September is here, bringing cooler nights, football, changing leaves, and school buses on every corner. Did you know that Maryland falls in the top ten states for school bus fatalities for students between the ages of 12 and 19? Many times, these accidents occur because an estimated one out of every five teenagers cross streets while engaging in distractions such as phone conversations, texting, listening to music, or playing games on their devices. We want everyone to stay safe when sharing the road with buses and students. Here are five driving safety tips for the back-to-school season.
1. Obey the Signs
Whether it’s a school speed zone or a crossing guard, always obey the signs. Some driving safety tips about signs:
- Never try to “outrun” the crossing guard
- Stop when you spot the school bus flashing yellow or red lights
- School zones mean that you must stop for anyone in a pedestrian walkway
- Never block a crosswalk at a red light or when turning
- Only proceed when a crossing guard waves you through an intersection, even if you don’t see any other kids waiting at the corner.
2. Understand School Bus “Behavior”
A school bus is similar to a tractor trailer in the way it is driven, meaning it’s a large vehicle that needs extra time to stop. It makes wide turns, and has large blind spots.
Don’t “hang out” alongside a bus, and don’t assume the driver knows your vehicle is there. Be aware at intersections where the bus will pull wide for turns. Trying to squeeze past it is a dangerous gamble.
3. Do Not Pass
Remember, your inability to see around the bus makes passing it as dangerous as blindly passing a truck on the highway. Passing a stopped bus is also dangerous for the children who may be crossing the road.
4. Unpredictable Kids
As we discussed earlier, kids are easily distracted. Driving safely means understanding that just because you see them doesn’t mean they see you. Kids seldom understand the risks of their behaviors and will often ignore hazards. Don’t believe it? Think of a child chasing their ball into the street; they probably won’t stop and check for traffic first. In fact, most child fatalities in bus-related incidents are less than 8 years old, and they were crossing the street when struck.
Some of the unpredictable behavior involves distractions, such as using personal devices, while others involve clusters of kids. If you see one child crossing the street, be aware there are probably several others not far behind. Make sure all kids are safely across the street and the bus has turned off all alerts before proceeding.
5. Expect the Unexpected
Allow a safe distance between you and the bus, and expect the unexpected. School bus drivers must come to a complete stop at all railroad crossings, whether there is a train coming or not. Allowing a safe distance will give you more time to stop if the bus driver does something unexpected, and gives you plenty of time to stop when it turns on its flashers.
During slippery conditions, allow even more stopping distance between your vehicle and the bus. Remember that it’s not just ice or snow that creates a slippery surface; wet leaves and rain also make for unpredictable and hazardous road conditions.
Kids Aren’t the Only Ones in Danger
Don’t assume that just because a school bus is driven by a professional, they will always make wise choices. If you’ve been injured in a school bus incident, don’t wait; contact Arthur Crum, PA, and let us evaluate your case.
Here’s a sobering fact: tractor-trailer accidents result in nearly 500,000 non-fatal accidents and 4000 fatalities every year. It’s really not surprising that tractor-trailers, which are between 20 and 30 times heavier than average cars, are involved in so many accidents. After all, it’s estimated there are 3.5 million truck drivers in the US alone.
Why Are There So Many Tractor-Trailer Accidents?
Truck drivers must complete a training program and pass knowledge tests to get a CDL, and many employers require even more training before allowing drivers to hit the highway. With so much required training, why are there so many tractor-trailer accidents?
Many truck drivers are fighting fatigue, using caffeine or other stimulants to get them to the next stop. Still, the scheduling is tight and many tractor-trailer drivers are fighting fatigue that makes them drowsy. Truck drivers often operate regardless of their health status, and some may even be operating their rigs under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Distracted driving is always dangerous, and even more so for truck drivers. A fraction of a second’s distraction at the speeds and weights of tractor-trailers can have devastating consequences.
