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Harris County Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

Cognitive distraction: The safety of hands-free cellphones

Although many state laws prohibit drivers from talking or texting on hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel, a number of people continue to engage in this dangerous practice. Cellphone distraction has become hazardous, as drivers compose emails, take selfies, post on social media sites and even FaceTime while navigating the busy roadways.

In one incident, a driver using FaceTime failed to notice stopped traffic ahead and rear-ended a stopped car while traveling at 65 mph in Texas. As a result of the tragic accident, a five-year-old was killed. The mother, father and other sibling riding in the car received injuries. The family’s attorney has filed a lawsuit against Apple for failure to implement a feature on the iPhone 6 Plus that would have potentially prevented the accident from occurring.

Fatigue and driving a big rig do not mix

Like many other Houston drivers, looking out your window or rear view mirror and seeing an 18-wheeler makes you a bit nervous. These mammoth vehicles intimidate many people in small vehicles, and if they knew that the driver failed to get the proper rest before getting behind the wheel, that nervousness would turn to fear. 

Texas drunk driving laws: How do they measure up?

As a Texas motorist, you put your life on the line every day when venturing out on the state’s roadways. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Texas drivers are exposed to more drunk driving fatalities than any other state in the nation. In 2015, approximately 290,000 people were injured and 10,265 people lost their lives in drunk driving accidents across the nation. The Texas Department of Transportation reported that in 2015, at least 6,149 people were potentially injured and 960 people were killed in accidents involving drunk drivers. With this high injury and death rate, you may be left wondering what state officials are doing to remedy this serious problem.

Research shows that placing ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of convicted DUI offenders may help to reduce the number of deaths associated with drunk drivers. Currently, Texas only requires repeat DUI offenders to use these life-saving devices. Statistics from states who require all convicted DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices, such as Kansas, Arizona, Louisiana and West Virginia, show that these machines have the potential to significantly decrease the number of DUI accidents, injuries and deaths. DUI offenders are also less likely to commit another drunk driving offense once the ignition interlock devices are removed from their vehicles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gregory A Martin Receives Premier 100 Designation from National Academy of Jurisprudence

The National Academy of Jurisprudence (NAJ) has recently recognized Gregory A Martin as one of 100 premier trial attorneys in the state of Texas. This is a distinction reserved for attorneys who have established themselves through their professionalism and excellence in service.

Aggressive drivers can cause fatal accidents

Many drivers can identify with a situation where they are stuck in traffic for a prolonged period of time or in a rush to get to their destination and they begin to experience feelings of aggression. According to a AAA study, approximately 80 percent of drivers agree that they have suffered serious anger and rage while driving amongst other motorists. While some degree of anxiety is normal, too much stress and anger can lead to road rage, which can be a significant risk to other drivers on the road. Interestingly enough, men are reported to be three times more likely to experience road rage than women.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, at least 15 states have legislation addressing aggressive driving behaviors. The Texas Department of Transportation reports that drivers who are found acting in an aggressive manner may be fined up to $200 for each violation and in some cases, could spend time in jail.

Identifying the signs of a drunk driver

Drunk drivers take the lives of many innocent people in Texas and across the United States every year. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there are more drunk driving fatalities in Texas than in any other state in the nation. In 2015, 290,000 people were injured and 10,265 people were killed in drunk driving accidents. At The Martin Law Firm, we understand that drunk drivers endanger the safety and the lives of everyone on the road. By being able to spot the signs of an intoxicated motorist, you may be able to save your life, or the life of someone else.

If and when you see other motorists engaging in reckless driving behavior, you should call law enforcement as soon as possible. The signs of a drunk driver include, but are not limited to the following:

  •          Drifting in and out of lanes without signaling or giving any prior warning.
  •          Riding on the tails of other vehicles.
  •          Quickly accelerating and then decelerating.
  •          Swerving between cars.
  •          Driving at speeds that are less than 10 miles below the speed limit.
  •          Driving between two lanes of traffic.

How is aggression linked to increased incidents of car accidents?

Whether you have been stuck in traffic or in a hurry to get to your destination, you may have felt a sense of rage when navigating the road alongside other drivers. Surprisingly, aggressive driving is somewhat common in Texas and throughout the U.S. AAA reported that eight out of 10 motorists admitted to having experienced road rage at some point in time. Furthermore, men are more likely than women to engage in these aggressive behaviors. Although you may have engaged in this type of driving behavior, it is important to keep in mind that aggressive driving can be extremely dangerous.

In order to avoid becoming the target of an aggressive driver, it is important to be able to identify the signs of an aggressive driver. These driving behaviors may include, but are not limited to the following:

  •          Driving at excessive speeds.
  •          Swerving between lanes and vehicles.
  •          Tailgating, or driving extremely close to the car in front.
  •          Consistent honking, yelling and hand gestures.
  •          Blocking drivers and cutting them off.
  •          Running red lights and stop signs.

Texas motorcycle accidents are increasing in frequency

There may be no greater state in America for riding a motorcycle than Texas. Stunning vistas, exciting destinations and long, open highways make the state a fantastic place to ride.

Small wonder, then, that the number of motorcycles registered in Texas more than doubled between 2000 and 2014 to 445,395. And Harris County ranks in the top 10 counties in the state for motorcycle registration.

Measuring the safety of voice-activated technology

During a cognitive distraction study published by AAA, researchers discovered that drivers who used a hands-free cellphone while behind the wheel experienced a significant amount of cognitive distraction. The study had drivers engage in several tasks while operating a vehicle in order to test the amount of distraction that was produced. The results of the study also showed that when participants were asked to use a voice-activated device, they had the greatest amount of cognitive distraction. This information prompted researchers to set up a follow-up study to look at exactly how distracting this technology can be.

Participants were asked to perform certain tasks using voice-activated technology that had a human voice, as well as a device that had a computerized voice. In addition to issuing basic commands, drivers were asked to listen to email and text messages and compose a response to those messages. They were also asked to use the technology to schedule events on a calendar and update their social media status. Participants performed these tasks on technology that had perfect reliability, moderate reliability and low reliability.

Elderly motorists pose a risk to Texas drivers

When people think about potential hazards that affect drivers on the road, elderly drivers in Texas may not be the first issue that comes to mind. However, as the generation of baby boomers ages, the dangers of elderly driving becomes a serious problem that may need to be given further attention. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that 33 states in the nation have specific legislation focused on elderly drivers. Older drivers in Texas can renew their driver’s licenses every six years until they reach the age of 85-years-old. At that time they must renew every two years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are several factors that may affect drivers as they age. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  •          Decreased ability to remember certain rules of the road or how to perform certain tasks.
  •          Slowed responses to hazards, such as bad weather conditions, objects in the road, pedestrians or other drivers’ behavior.
  •          Loss of motor control.

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