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Welcome to Millar & Mixon: June 23, 2017

LAWYERS FOCUSED ON SERIOUS CAR, TRUCK AND MOTORCYCLE INJURIES
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Millar & Mixon Personal Injury Attorney Blog

Bruce Millar on April 7th, 2014

Atlanta Car Accident AttorneyWhen an Atlanta television news van rear-ended a car on Lenox Road in March 2010, the car’s damage appeared minimal. But beneath the bumper cover lay more than $7,000 in damage, and the wreck landed the car’s driver in a doctor’s office with pain in his neck, back, shoulder and hips. He also suffered from headaches.

A subsequent lawsuit against the television station and the van’s operator resulted in a $340,000 settlement for the injured driver.

People are hurt every day in rear-end automobile collisions that appear to be minor. A quick Internet search will yield numerous accounts of large settlements over injuries suffered in seemingly minor wrecks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 28 percent of all crashes are rear-end collisions. Drivers are typically at fault when they ram other vehicles from behind.

As driving students, one of the first rules we learn is to allow enough room between our car and the one in front of us. A generally accepted rule of thumb is to allow one car length between your car and the one in front of you for every 10 miles per hour you are traveling.

Many rear-end collisions are low impact, or under 10 mph, and cause slight vehicle damage. A typical car weighs well over 2,000 pounds, and the force of a collision at a speed as low as 10 mph can cause driver or passengers in the car that is hit to suffer injuries ranging from neck and back strains to more serious spine or joint problems.

A wrist injury may occur when a driver sees an imminent crash in the rear-view mirror and braces against the steering wheel.

Knees can get banged up when a rear-end collision forces vehicle occupants into the dashboard or the seat in front of them.

Neck injuries are common because the force of the collision causes the neck to be jolted forward and backward again, causing soft-tissue damage.

It may take hours or days before you begin to experience pain associated with whiplash or other muscle injuries.  These symptoms may come and go or grow more severe as time passes. An immediate physical evaluation after a rear-end collision is important.

Even when there are no broken bones, those injured may endure pain and soreness for a long time. The pain may require medical treatment, costly medication and time away from work.

If you are injured in a rear-end collision, the insurance company may try to persuade you that because the vehicles sustained little or no visible damage, you could not be injured. But an experienced car accident attorney can help you present a strong case for compensation.

While cars are designed to handle low speed impacts, the human body is not.

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Bruce Millar on March 31st, 2014

Atlanta, Georgia Car Accident LawyersThe average driver in Atlanta is involved in a car accident every 7.7 years, according to Allstate Insurance Company, which ranks the country’s 200 largest cities based on the frequency of auto collisions.

Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report ranks Atlanta 164th, making it one of the least safe cities. Allstate used its claims data to determine the likelihood that drivers will experience a vehicle collision.

Other Georgia cities fared somewhat better, with Augusta ranking 88th, Columbus ranking 97th, and Savannah ranking 120th.

In 2012, 5.6 million motor vehicle crashes occurred across the nation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of these, 30,800 were fatal, resulting in 33,561 deaths. Nearly 1,200 of those fatalities occurred in Georgia.

Allstate points out that 70 percent of vehicles involved in auto claims are considered drivable, an indication that most collisions occur at low speed in stop-and-go traffic.

The frequency of auto collisions suggests that you may one day have to deal with an insurance company as a result of an accident. Throughout the claims process, you will face a number of variables as you work to get the best outcome possible.

During the process, questions may arise. Make sure all of your questions are answered before you finish filing your claim.

An insurance settlement could be your best option in many cases. If you are unable to reach a settlement, a civil lawsuit may be in order. 

Settlements Vary

When an insurance company is notified of an accident, it sets up a claim file, and turns the case over to an adjuster who monitors it and offers settlements for property damages and injuries.

Settlements can vary according to the extent of any injuries and the amount of property damage. Even accidents that look minor can result in a large settlement, especially if injuries are involved.