Not Following the Rules of the Road
Speeding, veering over highway lines, driving unsafely in hazardous conditions, and aggressive driving are all major factors in the numbers of tractor-trailer accidents. In addition, the “blind spot” plays a huge part in accidents as truck drivers attempt to change lanes.
Improperly Maintained Vehicles
Improperly maintained vehicles and other faults with the trucks play a part in accidents. In addition, an improperly balanced load, or one that is too heavy, can cause a tractor-trailer to perform poorly even with the most skilled driver behind the wheel.
What to do if You Are Involved in a Tractor-Trailer Accident
While the stakes are higher in an accident, the steps to take following one are the same as with any other vehicle accident.
Safely Move Your Vehicle Out of Traffic if You Can
The first step is to get your vehicle out of the way, if it’s still drivable. A tractor-trailer accident takes up more space on the roadway, and many drivers will try to go around the incident if possible, and their ability to see your car may be hindered by the truck. Safely pull off to the side of the road if possible.
Notify the Authorities
Call the police immediately, and don’t be afraid to call for medical services even if you don’t think you are injured. Many injuries aren’t apparent at the scene of an accident, and emergency services should evaluate you even if you think you are unharmed.
Exchange driver’s information such as license and insurance. Take a picture of the tags of the truck as well.
Find Witnesses if Possible
With a tractor-trailer accident, you are seldom on the road alone. These accidents tend to happen on highly traveled, busy roadways with lots of other drivers. Finding a credible witness or two can help you prove your case.
While this isn’t the time for finger-pointing, you should gather as much evidence as you can. Witness statements, as mentioned above, are important, but so are photos from the scene. Take numerous photographs of the scene, the truck, and your vehicle’s damages.
Call an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Never try to file an insurance claim on your own. These companies exist to find ways to deny claims, and it’s best to leave them to the professionals. A personal injury attorney who specializes in vehicle accident claims is the best way to ensure you get all the post-accident benefits you deserve, such as lost wages, medical bills, and physical or emotional impairments (pain and suffering).
Why Call the Law Offices of Arthur Crum, PA?
Arthur Crum is a leading attorney throughout Western and Central Maryland, and has been recognized for many years as the “attorney’s attorney” for accepting referrals from other law offices for legal counsel following vehicle accidents.
Our objective is to represent all stages of the victim’s case, from the initial consultation to the resolution. We believe in clear and informed representation, keeping in touch with clients every step of the way.
If you’ve been involved in a tractor-trailer accident, it’s not too late to call the Law Offices of Arthur Crum for a free consultation. Contact us now to make sure you make informed choices about your options following the incident.
In the aftermath of an accident, tensions and anxiety run high. You may not even be sure how the accident happened. Witness testimony is an important part of your insurance claim, but having a witness who isn’t credible can damage your claim far more than it will help you.
What do we mean by credible, and what makes a credible car accident witness? Let’s take a look.
What Does “Credible” Mean?
Credible is the quality that makes a witness believable. In other words, a credible witness is one whose testimony is likely to be considered true and unbiased. There are many factors in determining witness credibility, including their demeanor at the scene of the accident. A witness who is under the influence of alcohol or other substances, for instance, is less likely to be taken seriously. Likewise, a difficult or “hostile” witness can be deemed uncredible.
What Makes A Credible Car Accident Witness?
There are many factors in establishing witness credibility, some obvious and some less so.
Willingness to Come Forward
At the scene, credible car accident witnesses may be the first to approach you with phrases like, “I saw the whole thing” or “that driver ran the red light.” A witness’s willingness to come forward with their version of events at the scene is a great start in establishing credibility. A credible witness will be willing to wait for the police and issue a statement, or to write down their description of the incident and contact information if waiting on police isn’t possible.
Your witness’s background may also weigh in on their overall credibility, fairly or unfairly. A witness who has a history of lying to police or who has a criminal record is less likely to be believed. Of course, you won’t know this at the scene of the accident; your attorney will be able to vet your witnesses after the incident.
