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Did you know that one person is injured or killed in a truck accident every 16 minutes? 

The United States Department of Transportation estimates that over 500,000 truck accidents occur every year. More than 75% of truck driving accidents are due to the driver of the passenger vehicle.

Did you know that typically the injuries to the victims are severe and often fatal?

Large trucks account for only about 3% of auto accidents, yet because of their sheer size and weight, a semi-truck or 18-wheeler can cause incredible damage to the other vehicles involved and their passengers.

Do you know what to do if you are injured in an accident involving a commercial truck?

Seek medical help immediately, make sure everything is documented, make sure that law enforcement has responded to the accident and made a report.  Never take any calls from insurance companies without consulting with an attorney that specializes in trucking accident collisions first.  Often these accidents are the result of trucking safety or driving law violations. State and federal regulations often come into play in a truck collision. Truck accident cases can be complicated because the truck, trailer and contents can be owned by different companies and operated by yet other independent companies. For this reason, it’s imperative that you work with a Florida truck accident attorney who is skilled in this area of litigation.

Do you know what to do if someone loses their life in a trucking accident?

Once again, it is important that you speak with a skilled truck accident attorney.  There are many processes that the families of the deceased must go through and it can be very overwhelming given the grief and stress they are already enduring.  Having the right attorney and her staff helping them through the process can provide a lot of relief at that time.

Did you know that Marianne Howanitz is a nationally recognized truck accident attorney?

I am always available to answer any other questions or concerns you might have about a truck accident. And, as always, there is no charge to you at any time until or unless a settlement is reached.  You may reach me at 352-512-0444 or through my website: www.ocalaaccidentlaw.com.

Did you know this fun fact?

The world’s most solitary tree is located at an oasis in the Tenere Desert in Central Africa. There’s not one other standing tree within 31 miles. In 1960, it was smashed into by a truck.

As always, stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #truckaccidentattorney, Marianne

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Summer time and the driving is easy! Getting ready for a road trip this summer?  Check out these timely tips to keep you and your family safe on the road to paradise.

  1. Get your car serviced.

Regular maintenance such as tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations go a long way toward preventing breakdowns. If your vehicle has not been serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, schedule a preventive maintenance checkup with your mechanic right away.

  1. Check your tires and replace your wiper blades.

Before a road trip, most people fill up the tank, gather snacks and make sure the kids are set up with movies and games. What about your tires? Even if not prompted by a warning light or unusual sounds, always double check your tires’ air pressure and tread depth before an extended trip, as healthy tires improve gas mileage and save money at the pump.

  1. Keep your eyes on the road.

One of the easiest ways to avoid accidents, wrong turns or other highway mishaps is to stay focused. Cell phones are most often responsible for distracted driving, one-third (33 percent) of Americans regularly take phone calls while on the road, and one in 10 drivers (11 percent) admit to texting while driving. To help put this risk into perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports texting while driving on the highway is equivalent to driving blindfolded for the length of an entire football field.

  1. Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.

That being said, also, never drive too fast for conditions or overdrive your headlights.

 

  1. Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.

Most experts agree that you shouldn’t drive more than 2 hours without stopping for a break.  Also, be aware of any medications that you may be taking, such as antihistamines, that may be impairing your ability to stay alert.

  1. Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.

Leave plenty of room between yourself and other cars.  Be especially careful around semi-trucks, don’t cut in front of them too closely as they require much more room to slow down or stop than cars do.

  1. Who ya gonna call?

Even the most prepared and proactive drivers can end up on the side of the road because of unforeseen driving events. Whether it’s a flat tire, dead battery or overheated engine, have a backup plan for a roadside service such as AAA.

By following these quick tips and guidelines to safety, you can go full steam ahead to wherever your destination this summer may be! And should you or someone you know be injured in an accident, remember me-YOUR #accidentattorney.

