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Knoxville Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

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

The effect a car accident has on insurance

When Tennessee residents are involved in a car accident, they may not think about what the collision might do to their insurance. A crash can easily raise a driver's insurance premium, though, depending on the severity of the accident and whether he or she is considered at-fault.

Sometimes people may find that their car insurance rates go up after they are in an accident. Esurance says this is because someone's driving record usually plays a role in setting his or her insurance premium. When people have a collision on their record, they are sometimes more likely to have a higher premium, particularly if the crash was serious and they were the driver who caused the accident. A crash typically does not raise someone's rates permanently. People are usually able to get lower rates the longer they remain accident-free after the collision.

The reality of buzzed driving

With a Tennessee spring quickly approaching, warm weather festivities and outings are becoming a regular occurrence. The state's hot cities on the map create extra perks to the upcoming warmer seasons, causing many to hit the road to adventure. One aspect that is not as thrilling, however, is that of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving after a drink or two may seem tempting, but even buzzed driving can result in a world of personal and legal issues.

Not all buzzed driving results in a ticket or an accident, but this type of influence can certainly increase one's chances of running into these risks. Ad Council provides an article on buzzed driving and some common misconceptions, sharing in a study that only 49 percent of adults reported using taxi services when feeling buzzed. This statistic is especially concerning since one driver is killed every 51 minutes in an alcohol-related car wreck. And although this percentage dropped in the late 1990s, it has seen an increase in recent years. Ad Council also shared information on their campaign against drunk driving and other resources.

Drowsy truck driving, the risks and the solutions

It can be difficult for those outside of the trucking industry to understand the hard labor involved in daily shifts. For countless Tennessee truck drivers, a regular day can mean long, grueling hours on the road -- complete with pressing schedules. Although a position in truck driving can bring many benefits to the table, are truck drivers becoming too drowsy to drive? 

Millions of Americans climb behind the wheel without sufficient rest. CMV Driving Safety, a resource for safer and more productive trucking, dedicated an article to truck driver drowsiness and the ways it can make a major impact on the average employee. According to CMV, one in four commercial motor vehicle drivers in the country suffers from sleep apnea. Moreover, truck driver drowsiness and fatigue has to led to a crippling number of accidents every year. While some might assume the solution is to simply get more rest, CMV points out that the situation can become more complex than a night of lost sleep; driver drowsiness can stem from the choices a driver makes throughout the day, among other circumstances. CMV goes on to offer additional information and educational platforms regarding truck driver fatigue in the nation.

Man with three prior DUIs kills woman in crash

People in Tennessee may often hear about how tough the penalties for impaired driving have become. While it may well be true that the consequences for people convicted of driving under the influence offenses might be harsher than they were decades ago, some may believe they are not strong enough as too many people continue to die in accidents in which a drunk or drugged driver were involved.

An example can be see in the recent death of a woman in an accident caused by a driver who has been convicted of not only one or two previous DUI offenses but three. The fatal crash marked the man's fourth impaired driving offense and also found him with drug paraphenalia in his vehicle and a stolen license plate. In addition, the man is said to have been operating the vehicle without either a valid driver's license or automobile insurance.

Study evaluates truck crash causes

If you have ever seen or heard reports about a serious accident involving a semi truck or other large commercial vehicle in Tennessee, you may wonder what can be done to prevent these crashes from happening. Integral to finding ways to prevent crashes is to understand what may cause them in the first place. 

A study conducted jointly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration focused on identifying causes of large truck collisions in which injury or death had occurred. Two types of causes were identified, one being a critical event that made avoiding the accident impossible and the other being a critical reason which was essentially the immediate cause of a crash.

Motorcyclists face increased risk in accidents

Anyone who has ever ridden on a motorcycle in Tennessee knows the joy of being on two wheels and the feeling of freedom that may accompany the experience. Unfortunately bikers and their passengers also must be keenly aware of the increased risk they face relative to people in passenger vehicles if they are to be involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Science Daily indicates that the Canadian Medical Association Journal recently published research that shows exactly how much greater the risk of injury or death is to a motorcyclist than to someone in a regular car. A biker is three times more likely to be hurt in a crash than a driver or passenger in a car. When it comes to the chance of dying, that increases by five times for a person on a bike compared to a person in a car. Costs associated with accident injuries are also greater for bikers than for passenger car occupants and drivers by as much as six times.

Push to eliminate drunk driving deaths

Any person in Tennessee who has ever known someone who has been killed due to the negligence of a drunk driver understands the senselessness of these accidents. Despite some improvements in the past several decades, too many lives continue to be lost in drunk driving crashes. Finally, some are starting to push for yet even tougher actions in order to prevent more of these deaths.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently published data that shows strong researched-based support for the fact that after consuming alcohol, a person's cognitive functioning begins to decline far sooner than when their blood alcohol content reaches 0.08 percent. In fact, such reduced abilities are seen when BAC levels reach 0.05 percent. That is nearly half of the current legal limit at which a person may be arrested for drunk driving.

Substance testing for truckers

Drivers who operate vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Tennessee may well be one of the dangers on the road you fear the most. This is understandable indeed and then if you consider that an impaired driver might be a professional truck driver behind the wheel of a massive semi truck or other such vehicle, you might be even more worried.

It is due to the extreme risk this situation poses that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created what it calls the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse itself is basically a database repository for testing and other information to be stored about truck drivers' drug and alcohol testing and any possible violations associated with them. There is a set of procedures that individuals or companies that employ truckers must follow to prevent allowing impaired drivers on the road.

Are Tennessee's roads getting any safer?

If you are one of the many people in Tennessee who has watched the evolution of automotive technology in recent years, you might assume that the advances being made are able to help lead to a reduction in motor vehicle accidents. Certainly this is part of the goal of the improving safety features and other elements in vehicles however it seems that progress in saving lives is not yet being seen.

According to records released from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tennessee experienced a significant increase in the number of people killed in automobile crashes from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, there were 962 vehicular fatalities statewide. In 2016, that number rose to 1,041. The same trend was seen in Knox County where motor vehicle deaths jumped from 54 in 2015 to 70 the following year.

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