The insurance company may offer you a settlement you feel is unfair or does not adequately compensate you for your losses. Your Atlanta car accident attorney will help you determine what is fair. 

Injuries

Most injury claims are not settled or resolved until the extent of the injury is documented and medical treatment has been completed.

If you have been hurt in a wreck, you can receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earnings, and the value of bodily injury, including pain and suffering.

Evaluating a bodily injury claim is the hardest aspect of a case, so you need to get prompt medical attention. If you make any follow-up physical therapy or chiropractic appointments, be sure to keep records of the appointments along with all bills.

Insurance companies take into account the permanency of any injury, so be patient. It may take six months or longer before your physician can determine whether your injury will result in a permanent impairment.

Property Damage 

Claims that involve property damage alone are usually resolved within a short period of time – generally 30 days – based on an appraisal.

If your accident is clearly the other driver’s fault, you have the right to submit your claim for damages directly to that driver’s insurance company. If there is an issue about fault,  the other driver’s insurance provider may offer you just a percentage of the fair market value of your vehicle or the cost of repair.

Fair Market Value

Industry book values dictate the market value of your vehicle. If you disagree with the value an insurance carrier assigns your wrecked vehicle, you have the right to get other estimates. Your insurance policy contains instructions on resolution of disputes over value.

Be aware of expensive storage fees for vehicles declared total losses. The insurance company paying your claim may not pay these fees. Also, any insurance company that pays you for a total loss has the right to take possession of the vehicle and the title papers, remove your vehicle from storage, and have it salvaged.

Statute of Limitations

In Georgia, victims of vehicle accidents generally have two years to bring a claim. If you are involved in a serious wreck, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will apply the facts of your case to the law and proceed in a timely manner.

The provisions of your insurance policy determine when and how you can bring an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.

Your Settlement

Like most claimants, you want to know how much money you are entitled to receive in damages. Of course, this depends on your insurance company and the circumstances of your accident.

Online accident damage calculators may give you an estimate by taking into account driver error, your car’s condition and other factors. Your attorney is responsible for working with you to make sure you receive full and fair compensation.

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Bruce Millar on March 25th, 2014

152165606Distracted driving is finally gaining attention as one of the most dangerous behaviors on the road. Eating, texting, talking on a cellphone and other activities that take a driver’s attention away from the primary function of driving can lead to injuries or death from car crashes.

Across the nation, more than nine people are killed each day and 1,060 injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The three main types of driver distraction are:

  • Visual: Looking away from the road
  • Manual: Removing hands from the steering wheel
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind off driving

Cellphone use involves all three of these, according to the CDC. Sending and receiving texts takes the driver’s eyes off the road, requires both hands to punch in messages, and requires a driver’s cognitive attention. Drivers under age 20 are at the greatest risk for this behavior and have the highest percentage of fatal crashes involving distractions, the CDC reports.

If you’re involved in a collision caused by a distracted driver, you can take steps that will help your auto accident attorney obtain compensation on your behalf:

  • Don’t depend on law enforcement officers to investigate whether the other motorist involved was talking or texting on a cellphone. It may be difficult for an officer to confirm whether distractive behavior was occurring in the seconds leading up to the crash.
  • Write down the time and date of the crash for possible comparison with the driver’s cellphone records. Give the information to the investigating officer for the incident report.
  • Record information about weather conditions and the road, such as whether it was slick from a recent rain, had a coating of ice or was dry. That will help you recall details about the crash that you might forget otherwise. In addition, make a diagram of the crash scene and how the wreck happened.
  • Gather information from witnesses who might have seen whether the other driver was on a cellphone or behaving in some other distracted manner.
  • Use your cellphone to take pictures of the crash scene, including skid marks and all vehicles involved.

Remember, texting while driving is illegal in Georgia, as is use of cellphones by younger motorists. Yet people continue to engage in this dangerous behavior. Armed with that information, you stand a much better chance if you need to take legal action against a driver who causes a crash. 