Marianne Howanitz

 

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The most dangerous thing you do daily is get into a vehicle. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in the U.S., and the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it is estimated that the numbers for 2015 will come in even higher. While you cannot control what other drivers do, you can minimize your risk of being in car accident by modifying your own behavior and always being alert to red flag behavior on the part of other drivers.

Red Flags to watch out for on the road would include:

  1. Tailgating
  2. Failing to indicate
  3. Hogging the middle lane
  4. Dangerous overtaking
  5. Hogging the outside lane
  6. Jumping traffic lights
  7. Undertaking
  8. Being slow away from traffic lights
  9. Hesitant braking
  10. Last-minute braking

And this doesn’t even take into count the drunk, distracted and new and old drivers on the roads!

Stay safe out there friends!

family-car-trip-snow

Many of us choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, traveling to visit relatives or taking a winter vacation, but with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation, taking the family vehicle is dangerous. In 2013, 360 people died on Thanksgiving Day, 88 on Christmas Day, and 343 people on New Year’s Day  according to Injury Facts 2015. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31% of the totals. There are other dangers out there too friends.

Here are some great, simple tips from AAA and myself to help make your drive a smooth one, so you can arrive at your destination safely and without incident.

  1. Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
  2. Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
  3. Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
  4. If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
  5. Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
  6. In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
  7. Of course, never drive more than 8 hours straight. Fatigued driving is the same as drunk driving.
  8. And lastly, but certainly not least, NO TEXTING!

With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and arrive safely to enjoy your holiday with family and friends.

Teen driver in good mood with black car, selective focus on eyes
Teen driver in good mood with black car, selective focus on eyes

When a teenager gets a driver license, it signifies freedom and the lure of the open road. But with this newfound freedom comes a host of new situations and possible problems that most teen drivers have never encountered before. It’s a good idea to review these scenarios with new drivers in your family, and discuss how to handle them before they happen for real.

From traffic stops to road rage, here’s a primer on what you need to tell teen drivers as they take to the roads.

  1. What to do when you’re stopped by a police officer
    Safely pull to the side of the road, turn off your car, roll down the window and keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves or argue with the officer. Do your arguing in traffic court.

 

  1. How to deal with a flat tire
    Pull completely off the road, even if it means destroying the tire. Call roadside assistance and let that person change the tire. If you have a spare (many cars now only have an inflation kit) and know how to change the tire, make sure you are out of traffic and in plain sight of oncoming traffic before changing it yourself.

 

  1. What to do when the “check engine” light comes on
    If there is any change in the car’s performance, any mechanical noises, smoke from the tailpipe or electrical smells, stop the car and call for assistance. If there are none of these symptoms, take the car to a dealer and let them diagnose the problem. However, if you just bought gas, the light might just be indicating that the gas cap is loose. Tighten the cap and continue driving. The light should go off on its own.

 

  1. How to deal with a friend who is about to drive under the influence
    Don’t get in the car. Do anything not to drive with an intoxicated person, and that includes calling your parents for a lift or paying for a taxi. Your next move is to try to prevent your drunken friend from hurting themselves or someone else.

 

  1. What to do after an auto accident
    If the car is drivable and there are no serious injuries, turn on your flashers and pull safely out of traffic. Call the police to report the accident. Exchange insurance information with the other driver but refrain from discussing the accident and who is at fault. Make notes and use your cell phone’s camera to take pictures of the cars involved.

 

  1. How to drive in rain
    Reduce your speed and leave more room between your vehicle and those in front of you. Understand how to handle skids. Understand that a car might hydroplane on a rain puddle on the road and learn how to react to driving with reduced traction and visibility.

 

  1. How to avoid road rage situations
    Understand the severe consequences to you, your car and your driving record when minor disagreements escalate to life-threatening situations. When someone offends you, take a deep breath and know that your anger will dissolve in minutes. Don’t anger other drivers by cutting them off or tailgating. If you’ve inadvertently angered another driver, don’t get drawn into interacting with them. Ignore them or, if necessary, change your route. Finally, repeat this phrase: It’s just not worth it.

