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AAA study exposes pedestrian risks

Navigating a sea of vehicles when on foot presents challenges to pedestrians in even the most ideal of conditions such as in broad daylight, clearly marked crosswalks and slow vehicle speed limits.

Many new vehicles today come equipped with technology systems designed to detect other vehicles or pedestrians and to automatically bring a vehicle to a stop prior to colliding with those objects or people. Unfortunately, one AAA study found that these systems have a long way to go before they truly protect pedestrians.

Technology fails more than succeeds

The Verge reported on the results of the study that used both adult and child pedestrian dummies and vehicles on a closed test course. Vehicles operating at 20 miles per hour in the daytime featured pedestrian detection and automatic braking systems. The vehicles hit the adult pedestrian dummies in 60% of the test scenarios. Smaller child-sized dummies were hit by the vehicles in almost 90% of test scenarios.

Tests conducted in dark hours yielded even less success, resulting in AAA declaring the technology safety systems totally ineffective according to Consumer Reports. This is particularly troubling as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that three out of every four pedestrian deaths occur during dark hours.

Large vehicles pose big dangers

As pedestrian fatalities across the nation rise at alarming rates, experts look for reasons and ways to reverse the trend. The prevalence of large vehicles like sport utility vehicles may well contribute to the problem. When hit by tall vehicles, a pedestrian’s primary impact may occur in the head or vital organs in the torso instead of in the legs and hips.

Who is most likely to text while driving?

Many different factors cause car accidents, from speeding to drinking and driving. However, few other actions behind the wheel are more dangerous than texting. The National Safety Council reports that over 700 people experience injuries in auto accidents while texting, and knowing which groups of drivers are most likely to text and drive may help you avoid an accident or to review your own driving habits.

Young drivers 

Teens and young adults tend to depend on their cell phones a great deal more than their parents, as they use the devices not only to talk but to stream music and video, order food and post to different social media sites. This might lead to everyday texting and driving as they try to keep up with friends while they drive to work or school. Consider reminding your children to keep their phones in a purse or backpack until they reach their destination, as this could reduce the urge to use the device while behind the wheel.

Commercial drivers 

Truckers, delivery personnel and company drivers must often stay in touch with managers and customers alike when they are on the road, and this may cause them to text even if they know the dangers. Incidents of texting may occur mostly on highways when individuals are in a hurry to complete their orders or make a delivery. If you own a business, you may want to make your vehicles cell phone free or limit their use when company vehicles are in motion.

While hands-free devices are popular for drivers, they still may cause distractions and accidents. Putting your phone away before you drive is a wise choice when it comes to preventing accidents caused by texting and driving.

How does drowsy driving factor into crashes?

Residents of New Jersey understand that drowsy driving is not always safe. But do you understand how much of a risk it is? Do you know how many people one drowsy driver may put at risk?

Today we will take a closer look at drowsy driving. We will see how it factors into car crashes. We will examine the true impact of drowsy driving on the safety of all drivers on the road.

The risks of drowsy driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take a look at factors of drowsy driving. For example, drowsy driving is one of the most common types of distracted driving. Many people do not even know that it is a form of distraction. People drive without getting enough sleep often. It is a somewhat normalized thing in many societies.

But drowsy driving impacts a driver’s abilities. This is similar to texting and driving or drunk driving. Many drowsy drivers cannot spot danger in time to avoid it. They have dulled reactions and slow reaction times. Rear end crashes are common. This is because drowsy drivers do not notice the car ahead stopped or slowed down in time to avoid hitting them.

Falling asleep at the wheel

They may even fall asleep at the wheel. This is the ultimate risk because it means a driver is unconscious. They cannot react to anything while asleep. This leads to many devastating crashes.

In 2013 alone, an estimated 6,000 fatal crashes occurred because of drowsy driving. Statistics likely rise as the years go on. One of the best ways to combat dangerous driving behavior is to stigmatize it. If drivers create a stigma around drowsy driving, will it help? It may discourage this behavior and make the roads a bit more safe.

What are New Jersey’s auto insurance requirements?

As in other states, New Jersey drivers must prove financial responsibility for accidents that occur. If you have a collision, you can seek compensation for injuries and property damages from your car insurance policy or a responsible motorist’s policy.

Before moving to the Garden State or getting your license here, make sure you comply with the state’s minimum auto insurance requirements.

Basic auto insurance policy

The state offers a basic policy with the bare minimum car coverage at an affordable price. This policy includes:

  • $15,000 in personal injury protection per person per accident, with up to $250,000 in coverage for certain catastrophic injuries
  • $5,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident
  • The option to add $10,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • Optional comprehensive and collision coverage

The basic New Jersey auto insurance policy does not provide uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, which pays for damages when you have an accident with a person who has no car insurance.

Standard auto insurance policy

If you want protection beyond the basics, New Jersey also offers a standard tier of coverage. This type of policy includes:

  • $15,000 to $250,000 in personal injury protection per individual per accident, with up to $250,000 in coverage for certain catastrophic injuries
  • $5,000 to $100,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident
  • $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage, with available maximum of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident
  • Optional comprehensive and collision coverage
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage available up to the level of your liability coverage

If you have a New Jersey driver’s license and choose the basic auto insurance policy, you have a limited right to sue for damages in an accident. Individuals who have standard state auto coverage retain the right to sue for damages that exceed the responsible driver’s auto insurance policy.

Can you recover compensation for PTSD after a car accident in NJ?

A car accident can be an extremely traumatic event. In fact, because of the increased frequency of car accidents and the devastating injuries they can cause, car accidents are one of the leading causes of post-traumatic stress disorder. If your car accident was severe enough to trigger PTSD, you may wonder if you can recover compensation for the ways the behavioral disorder negatively impacts your life. According to FindLaw, the good news is, you can. 

