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Knoxville Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Tesla fights NTSB over Autopilot car crash death

Vehicles that drive themselves present a continuing fascination for Tennessee drivers and others across the nation. Once relegated to pure science fiction and battery-operated action toys, partially self-driving cars are today a reality, albeit a still imperfect one.

Witness the latest death that occurred in a Tesla Model X automobile. It crashed into a North Carolina highway divider in March, killing its driver. He had engaged the Autopilot feature that supposedly allows the car’s computer to make sure the vehicle stays not only within lane lines, but also a safe distance away from other vehicles. A similar fatal Autopilot accident, this one in a Tesla Model S, occurred about a year ago when the system failed to prevent the car from crashing into a truck that turned across its path. Tesla’s literature, however, consistently warns that drivers are responsible for keeping their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and monitoring the Autopilot’s performance at all times.

Minimal regulations in effect for autonomous vehicles

Residents in Tennessee and around the country understand why so many companies might seek ways to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents that occur every year. While this may be a goal most people would agree with, the path to achieving this may not be something everyone is in agreement with. The United States Department of Transportation indicates that up to 94 percent of all crashes are influenced by some type of human error. This fact is often used to support the advancement of autonomous vehicles as the potential answer to traffic fatalities.

In an effort to help make self-driving cars a reality on American roads, the federal government is consciously limiting the amount of regulations it places on the companies developing these vehicles and the technologies associated with them. Some fear this opens the door to more risk for people who must share the road as guinea pigs with these vehicles as they are being tested.

Motorcyclist injured in hit-and-run accident

Motorcycylists in Tennessee certainly have less inherent protection around them than do drivers and passengers in cars, trucks or sport utility vehicles. This fact can make them highly susceptible to injuries when they are hit by other vehicles. That, however, does not mean it is their fault when they are hurt and operators of other vehicles do have a responsibility to avoid hitting motorcyclists just as they do other vehicles, pedestrians or bicyclists.

Unfortunately many drivers out there do not appear too concerned with their responsibilities to others. An example of this can be seen in a case in which a motorcycle officer with the Knoxville Police Department was actually rear-ended by another vehicle. To make matters worse, that driver did not stop at all. It was only after the driver was arrested for a completely unrelated offense that she happened to be identified as the person who hit and injured the officer.

Drowsy driving: a nationwide issue

Most Tennesseans have heard it all before: drowsy driving is dangerous driving. Despite these warnings, thousands of tired drivers hit the state's roads each day -- posing a threat to themselves and other drivers. While this issue is hardly a new one, there are recent studies that can help residents drive in a manner that is more alert -- and, subsequently, in a way that is safer for everyone on the road.

The Governor's Highway Safety Association sheds light on this nationwide problem, showing through a study that over 80 million exhausted Americans drive on the country's roads every day. From that number, roughly 5,000 drivers died as a result. The GHSA considers the many ways states have made efforts to reduce this number of drowsy driving accidents, including those regarding legislative plans, education, engineering and enforcement. Some experts in law enforcement stress that officers should receive training to help them properly spot tired drivers on the road. Others pinpoint the source of the issue to sleep deprivation itself, stating that it is a critical element in safety practices. 

Texting and driving: possible solutions

It is a nationwide issue, and also one with which most Tennesseans are familiar: texting and driving. Although countless campaigns have circulated in efforts to spread awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, countless drivers succumb to this habit. Unfortunately, some drivers face serious repercussions as a result. What is the current outlook on texting and driving in America, and will the country ever see change? 

An article from USA Today also asks the aforementioned question, acknowledging that time spent in front of a screen is only increasing for most Americans. However, texting and driving has claimed the lives of thousands, despite the fact that, as shared by USA Today, 87 percent of surveyed Americans agreed that the habit is a dangerous one. Certainly disturbing, this statistic appears to reflect an overwhelming urge to use cellular devices while operating a vehicle, despite the risks. USA Today asks, can the country shake this bad habit? Some experts even trace smart phone addictions back to the ways they can reward the brain through the release of dopamine. Ultimately, the solution could require a process in which drivers learn to rewire their brains in regard to cell phone use.

Alcohol a potential factor in deadly crash

Tennessee residents have seen the increase in public awareness about the risks associated with drinking and driving increase over the past several decades thanks to the efforts of many groups including those like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Students Against Drunk Driving. At the same time, laws outlining the penalties associated with impaired driving have become stronger. Sadly, even with these advances and changes, many people continue to ignore the fact that operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol is negligent and unsafe.

These reckless choices end up leaving innocent people injured or, even worse, mourning the loss of their family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues. People close to one woman who was only 28 years old are today among those mourners. The woman was killed by a driver who is believed to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of a crash. The man who allegedly caused the accident was driving into oncoming traffic after reportedly losing control of his sport utility vehicle.

Whiplash may lead to chronic problems

Many people in Tennessee might be quick to trivialize a whiplash injury but that is something that should not be done. Understanding whiplash is important as it can be associated with chronic pain and complications for some people.

According to WebMD, not all cases of whiplash result in pain or other symptoms immediately. It is therefore important for people who have been in motor vehicle accidents to pay special attention to their neck area for a while after a crash in case they experience a delayed onset of whiplash.

Back to the basics: motorcycle safety

Tennessee's rolling valleys and gorgeous countrysides attract thousands of motorcyclists each year. Now that spring is here, the state's roads will likely see a spike in its number of two-wheeled vehicles. While the alluring aspects of riding in the open wind are hard to ignore, there are a number of risks riders can avoid to keep the journey a safe one.

There may be worlds of differences between new and experienced riders, but sometimes even the experts can get rusty with the basics. Consumer Reports shares a piece on motorcycle safety, first noting that the type of bike one buys could make all the difference. Choosing a bike that fits one's size and level of experience is the first step in avoiding accidents. CR also urges readers to invest in antilock breaks, arguing that such equipment can save lives. Other safety pointers include wearing a helmet, wearing appropriate gear and avoiding rides in dangerous weather.

Brain injuries: symptoms and recovery

A large majority of Tennesseans could agree that there is hardly a more frightening experience than a car accident. When an accident involves a serious injury such as brain trauma, those levels of fear can seem all the more magnified.

Dealing with a serious injury can make steps such as handling car insurance and addressing vehicle damage pale in comparison. While each situation can require varying levels of assistance and medical attention, there are some basic steps one can take to make a traumatic brain injury more manageable. 

5 ways other drivers make the roads unsafe for motorcyclists

Now that spring is here, you may be anxious to steer your motorcycle out of the garage and get back on the open road. It is nearly motorcycle season again, and bikers in Tennessee and elsewhere are impatient to feel the freedom of a good ride. However, as we at the law offices of Pryor, Priest, and Harber know, spring also marks the beginning of accident season for motorcyclists.

When you are on your bike, your greatest dangers come from other drivers, especially in the spring when people are not used to seeing an increase in motorcycles on the roads. According to the Cheat Sheet, some of the biggest hazards you face from other drivers include the following:

  • Drivers at intersections, especially those who are waiting to make a left turn and may not be watching out for motorcycles
  • Vehicles behind you, which may rear-end you if you are stopped at a light or if traffic slows
  • Drivers who open their doors without looking to see if any bikes are approaching from behind
  • People who switch lanes without checking their mirrors or signaling
  • Drivers who are paying attention to their cellphones or other distractions instead of the road
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