Tag: distracted driving

Distracted driving can hurt your company bottom line

looking into rear view mirrorThe National Safety Council today released the white paper “Employer Liability and the Case for Comprehensive Cell Phone Policies,” which details the potential liability employers face when employees are involved in crashes where cell phone use is a factor.

The research includes examples of employers who have been held liable with awards reaching into the tens of millions of dollars, including cases involving employee-owned cell phones and cars and in situations where employees were driving during non-working hours or engaged in personal phone calls.

“Business leaders owe it to their employees to put safety first – especially when employees are on the roads,” said Janet Froetscher, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimate on-the-job crashes cost employers more than $24,500 per property damage crash. The cost rises to $150,000 per injury and to as much as $3.6 million per fatality.

NSC president and CEO: “Employers should know a policy that prohibits handheld and hands-free cell phone use by all employees while driving is not only a best safety practice but also contributes to the bottom line.”

Even though April has been Distracted Drivers Awareness Month, distracted driving is still an everyday occurrence.  The news has reported that thousands of tickets have been issued to distracted drivers this month. You not only need to be aware of your driving, you need to be aware of the distracted drivers on the road with you.

Although distracted driving accidents may cost millions of dollars, the ultimate high price is the loss of loved ones. Drive alert, drive safe.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

When Rental Car Companies Add To The Carnage

  1. Car Rental is a Big Business with Big Responsibilities.

Automobile companies don’t just sell and lease cars, they also distribute them through rental chains. Each of the major U.S. auto manufacturers has its special outlet. Hertz is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Avis rents primarily General Motors vehicles. Thrifty trades almost exclusively in vehicles from DaimlerChrysler Corporation.

In an automobile product liability action, rental companies are often treated as if — absent some evidence of negligent entrustment — their liability is limited to $15,000 under the permissive user statute. That is a shortsighted view.

The Legislature recognized the critical role auto rental companies play in keeping defective vehicles out of the stream of commerce by imposing special duties of care on the industry. While car rental entities are generally not considered liable for strict products liability, they are subject to claims for direct negligence where they know, or reasonably should know that a vehicle is unsafe, either through design, manufacture or maintenance. As consumer attorneys, it is important to understand the ins and outs of these independent duties.

  1. Rental Cars must be Safe and Sound.

Vehicle Code § 24010 sets forth the standard in clear, concise terms:

(a) No person engaged in the rental of any vehicle, for periods of 30 days or less, shall rent, lease or otherwise allow the operation of such vehicle unless all the following requirements are met:

(3) The vehicle is mechanically sound and safe to operate within the meaning of Section 24002. Section 24002 of the Vehicle Code says: (a) It is unlawful to operate any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in an unsafe condition, or which is not safely loaded, and which presents an immediate safety hazard.

Though it has never been construed by an appellate panel in a published decision, Section 24010 is plain on its face. The obvious intent is that any car rental agency whose business is short term rentals has an independent duty to ensure that those vehicles are not only in good repair, but are safe to drive as well.

Instances where an accident involving a rental vehicle occurs because of a maintenance problem present relatively simple cases, since vehicle owners have a general, non-delegable duty to adequately maintain their vehicles. See, Maloney v. Rath (1968) 69 Cal.2d 442, 448, 71 Cal.Rptr. 897 (motorist’s duty to maintain automobile brakes in compliance with provisions of Vehicle Code was non-delegable).

Where the analysis becomes more complex is where the rental company has not independently contributed to the unsafe nature of vehicle by an affirmative relating to maintenance, yet still places that vehicle into the stream of commerce resulting in injury.

Given the duty imposed by Vehicle Code section 24010, consumer attorneys analyzing rental car company liability in a product setting need to consider the nature of the offending defect and whether the rental company reasonably knew or should have known about it. The BAJI 3.11 standard is useful in conducting this analysis, since the relevant inquiry is whether a rental car company of ordinary prudence “in the same situation and possessed of the same knowledge [] would have foreseen or anticipated that someone might have been injured by or as a result of [its] action or inaction.” Where the evidence shows that a rental car company knew or reasonably should have known of a defect that caused injury, direct negligence should be alleged under section 24010.

