. Because of this, they sit on the sidelines and suffer alone, footing the bill for medical costs, funeral expenses and the loss of wages that can accompany the death of a family member.
There are plenty of cases, though, where another driver's negligence has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol. With the advent of smartphones, drivers' noses are often facing downward, reading that text that just popped in or responding to an email. Also, drivers sometimes operate a vehicle while drowsy and either fall asleep at the wheel or crash because their senses were dulled.
In this beautiful summer weather, motorcyclists are out en masse enjoying the roads, but it only takes one second to turn an enjoyable excursion into a catastrophic tragedy. So, this year, the Texas Department of Transportation is putting a special emphasis on bringing motorcycle accidents down to a minimum. Through a new campaign, they are urging motorists to take a few extra steps to make the highways a safer place for everyone.
As most motorcyclists who have spent any time driving know, the road can be a dangerous place. Cars and trucks are a constant threat as drivers could be distracted by their phones, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or just plain oblivious to bikers. Sadly, the statistics reinforce this feeling. 2013 saw 487 motorcycle fatalities, compared to the 459 who were killed in 2012. In 2014, 118 motorcyclists have died on the road already. San Antonio is the deadliest city for bikers, with Houston coming in at a close second.
When someone causes a crash that takes a person’s life, there are two ways to seek justice; the criminal courts and the civil courts. Criminal courts determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant and sentence him or her to fines, probation or jail time. What it doesn’t do is offer any compensation to the loved ones of the victim.
That’s where the civil courts come in. In the case of a fatal accident, the family can file a wrongful death lawsuit and try to recover medical expenses or secure punitive damages. The two courts are not dependent on one another. Just because a criminal case fails — or there were no criminal charges — doesn’t mean a civil case can’t go forward.
It’s a sad fact that people die needlessly. It’s also a sad fact that drunk driving accidents take lives indiscriminately—there’s no accounting for age, sex or social status. By the same token, drunk drivers come in all forms—young, old, rich or poor, getting behind the wheel while intoxicated seems to have no social boundaries.
Responding to a call from another Texas driver, the Howe Police Department caught up with the suspected drunk driver on Interstate 75 and observed that the man was, in their estimation, driving erratically. While conducting the field sobriety check, police said the man, a state senator from Oklahoma, was unable to keep his balance and failed the tests.