When you file a personal injury claim, you may notice that damages fall into one of two categories: Special or general. Special damages refer to losses that are easy to value. Those include medical expenses, property damage and lost wages. General damages, on the other hand, are not so easy to translate into dollars. Damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and mental anguish fall into this category. 

Because the effects of PTSD are difficult to value, the judge would consider the condition and the symptoms as general damages. To ensure the judge understands the full implications of the condition on your everyday life, you may need an expert to testify on your behalf. The testimony should establish the following: 

  • Whether or not you have a confirmed PTSD diagnosis 
  • Whether the condition is the result of the car accident in question, or if you lived with it prior to the incident 
  • The prognosis of the condition, such as for how long a medical expert expects it to last, and how that would translate in dollar amounts 

One factor to consider when filing a claim for damages is the time it took you to obtain a diagnosis and request treatment. Because the condition is not fully understood, victims and their families often do not notice the warning signs until the symptoms have grown increasingly worse. This results in a delay in diagnosis and treatment, both of which may negatively impact a victim’s case. 

Motor vehicle accidents may involve pedestrians too

It is no secret that car accidents often result in serious injuries, but you might be familiar with only one side of this problem. While motor vehicle accidents certainly injure people in cars, bicyclists and pedestrians can suffer injuries too. Even areas designed to accommodate people on foot and bike are not as safe as you might thin. (more…)

Just how dangerous is eating while driving?

After having been involved in a car accident in Toms River, your first course of action (after seeing to your own well-being, that is) is likely to determine both who is at fault and why. The circumstances of your collision may make the first point easy to prove, but understanding the why can often be harder. No one typically wants to get into an accident; rather, it is simple distracting behaviors that usually lead to collisions. (more…)

Report ranks New Jersey’s driving laws

People who live in New Jersey should be able to trust that their state does as much as possible to keep its residents safe. This can include many things and parts of life, such as enacting laws to ensure that drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists are safe on area roads and highways. Every driver has the ability to make their own choices about how to operate a vehicle but the presence of laws and penalties for reckless or unsafe operation may help guide wise decisions.

A recent report by NJ1015.com provided some insights into the results of a study that took a look at the driving laws in each state across the nation. The study was conducted by the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration. There were some areas in which New Jersey ranked very well in terms of protecting its residents. Other laws were found to be somewhat lacking in strength.

On the low end, New Jersey is one of only four states in the country that does not mandate a certain number of supervised driving hours for new drivers. It was also found to have weaker seat belt laws than many states with the requirement for seat belts being a primary law only for people in the front seat.

On the high end, the Garden State was found to have the strongest distracted driving laws. It also ranked well for its laws governing the use of helmets for bicyclists and for its speed limits. Overall, New Jersey came in tenth for the strictest driving laws in the U.S.

 

Motorcycle fatalities in New Jersey

If you or a member of your family loves to ride on a motorcycle, it is important that you remain aware of the unique risks associated with riding on two wheels. While a motorcycle offers an unparalleled experience and a great ability to enjoy the lovely New Jersey outdoors, it does not come without some potential dangers. The inherent lack of protection around a biker makes every accident potentially devastating. Opening car doors, car blind spots, poorly maintained roadways and more are just some of the things riders have to contend with.

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the number of motorcyclist fatalities across the state has increased from 2013 to 2017. In 2013, there were 56 recorded biker deaths. That increased to 62 the next year. Fortunately, 2015 saw a dip down to 50 deaths but that was tragically followed by two significant increases. First, in 2016, New Jersey lost 71 motorcyclists on its roads and highways. Then, in 2017, biker fatalities in the Garden State totaled 83.

During that five-year period spanning 2013 to 2017, Ocean County and its three neighboring counties recorded a collective 78 motorcyclists in various accidents. Monmouth County led the deaths with 22 followed closely by Ocean County where another 20 bikers perished. In both Burlington County and Atlantic County, 18 motorcyclists died over that span of time.  

If you would like to learn more about the steps involved in seeking compensation after you or someone in your family has been involved in a motorcycle accident, please feel free to visit the motorcyclists’ rights and assistance page of our New Jersey personal injury website.

Massive devastation follows Medford accident

No one in Toms River ever anticipates being involved in a car accident, yet given the number of vehicles on the road, the possibility is ever present. If and when an accident does occur, most might hope for a minor “fender-bender” that causes minimal damages to a vehicle and no serious injuries. Sadly, people cannot pick and choose what the results of the auto accidents they are involved in will be. Often, the damage (both to oneself and their vehicle) is catastrophic, leaving them to have to deal with enormous financial costs. 

Such may be the result of a collision between a dump truck and an SUV in Medford. The exact circumstances of the accident were not reported (nor was who might have been at fault), yet witnesses say that the resulting damage to both vehicles was extensive. Following the collision, the dump truck caught fire (yet fire officials were able to quickly contain the blaze). One of the SUV’s occupants had to be extracted by rescue personnel and taken to a local hospital by ambulance. Yet despite the devastation that the accident caused, no one else was reported to be seriously injured. 

Medical bills and other injury costs often make up the bulk of one’s accident expenses. Yet vehicle repair (or replacement) costs can also be just as high. Most will rely on insurance coverage to help handle such expenses, yet oftentimes the maximum amount offered through an insurance settlement is not enough. In such cases, those involved may be forced to commence legal action against the drivers responsible for their accidents. Such action may have a better chance of success if it is supported by an experienced attorney. 

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