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Bruce Millar on March 18th, 2014

453376679Drinking and driving is a plague on the nation, claiming thousands of lives each year. But while drunk driving gets the most attention, walking and bicycling under the influence are also problems.

The percentage of bicyclists and pedestrians killed in traffic crashes while under the influence of alcohol has remained largely unchanged for 20 years, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Of pedestrians age 16 and older who were killed in 1992, 39 percent had blood-alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher. In 2011, the proportion was 37 percent. Among bicyclists killed, 26 percent had a blood-alcohol content above .08 in 1992. It was 25 percent in 2011.

Nationally, pedestrian deaths declined 12 percent over the 20-year period, to 4,152. At the same time, bicycling deaths jumped 45 percent to 608, according to the institute.

Georgia had no significant changes in pedestrian deaths in recent years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 147 pedestrians died in Georgia in 2008, 130 in 2011 and 167 in 2012. Fatalities involving cyclists declined slightly from 20 in 2008 to 17 in 2012.

Extra Danger

Pedestrians and bicyclists who have been drinking are more likely to be killed or injured in a crash because of risky behavior, according to the Insurance Institute. Alcohol-impaired pedestrians may cross the street against the light, cross in the middle of the block or display some other unsafe action.

Seventy percent of pedestrian fatalities take place at night, a third of them between 8 p.m. and midnight and 24 percent between midnight and 4 a.m., according to the Georgia Office of Highway Safety.

People are more likely to be under the influence of alcohol at night, which is a likely factor in the high percentage of bicycling and pedestrian deaths that occur after dark.

Safety Initiative

The state joined pedestrian and bicycling advocates earlier this year in an effort to encourage people to wear reflective material that makes them more visible at night. The Office of Highway Safety also urged pedestrians to use sidewalks and to cross at crosswalks when available.

Bicyclists are encouraged to ride with the traffic flow, and in Georgia a new law improves bicycling safety by requiring vehicles to give them a minimum of three feet of space when passing.

Most important, though, pedestrians and bicyclists need to remain alert to nearby vehicles when sharing the road with cars and trucks. Pedestrians and cyclists are no match for cars and trucks in a collision. If you have been harmed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, it’s important to understand your legal rights. 

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456518351Georgia law prohibits texting for all drivers and bans all cell-phone use for bus drivers and novice drivers. But this dangerous behavior is all too common, and victims in distracted driving wrecks shouldn’t leave investigations completely to police.

Recording important information from the scene of the crash could enable a motorist hit by a distracted drivers to present a better court case, and improve their chances of recovering damages.

According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were 1,236 traffic fatalities in Georgia in 2011, a slight decrease from 2010. But traffic accident deaths were up again for 2012.

The number of distracted driving accidents continues to rise, and innocent people continue to suffer. Distracted driving was blamed for an estimated 421,000 injuries in motor vehicle crashes across the country in 2012. That represents a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011, according to Distraction.gov.

Many driving behaviors such as eating or programming a GPS are considered distractions, but across the nation cell-phone use is viewed as the greatest threat of distracted driving to other vehicles.

In fact, two years after a distracted driver caused a car crash that killed a 5-year-old boy in Annapolis, Md., the Maryland legislature is considering legislation to levy prison sentences and heavy fines against distracted drivers who cause a death or serious injury.

Dubbed “Jake’s Law” for the little boy who lost his life, the legislation also would require drivers to provide law enforcement with their cell phone number, service provider and email accounts associated with the phone if the officer has “reasonable grounds” to believe use of the phone contributed to the accident.

Records show the driver who caused the wreck was texting 12 minutes prior to the crash and that he was on the phone when the wreck occurred.  He was convicted of negligent driving and failure to control speed and was fined $1,000.