 

And lastly, but most important of all:

  1. How to drive safely

Distracted driving is fast becoming one of the country’s biggest health concerns.

As more and more drivers text while on the road, distracted driving crashes are steadily increasing year over year. In fact, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 8 people are killed every day in the U.S. as a result of crashes involving a distracted driver.

However, distracted driving doesn’t just mean texting and driving. You can be distracted by one of many activities.

Distracted driving means driving while not fully paying attention to the road. Many people think of texting and driving or talking on the phone when driving; however, you can also be distracted by:

  • Reaching for your phone.
  • Changing the music.
  • Using an app.
  • Checking your GPS or map.
  • Taking a photo.
  • Checking email or posting to social media sites.
  • Eating and drinking.
  • Putting on makeup/grooming.

Even talking to a passenger in your car can be a distraction. You are distracted ANY TIME your mind and/or your eyes are off the road.

Even if it’s just for a brief text, the results can be deadly. Consider the following statistics:

  • When you send a text, you take your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. That’s the time it takes to drive the length of a football field going 55 MPH! (U.S. Department of Transportation).
  • At any moment during the daylight hours, about 660,000 drivers are handling cell phones or other electronic devices while driving in the U.S. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
  • You are 3 times more likely to get into an accident when distracted driving by manipulating a mobile device (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).

 

While these are all great tips for new drivers, I hope everyone found something of value in it.  I know I will be downloading an app for my phone!

 

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Isn’t it wonderful that fall has finally arrived? With cooler air and beautiful, sunny days here finally, many of us are opting to get out our bicycles and head out for a ride after work or on the weekends. This is a great way to spend healthy time with friends and/or family.  Bicycle safety is a main concern for these rides as a report released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that Florida has the highest rate of bicycling deaths of any state in the nation, 0.57 per 100,000 people, more than double the nationwide rate of 0.23 per 100,000.

HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM?

Deaths and Injuries

In 2013 in the U.S., over 900 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 494,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries.

Cost

Data from 2010 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.

  • You always need a helmet wherever you ride. You can expect to crash in your next 4,500 miles of riding, or maybe much sooner than that!
  • Even a low-speed fall on a bicycle trail can scramble your brains.
  • Laws in 22 states and at least 201 localities require helmets, although few cover adults.
  • Make sure your helmet fits to get all the protection you are paying for. A good fit means level on your head, touching all around, comfortably snug but not tight. The helmet should not move more than about an inch in any direction, and must not pull off no matter how hard you try.
  • Rear stabilizers do not substitute for careful strap adjustment.
  • Pick white or a bright color for visibility.
  • Common sense tells you to avoid a helmet with snag points sticking out, a squared-off shell, inadequate vents, excessive vents, an extreme “aero” shape, dark colors, thin straps, complicated adjustments or a rigid visor that could snag or shatter in a fall.
  • Consumer Reports has some brand recommendations here.

So, get out that dusty bike and polish it up!  Grasp life by the handlebars! Because four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul. And thank you for not driving (in the bike lane).

Stay safe out there friends,

YOUR #accidentattorney, Marianne

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asheville

Heading out for a trip to see the fall foliage? Make sure that you check out the condition of your tires before you leave.  For many drivers, there is nothing more frightening or potentially dangerous than a tire blowout at almost any speed. While the number of tire-related crashes has dropped dramatically since 2008, when all new vehicles were required to have automatic tire pressure monitoring systems, these numbers still remain high. The stats do not lie, as tire blowouts and flats result in nearly 11,000 collisions and 200 fatalities each year.[1]

With all the advances in safety standards and technology, why are tire blowouts still such a significant safety issue? According to Traveler’s Insurance, one reason may be that since blowouts are now a rarer occurrence, when they do happen, drivers are less prepared to handle them and react properly. When a tire blows out, it can take about ¼ second before your ride suddenly becomes a struggle to avoid an auto accident. How you react can make all the difference in how the situation resolves itself. The first step is staying calm and in control of your vehicle.