Relationship to Driver
A witness’s relationship to the driver can affect credibility. It’s hard to believe that a family member or friend would be able to provide a true and accurate account of the incident. Insurance companies may jump on these relationships to discredit the witness’s testimony.
Mental State at the Scene
A credible witness must be clear-headed when providing testimony. Drugs, alcohol, or even cognitive difficulties can cast a shadow over witness credibility. Additionally, some physical impairments such as loss of hearing or, obviously, blindness, will diminish witness credibility.
Location of the Witness During the Accident
A witness’s vantage point is important in establishing credibility. A credible witness will be one that had a clear view of the entire accident and was not distracted when it occurred. To be considered credible, a witness should have seen the incident in its entirety, including what actions the drivers were taking just prior to the accident.
A credible witness’s story won’t change significantly from its first telling. Some changes, such as remembering smaller details, are normal but if the witness testimony continuously changes at its core, it won’t be considered credible.
Gathering Witness Testimony at the Scene
You won’t know if a witness’s testimony will be considered credible or not when you’re initially getting their statement. It’s important to make sure you gather all witness statements at the scene, including contact information.
It’s not your responsibility to vet these witness statements at the time; leave that to the professionals. Your attorney will be able to sort through testimony to see if it will help your claim. If testimony is deemed as not credible, s/he may omit it from your claim altogether.
Your attorney will also make sure that witness testimony “lines up” if multiple witnesses were on the scene of the accident.
Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friends
Insurance companies aren’t out to help you and make sure you receive fair compensation. There are agents within these companies whose purpose is to discredit testimony, lower your compensation, and find ways to deny your claim.
It’s important to have professional legal counsel when dealing with insurance companies, other drivers, and witnesses. Never speak to the other drivers after an accident, and don’t file your claim on your own or submit witness statements to insurance companies until your personal injury attorney has had a chance to vet all the information and explain the best way to proceed.
From the moment of impact, your life is changed forever. Motorcycle accidents are almost always more severe than car accidents, frequently resulting in serious injuries and, in a lot of cases, the loss of your bike. Motorist insurance will cover some of the costs, but keep one thing in mind: the insurance companies are not on your side and will try to avoid paying a claim.
Your actions after a Maryland motorcycle accident could mean the difference between receiving compensation or walking away with bills and injuries that could last a lifetime.
Here’s a look at what to do after a motorcycle accident, and just as importantly, what not to do.
DO: Report the Accident
If the other party is insisting on handling the claim privately, you may be tempted to not report the accident. No matter what the other party says about payments and settlements, always report the accident to have a legal police document regarding the incident. Evaluate yourself and the other driver, and call for emergency medical services if necessary.
DO NOT: Drive Away
Leaving the scene of an accident is a big no-no that will land you in legal trouble. Stay at the scene and await police, even if the other party leaves or insists that notifying the authorities isn’t necessary.
DO: Collect All Information
You don’t need to wait on the police for this step, provided it is safe to communicate with the other driver, your injuries aren’t severe, and you are both calm. Make sure to take pictures of the car, your bike, and the other party’s license, registration, and insurance information. If possible, snap a few pictures of the entire car, not just the damaged areas, to protect yourself from fraudulent claims of damages after the incident.
DO NOT: Underestimate The Severity of Your Injuries
Even if you are walking around following the accident and feeling unhurt, it’s good practice to have a followup with a physician within a day or two of the accident. Many injuries aren’t felt immediately, and will worsen over time. Not having a doctor evaluate your injuries as soon as possible following the accident can interfere with the damages you are seeking following a motorcycle accident in Maryland.
DO: Seek Witnesses
Finding a witness to the accident will help you prove your claim. Make sure to get the witness’ contact information, and inform the police that there is someone who can verify the details of the accident.
DO NOT: Claim Fault
It’s a tricky situation; the natural instinct after an accident is to apologize. Try to avoid generalizations such as “I’m sorry,” and never say anything that could be construed as claiming fault, like “I wasn’t looking” or “I didn’t see you.”
