Driving safety, life-saving trends to look ahead to on our roadways in 2021

January 20, 2021 | 5:00 am


While more than 35,000 people killed each year in vehicle-related crashes in the United States, and some 3 million injured, government organizations and other safety groups work each year to save lives. Here are a few trends and initiatives drivers can watch for a glimmer of hope in 2021:

 

Pandemic Driving

It’s no surprise that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies showed a decline in roadway fatalities in the first half of 2020 due to a traffic volume decrease from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while the overall number of deaths went down, our country did see an increase in the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Why? Research showed that drivers exhibited riskier behavior while driving in 2020, putting everyone else at risk. In short, more people were speeding, in part because police stopped enforcing as many traffic stops to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Also, seatbelt use went down, and more people died in crashes with alcohol or other drugs in their system. For more on pandemic driving, click here.

In response to findings, the Governors Highway Safety Association said it will kick off a “Speed Management Pilot Program” in 2021, similar to the Click It or Ticket seatbelt program that will include tactics such as “traffic calming” by making roads narrower or adding pavement markings that encourage drivers to slow down. Radar use, “saturation patrols,” and automated traffic enforcement focusing on speeding prevention will also be used. The program will include both rural and urban roadways, although exact locations have not been announced.

In addition, relaxation of lockdowns following vaccinations, more at-home deliveries, and demand for travel in 2021 roads could mean busier roadways than ever.

 

Speed Bumps

Their effectiveness for causing drivers to slow down is unquestioned — speed bumps and speed humps, that is. It’s because of this that the City of Detroit has decided to install 4,500 speed humps across the city in 2021, or roughly three times the amount installed in 2020, according to the Detroit city website.

Detroit first started strategically installing them in 2018. This year’s installations will cost about $11.5 million, and will begin in the spring. Detroit’s residents will be able to request them in their own neighborhoods.

Do you need speed bumps in your neighborhood?

 

Impaired Driving Technology

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is the reason behind two pieces of proposed legislation that would require our country to include drunk-driving-prevention technology in all newly manufactured vehicles to prevent a vehicle from being operated by an impaired driver. According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, this technology could save some 10,000 lives.

The HALT Act, as it’s called, was first introduced in 2019 in the House of Representatives as part of a transportation bill. It directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to add alcohol detection devices with an ignition interlock feature to the country’s safety standards requirements.

Similarly, the RIDE Act (which stands for Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act) calls for in-vehicle anti-drunk-driving technology, and is expected to be reintroduced in the U.S. Senate in 2021. MADD president Helen Witty calls this technology “the key” to avoiding crashes and deaths from drunk driving.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes locally, helping raise nearly $400,000 to help local victims of impaired driving crashes. For its work, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been recognized and honored on several occasions.

 

Other Driving Technology

Companies now have a plethora of technological advances to help monitor and improve driver safety, including black box and smartphone-based solutions. Gathering driving behavior data is just one element of a successful driver safety program.

In addition, development of autonomous (self-driving) vehicles continues to move forward. Automated safety features should lead to a reduction in crashes, officials say. After all, 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error, according to U.S. Department of Transportation.

 

More Government Programs

President Joe Biden has said traffic and infrastructure will be priorities for the U.S. Department of Transportation, led by Pete Buttigieg. Strategies could include long-term, roadway-safety-focused transportation bills, and a national Vision Zero strategy to reduce or eliminate traffic casualties, a focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety, rural-road safety investments, and increased funding for the Highway Safety Improvement Program, according to reports.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Two-wheeled transportation safety tips for bike, motorcycle month and beyond

May 31, 2017 | 10:18 am


May is National Bike Month as well as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, where we celebrate the benefits of riding on two wheels, while remembering the dangers of doing so and measures to help keep everyone as safe as possible.

California is ranked No. 4 in the United States for percentage of commuters who bike to work, according to the 2016 Benchmarking Report by the Alliance for Walking & Biking. California was also above the state average in commuters who walk, bike or take public transit to work, and in getting 150 minutes or more of aerobic exercise.