What Does a Tire Blowout Sound Like?

Expect to hear three key sounds that may vary depending on your specific situation. First, you may hear a loud boom or bang of the tire popping reverberating through your car. You may then hear a whooshing sound or the sound of the air quickly escaping from the tire, and finally, a repeated flapping or flopping of the deflated tire hitting the road.

What Does a Tire Blowout Feel Like?

When a tire explodes at speed, first you will feel the vehicle slow down, then it will pull strongly to the left or right depending on which tire burst.[2] If it was a front tire that burst, you will feel the force mostly within the steering of your vehicle. With a rear tire, you will feel it more in the seat or body of the car. Whether the blowout occurred in the front or back, your response should be the same in either situation.

How to Drive Through a Tire Blowout

According to the National Safety Council and other safety experts, there are some important tips and best practices to remember if you experience a tire blowout.

  • Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
  • Do not slam on the brakes.
  • Let your car slow down gradually.
  • Pull to the side of the road once you have slowed to a safe speed.
  • Activate your emergency flashers.[3]

What to Do After a Tire Blowout

After a blowout, only exit your vehicle if you are certain you are safely off the road and out of harm’s way. Turn your emergency flashers on to alert other drivers, and put out reflective cones or triangles if you have them. If it is not safe to change the tire where you are, or you are unsure how, call for roadside assistance.

Also keep in mind that a spare is only recommended for emergencies and should not be driven for long distances or at high speeds. Take the time to read your owner’s manual to learn where your spare tire and necessary tools are located. Your manual may also provide instructions on how to change a flat tire. It is a good idea to be familiar with these procedures before you get stuck on the side of the road.

How to Prevent a Tire Blowout

The good news is that many tire blowouts are preventable with the proper effort and attention. Most occur from May through October when the road surface is the hottest, resulting from an underinflated tire, excessively worn treads, or an overloaded vehicle. A simple, routine inspection of your tires to check for slow leaks, wear and tear, and proper pressure is important. Keeping your load light, within your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations (found in the same spot as the recommended tire pressure), can help too.[4] 

So head on out for a great fall adventure, and stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #accidentattorney,

Marianne Howanitz

[1] http://www.safercar.gov/tires/index.html
[2] http://www.ntb.com/tires/Tire-Blowout-Education.j

[3] http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Pages/WhattoDoIfYouHaveaBlowoutontheHighway.aspx
[4] http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/repair/why-blowouts-happen-and-how-to-avoid-them-15832078

 

tailgating1
tailgating1

A great many drivers on the road represent threats to your safety and well-being. But there are numerous ways of minimizing your chances of having a collision with an unsafe driver. Defensive driving is a big part of car safety and you should always be practicing it, until it becomes second nature.

A cardinal rule that will help you stay out of collisions is: Don’t tailgate. Tailgating is the cause of innumerable accidents, many of them serious. No matter how fast you’re going, you should be able to stop safely if the car in front of you were to slam on its brakes. Any closer than that and you are in a danger zone. So the faster you’re traveling, the more room you’ll want to leave between your car and the one in front of you.

More space gives you:

  • More time to react and brake or steer if something unexpected happens;
  • Better visibility around the vehicle ahead;
  • More room to maneuver and lane change if there is a delay or obstruction in your lane;
  • A smoother ride because you no longer need to brake abruptly;
  • Better fuel economy and reduced vehicle wear because you are now driving more smoothly.
  • Keep a safe distance. While it is never safe to tailgate any vehicle on the highway, following too close is particularly dangerous around large trucks and buses because the size of these vehicles prevents you from seeing the road ahead and having sufficient time to react to slowing or stopped traffic or another obstacle.

Following too closely is always the cause of multi car pileups on freeways and other roads. Besides, it’s illegal. So don’t tailgate. And if you’re being tailgated take action to get the tailgater off your back. If possible, move to another lane. If you can’t do that safely, slow down gradually. Don’t hit the brakes – you could cause an accident involving yourself, and you could also trigger a bad case of road rage. Just gradually slow down until the driver behind you takes the hint and decides to either back off or go around.