It is important to recognize that a failure to meet the section 24010 standard that causes a consumer to be injured by a defective vehicle is negligence per se, since “[t]he failure of a person to exercise due care is presumed if . . . [they] violated a statute, ordinance, or regulation of a public entity [and] the violation proximately caused death or injury to person or property.” (Evid. Code § 669(a)(1,2).) The presumption is rebuttable, affecting the burden of proof. (Id. at § 669(b); see also, BAJI 3.45.)

In other words, section 24010 creates an effective equivalent to strict products liability for a rental car company even though that entity will argue it is outside of the stream of commerce and so not liable under conventional product liability theories.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

It can’t be said enough – pledge to drive distraction free

Distracted driving is the cause of thousands of preventable injuries each year and has cost many families the life of a loved one. You can start solving the problem by pledging to change your own behavior and drive distraction-free from now on and then sharing this pledge with friends and family.

Tips from the AAA Foundation for Road Safety to help you to be a more alert (and alive) driver:

PLAN AHEAD.

Set your GPS, read maps and check traffic conditions before you get on the road. Plan your route and a potential alternative. If you need to set your GPS with a new route – pull over to the side of the road.

REMOVE THE TEMPTATION.

Turn off your phone before you drive so you won’t be tempted to use it while on the road.Put your phone away in a purse or briefcase.  If you must text or all, pull over to a safe place to do so.

A majority of drivers – 94% – agree that texting or emailing while driving is unacceptable and 87% support laws against reading, typing or sending text messages or emails while driving, according to the AAA Foundation’s 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index, yet more than one-third of drivers reported texting or emailing while driving in the previous month. This “do as I say, not as I do” attitude is one of the greatest obstacles preventing us from improving safety on our roads.

PREPARE YOUR FAMILY FOR THE TRIP

Get the kids safely buckled in and situated with snacks and entertainment before you start driving. If they need additional attention during the trip, pull off the road safely to care for them. Similarly, prepare and secure pets appropriately in your vehicle before getting underway. Your car isn’t a dressing room. Brush your hair, shave, put on make-up, and tie your necktie before you leave or once you reach your destination.

SATISFY THAT CRAVING OFF THE ROAD.

Eat meals and snacks before getting behind the wheel, or stop to eat and take a break if driving long-distance.

STORE YOUR POSSESSIONS.

Something loose and rolling around in the car can take your attention away from driving. Attemtping to grab something that is moving around can certainly make your driving risky.

MAKE SURE YOUR VEHICLE IS ROAD-READY.

Adjust seat positions, climate controls, sound systems and other devices before you leave or ONLY while your vehicle is stopped. Make sure your headlights are spotless so you can see everything on the road and every other driver can see you better. Keep your windshield clean and remove dangling objects that could block your view or distract you.

GET YOUR BRAIN IN THE GAME.

Focus on the task at hand – driving safely. Scan the road, use mirrors and practice identifying orally what you just saw to enhance your engagement as a driver. Keeping your head ‘in the game’ behind the wheel will help you improve your overall awareness and behavior as a driver. AAA offers classroom and online defensive driving courses that directly address distracted driving and offer tips for for avoiding these behaviors.

EVALUATE YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR FROM THE ‘OTHER’ SIDE OF THE ROAD.

When you’re on the road as a passenger or a pedestrian, take a look around and honestly evaluate whether you engage in poor driving behaviors that worry you when observed in other passengers or pedestrians.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

A whopping 60,800 tickets were issued to distracted California drivers in April

Between the California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies throughout the state, 57,000 tickets were issued during Distracted Driving Awareness month, for driving while using a handheld cell phone or texting, and another 3,800 for additional distracted driving violations which could include eating, grooming, programming a GPS, and other functions.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing that the problem of cell phone use for talking and texting while driving is not going away anytime soon,” said California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) Director Christopher J. Murphy. “There are those who understand the dangers and have curtailed their use, while others think the hazards apply to everyone else but them.”