DO: Notify Your Insurance Company
Regardless of fault, your insurance company needs to be notified about the incident. It’s your responsibility to file a claim, even if it “seems” obvious the accident was the other party’s fault.
DO NOT: Talk Directly to The Other Party’s Insurance Company
It’s important not to engage with the other driver’s insurance company without a legally prepared statement. Remember that insurance companies aren’t on your side, and a claim can be denied based on something you inadvertently said or implied.
DO: Get Legal Help Immediately
A lot of things are going on after a motorcycle accident in Maryland, and it’s an overwhelming process full of potential mistakes that could result in your claim being denied. It’s important to retain legal counsel immediately after the accident to protect your legal rights.
DO NOT: Hire an Inexperienced Attorney
Not all attorneys specialize in personal injury and accident litigation. It’s important to find an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to represent you, handling the insurance companies and paperwork for you to ensure you are properly compensated.
DO: Call Arthur C. Crum, Jr.
Arthur C. Crum, Jr. is a practicing motorcycle injury lawyer, serving areas of Western and Central Maryland including Frederick, Hagerstown, Frostburg, and more. To discuss your case, call the law office of Arthur C. Crum, Jr., today. We offer free consultations and there are no legal fees or costs unless we recover for you. Contact us at 301-662-4088.
Nothing can take away the pain of losing a loved one, but the victim’s family members may be eligible to sue for damages relating to the loss. Wrongful death claims are the avenue for recouping all losses, financial and otherwise, related to the incident, vehicle accident, or motorcycle crash that led to the death of an individual.
The term “wrongful death” indicates a death caused by the negligence of another person. This applies to someone who caused a fatal accident, or even a mechanical defect or malfunction that led to the victim’s death.
Motorcycle Accidents and Wrongful Death Claims: What is Covered?
After a motorcycle accident, wrongful death claims can be filed to cover a wide variety of expenses and losses. Some of these include:
- The victim’s hospital and medical care prior to death
- Lost earnings and economic support, both past and future
- Pain and suffering experienced by the victim and the victim’s family
- Funeral expenses such as burial and cemetery costs
- Loss of solace, guidance, consortium, and companionship
- Punitive damages that allow the victim’s family to seek justice for the death
Wrongful death settlements are generally paid out by insurance companies, and insurance companies are in no hurry to pay. It’s always better to hire a motorcycle accident attorney rather than try to take on a wrongful death claim on your own.
Motorcycle Accidents & Wrongful Death Claims: Who Can File?
Every state has different requirements and limitations for who can file a wrongful death claim following a motorcycle accident.
Maryland allows these claims to be filed by a parent, child, or spouse of the motorcycle crash victim. These immediate family members are called “primary plaintiffs.”
If the victim had no parents, spouse, or children a wrongful death claim may be filed by any other family member who depended on the victim and is related by blood or marriage. These “secondary” plaintiffs are only qualified to file if there is no primary plaintiff.
It’s important to understand that not all deaths qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit. In order to file a wrongful death claim following a motorcycle accident, there are four things that must be proven:
- Negligence: The defendant’s actions caused the death
- Causation: How the negligence caused the death
- Breach of duty: The defendant had a duty to act, and by failing to do so, caused the death (in a motorcycle accident wrongful death suit for instance, the driver if the other vehicle has a duty to drive responsibly and safely)
- Damages: The victim’s loss has placed hardship on the survivors through mental anguish, financial losses, medical bills, burial expenses, etc.
Courts in Maryland will only allow one wrongful death claim to be filed on behalf of the victim. If the decedent had a will, a probate estate must be opened and the estate’s executor can bring the wrongful death lawsuit.
There is a statute of limitations in Maryland; generally, the wrongful death claim must be filed three years or less following the victim’s death. There are some exceptions, but there are very specific guidelines that must be met to qualify for them.