If you have been involved in a vehicle accident and believe the other driver was using a cell phone when the wreck occurred, here are some steps to take:

  • Record information such as the date and time of the wreck so it can be compared with the other driver’s cell phone records. Pass this information along to law enforcement officers for their report.
  • Take note of roadway conditions and weather conditions, providing a complete recollection of the wreck. Draw a diagram of how the accident occurred.
  • Talk with witnesses to determine if they noticed the other driver using a cell phone and take down their contact information.
  • On the scene, snap photos with a camera or your cell phone and be sure to include skid marks, as well as all cars involved.

Under Georgia law, you may be able to pursue legal action.

An Atlanta accident attorney will work with you to secure compensation for any medical costs, lost wages, emotional suffering, and property damage you sustained because of the other driver’s negligence. Beyond securing the compensation you need, a distracted driving lawsuit sends a clear message that failing to pay attention to the road is unacceptable and dangerous.

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Bruce Millar on February 28th, 2014

car accident lawyerTwo years after a distracted driver caused a car crash that killed a five-year-old boy in Annapolis, Md., the Maryland legislature is considering strong legislation to levy active prison sentences and heavy fines against distracted drivers who cause a death or serious injury.

Dubbed “Jake’s Law” for the little boy who lost his life, the legislation would also require drivers to provide law enforcement with their cell phone number, service provider and email accounts associated with the phone if the officer has “reasonable grounds” to believe use of the phone contributed to the accident.

In December 2011, the driver of a jeep, going 62 miles per hour, plowed into a line of stopped traffic. The wreck involved four vehicles, including the car carrying a five-year-old boy in the back seat. The rear end collision killed him and devastated the family.

Records show the driver who caused the wreck had been texting 12 minutes prior to the crash, and he was on the phone when the wreck occurred.  He was convicted of negligent driving and failure to control speed, and was fined $1,000. The tragic accident underscores the serious consequences of distracted driving.

Georgia law bans all cell phone use for bus drivers and novice drivers, and bans texting for all drivers.

According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were 1,236 traffic fatalities in Georgia in 2011, a slight decrease from 2010. But the administration reported fatalities were up again for 2012.

The number of distracted driving accidents continues to rise, and innocent people continue to suffer. Distracted driving was blamed for an estimated 421,000 injuries in motor vehicle crashes across the country in 2012. This represents a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011, according to Distraction.gov.

Many unsafe driving behaviors can distract drivers, including using a cell phone, eating, reading a map, programing a GPS, reaching for something inside the car, looking at scenery or objects along the roadway, adjusting the radio or music player, and grooming.

Cell phone distractions are often viewed as posing the greatest threat to other vehicles.

If you have been involved in a vehicle accident and believe the other driver was using a cell phone when the wreck occurred, here are some steps to take:

Record information such as the date and time of the wreck so it can be compared with the other driver’s cell phone records.  Pass this information along to law enforcement officers for their report.

Take note of roadway conditions and weather conditions, providing a complete recollection of the details of the accident, including the moments before it happened. If you can draw a diagram of how the accident occurred, that might help your case as well.

Talk with witnesses to determine if they noticed the other driver using a cell phone and take down their contact information in case their testimony is needed.

On the scene, snap some photos with a camera or your cell phone and be sure to include skid marks, as well as all cars involved.

Under Georgia law, you may be able to pursue legal action against the driver who caused your crash. An Atlanta accident attorney will work with you to secure compensation for any medical costs, lost wages, emotional suffering, and property damage you sustained because of the other driver’s negligence. Beyond securing the compensation you need, a distracted driving lawsuit sends a clear message that failing to pay attention to the road is unacceptable and dangerous.

When drivers choose not to devote their full attention to the road, other motorists can suffer because of these decisions. It may be hard to prove in court, but if you take careful notes and are able to provide crucial details to your accident attorney, you may be entitled to hold the negligent driver responsible for his or her careless actions and help keep the highways safer for other drivers.

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Bruce Millar on February 21st, 2014

When you are hurt in a car crash, you may be vulnerable, emotional, and overwhelmed with police reports, medical appointments, and missed workdays.

