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San Francisco Personal Injury Law Blog

The many tasks to complete after getting into a car accident

Imagine a car accident scene in the moments that immediate follow that first meeting between bumper and metal. You're hurt; you're angry; you're emotional; and while all of this understandable, you also have a job to do. You have to perform all of the important steps necessary to help you deal with this car accident in the coming days, weeks and months.

So how do you do that? One step at a time.

Congress tackles truck safety and the DOT

Senate Bill 1739 made its debut in Congress earlier this month. The Truck Safety Act includes, among other things, a call for the Secretary of Transportation to finalize regulations requiring speed limiters on heavy trucks within a year. In our June 9, 2015, post, the draft regulation is expected at the end of August, and it could be more than a year before the final rule is released.

The bill also asks DOT to craft a rule requiring crash avoidance systems on heavy trucks. Crash avoidance systems include forward collision warnings, forward collision automatic braking and lane departure warnings. The bill would give DOT two years to come up with a final rule that would take effective two years later -- making 2019 the target date for implementation.

Lane splitting bill is dead, but data supports proposal

While newspapers and television stations often report that lane splitting is neither legal nor illegal in California, they are not exactly right. Lane splitting -- that is, driving between lanes of traffic or sharing a lane with another vehicle -- is banned, but only for "[f]ully enclosed 3-wheeled motor vehicles of specified dimensions." (Cal. Veh. Code § 21714) The law is silent on the legality of motorcycles and lane splitting, though.

One state legislator was hoping to change that with a bill that would make lane splitting legal under some circumstances. The bill passed the Assembly but failed to make it out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. It may or may not be reintroduced next year.

In an accident, the product, not the person, may be to blame

If you take a quick look at our last post, you will quickly pick up our reference to human error being the cause of most motor vehicle accidents. A closer look, though, will tell you that the post is not about human error, or even the potential for human error. The focus is on the safety of the driverless cars.

The fact is that people are injured or die in accidents that are caused by a mechanical failure or a design flaw of the vehicle itself. Last month, for example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Honda confirmed that an eighth death had been attributed to a faulty Takata airbag. For some people, that may look like a low number; after all, carmakers recalled 30 million affected vehicles. But for the families and communities of those eight people, each death has been catastrophic.

Google, Tesla etc. try to make 'self-driving' equal 'blameless'

One of the standard arguments for driverless cars is that most car accidents are caused by human error. Or, as some skeptics have put it, "Cars don't kill people. People driving cars kill people." Either way, the experimental technology is more and more frequently finding its way onto California roads. With industry leaders Google and Tesla Motors Inc. headquartered here, the Bay Area may soon be the world's driverless test track.

Depending on where the information is coming from, the autonomous vehicles may not have been involved in any accidents but there have been some near misses. Reuters reported recently that two driverless cars came close to colliding in Palo Alto recently. The vehicles were prototypes from Google and Delphi Automotive, and both were equipped with back-up humans who could take over in an emergency.

Dreaming of California this summer? Not while driving, please! p3

The Fourth of July is coming up, the holiday that many of us look forward to the most. If you aren't a fan of fireworks, perhaps you enjoy the chance to sit with friends, enjoying a relaxed, extended afternoon, sharing barbecue and tossing back a few beers -- or even a nice California wine. The key to maintaining the vibe lies in monitoring your alcohol intake if you're planning to drive.

You see, according to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Fourth of July is the deadliest day of the year.

Dreaming of California this summer? Not while driving, please! p2

We are picking up where last week's post left off, talking about risks that California drivers face during the summer months. Summer presents its own set of challenges to drivers, even drivers who are sober and paying attention to the road. Some of them we have control over, but some of them we just have to watch out for.

  • Visitors: Many of the drivers clogging local roads may also be on vacation. Visitors may not be familiar with the roads or may drive erratically -- slowing down, turning with little warning -- as they try to navigate strange city streets and highways.

Berkeley Balcony Collapse Kills 6 & Leaves 7 Others in Critical Condition

A 21st birthday party turned tragic when a deadly 4th story balcony collapsed in Berkeley, sending 13 people to the ground. 4 people were pronounced dead at the scene, and 2 more were pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Several more victims, both male and female, were sent to the hospital in critical condition.The collapse happened around 12:30 a.m., at the relatively new, 177-unit Library Gardens apartment complex, in Berkeley, California.

Dreaming of California this summer? Not while driving, please!

The Bay Area is settling in to summer. The weather has been cooperating; school is out or will be out soon, and family trips are in the works. This part of California has a reputation for being laid-back, but we know better. We may not be blue suit and red tie types, but we work hard. When summer comes around, we like to take a breather, to relax our grip just a little on our daily routine.

This is not the time of year, however, to relax behind the wheel. The summer months are notorious for being the most dangerous for teen drivers -- so much so that AAA has designated the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the "100 Deadliest Days." In 2013, the organization reported that more accidents involving teen drivers -- accidents with injuries and fatalities -- occur during the summer months. Since then, AAA has worked to raise awareness among young drivers, their families and their communities about the increased risk.

How fast is the fast track when the federal government is involved? p2

We are circling back to our May 21 post about the speed limiter rule that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are working on. Before we continue, though, we wanted to share a short item.

When we were checking for new developments on this regulation, we saw a Detroit News story that supports what many say is the federal government's hurry-up-and-wait rulemaking process. The NHTSA has released the final rule requiring truck tractors and large buses to be equipped with anti-rollover technology … by 2019. The agency believes the technology could prevent 1,700 accidents every year. According to the article, Congress initially asked the agency to look into the issue in 2012.

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