Why do You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit is filed in a civil court, not a criminal court. What this means is that the “bar” for proving guilt is set lower than a criminal suit, but the entire process is still quite complex.
The case will go through many stages including discovery and investigation, strategy planning, expert testimony, witness statements, and tort law research specific to proving the incident was caused by the defendant.
Because the suit is heard in a civil court, the success of the suit is based on the quality of the argument and the credibility of the claim rather than the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard necessary to prove criminal wrongdoing. For wrongful death suits, the preponderance of evidence standard is applied; this means that evidence presented can convince the court that there is a 50% or greater chance that the claim is true. A skilled motorcycle accident attorney is necessary to build the wrongful death case to ensure that this burden of proof is met.
Sometimes, the legal process can involve mediation and out-of-court settlements. If a settlement is not an option, the suit will move into the courtroom. It’s important to remember that wrongful death settlements are generally paid out by insurance companies, and insurance companies are in no hurry to pay.
A wrongful death lawyer is one who specializes in these claims, protecting the victim’s family and ensuring they receive the compensation they are entitled to. For more on our personal injury, motorcycle accident and wrongful death legal services, see our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us now.
For motorcyclists, spring and the open roads are calling. Warm, dry weather should mean clear roads for bikers, right? Surprisingly though, 63% of motorcyclist fatalities in 2019 occurred between May and September. Weather, it turns out, has less to do with accidents than you might think. Instead, studies suggest it’s the time of day you choose to ride that holds the highest risk for motorcycle safety.
The most dangerous times of day to ride your bike will be rush hour and weekend nights. Your biggest risk for motorcycle accidents are on weekdays between 3:00pm and 9:00pm. Weekend motorcycle accidents occurring after 6:00pm, however, accounted for 48% of motorcycle deaths. That means that the highest concentration of accidents occur on weekend nights.
Hitting the streets during times of sun glare and direct sunlight pose significant risks as well. Sun glare causes hundreds of accidents per year, whether from driving into direct sunlight in the morning hours, or dealing with the light transition as it sets in the evening. Riding at dusk carries increased risks of glare when oncoming traffic begins to use headlights.
Sobering Facts About Motorcycle Safety
You already understand that riding your bike increases your risk of accidents as well as your odds of suffering severe injuries from those accidents. Some sobering facts about motorcycle safety:
- A motorcyclist is 29 times more likely to suffer a fatality than occupants in cars.
- 80% of motorcycle accidents will result in injuries with 45% of those injuries severe.
- Two-thirds of single-vehicle motorcycle (no other drivers involved) accidents occur because of speeding.
- Over 50% of multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents (involving other drivers) happen at intersections.
- 40% of all single vehicle motorcycle fatalities occur at corners and when turning.
- In 2019, 34% of motorcycle fatalities involved sport and supersport motorcycles.
- The fatality rate of sport motorcyclists is twice that of conventional motorcyclists while the death rate of supersport riders is four times that of conventional bikes.
- Drunk driving is responsible for one-third of motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycle Safety On The Road
To stay safe on the road, it’s advised to avoid rush hour and weekend evenings as well as times when sunlight will interfere with your vision. Since this isn’t always possible, here are a few motorcycle safety tips to keep you safe.
1. Wear Protective Gear
Motorcycle helmets can lower your risk of a head injury by 69%, and decrease your risk of death by over 50%. When choosing a helmet, the National Highway Safety Administration stresses the importance of having the right fit.
Always wear sunglasses or protective goggles as well as long pants, boots, gloves, and a heavy jacket. Avoid loose-fitting clothing, and choose bright, highly visible colors. Since the majority of motorcycle accidents happen close to home and on short trips, get in the habit of wearing your protective gear every time you hit the road.
2. Obey Traffic Laws
Stop at lights and stop signs, use your turn signals, and obey speed limits. All traffic laws apply to motorcycles as well as cars.