In most cases, an insurance adjuster working for the driver who caused the accident will call you or show up on your doorstep and offer to help. The adjuster may offer you money or ask you to sign documents. The adjuster may even ask you to record a statement.

Just say no. The adjuster may be friendly and seem concerned about your well-being, but he or she is not your friend.

Avoid providing the opposing insurer any information at all before contacting an experienced auto accident attorney.

 Recorded Statements Risky

Insurance companies request recorded statements in hopes of capturing information that will allow them to avoid compensating accident victims for their injuries. Most cases do not benefit from recorded statements, but insurance companies seek them, hoping you may reveal a detail that could be used to deny your claim, pay a smaller settlement, or use your own words against you if your case goes to trial.

Most people are not accustomed to answering questions for a recording.  Speaking into a microphone is intimidating, scary and stressful. An adjuster may ask questions designed to cause you to admit the accident was your fault. You may misspeak or forget details. You may not understand the questions, or the interviewer may ask questions in a way that could trip you up.  Being injured and upset over the accident only makes it worse.

Once you give a recorded statement, it will be impossible to change anything you have said. That record is made on the spot, with no time to prepare. It may come before you have seen a doctor and obtained an accurate diagnosis of your condition. If you give incomplete answers because you have forgotten some details, you’ll encounter skepticism or disbelief if you try to add to your statement or correct your mistakes.

Some injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, don’t reveal themselves until days or even weeks after an accident, and you may unknowingly make statements that will prevent you from getting the compensation you are entitled to.

If you wish to deal with an insurer representing the opposing side in your accident case, call an attorney to help you through the process.

Tips for the Interview

Here are some general tips to help you get through an insurance interview:

  • When you are speaking with an adjuster have your lawyer present to offer advice and serve as a witness.
  • Request your statements remain unrecorded and ask the adjuster to take notes instead.
  • Answer the questions succinctly and truthfully.
  • Answer only the questions asked. Do not ramble or volunteer any extra information.
  • Do not offer explanations unless you are asked for them, and even then, provide brief responses.
  • Do not answer questions you don’t understand.
  • Do not guess and don’t assume any answers, especially with regard to facts, such as dates, times, distances, speeds and other numerical details. This information is available on your police report.
  • Don’t let the adjuster bully you into answering.
  • Don’t make estimates.
  • Don’t use words that have absolute meanings such as “never” or “always.”
  • Always ask for the interviewer’s notes and subsequent report.
  • Take your own notes for reference
  • Do not sign anything.

Keep in mind insurance companies are businesses whose mission is to be profitable.  When you have been in an accident and receive a call from an adjuster or claim representative requesting a statement, understand the caller’s purpose is to get you to make concessions that may result in denial of your claim or to minimize the amount of a settlement.  Therefore, be very careful about the statements you make.

Remember, your car accident attorney always acts in your best interest. Having your attorney present during encounters with adjusters will help you avoid inaccurate responses. Your attorney will be there to represent your interests and take the pressure off you.

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Bruce Millar on February 17th, 2014

Most drivers are involved in a vehicle accident at least one time in their lives, but with luck, that accident will not cause serious injuries.

Whether major or minor, accidents are scary and upsetting. They can interrupt lives and leave motorists dealing with property damage, accident reports, and insurance companies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 5.6 million wrecks occurred across the country in 2012, up from 5.3 million in 2011.

If you are involved in a wreck, even if it is not your fault, you may have to set appointments with doctors, go to court, and miss work, which may lead to lost wages.

Georgia law contains certain requirements for drivers to follow when they are involved in a wreck. If you are hurt in an accident and intend to file a claim for personal injuries, you can help your own case if you follow state laws.

The state of Georgia has a statute of limitations, giving you two years to file a personal injury claim. Missing a filing deadline can cause your case to be dismissed. It is important to contact a Georgia car accident attorney as soon as possible.

When you contact your attorney, have on hand the accident report prepared by police or other law enforcement agency. The accident report should contain critical information about your wreck, including the names and contact information for other drivers involved, their insurance information, and the names and contact information of passengers and witnesses.  The accident report also should contain vehicle information as well as a narrative and a visual drawing that describes the crash.