The ability to safely multi-task while driving is myth. While many people know texting while driving increases crash risk, the lack of understanding about the risks of phone conversation, even hands-free, while driving remains a challenge.  Talking on hands-free or handheld cell phones requires the brain to multitask – a process it cannot do safely while driving.

To explain the limitations of the human brain when multitasking the National Safety Council (NSC) released a white paper, “Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why driving while using hands-free devices is risky behavior.

It only takes a second to swerve a few feet.

Swerving out of your lane to the left could put you in line of another vehicle coming in the opposite direction. Swerving to the right could cause you to hit a pedestrian or another car slowing down to turn right. Big trucks do not have the ability to stop or swerve to miss a car that unexpectedly swerves into their lane.

Looking away for only a second, you could miss seeing the motorcycle in front of you or one that is splitting lanes next to you.

Looking away for only a second is all it takes to potentially cause serious injuries to yourself or another person – or worse – even death. One teenage driver currently under arrest said the distraction of a hand-held cell phone caused her to fatally hit a 44-year-old jogger.

April was Distracted Driving Awareness Month and May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. The consistent message here is to be aware of the distractions that take your mind and eye off the road, even for that nano second.

Common sense tips to protecting yourself from distracted driving:

> Put your cell phone out of reach when you get in the car so you won’t be tempted to use it.

> Mention on your outgoing voicemail message that you won’t answer when you are driving.

> Don’t call or text anyone when there is a good chance that they may be driving.

> When you must call or text, pull into a parking space.

> Never eat, groom, program a GPS, check Facebook, run an app, read or otherwise allow your full attention to leave the task of safely driving.

Share the road. Drive safe.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.
 

Don’t be fooled. Distracted Driving Isn’t All About Teen Drivers

During this Distracted Driving Awareness month a great deal of attention is being placed on teen drivers and texting, however adults pose even a greater risk.

The Pew Research Center conducted a study which found that one in four (27%) American adults say they have texted while driving, the same proportion as the number of driving age teens (26%) who say they have texted while driving.

Fully 61% of adults say they have talked on their cell phones while they were behind the wheel. That is considerably greater than the number of 16- and 17-year-olds (43%) who have talked on their cells while driving.

In addition, 49% of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver was sending or reading text messages on their cell phone. Overall, 44% of adults say they have been passengers of drivers who used the cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.

Beyond driving, one in six (17%) cell-toting adults say they have been so distracted while talking or texting that they have physically bumped into another person or an object.

A nationwide survey commissioned by State Farm of 517 sets of teen drivers and their parents found that 61% of teens reported their parents were distracted by their cell phone or other electronic device at least once while teaching them to drive. 17 percent of the parents said they were distracted while teaching “sometimes, often or all the time.”

Adults should set the example. Those of us with kids owe it to ourselves and to our children to help them make the right decisions — and that help starts with leading by example.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month is for everyone. Drive Alert, Drive Safe, Stay Alive.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

Put down that cell phone! A life is far more important!

April has been declared Distracted Driving Awareness Month nationwide. The effort is designed to educate drivers of the hazards of not concentrating on driving. Ordinarily a few seconds may not seem like a long time. If you’re behind the steering wheel of a moving vehicle, however, just a few seconds can change your life. Cell phones, texting, eating, changing CD’s – all such distractions can be fatal in the blink of an eye.

An estimated 1.8 million crashes are caused each year by alleged distracted drivers, according to the National Safety Council. The AAA Foundation notes that cell phone users quadruple the chance of a crash.

Despite these dangers, countless drivers engage in potentially distracting secondary tasks 30% of the time their vehicles are in motion, according to the AAA Foundation report. This law is about protecting the public. During National Distracted Driver Month, law enforcement agencies across the state will be on the lookout for those drivers who seem to believe they’re above the law by violating the hands-free law, eating or applying makeup while not focusing on the road. A distracted driving violation is going to cost you a minimum of $160 and the maximum ranges from serious personal injuries to the loss of lives.

Using a cell phone in the car is a habit. Saving your life and the lives of others can start with making new, safer habits.