Drive defensively and always assume that other vehicles can’t see you on the road. This means using extra caution when making lane changes and turns. Try to keep yourself out of a driver’s blind spot, and always be alert to unexpected turns, stops, and lane changes.
Lane splitting for any reason is illegal in Maryland. If you must pass a vehicle, follow the same traffic laws that apply for passing in a car.
3. Avoid Distractions
Distractions when driving in a car are bad enough, but being distracted on your motorcycle can be fatal. When riding your bike, avoid:
- Using electronics
- Adjusting your music while in motion
4. Keep Your Bike Maintained
Routine maintenance of your bike is a crucial part of motorcycle safety. Low tire pressure, cracked hoses, leaking gas tanks, and poorly lubed chains can all result in a situation where your bike fails you, and when it does, it will be at the worst possible time.
Seasonal maintenance is important to keep your bike running safely and reliably.
5. Ride Sober
Motorcycle safety can be complicated enough when you’re sober. Don’t drive drunk, or even tipsy. Accounting for a third of all motorcycle accidents, drunk driving is not just unsafe; it’s illegal.
It’s not just alcohol that can land you in big trouble; Maryland recognizes “Drugged Driving” as cause for a DUI. In other words, a DUI covers any substance that impairs your judgement, slows your response time, and clouds your thought processes.
Stay Safe on the Road
With more bikes gearing up for the warm weather, motorcycle safety is more important than ever. Stay visible, stay alert, and stay safe.
If you’re a motorcycle rider, warmer temperatures mean you’ll be able to take your bike out more often for longer periods of time. Take the time now while the weather is still transitional to do those all-important safety checks to ensure your motorcycle meets all the basic requirements.
Brakes: The ability to stop your bike isn’t really optional, is it? So test the front and rear brakes separately, making sure each feels firm and holds the motorcycle when the brake is pushed down the whole way.
Tires: Good tread is key to driving your motorcycle safely through spring storms and summer thundershowers. Start your tire evaluation by checking the tread on your tires. Look for all types of damage, including cracking and spots where the rubber has dried out. Got good tread? Next, check the pressure in your tires. Keeping the pressure at recommended levels has a big impact on how safely your bike handles.
Lights: Because motorcycle safety depends on visibility, testing your bike’s lights is critically important. Test your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals—and don’t forget your four-way flashers and your dash indicators.
Horn: Alerting other drivers of where you are on the road requires a working horn. Make sure it works before you need it.
Fluids: Read your owner’s manual to be sure you’re filling up and topping off your fluid levels properly, including your oil. Like worn down tire tread, having fluid gauges that are not filled correctly will negatively affect how well your bike handles as well as engine performance.
Controls: Make sure there are no leaks or rust along the lines of your bike’s controls.
Throttle: Make sure your motorcycle’s throttle feels tight and smooth, and that it snaps back when you let go.
Mirrors: Motorcycle safety has a lot to do with controlling the things you can control. Because there’s no way you can be sure a driver is paying attention to you, your safety depends on your ability to keep track of them. So make sure you can see the lane behind you and the lane next to you and adjust your mirrors accordingly. Be sure you can move your mirrors smoothly and ensure that they lock in place.
Helmet & Gear: Once you have your bike road-ready, take a good look at your gear. Your leathers and armor should be free of damage and fit well. Your helmet should be approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation and free of cracks and fit snugly. Wearing a helmet greatly increases your chance of survival if you’re in an accident.
Making sure your bike is road-ready for the spring riding season is only part of motorcycle safety. Practicing defensive riding completes the picture. Know the helmet laws—in your state and in any other state you may pass through. Get familiar with license requirements and insurance laws for motorcycles.
If you or someone you care about has been injured in a motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to call us or use the form to submit your information for a free consultation of your claim. It’s important to capture any evidence quickly, and to file claims within legal limits.