Also provide your attorney with important information including the names of doctors or clinics with whom you have dealt, dates related to the accident, photographs, and any other relevant documents.

Your attorney will review the information, advise you on the merits of your case, and help you fill in any missing pieces.

Here are other steps that may help the outcome of your personal injury case.

Report the accident.

The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in someone’s death, injury or property damage that appears to be $500 or more is required to notify local authorities immediately.

Stay at the scene.

The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident must stop immediately and remain at the scene. If there are no injuries or fatalities, the drivers should move their vehicles out of the roadway, if possible. If there are serious injuries or deaths, the vehicles must remain in place until law enforcement has completed its on-site investigation.

Have insurance information available.

Anyone who suffered injury or property damage is entitled to insurance information from the drivers involved. The information must include the name and address of the owner and driver of each vehicle, the license number of the motor vehicles, and the name of liability insurance carriers.

Notify your insurance company.

You have a duty to report claims to your insurer as soon as possible and to cooperate with your insurance company in the investigation and handling of your claim. Make sure you keep copies of any letters you send to the insurance company, and make detailed notes of your conversations with insurers.

Photograph the scene and any injuries.

It is important to take pictures of all vehicles involved in any accident as soon as possible. It is easier to persuade your insurance company or a jury that the impact from the collision was severe enough to cause your injuries if you have a photograph of your crushed vehicle. Photographs of your injuries will help provide evidence long after the healing process is complete.

Be careful what you say.

Anything you say can be used against you in court, so be careful what you say after an accident. You have a duty to cooperate with authorities and your own insurance company, but you are not required to discuss the accident with the other motorists or their insurance companies. Seek legal advice before making any statements.

Make notes.

If possible, make notes on your observations of the scene including the name, address and telephone number of each person you speak with and the substance of your conversation. Keep notes of your injuries, the inconvenience and hardship that the wreck caused, and how your injuries affect your life on an ongoing basis.

Keep your accident out of social media.

Don’t blog, tweet, or post any information concerning your wreck or injuries to social media sites. You may inadvertently say something against your own interest that could be used against you later.

Seek medical care.

If you are injured, visit a doctor, even if you don’t think your injuries are significant. Insurance companies or opposing counsel in court may question your right to compensation for damages if they perceive you were not hurt badly enough to seek medical attention. Keep every doctor’s appointment; follow all medical advice your doctor provides, take all prescribed medication, and keep all bills and records related to your medical care should you need them to establish your claim.

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Bruce Millar on February 7th, 2014

A police officer in Dunwoody, Ga., was “dumbfounded” when a driver he pulled over couldn’t stop talking on his cellphone, WXIA reported recently.

The officer spotted the driver weaving, making illegal turns, and nearly stopping for green lights in Dunwoody, a suburb north of Atlanta. So he pulled the driver over and discovered he was talking on his cellphone, which is not illegal in Georgia.

The policeman was planning to issue the man a simple warning until the driver’s cellphone rang and he answered the call. So instead of a warning, the policeman gave the man a ticket for distracted driving.

Agency Seeks Ban on Phone Use by Drivers

The National Transportation Safety Board has listed distracted driving among its Top 10 Most Wanted List of transportation improvements for 2014. Whether operating a car, train, plane or marine vessel, multitasking is never a good idea.

According to National Safety Council estimates, one in four vehicle crashes involves cellphone use, both handheld and hands-free.  The National Transportation Safety Board has called for a total ban on all cellphone use by drivers.

The use of hands-free devices while driving is a generally accepted across the country, but studies show that it is no safer than using handheld devices. Drivers talking on even hands-free cellphones are cognitively distracted behind the wheel.

A whitepaper by the National Safety Council reports that drivers who use cellphones have a tendency to “look at” but not “see” up to 50 percent of the sights along the road. The phenomenon is also known as inattention blindness, in which drivers fail to notice and respond to hazards. In some cases, distracted drivers don’t even remember what they were looking at as they drove.

