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San Francisco Personal Injury Law Blog

Texting isn’t the only danger distracting drivers

Last week, we discussed how texting while driving continues to be a problem on California roads despite the state’s strict laws against it. We discussed that texting is just one of the many distractions that cause drivers to get into car accidents when their eyes and attention is focused on something other than the road.

A recent article from USA TODAY shed even more light on the topic in discussing a recent survey that was administered by State Farm insurance. State Farm has surveyed drivers each year since 2009 on questions regarding their distracted driving habits and opinions. 

Study supports theory that bike helmets reduce risk of head injury

A few weeks ago, we were talking about the high rate of fatal bicycle accidents in California (see California tops all other states in cyclist fatalities, posted Oct. 30). That study, from the Governors Highway Safety Association, found that adult males -- that is, adult males in California and Florida -- accounted for more fatalities than any other demographic group. The study period covered 2010 to 2012.

Not every bike accident, of course, results in the death of the cyclist. There is also a good chance that the rider will suffer a head injury. Research and anecdotal evidence have shown that a head injury, particularly a traumatic brain injury, can result in permanent physical and cognitive disabilities. Recovery can be a long and arduous process.

Watch the passing headlights … you're getting sleepy, sleepy …

Thanksgiving is just a little more than a week away. This is the time of year that people drive to a family member's house, eat a large meal, socialize and drive home. Even if you don't spend the day playing touch football or hours-long games of Risk and even if you just loll on the couch and watch the Puppy Bowl, Thanksgiving can be exhausting.

It could be the turkey. It could be an overdose of family. Either way, going home at the end of the day can be tricky. People are tired, and that is no condition to be in if they are getting behind the wheel of a car. As the California Highway Patrol reminds us, driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.

In spite of state laws, texting while driving is still a problem

A recent op-ed in the Huffington Post asked what is now an age-old question: How many times have you texted while driving in the last month? That includes the times you even looked at your messages while at a stop light or stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge. Really, how many times? We're not here to judge.

Even if you honestly answer "none," there is a follow-up question: How many times in the past month have you been distracted while driving? Texting is just one type of distracted driving, and researchers estimate that nine people die and 1,150 people are injured in distracted driving accidents every day.

California tops all other states in cyclist fatalities

California had more bicycle accident fatalities than any other state from 2010 to 2012. Worse, perhaps, is the fact that the number of deaths rose by 23 percent during that period, while national totals increased just 16 percent. California also outpaces the nation when it comes to how many traffic deaths involve bikers: Nationwide, 2 percent of all traffic deaths are cyclists, but in California it was 4 percent.

A couple of things contribute to our poor record, according to a report published recently by the Governors Highway Safety Association. California is home to a lot of people, and the state boasts several densely populated urban areas. We have a lot of bike commuters, but heavy traffic on city streets makes sharing the road all the more challenging for both bicycles and motor vehicles.

Defective airbags prompt millions of recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration kicked off the week with an urgent message to owners of vehicles equipped with Takata Corp. airbags to pay attention to recall notice regarding the defective devices. Automakers -- including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., BMW AG and General Motors Co. -- have notified purchasers of approximately 7.8 million vehicles of the potentially fatal flaw.

The NHTSA added its warning in an effort to improve compliance with the recall. Not all owners, it seems, heed this type of warning and follow up on the necessary repairs.

Safety on two wheels: Helmet laws differ but basic rules do not

Do we sound like a broken record? We wonder, because we try to take every opportunity to encourage safe driving, motorcycling and biking behaviors. More and more, two-wheeled vehicles share the roads with sedans, semis and SUVs, and so many traffic accidents involving motorcycles or bicycles are avoidable.

When it comes to avoiding accidents, though, are some tactics better -- more effective -- than others? Multiple sources, including the California Highway Patrol's Motorcyclist Safety Program, say that motorcycle helmets save lives. Indeed, California law requires helmets on all riders, regardless of age. The law has been in place for more than 20 years.

Motorcyclists faced with unique risks on the road

Motorcyclists can be found on just about any road across California. Unfortunately, there are still many people who fail to see these bikers and share the road responsibly with them. Too many motorcycle accidents are caused by motorists who simply fail to operate their own vehicle safety; but it is often the motorcyclist who pays the price.

Not surprisingly, motorcyclists can suffer catastrophic injuries if they are struck by a car. Bikes are smaller and offer little protection to riders in the event of a crash. This is why so many riders take such great care to be safe on California roads. 

California bikin' on such an autumn day

In an accident between a car or truck and a bicycle, chances are that the bicycle will lose. The motor vehicle is heavier and faster, and it has four wheels (or more). Bikes may be more maneuverable, able to respond quickly to avoid a collision, but they haven't the bulk of a car, and they are more likely to topple in an accident or even while trying to avoid an accident. Still, even if there is no impact, there is still a risk to life and limb.

The state of California has adopted a number of laws to make the roads safer for bikers. For example, riders under age 18 must wear helmets. Another law dictated that motorists reduce their speed and pass bikers at a "safe distance."

Sports injuries: When kids play it's not always child's play

Parents are funny about their kids and sports. Even in laid-back California, you hear about parents who push their children to be better and better, to outshine everyone else on the field. Other parents are just happy their kids are running around outside and having fun.

There are probably as many reasons parents allow or encourage their children to play sports as there are parents. If they agree on anything, it would be that the children be safe, that no one be carried off the football field on a stretcher, that no player is knocked unconscious.

Sports carry a certain amount of risk with them, though. A scrape or cut or the occasional minor sprain may not be something to cheer about, but it is tolerated. This is what happens in sports.

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