Stay safe out there friends!

 

 

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women-motorcycles-jeans-brunettes

So, how do motorcycle insurers come up with their rates, anyway?

Believe it or not, they base their premiums on sound statistical data that helps them determine the likelihood of you filing a claim (and costing them money). Insurance companies consider a number of factors, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Vehicle type
  • Marital status
  • Accident history
  • Driving record (moving violations)
  • Annual mileage
  • Credit score

In general, those who are younger than 25, female, married, live in a rural location, don’t ride much, drive a safe but inexpensive bike, and have a clean driving history and great credit are treated to the best rates.

Motorcycles are fun and fuel efficient. That’s not news to anyone who’s ridden one. But neither is the fact that they’re also way more dangerous than a car. The cold reality is that motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in a car, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). And nearly half of all motorcycle deaths are the result of single-vehicle crashes.

The numbers are even scarier for older riders, who are increasingly taking up or returning to motorcycling after many years. Because of slower reflexes, weaker eyesight, more brittle bones, and other disadvantages, riders over 60 years old are three times more likely to be hospitalized after a crash than younger ones.

Still, many enthusiasts enjoy a lifetime of riding without injury. The key to optimizing your odds is to be prepared and avoid risks. Keep in mind that 48 percent of fatalities in 2010 involved speeding, according to the IIHS, and alcohol was a factor in 42 percent. Eliminate those factors and you’ve dramatically reduced your risk and hopefully, your rates.

Be safe out there friends!

po
po

It seems everyone is joining in on the recent Pokemon Go craze. The game, which is as close to a real life adaptation of the Pokemon world as anyone could hope for, is played outside using your phone to track down Pokemon and battle other members of the community for ownership of Pokemon gyms. This has sparked a cultural phenomenon bordering on obsession.

The negatives of the game are a little scary, however, and I’ve noticed some bad habits which include people not being aware of their surroundings as they play, despite the game explicitly warning you to do so, people driving while playing, and in some instances bad people using the game to lure in unsuspecting patrons to rob them or worse.

Some lawyers say Pokemon Go, an “augmented reality” game, raises legal issues and public safety concerns. Alabama lawyer Keith Lee, writing at his Associate’s Mind blog, says his legal questions include:

Does placing a Pokemon character on a private property, without permission, affect the owner’s interest in exclusive possession of the property? Does it create an attractive nuisance? Does owning real property extend property rights to intellectual property elements that are placed on it? Is there liability for placing the characters on private property or in dangerous locations?

Michigan lawyer Brian Wassom raises other legal issues in a post for the Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog. Augmented reality games can lead to competition for the use of the same physical spaces, disrupting the ability of players and non-players to enjoy the place, and possibly leading to violence, he says. Could government limit the players in a public space? Would that bring a First Amendment challenge?

Wassom also sees a risk of injury for players who are “wandering through the physical world while staring through a phone screen.” New York lawyer Peter Pullano makes a similar point in an interview with 13WHAM in which he raises the possibility of distractions for drivers. “Even though you may be looking for your Pikachu while you’re driving, that’s not going to impress your officer,” Pullano said.

LawNewz points out that the game’s terms of service disclaim liability for property damage, personal injury or death while playing the game, as well as claims based on violation of any other applicable law. The game also has a notice that generally requires arbitration of disputes.

My #1 Tip For Staying Safe While Playing Pokemon Go: DO NOT PLAY WHILE DRIVING!!!

This is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than texting and driving. Again, I don’t want you to end up in a car accident because you do a U-Turn and jump over a median to catch a Pidgeotto.  I promise you there will be another chance to catch one that doesn’t involve you risking you being in an accident.

Stay safe out there friends!!

YOUR #ocalaaccidentandinjurylawyer, Marianne Howanitz