Most Marylanders didn’t see much snow last winter, but so far, 2021 has more than made up for that. The Farmer’s Almanac’s prediction of a wet, snowy winter for the mid-Atlantic region has been turned into a reality, especially in Frederick and western Maryland– bringing with it more challenges for drivers on the roads.
Driving safety experts say that drivers should prepare for snow and ice on the roads early so that a sudden winter storm isn’t a dangerous surprise. Let’s talk about a few things you can do to be ready to drive safely this winter:
Put snow tires on your car.
Experts recommend you get four snow tires put on your care to give you better traction and maximize your steering/braking ability in the snow, ice, and slush – thus reducing your chances of a car accident.
Check your engine.
Cold weather is hard on your car engine, so pay a bit of extra attention to it to keep it running smoothly this winter. Keep the coolant, oil, and other fluids at recommended levels, either by checking them yourself or bringing your car in for regular maintenance.
Top up windshield wiper fluid.
Visibility in bad weather is critically important, so do your part by replenishing your windshield wiper fluid regularly. Most windshield wiper fluids contain a de-icer as well, which is handy in a sudden ice storm or snow shower until you have time to physically clean your windshield. Road salt, along with additional dirt, slush and grime from wintery roads, can make it especially difficult to see – so keep a spare bottle of windshield wiper fluid on hand in case you run out.
Check regularly for any headlights, signal lights or taillights that have burned out. Strong light signals go a long way to alerting other cars of your intentions on the road, especially in poor visibility.
Have a winter storm survival kit.
You don’t have to live on Mount Washington to run the risk of getting stuck in bad weather or having to sit out a rough spot on the side of the road. Packing the basics like a shovel, a flashlight, batteries, blankets, water, and snacks is a good idea. Add a cell phone charger, jumper cable, flares– even a bit of sand or cat litter to give tires better traction if needed– round out a well-supplied emergency kit.
Falling snow is beautiful, especially if you’re safe at home with nowhere to go. But if you must brave the roads, or if a fast moving storm comes on by surprise – having your car equipped properly in advance will help keep you, your vehicles, and those you are sharing the road with safe and sound.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than 11,000 tire-related automobile crashes on our county’s network of roads and highways every year. You might be surprised at how little time it takes to keep up with good tire safety practices.
Do a Regular “Walk-Around”
There can be visible signs of problems with your tires long before the pressure gets out of whack or the treads wear down. While you’re filling your car with gas, get in the habit of walking around your vehicle and looking for signs of damage or nails embedded. Check the sidewalls for any bulges, missing rubbers, or deep scrapes. If you can see a lump or bulge, it often means your tire has a broken cord. If there’s an abrasion or divot out of the sidewall, you are well on your way to what could be a dangerous tire failure.
Monitor Tire Pressure Closely
Low tire pressure is the most significant cause of tire-related accidents. Over-inflated tires can cause premature wear on your tire treads or bulging along the tire walls—which can also lead to tire failure. Newer vehicles have Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) that light up on your dashboard if your tire pressure is low, but they do not detect over-inflated tires. That’s why many auto safety experts suggest relying on the old school way of keeping tabs on tire pressure. Keep a stick-style pressure gauge in your car so you can monitor your tire pressure manually at least once a month.
So what’s the right tire pressure for your vehicle? It depends. The recommended pressure for your tires can be found either inside the driver’s side door or in your Owner’s Manual. Keeping your tires inflated to the recommended pressure is best for safety and fuel consumption.
Check for Worn Treads
All tires have a bar in the groove that is molded to a height of 2/32nd of an inch. treads worn to less than that can contribute to tire failure. But who knows what 2/32nd of an inch looks like? Try sliding a penny into your tire treads with the Abraham Lincoln side facing you. If you can see the entire top of Lincoln’s head, you need to replace your tires.
Watch for Uneven Wear
Uneven wear to your tires sometimes means your vehicle has a mechanical issue, like misalignment or worn suspension. Have your tires rotated every 3,000 to 4,000 miles to prevent uneven wear on tires.