But the increase of people enjoying life on two wheels has unfortunately led to an increase of bicycle and motorcycle accidents on our roadways.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 818 bicycle fatalities in 2015 in the United States, which was a 12 percent rise from the previous year. Nearly 40 percent of all these fatalities were influenced by alcohol. To combat this disturbing trend, California has passed legislation, including the “Move Over Law” which requires motorists to have a 3-foot space from cyclists. Read more about that law here.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe we should all share the road, and be extra careful when driving around motorcyclist and bicyclists.

Our law firm has been a proud partner of Bike Bakersfield, whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly means of everyday transportation. Recently, Chain | Cohn | Stiles served as a sponsor for Project Light Up The Night, where volunteers hand out hundreds of free bicycle lights in various locations throughout Bakersfield. The law firm also donated 100 safety helmets to east Bakersfield students during a Bike Bakersfield “Kidical Mass,” which featured bike repairs, safety demonstrations, and a group bike ride.

We ask you, the reader, to take responsibility in making sure our roadways are safe for cyclist and motorist alike. Here are a few tips on how we can make cycling, riding and driving in Bakersfield safer and more enjoyable:

Rules of the Road for All

  • Know the Rules of the Road: Bicycles and motorcycles are considered vehicles on the road with all the rights and responsibilities of automobiles.
  • Be Predictable: Ride in a straight line, use signal turns, and signal lane changes.
  • Be Easily Seen: Dress “bright and tight,” which means being seen, and not getting tangled up in your bike.
  • Think Ahead: Anticipate what other motorists will do next, whether it’s turning, braking or accelerating.
  • Ride Ready: Make sure everything on your bicycle is in working condition.
  • Ride and Drive Focused: Never ride or drive distracted.
  • Safety First: Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle or motorcycle, and a seat belt when in a vehicle. A DOT certified helmet is recommended for riders. Cyclists should consider a horn or bell to get others’ attention, as well as reflectors. Motorcyclists should make sure headlights and taillights are in working order, too.
  • Alcohol and Drug-Free: Never get behind the wheel (or wheels) under the influence of any substance.

For more bicycle and motorcycle safety tips, click here to read previous Blogging for Justice posts related to two-wheel safety.

 

— Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles as soon as possible at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Make safety a priority for ‘National School Bus Safety Week’

October 21, 2014 | 9:39 am


Each day, thousands of buses leave their stations to pick up and carry some of our nation’s most precious cargo. It’s important other drivers on the road are extra careful when driving around these vehicles.

Schools across the country this week are recognizing “National School Bus Safety Week,” held this year from Oct. 20 to 24. And school and public safety officials are urging everyone — including parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus drivers, school administrator and others — to make safety a priority this week.

The Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, too, is promoting safety around Kern County school buses.

School buses continue to be the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In fact, students are 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends. And according to the National Safety Council, school buses are 172 times safer than the family car.

Still, accidents involving school buses can happen. Studies have proven that the most dangerous part of the school bus ride for children is when they get on and off the bus, according to the California School Employees Association (CSEA), which receives law firm benefits through the Group Law Services program with Chain | Cohn | Stiles. CSEA, which represents more than 8,500 school bus drivers and other transportation workers, is a leader in advocating for student safety in California, including sponsoring the 1968 law that requires all buses to carry the “Stop when Red Lights Flash” sign.

Here are school bus safety-related tips for all motorists can take into account:

Parents and Children

  • If your child rides the school bus, walk with him or her to the bus stop and wait until the school bus arrives.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least six feet away and wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Never walk behind the bus. If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Don’t try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

Motorists

  • Learn and obey the school bus laws in California. Learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions.
  • Yellow flashing lights mean that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms mean that the bus has stopped, and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop and wait for red lights to stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
  • Be mindful of pedestrians crossing at intersections or crosswalks and slowdown in school zones and residential areas, especially for children playing and gathering near bus stops.
  • Never overtake a school bus, unless you are traveling on a highway or interstate with multiple lanes.
  • Don’t be a distracted driver. You endanger your own life and the lives of others. Your call, text or email can wait.

For more school safety-related tips from Chain | Cohn | Stiles, visit the “Safety Alerts” section here. And if you or your loved one is ever involved in an accident, call the accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website, chainlaw.com.