1.) Turn your phone off or just put it out of reach.

2.) Stop using the phone when you get in the car. If it rings, let it ring. It’s not a matter of life or death to answer the phone, but it may be a matter of life or death if you do. Let your caller go to voice mail and leave a message and you can call them back when you are no longer on the road.

3.) If you believe the call is really critical – a.) let it go to voice mail b.) find the nearest place to pull over safely and c.) listen to your message, and d.) call back if necessary.

Using your cell phone and texting at stop signs and red lights is just as dangerous and illegal as when you are moving.

4.) Recognize behaviors that are dangerous and make the necessary changes.

A life is far more important than a cell phone call or a text message.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

32 seconds

Because texting is the No. 1 distracted-driving behavior, a great deal of focus is being placed on it during Distracted Driver Awareness Month.

However, texting, as deadly as it can be, is not the only driving distraction.

Last night I saw a car commercial on TV featuring two different drivers.  In this 32-second commercial, both drivers were shown

1.- tapping their fingers on the steering wheel to the music,

2.- adjusting their tie,

3.- drinking coffee, and

4.- checking their hair in the rear view mirror.

Each of these behaviors constitutes distracted driving.

According to the DMV, there are three types of distractions. They are anything that takes your:

  • eyes off the road (visual).
  • mind off the road (cognitive).
  • hands off the steering wheel (manual).
  1.  Thinking about the song, keeping time to the music by tapping on your steering wheel or seat dancing is taking your mind off the road.
  2.  Adjusting your clothing is taking both your mind and hand off the road.

3.   A driver drinking coffee or soft drinks is taking their eyes off the road because they are momentarily blinded by the lid and cup; and it could become eyes, mind and hands if they spill their beverage in their lap.

  1. Using the rear view mirror while driving not only takes your eyes off of the road in front of you it, blocks your vision from what might be approaching from behind you.

In this age of multi-tasking, it is common to do more than one task at the same time and too many people think that includes driving their car.

A split second can change your life. Car accident victims suffer life changing serious injuries,  including death.

Don’t be like the drivers in the commercial. Choose to drive safe and stay alive.

***

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

One text could be your last. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

National Safety Council estimates that at least 1.6 million crashes each year involve drivers using cell phones and texting.

Distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Alcohol-related accidents among teens have dropped, but teenage traffic fatalities have remained unchanged because distracted driving is on the rise. ( Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/State Farm Insurance Study and NHTSA Study)

In California, all drivers are banned from texting while driving, however, accident research still indicates that drivers are ignoring this law assuming they can “multi-task.”  Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. (VTTI).

Injuries in auto accidents can vary from small scratches, to life long life-changing injuries (i.e.: head injuries, spinal cord injuries, loss of libs, etc.) to loss of your life or the life of someone you love. I posted how it how it cost one young lady her life. This teen proved in the last minutes of her life she knew right from wrong — but still committed a fatal mistake. She wrote in her final missive, “I can’t discuss this now. Driving and facebooking is not safe! Haha.”

A text message can wait, your life cannot.

Be aware. Drive safe.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

The Memorial Day weekend – the most dangerous three days to be driving

California is blessed with great weather and many places to enjoy it.  Three days off work jammed roads and driving distracted can be a deadly combination this weekend.

Memorial Day Weekend brings increased traffic and a sad history of a high number of highway tragedies and the needless loss of life.

“When everything comes together just right like on Memorial Day weekend, we hit the road and unfortunately some of us hit each other,” reports Chris Cochran of the state Office of Traffic Safety.

Law enforcement throughout California will be looking for drivers and passengers who don’t buckle up during the “Click-it or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign. They will be on the lookout for drivers and passengers – including passengers in the back seat, day and night.

So when you load up the family in the car this weekend please do so safely.

Buckle up

Eliminate those distractions you can control. (cell phone, texting, eating, grooming, etc.)

Share the road. Watch out for other drivers, riders and pedestrians on the road.

Don’t put your own life at risk, or the life of your family or friends. One needless car wreck can wreck it all.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.