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Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Statistics in from NHTSA on 2015 motorcycle crashes

It is clear that helmets save lives during a motorcycle crash. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that 1,772 lives were saved because of motorcycle helmet usage in 2015. Unfortunately, 4,976 people lost their lives in motorcycle crashes. While laws vary somewhat throughout the country, the helmet law in Minnesota is rather lenient because it only applies to riders 17 and younger. The state law extends to motorcycle operators with a learner's permit.

During 2015, 14 percent of all traffic fatalities were motorcyclists, which include both operators and passengers. A full 40 percent of motorcyclists who died were not wearing a helmet. Federal Highway Administration data shows 8.6 million motorcycles traveled the nation's roads in 2015. This statistic is up from 8.0 million motorcycles on U.S. roads in 2009.

New technology to identify cell usage before a crash

As traffic accidents rise, legislators have begun looking at ways to identify the factors involved in them. Minnesota drivers are likely aware that one of the recurring factors in fatal traffic collisions is illegal cellphone usage, which is very difficult to prove. However, there is technology being developed, which, if adopted, might make this much easier on authorities.

The new tool, called a textalyzer, would work in a very similar manner as a breathalyzer to establish if a driver had been using a cellphone illegally just before a crash. The device would be connected to the driver's cellphone via a cord, and then it would read the ways a cellphone was being used just before the collision, such as by identifying text messages with time stamps, as well as active social media apps and taps and swipes on the phone. It would also identify if a person was using the cellphone through a hands-free mode.

Tailgating and liability

Minnesota motorists should be aware that if they follow too closely behind the vehicle in front of them, they may be held liable for any resulting accident. In order to exercise due care when driving, drivers should maintain a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them and be ready to come to a stop before striking it.

If a tailgating accident does occur, the fault of the accident could be associated with a driver's negligent driving behavior or his or her violation of motor vehicle laws. Duty, breach, causation and damages are the four primary elements of this type of a negligence lawsuit.

Distraction could be reason for increase in pedestrian deaths

Minnesota pedestrians may be in more danger of involvement in a deadly traffic accident than people in vehicles even though the fatality rate for traffic accidents in general has risen. However, the pedestrian death rate has risen disproportionately. In 2006, 11 percent of traffic-related fatalities were pedestrian deaths, but by 2015, that number had risen to 15 percent. Furthermore, overall, pedestrian deaths went up 25 percent from 2010 to 2015 compared with a rise of 6 percent in total traffic deaths. In 2016, nearly 6,000 pedestrians died in traffic-related accidents.

One factor is that people are both driving and walking more. Another factor may be alcohol. Around one-third of pedestrians and 15 percent of drivers were under the influence in fatal motor vehicle accidents. However, experts do not believe that these factors alone can account for the increase. Instead, experts believe that the shift may be attributable to an increase in pedestrians using phones while they are walking.

Crash-related soft tissue injuries

Due to the thousands of vehicle collisions that occur each year on roadways in Minnesota and across the U.S., many people sustain soft tissue injuries, which constitute the most common type of crash-related trauma. They range from bruises and sprains to serious back, neck and head injuries.

Soft tissue injuries are ones that that a person experiences in his or her soft areas, such as muscles, tendons and ligaments. In many cases, those who suffer from soft tissue injuries endure a great deal of discomfort and pain resulting from stiff, bruised, swollen and sore muscles or tendons. Accident victims can also get sprains if their joints have been overextended or ligaments have been damaged. Many people sustain these kinds of injuries by being severely jolted in violent collisions.

Potential effects of self-driving cars

The number of self-driving automobiles being tested or under development is increasing. Along with vehicles that completely handle road driving, many cars and trucks have computer programs that allow them to park and back out of driveways. Since software isn't susceptible to driver impairment or fatigue, increasing numbers of computer-driven vehicles could make Minnesota roads safer.

However, there are also some possible downsides to cars that are driven using computer software. For instance, hacking could become a potential issue. Instead of having to break into a car, thieves could override the system and have a vehicle come to them. Additionally, there is a potential, if fairly small, threat of terrorists using computer driven vehicles.

What to Do If You Have Been Injured in a Car Accident

Anyone who has ever been in a car understands car accidents are a legitimate risk anytime someone gets in a motor vehicle. While car accidents can range in severity from the smallest of fender benders to the largest of multi-car pileups, even the smallest of car accidents can result in serious injuries.

These injuries can create expensive medical bills that can place any family under a significant amount of financial stress. If someone is injured in a car accident, they may be wondering what they should do

Increase in driving doesn't totally explain higher fatality rate

Many Minnesota motorists took advantage of the cheap gas prices in 2016 by using their cars more often. The increase in vehicle miles traveled last year was probably one of the reasons why there was also an increase in car accident deaths from the previous. However, analysts say that the higher number of roadside fatalities in 2016 cannot be explained in full by that reason.

The chief executive of the National Safety Council said that vehicle miles traveled rose by 3 percent between 2015 and 2016 while motor vehicle accident fatalities rose by 6 percent. 2016 was also the first year since 2007 that more than 40,000 people were killed in car accidents. In January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had reported an 8 percent increase in fatal car accidents during the first nine months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

Train engineer involved in crash was under the influence

Minnesota residents who use Amtrak may be interested to learn that the engineer who was responsible for causing a train to crash in April 2016 had marijuana and opioids in his system when the accident occurred. The crash, which was heading from New York to Georgia, resulted in the death of two Amtrak workers and caused 35 others to suffer injuries.

The train was traveling at approximately 106 mph when it struck a backhoe and other maintenance machines that were sitting on the track. An Amtrak employee had been using the backhoe with a supervisor nearby. Both of these employees were killed in the collision. It appeared that the accident was caused by miscommunication as the train was running on a track that had been given an "intermittent foul time" designation, meaning work was being completed on it.

The added risks of operating a motorcycle

Motorcycle riders in Minnesota are exposed to hazards not faced by those driving cars or trucks. For example, those on motorcycles do not have a sufficient barrier between themselves and the road. They can also be difficult to see or anticipate on the road, which can lead to accidents.

The risks that motorcycle riders encounter on the road can be demonstrated by some sobering statistics. Motorcycle riders are 26 times more likely to perish in a vehicle crash and are five times more likely to be injured than an individual riding in a passenger car. The fatality rate for accidents involving motorcycles have more than doubled since 1999. Meanwhile, that of drivers and passengers of automobiles and light trucks have consistently fallen during the same time.

Law Office of Jeffrey A. Jones, PA

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