Multitasking is valued in today’s busy society, and our desire for increased productivity makes us believe we must use our cellphones while behind the wheel to keep up with our work and deadlines.

But human brains cannot perform two tasks at the same time. Brains handle tasks sequentially, juggling from one to another, often at lightning speed.

Enforcement Is Key

Distracted drivers often have problems staying in their correct lane without weaving or running off the road.

Their response time may also be slower. Even using a hands-free phone increases reaction time to braking vehicles ahead. A fraction of a second can mean the difference between a crash and a near-crash, an injury and no injury, life or death.

Many people are aware of the risks associated with distracted driving but do so anyway because they are overconfident about their own driving skills. For example, more than a third of drivers admit to sending or receiving text messages while driving, and 18 percent admit doing so regularly. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, text messaging raises the risk of a crash risk 23 times.

Safety advocates say consistent enforcement of laws is the most important and effective strategy in changing behavior behind the wheel. One driver in Georgia learned that lesson first hand.

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Bruce Millar on January 31st, 2014

Though drivers across the United States generally believe speeding is a problem, one in five admit they try to get where they are going as fast as they can.

Nationwide, speeding accidents take close to 10,000 lives every year, amounting to nearly a third of all traffic deaths and costing approximately $40 billion, the NHTSA reports.

In December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its newest National Survey of Speeding Attitudes and Behavior, which examined the public’s mind-set toward speeding.

According to the study, four out of five drivers believe observing the speed limit reduces the chances of a car crash by making it easier for drivers to avoid dangerous situations. More than 9 out of 10 respondents agreed with the statement that “everyone should obey the speed limits because it’s the law.”

Close to half of all respondents, or 48 percent, agreed that it is very important to reduce speeding on roadways throughout the country.

But despite acknowledging the safety benefits of speed limits and understanding the need to follow the law, more than a quarter of drivers admitted they speed without thinking and enjoy the feeling of driving fast. Sixteen percent of the respondents said they believed “driving over the speed limit is not dangerous for skilled drivers.”

Complete Picture

The survey is designed to give researchers and safety officials a more complete picture of how auto accidents happen that crash statistics alone cannot provide. The data serve as a foundation for strategies to help prevent highway tragedies.

Other statistics from the survey:

  • Of the types of drivers identified in the study, 30 percent were non-speeders, 40 percent were occasional speeders, and 30 percent were speeders.
  • Half of the drivers ages 16-20 were classified as speeders, as compared to 15 percent of the drivers 65 or older.
  • Speeders tend to be more affluent, with 42 percent of drivers with annual household incomes exceeding $100,000 classified as speeders, while only 25 percent of drivers with annual household incomes of $30,000 speed.
  • Nearly half the respondents – 48 percent – said it is important to reduce speeding on the nation’s roadways. Also, about 48 percent said they think speed limits should be enforced all the time.

The survey was the third in a series of such studies. The first study took place in 1997 and the second in 2002.

The most recent study took place over approximately five months in 2011. Researchers interviewed a nationally representative sample of 6,144 drivers ages 16 and older.

States Set Limits

Setting speed limits is generally the responsibility of state governments. In Georgia, the speed limit for cars and trucks is:

  • 70 mph on rural interstates
  • 55 mph on urban interstates
  • 65 mph on other limited access roads

Based on an average of one traffic fatality a day, the Georgia legislature enacted a “Super Speeder” law in January 2010 that places an additional $200 fine on drivers convicted of speeds over 75 mph on two-lane roads and over 85 mph on four-lane roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently launched a special campaign nationwide called “5 to Drive” to encourage parents to discuss critical driving practices with their teenage drivers. In addition, the agency provides resources and guidance for establishing speeding policies and laws, as well as increasing public awareness of the risks associated with speeding.

Source: Governor’s Highway Safety Association

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