Welcome to the Blog of The Glassman Law Firm, P.C., St. Louis Personal Injury Attorneys

We blog about relevant issues in personal injury law, discuss the misconceptions surrounding personal injury law and some of the most popular cases in the news, inform on the legal and political landscape of tort reform and insurance company lobbying, and provide readers with helpful personal injury information and resources. Please visit www.glassmanlegal.com for more information.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Voice-To-Text Methods Are Equally As Dangerous As Manually Texting While Driving

Despite being marketed as a safer alternative, new studies are proving that voice-to-text methods are equally as dangerous as manually texting while driving. It has been maintained that hands-free devices are safer because they allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. This is untrue.

A distraction is considered anything that takes a driver away from the task of safely operating a vehicle. There are three types of distractions a driver can encounter while on the road: visual, manual, and cognitive; anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off the task at hand.

Voice-to-text produces a byproduct referred to as "tunnel vision" or "inattention blindness." It's as if the driver only looks straight ahead, or the driver goes through the motions of scanning the roadway, but does not actually see what they're looking at. "Police accident investigative reports are filled with comments like the driver ‘looked, but did not see.' That's what drivers tell them. We used to think they were lying, but now we know that's actually true," said Peter Kissinger, CEO and president of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

In AAA's study, brain waves and reaction times of drivers on roads and simulators were measured to compare levels of distraction. Listening to the radio registers as a minimal distraction, between 1.3 and 1.7 on a five-point scale. Using a cellphone or talking to a passenger registered as 2.3 to 2.5. Voice-to-text devices, such as a smart phone or GPS system, registered as a high distraction level of 3.1. Delay in reaction time while driving went from 15% while using a cell phone to 25% while using voice-to-text devices. It is estimated that by 2014, all new vehicles will come equipped with voice command capabilities.

Contact the St. Louis Personal Injury Attorneys of The Glassman Law Firm at 314-446-6000 if you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a distracted driver.

Monday, July 1, 2013

What Are The Dangers Of An Overloaded 15-Passenger Van?

On May 20, a 15-passenger van carrying church members veered off of an Illinois freeway and overturned, resulting in five fatalities and six people injured. Of the 11 people in the van, nine were ejected.

15-passenger vans have become a popular mode of transportation for church groups, sports teams, and summer activity organizers, however, the history regarding these vehicles has long been a dangerous one as Federal regulators have previously warned of its rollover danger. In crash data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2003 to 2007, a 15-passenger van with 10 or more occupants carries a rollover rate three times higher than a 15-passenger van carrying less than five people. In 2007, 15-passenger vans that rolled over had 73% more fatalities than the previous year, occupant fatalities in all 15-passenger van accidents increased a total of 20% from 2006.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) sites a 2004 study by the NHTSA where the odds of a rollover accident for a 15-passenger van increased more than 400% when the van was fully loaded compared to a driver traveling alone. The IIHS acknowledges other factors that influence the safety of these passenger vehicles such as the vehicle's tire pressure, the vehicle's high center of gravity, the number of passengers, the amount of cargo, the use of seat belts, and the use of alcohol.

According to the NHTSA, if you are planning to take a trip in a 15-passenger van this spring, here is a helpful list of safety tips to ensure the trip is a safe one:
  • Never overload the vehicle. Agency research shows overloading not only increases rollover risk but makes the vehicle more unstable in any handling maneuvers.
  • Make sure the vehicle is regularly maintained, and that drivers are properly licensed and experienced in operating a 15-passenger van.
  • Have suspension and steering components inspected according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule and replace or repair these parts as necessary.
  • Ensure that vehicles are equipped with properly sized and load-rated tires.
  • Check the tires for proper inflation and signs of wear or damage. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner's manual and on the door pillar.
Contact the St. Louis Personal Injury Attorneys of The Glassman Law Firm at 314-446-6000 if you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of an accident in a 15-passenger vehicle.