Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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The Wolf Administration, PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Association of Pennsylvania Constructors gathered this week in Harrisburg to kick off Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.

PennDOT data shows that 16 people were killed in work-zone crashes in 2016 which is down from 23 in 2015. However, there was an increase in work zone crashes this past year (2,075 in 2016 up from 1,935 in 2015). Over the last five years, work zone crashes have been occurring at an average of 1,872 a year. Those work zone crashes have also been responsible for around 20 fatalities a year.  This data includes both PennDot workers and non-workers.   When looking at just PennDot worker deaths alone, 87 PennDOT employees have died in the line of duty since 1970.

“Work zone safety continues to be a top priority of the department,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We all hope to help change driver behavior and raise awareness so all of us, highway workers and motorists alike, get home safely every day.”

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Did you know that if your work requires you to drive, or if you are driving for any reason to benefit your employer and you are injured in a car accident you can file a workers’ compensation claim? Most people assume they would just use their car insurance to pay their medical bills and damages, but the injury could be covered by workers’ compensation.

 

Generally you can’t file a workers’ compensation claim if you were involved in a wreck on the way to work or on the way home from work. However there are exceptions to this rule. For instance if you had to stop to pick up a package for work on your way in that day, and you were then involved in an accident, you may be able to file a claim. A good workers’ compensation lawyer could tell you if you have a claim or not in these situations.

 

If another person was at fault for the accident you could file a civil claim against them in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. If a situation like this has happened to you, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can handle both workers’ compensation claims and car accident claims, such as the attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael J. O’Connor & Associates.

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90186107_01d6d25272.jpgAs old man winter makes his chilly home here in the northeast bringing snow and freezing temperatures, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reminds motorists and especially tractor trailer drivers of a winter-related state law. In 2006 the Pennsylvania Snow/Ice Removal Law went into effect, which states that motorists will face severe fines if snow or ice that falls from their vehicle causes injury or death to other motorists or pedestrians. PennDOT urges motorists to remove all ice and snow from their vehicles before traveling. Taking a few minutes to clear your vehicle of snow and ice before hitting the road can save you money and could save someone’s life.

It’s important for tractor trailer drivers to clear the tops of their rigs not only to prevent any snow or ice from dislodging and striking other vehicles, but also to prevent delays when traveling through Pennsylvania tunnels. Sensors are in place on the approaches to tunnels to detect overheight trucks, including those with snow or ice build-up, and flash a warning to them. If a sensor is triggered, red signals are activated to prevent trucks that are too tall from getting stuck. The trucks must then turn around, which can take several minutes and can cause traffic backups.

In addition, snow-covered trucks that trigger the alarm but still continue through the tunnels can cause ice and snow to be pushed from the trucks onto other vehicles and the roadway causing hazardous driving conditions.

PennDOT offers a few tips for winter driving:

1. Motorists should always check the weather forecast before traveling. Road conditions for interstates and some limited-access highways is available by calling 511 while stopped in a safe location, or by visiting www.511pa.com.

2. Motorists who must travel should allow plenty of space when driving near plow trucks and, for safety reasons, never attempt to pass a truck while it is plowing or spreading winter materials.

3. PennDOT reminds motorists to pack an emergency kit for their vehicles. A basic kit should include non-perishable food, water, blanket, small shovel and warm clothes. When preparing an emergency kit, motorists should take into account special needs of passengers such as baby food, pet supplies, or medications and pack accordingly.

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41_22_7-Slow-Road-Traffic-Sign_webToyota Motor Company announced that it is recalling more than 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles due to sudden-acceleration problems. The company said that floor mats could get stuck under the accelerator pedal if not secured properly. Sudden-acceleration incidents involving Toyota-made cars and trucks has caused 19 fatalities since 2002, according to the LA Times (www.latimes.com).

Toyota is in the process of developing vehicle-based remedies that will include reconfiguring the shape of the accelerator pedal and redesigning driver- and front-passenger-side all-weather floor mats. Toyota will notify owners of the vehicles involved by mail by the end of the year.

Models include:

2007-2010 Camry
2005-2010 Avalon
2004-2009 Prius
2005-2010 Tacoma
2007-2010 Tundra
2007-2010 ES350
2006-2010 IS250
2006-2010 IS350

Federal regulators have called the defect a “very dangerous problem.” Auto industry experts feel it has taken Toyota too long to react, citing a review of over 1,000 consumer complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration along with various accidents, all stemming from unintended acceleration.

