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CONGRESS SEEKS LEGISLATION TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM HOT CAR DEATHS

Posted on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 at 1:43 pm    

As of the end of July, the death toll in 2017 for children dying in hot cars reached 29. Eleven children died in hot cars in July,2017 alone. The last time that this many children died in a single month in hot cars was in 2008.

As a result, some legislators are looking at technology as a possible solution. Recently, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, introduced legislation that would require new cars to be equipped with technology that alerts the driver if a child is left in the back seat when the car is turned off. Blumenthal noted that such technology is already available in many of General Motors newest models.

Since 1998, at least 729 children have died from heat stroke in vehicles in the U.S. The USA Today article notes that the annual number of children dying in hot cars each year increased significantly following legislation that required children to sit in the back seat of automobiles to avoid death from front seat airbag deployment.

Some new GM models prompt drivers to check the back seat if they open a rear door at the beginning of their trip. One safety advocate, Jackie Gillan of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Coalition noted that “We need to educate people to ‘look before they lock’, but on the other hand, we have technology that will solve the problem.”

Source: an articles appearing in usatoday.com on 09/06/17 entitled Hot Car Deaths Prompt Push for Tech That Detects Kids in Vehicles” by Doyle Rice and Greg Toppo.

MOTOR VEHICLE DEATHS DROP SLIGHTLY FOR FOR FIRST HALF OF 2017

Posted on Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 at 1:57 pm    

According to an AP article, preliminary data show motor vehicle deaths and injuries were down slightly for the first 6 months of 2017. Nevertheless, they were still significantly higher than they were 2 years ago.

Through June 30, 2017, a National Safety Council stated there were 18,689 motor vehicle deaths. This was 250 fewer deaths than in the same period in 2016. However, deaths were still up by 8% compared to the first 6 months of 2015.

After several years of declines, deaths began to raise in late 2014. There were 40,200 deaths for the calendar year of 2016 compared with 35,398 in 2015. The AP article notes that these increases correspond with record high miles being driven by Americans as the economy has improved. However, while miles driven for the first 6 month are up by 1.7%, the rate of increase in miles driven appears to be slowing.

Deborah Hersman, president of the Nation Safety Council, stated that “Although the numbers may be lowering off, the road to zero deaths will require accelerating improvements in technology, engaging drivers and investing in our infrastructure.”

The information provided by the Nation Safety Council differs slightly from traffic fatalities reported by the NHTSA since the Federal government reports on deaths on public roads while the Council includes private roads, driveways and parking lots.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on August 15, 2017 entitled “Safety Council: Motor Vehicle Deaths Dip Slightly in 2017” by Joan Lowy.

FIAT CHRYSLER RECALLS 1.3 MILLION VEHICLES FOR DEFECTIVE BRAKES AND AIR BAGS

Posted on Thursday, August 17th, 2017 at 1:22 pm    

Fiat Chrysler recently issued 2 recalls which affect more than 1.3 million vehicles worldwide.

One recall is related to a defect that could potentially cause an inadvertent deployment of the driver side front air bags. According to Chrysler, this recall is a result of wiring that may chafe against pieces of the steering wheel trim which could potentially cause a short that might lead to a short circuit which could result in the inadvertent deployment of the driver side air bag. This recall affects about 770,000 vehicles worldwide including certain 2011 – 2015 Dodge Journeys sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The second recall relates to an anti-lock braking issue involving approximately 565,000 vehicles. According to the USA Today article reporting on the recalls, the alternators in the vehicles must be replaced as a defect in the alternator can cause a compromise in the vehicles anti-lock braking system and electronic stability control. However, the company notes that basic brake function is not effected by the defect. And, the company says that while it has identified 2 accidents that could possibly be linked to the defect, no injuries have been connected with this defect. This recall affects certain 2011 – 2014 Chrysler 300s, Dodge Charger Sedans, Dodge Challenger Coups, Dodge Durango SUVs and 2012 – 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs equipped with electro-hydraulic power steering.

Dealers will repair the vehicles for free and Fiat Chrysler will notify owners when they can get the repairs done.

Source: An article appearing in USA Today on July 14, 2017 entitled “Air Bag, Brake Defects Trigger Fiat Chrysler Recalls of 1.3M Vehicles” by Eric Lawrence.

