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Houston Personal Injury Law Blog

Understanding the risks of approaching a car accident

Car accidents occur every day on Houston-area roadways. Unfortunately, the area around a crash scene may be dangerous for approaching motorists. In fact, recently, a motorcyclist died after hitting the back of a tow truck that had responded to an automobile crash in northeast Houston. 

As a motorist, you may come across a car accident at any time. Still, you do not have to be in the initial collision to be in danger. Here are some reasons accident scenes put oncoming motorists at increased risk for a collision: 

Drunk driving deaths down in Texas, but not by much

The good news is that the rate of drunk driving deaths have declined slightly, by a hair over 2 percent, over the last 15 or so years. In 2000, almost 1,500 people died in drunk driving accidents on the roads of this state. In 2017, the number had dropped to 1,468.

The bad news is that, even though Texas is not the most populated state in the country, it had the most deaths related to drunk driving in the country both in 2000 and in 2017. By contrast, California recorded only 1,120 deaths due to drunk driving in 2017.

Many Texans may wink at the speed limit

As is the case with other traffic laws, there is a good reason why our state has speed limits. Basically, traveling at a lower speed both reduces the likelihood of a car accident happening in the first place and reduces the severity of those crashes that will inevitably occur.

In fact, more than one study has touted that lower speed limits go long way in saving lives and preventing severe injuries, particularly in major urban areas like Houston. However, a recent survey suggests that many, if not most, motorists just do not fully appreciate the importance of traveling the speed limit.

Houston-area bicyclist dies after being hit by pickup

A bicyclist died at the scene of an accident on a city street on the west side of Houston recently. The driver of a pickup truck struck and killed the bicyclist. Both were traveling in the same direction on the road at the time of the accident, which happened in the pre-dawn hours.

Police who were investigating this tragic bicycle accident indicated that the driver of the pickup did not see the bicyclist. The officer did say that the area was not particularly well-lit but also said that they police noted that the bicyclist did have a flashing light affixed to his bike.

Features meant to prevent distracted driving don't always work

Many residents of the Houston area have probably heard or seen at least one public service announcement warning about the dangers of distracted driving. Indeed, safety advocates and law enforcement officers have made it a priority to reduce the frequency of texting and driving and other distracted behaviors among motorists traveling on the Texas roads.

Even carmakers have joined in on this effort. Many modern cars include technology like in-car navigation, the ability to make phone calls or send text messages at the sound of one's voice and other features that, in theory, are supposed to allow drivers to keep their eyes and minds on the road.

Silent injuries after an accident can have severe consequences

After a car accident, you may want to get home and get some rest. Even though the crash was pretty bad, you do not feel hurt.

Some injuries do not manifest as severe pain immediately following a crash. It is important to spot the signs of these silent injuries. Failing to get medical help after an accident may result in permanent consequences.

Government planning to relax federal rest rules

A previous post discussed the hours of service rules that truckers regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, must follow. This post discussed how these rules are supposed to prevent truck driver fatigue and thus ensure the safety of all motorists traveling on the Texas highways and roads.

As a result, Houston victims of truck accidents could find it easier to hold truck drivers and their employers accountable for negligence should it become apparent the trucker involved in the accident violated the rest rules. Now, the FMCSA is planning to give these rules some additional flexibility, which will supposedly allow drivers to comply with the spirit of the rules without having to follow the current requirements to the letter. Critics, however, call this move a change that will compromise safety on this country's highways.

Houston below average in terms of safe driving

An annual report prepared by a major insurance company ranked Houston as the 158th safest city when it comes to driving, at least for 2019. Although the report is prepared by an insurance company, it has broader ramifications, as at least one major media source used it to identify safe and unsafe cities for drivers.

The report determines safety based on the average length of time that passes between when motorists in the area file insurance claims. In this respect, the residents of Houston are falling short. While on average a motorist will file an insurance claim about every 10 years, in Houston a person will typically file a claim approximately every seven years and nine months.

A properly secured load is important

The whole point of having large trucks on the roads of Houston and in the rest of the country is that they can carry a lot of heavy items relatively easily. While this is, of course, an advantage because it allows for the efficient transportation of all kinds of goods and equipment, it is also a risk. After all, if heavy items were suddenly to fall from the back or the sides of the truck, they may strike other vehicles or otherwise cause a serious trucking accident.

Drivers who are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as well as their employers, have an obligation to make sure that if they are transporting cargo the load is properly secured. This is particularly important when the cargo is heavy, awkward or hard to balance.

Mother, son, police officer injured in accident

An officer with the Houston Police Department, along with a toddler and his mom, were all hospitalized after an accident.

According to reports, while the officer apparently was on duty at the time of the wreck, he was not responding to a call. In such situations, police officers are generally expected to follow the laws of the road.

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