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Last week, we blogged about Philadelphia’s ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Now Pennsylvania will follow suit as local Schuylkill County legistators support a bill before the state House that would ban texting by all drivers.

In an article in the Nov. 11 edition of the Republican & HERALD, state Rep. Neal Goodman, D-123, said, “According to transportation experts, there is nothing more distractive and dangerous than texting while driving. They say that cell phone use is a close second.”
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The bill, known as House Bill 2070, was approved by the House Transportation Committee on Nov. 10. Violations would be punishable with a $50 fine. Fines would double to $100 for offenses that take place in a school zone, active work zone, highway safety corridor, or emergency response area. Only motorists contacting 911, drivers in stopped traffic, or drivers with their vehicles in neutral or park would be exempt.

Goodman and state Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-124, both support the bill. State Sen. David Argall, R-29, said he voted in favor of a similar senate bill in July, and that he would support the passage of the bill through both chambers.

Just like litter laws, police may not catch everyone. But distracted drivers can be dangerous drivers, so the hope is that this new bill will make motorists think twice before texting while driving.

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3702192600_fe40b5c84e_1.jpgWe’ve all seen it in the news: an accident involving a tractor trailer that brings traffic to a halt. Perhaps you’ve even been held captive in your own car when a truck overturned on a Pennsylvania interstate. It can be an inconvenience; but for those involved, it can mean life or death.

Tractor trailer accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

Speeding: Trucking companies get paid to deliver their cargo on time and they bid against each other based on who can ship the freight the fastest and cheapest. To deliver their cargo on time, drivers must drive fast and aggressively, making for very dangerous conditions on the highway.

Overloaded trucks: When a truck is overloaded, it puts stress on every component of the truck, which can lead to catastrophic failure. Overloaded trucks cannot maneuver effectively, which can cause accidents when turning, stopping, or starting. Overloaded trucks can also degrade roadways and bridges.

Driver fatigue: Unrealistic schedules can force drivers to be on the road as much as 77 hours a week, legally. They may drive above and beyond that by forging travel entries in their log books to appear in compliance with all rules and regulations.

Improper maintenance: Maintaining a large truck can be expensive. Trucking companies try to cut maintenance costs, but less maintenance can raise the possibility of accidents from equipment failure.

A large volume of tractor trailers travel through Pennsylvania because it is home to a number of major transportation corridors, including Interstate 76 (the Pennsylvania Turnpike), 78, 80, and 81. These highways are convenient because they connect the eastern part of the country with the southern and western areas. Transporting materials and products over the nation’s highways has become a regular way of doing business. But if proper safety measures are not followed, there can be deadly consequences.

An accident with a tractor trailer can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially. If the accident occurred while you were away from home and traveling through unfamiliar territory, the situation can become even more complicated. Not only can it be difficult to find a local law firm, you need to find a firm that can handle the legal intricacies of a tractor trailer accident. Many of the offices of Michael J. O’Connor & Associates are in direct proximity to Interstate 81, near Frackville, Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton; and Interstate 80, near Lock Haven, Williamsport, Bloomsburg, and Stroudsburg.

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Cell_Car_1.jpgThe next time you find yourself driving within the Philadelphia city limits, be sure to put down your cell phone. Beginning Nov. 1, Philadelphia police started enforcing a new ordinance which bans the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

To educate citizens about the new ordinance, police will issue warnings through the month of November. But those warnings will turn into a $75 fine on Dec. 1 for those caught using hand-held phones while driving. That leaves Bluetooth users and those who use other hands-free devices in the clear.

“As long as you’re not holding a phone up to your ear, you’re OK,” said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore in an article in the Oct. 28 edition of the Philadelphia Daily News.

The bill was sponsored by city Councilmen Bill Green, William Greenlee, and Frank Rizzo.

“I’ve lived in places where there were cell bans and places where there were not, and in my personal experience there are far fewer close calls when everybody has to keep their eyes on the road,” said Councilman Green.

According to a December 2002 report by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, cell phone use was the cause of 6 percent of the auto accidents in the United States each year. Cell phone usage has become an increasing factor in lawsuits; even employers are being held responsible if a worker causes an accident while talking on the phone. It’s becoming clear that the distractions that a cell phone can cause while driving aren’t worth the risk to pedestrians, others on the road, as well as yourself.

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