1.5 MILLION HONDA ACCORDS BEING RECALLED TO PREVENT POSSIBLE ENGINE FIRES

Posted on Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 at 1:51 pm    

According to an article appearing at USAtoday.com, Honda is recalling about 1.5 Million new model Accords globally to prevent possible engine fires that may result from a defect in the vehicle’s battery system. Honda stated that it has linked 4 reports of engine fires to the defects.

This recall covers model year 2016 Honda Accords which were sold in the United States.

Honda stated that the defect involves a 12-volt sensor that monitors the battery’s charge level. According to Honda, the sensor may not be properly sealed off from moisture or road salt which could cause corrosion or electrical shorting. This could result in engine smoke or a fire.

Honda stated that it will notify owners when they can visit their local dealerships for repair and that repairs will be free. However, because of the size of the recall, if upon inspection dealers determine that the battery sensor is in good condition, a temporary repair will be made until enough parts are available to replace the sensors in all vehicles.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on July 14, 2017 entitled “Honda Recalling 1.5M Accord Cars to Prevent Potential Engine Fires” by Nathan Bomey

SUMMER DRIVING SAFTEY TIPS

Posted on Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 at 2:00 pm    

According to a recent article in the Ephrata Review, the highest number of fatal car accidents occur in the months of June and July. Here are a few safety tips offered by the Review to help have a safe summer:

1. AVOID DISTRACTIONS:
It’s recommend that before you leave, you answer any texts or voice messages and choose your radio station in advance. Adjust the volume and interior temperature of your car before you start your trip. Taking these steps should help you avoid any primary distractions while driving.

2. IF IT RAINS, TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS
If it’s raining, turning your headlights on will make you more visible and help other vehicles see you.

3. CHECK YOUR TIRES
Regularly check the air pressure on your tires as under inflated tires can be dangerous and cause your tires to wear quicker. Don’t drive in the summer with winter tires on as they increase your breaking distance.

4. CHECK YOUR WINDSHIELD WIPERS
It is recommended that you change your windshield wipers every year. The rubber can wear off the wiper blades causing streaks on the windshield which will decrease visibility in bad weather.

5. INSECT IN YOUR CAR?
Remain calm! If your hand is near the window control, calmly put your window down, stop the car as soon as possible, and attempt to guide the insect out of the window or door.

Source: An article appearing in the April 2017 Supplement 2 Ephrata Review entitled “Drive Safely This Summer”.

TIPS FOR SAFE DRIVING IN DANGEROUS WEATHER

Posted on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 at 1:38 pm    

The United States Department of Homeland Security offers these safety tips to help avoid dangerous problems created by dangerous weather:

• Plan long trips carefully and check the weather forecast before heading out. If bad weather is forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary.

• Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

1. Antifreeze levels
2. Battery and ignition systems
3. Brakes
4. Exhaust system
5. Fuel and air filters
6. Heater and defroster
7. Lights and flashing hazard lights
8. Oil
9. Thermostat
10. Windshield wiper equipment

You or your mechanic should be sure that all of these systems are in good working order before heading out, particularly in bad or potentially dangerous weather.

Additional things to keep in mind, according to the Department of Homeland Security:

• Keep your gas tank full

• Never drive through a flooded area. Even as little as 6” of water can cause a vehicle to lose control and possibly stall. In a foot of water, many cars will float.

• Beware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Floodwaters may have weakened the roadway and could cause a collapse under the weight of a car.

• If a power line falls on your car, you are at risk of electrical shock and should remain in your car until a trained person removes the wire.

• Winter weather requires that tires with adequate tread for winter weather driving, and you should make sure that your tires are the type suited for winter driving conditions and not designed solely for summertime driving.

Source: www.ready.gov/car

UBER SELF-DRIVING CAR INVOLVED IN COLLISION

Posted on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 at 1:30 pm    

According to a recent article appearing at USAToday.com an Uber self-driving car was involved in a collision in North Tempe, AZ on Friday, March 24, 2017. According to the report, the Uber self-driving car, collided with another vehicle that failed to yield while making a left-hand turn. A third vehicle was also involved in the collision. However, no serious injuries were reported.

As a consequence, Uber has temporarily grounded its self-driving vehicles while an investigation is conducted by the company.

A spokesman for Uber stated that “We are continuing to look into this incident and can confirm we had no backseat passengers in the vehicle.” The vehicle involved in the accident was a self-driving Volvo SUV and was reportedly in the self-driving mode at the time of the collision. Uber has been testing the self-driving Volvo SUVs as part of a $300 million partnership with Volvo.

