Memphis Personal Injury Law Blog

Bicycling safety: tips for the road

With Tennessee's spring in full bloom at last, cyclists around the state have quickly flocked to its gorgeous roads. Likewise, countless Tennessee drivers have hit the roads toward adventure. With this blend in transportation comes the inevitable safety risks. What can bicyclists in the state do to prevent a mishap? 

Bicycle Touring Guide immediately points out in an article on bicycle accident prevention that, while the trip itself is always the reason to get on wheels, safety should always be the primary focus. Due to the natural largeness of vehicles in comparison to bikes, even a small run-in with a car can prove dangerous. Although this step may seem obvious, the bicycling company advises riders to always keep one's senses sharp. Despite the temptation to provide a soundtrack to one's journey, it can be risky to listen to loud or distracting content on headphones while operating a bicycle alongside cars. It is also a good idea for cyclists to ride a bicycle with hands prepared to brake at any moment, as trips are often unpredictable. 

What are common causes for bicycle-motorist crashes?

Riding a bicycle in Tennessee allows you the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and stunning scenery while commuting in an eco-savvy manner. Unfortunately, sharing the road with motorists can come with its share of danger. According to the Tennessee Traffic Safety Resource Office, however, many bicycle accidents can be prevented. Knowing some of the more common causes of crashes between bicyclists and motorists can help you adjust your riding accordingly and be more vigilant on the road.

Many bicycle accidents result from motorists not realizing the cyclist is present such as on a narrow street, roads where traffic moves at high speeds or at night. Bright clothing and reflective gear may help you become more visible in these situations. Wrong way riding is another common cause of bicycle accidents. The law states that cyclists should ride along with the flow of traffic, so avoid riding head-on into the opposite lane.

A Brave New World for Accident Litigation? (Pt. 2 of 3)

In part one of this three-part blog entry on the fatal accident involving an Uber self-driving car, we looked at the basic story and introduced some of the concerns. In this installment, we’re going to look at some of the legal ramifications of this case, especially concerning what type of case this should be and the relevant liability rules as they would apply in Tennessee.

Part of what makes this case so interesting is that it covers relatively new legal ground. As discussed in our last blog post, this is the first fatality involving an automated motor vehicle. Is the person in the car working for Uber ultimately responsible for the accident? Or should this be considered a technical malfunction and not the driver’s fault? These are just a few of the questions raised by this case.

A Brave New World for Auto Accident Litigation? (Pt. 1 of 3)

There was a time not too long ago when auto accidents involved human drivers. Other than the occasional brake failure or other technological malfunction, most of these cases involved the comparative negligence of the two drivers to determine who was most at fault and the degree of compensation that should be awarded.

With the rise of the new fully-automated vehicles in recent years, what is considered the norm is rapidly changing in auto accident litigation. Having the car itself do the driving raises issues of liability, and since there is still someone in the car who is supposed to be ultimately responsible for the safety of the vehicle, there is some new ambiguity introduced in these cases. Over the next few blog posts, we’re going to explore the issues involved with auto accident litigation involving autonomous self-driving vehicles.

Whiplash most common injury in car crashes

Every 17 seconds, a back-end vehicle crash occurs in the U.S., and Tennessee has its share of them. According to Consumer Reports, neck strain and sprains, or whiplash, are the injuries motorists most often report. Whiplash occurs when your head is snapped backward, hyperextending the neck and causing damage to nerves and ligaments. Often, the pain and stiffness that occurs in whiplash lingers for several days and can occur during crashes in which cars are traveling as slow as 10 mph.

Since government standards for higher and closer head restraints in cars were phased in from 2005 to 2009, they have helped reduce the effects of whiplash on front-seat passengers and drivers. However, headrests in the rear seat continue to lack the height and proximity to passengers' heads to be effective in easing whiplash injuries.

No one is paying attention: Distractions lead to deaths

Apparently no one is paying attention to either the road or the constant warnings. By this point, pretty much everyone knows that smart phone use while driving - or even while walking in congested areas - is extremely dangerous. Yet people do this all the time.

As drivers and pedestrians continue ignoring the warnings, the results have been disastrous. More people are dying or suffering serious injuries in distracted driving accidents than ever before.

Reviewing the results of drowsy driving

Many in Shelby may plan ahead to keep themselves from driving while intoxicated. With the added awareness dedicated to the dangers associated with texting and driving, several more are now putting their phones away while behind the wheel. Yet there is another dangerous driving practice that many to continue to engage in that presents an equal amount of risk: drowsy driving.

Few many realize it, yet driving while drowsy can cause one to experience impairments similar to those seen in people who are drunk (e.g., decreased awareness, slower reaction times). In fact, one might even argue that drowsy drivers present an even greater risk to their fellow motorists than drunk or distracted drivers. The logic behind such an argument is that few ever believe that they will fall asleep behind the wheel, and that if they do feel fatigued, simply rolling down the window or stopping for a cup of coffee will increase their alertness. Thus, they are willing to drive after only a few hours of sleep. 

Are their limits on how long bus drivers can work?

The semi-trucks seen driving on Shelby's roads and highways certainly present an enormous potential for damages if they were ever to be involved in accidents. yet there are other large vehicles that you see almost as frequently that can cause equal amounts of harm and throw in the potential for further losses given that they transport passengers. Buses and other mass transit vehicles require just as much skill as is needed to drive a semi-truck, and their operation can be equally as taxing. 

How are bus drivers to avoid the fatigue that truckers often experience after long hours behind the wheel? The answer is simple: They are required to follow similar hours-of-service regulations. Per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers that transport passengers must adhere to the following guidelines: 

  • No driving for more than 10 hours after having sent eight consecutive hours off duty
  • No working beyond a 15-hour period, even if a portion of that time was interrupted by a break
  • No driving more than 60-70 during a standard 7-8 consecutive day work week

New “Textalyzer” Device to Prove Texting While Driving

Although everyone knows the dangers of texting while driving, the practice continues and people continue to suffer terrible accidents as a result. In accident litigation, one of the challenges is to establish conclusively whether one of the drivers was texting or engaging in other activities on their cell phone at the time of the accident.

When it is established that a driver was working with a smart phone at the time an accident occurred, it makes it much easier to determine that driver’s liability for the accident.

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