How Old are Your Tires?
Aging tires can potentially cause a tire blowout, resulting in the driver’s loss of control, serious injury, or even fatalities. There is no specific age at which tire problems happen. However, a joint report from Ford, GM, Chrysler, and others—as reported last year by ABC News—urged “all motorists to replace tires that are six years of age or older because of the possibility the rubber in them could degrade and create a dangerous situation in which the tire loses its tread.”
After you replace your tires, continuing to head off dangerous tire failure means keeping up to date with the manufacturer. Register your tires so you can be contacted if there’s a recall on them.
Keep all these safety and maintenance tips in mind to avoid dangerous tire failure—not only will you have a safer experience, you’re also likely to save on fuel consumption.
If you have been in an accident because of tire failure, contact The Law Offices of Arthur Crum for a free, no-obligation consultation.
The best time to learn about what to do in the event of an emergency is before it happens. Just as it’s not very effective to try to piece together what you have seen about doing CPR while you are with someone who has had a heart attack, neither does it make sense to try to remember how you should respond on the scene after you have been in an automobile or motorcycle accident.
We urge you to take a moment now in advance of a vehicle accident to learn and understand the three most important things you can do to preserve evidence that might be helpful before its integrity is compromised.
DOCUMENT. If you are physically able and will not be putting yourself in danger, take photos of the scene and make notes if you can. If you have a smartphone, this will be easier. In addition to using the built-in camera, you can also use the “voice memo” app. Just open it and narrate what happened before, during and after—it can be transcribed later. Focus on documenting the following:
- Physical damage to any vehicles and surrounding structures.
- Injuries you, your passengers, and others have suffered.
- Road debris from the vehicles involved. Knowing how far items from the vehicles involved were thrown from the scene can assist an investigator in figuring out how fast the vehicles were going prior to impact.
- Skid marks on the road and/or any property damage incurred can help determine the angle from which your car may have been struck.
- Witnesses. Look for people who may have seen the accident. Ask them for their names and contact information so they can be contacted if needed. It is often impossible to locate witnesses after they have left the scene, so it’s important to talk to them at the time of the accident.
Again, if you are physically able to do so without putting yourself in danger, taking the time to create this sort of documentation of the accident will give your attorney the information they need to build a strong case if the circumstances demand it.
RECOVER. Your car accident attorney may need to help obtain the following types of information, but recovering it can be critically important in validating your case and defending your insurance claim if needed:
- Video Footage. You may not have ever noticed them before, but many buildings have video cameras integrated into their security system. When it’s likely these cameras recorded your accident as it occurred, this evidence will help your attorney understand what happened and build your case accordingly if it is warranted.
- Onboard E-Data. Commercial trucks and even some newer private vehicles record data electronically such as the speed of the vehicle prior to the crash that we may be able to obtain through legal channels.
CONSULT/HIRE. An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to gather, investigate, preserve, and present the evidence needed to represent your vehicle collision claim in the applicable jurisdiction. For example, one thing an attorney may do is send a “letter of spoliation” to the other party involved to keep them from tampering with or destroying evidence. These types of letters frequently request that the other vehicle not be fixed until your legal team has been able to take pictures.
At the Law Offices of Arthur C. Crum, PA, we understand that the period following a vehicle accident is often a challenging time for you and your family. For more than 30 years, we have been helping individuals who have been injured in vehicle accidents to understand the status of their case and the path we recommend to resolve it. This includes meeting with each client to explain the legal process and review the appropriate testimony and documents so that we can have the best chance possible of obtaining all the benefits and compensation they are entitled to under the law.
Arthur C. Crum, Jr. has championed the rights of individuals who have been injured, working to ensure that they are compensated for their loss. As your legal representative, Mr. Crum calls upon more than 30 years of legal experience in cases involving workers’ compensation, serious car accidents, personal injuries, and wrongful death. For more information, call 301-662-4088 or email email@example.com.