Sources: Articles appearing at USA.com entitled Ubers Self-driving Car Involved in Arizona Crash by Diego Mendoza-Moyers of The Arizona Republic posted on March 25, 2017 and an article entitled Uber halts self-driving car tests after Arizona crash by Edward C. Baig posted on March 26, 2017.

DANGEROUS USED CARS ARE SOMETIMES SOLD AT AUTO AUCTIONS

Posted on Thursday, April 6th, 2017 at 2:19 pm    

In a recent article appearing in the New York, it was reported that used cars which are subject to safety recalls are sometimes sold at auto auctions without the recall repair having been made or without disclosure that the car is subject to a recall. According to the article, According to the article, this happens because there is no federal requirements that sellers of used cars fix problems related to safety recalls or disclose that the vehicle is subject to a recall when selling the vehicle. The Times notes that efforts to introduce tougher laws for used cars have languished in Congress under lobbying pressure from the used car industry.

The article went on to report a recent example of a 50-year-old Riverside, Calif., woman, Delia Robles, who died in a collision while driving a 2001 Honda Civic equipped with a defected Takata airbag. Delia Robles was killed when she collided with a pickup truck on her way to get a flu shot when the defective Takata airbag exploded, sending shrapnel into the vehicle’s passenger compartment. According to the article, Ms. Robles’ 2001 Honda Civic was sold three times at auto auctions before her son bought it from an acquaintance. Ms. Robles’ car was equipped with a defected Takata airbag. And, according to the Times,her civic was one of about 300,000 cars with defective Takata airbags that federal regulators said posed a particularly high risk of exploding.

According to the Times article, the gentleman who sold Ms. Robles’ car to her son purchased the car at a wholesale auto auction which is a part of Cox Automotive. The article notes that a spokesman for auction said that the company encourages sellers to disclose recall information, but that there was no realistic way for the company to force dealers to disclose safety defects.

The seller of the Honda Ms. Robles’ son bought for her said he was shocked to learn only after her death about the car’s safety issues, and that when he bought the car, “They just said ‘as is’, I knew nothing about the car.”

A spokesman for Honda stated that it had mailed out 20 notifications regarding the recall and made more than 90 phone calls to the vehicle’s previous owners in an effort to have the defective Takata airbag addressed.

Sources: An article appearing at nytimes.com on 10/26/16 entitled “Used Cars Slip Past Recall Safeguards, Putting Drivers in Danger” by Rachel Abrams and Hiroko Tabuchi

TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD KEEP IN YOUR CAR

Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 at 2:26 pm    

Here are ten things that Kelly Blue Book suggest you should keep in you car at all times:

1. INSURANCE INFORMATION AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION
These documents are absolutely essential if you are stopped by a police officer or involved in an automobile accident.

2. FOOD AND WATER
It is a good idea to have some food and water in your vehicle in case you are stranded in a snow storm or an isolated stretch of the highway and help
could be several hours away.

3. BASIC FIRST AID KIT
A good idea just in case someone suffers a minor cut, burn or other minor injury while traveling.

4. GPS AND MAP
Even with modern GPS systems, it is still a good idea to have a map of the area in your car in case your GPS would fail or you can’t connect with GPS.

5. BOOSTER CABLES
Booster cables are a good idea in case your battery should go dead and you need a jump.

6. FLAT TIRE REPAIR KIT
Even if you have a spare tire, it is a good idea to have a sealant in a can for situations when changing the spare isn’t safe or convenient.

7. FLASHLIGHT
Unlike an app on your cellphone, a flashlight won’t drain down your phone battery and will provide far more light.

8. CELLPHONE CHARGER
This will enable to help you keep your cellphone charged just in case of an emergency.

9. TIRE GAUGE
For safety reasons, it is important to keep your tires properly inflated. Having a tire gauge handy will help you remember to routinely check your tire pressure.

10. EXTRA CASH
Keep an extra $20 in the car just in case you forget your wallet or don’t have as much money in your wallet as you thought.

Source: KellyBlueBook.com – Things You Should Keep in Your Car, USA Today: 10 Things to Keep in Your Car in Case of an Emergency – video report May 20, 2015, and askmen.com: Top 10 Things to Keep in Your Car.

WINTER DRIVING – SAFETY TIPS

Posted on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 at 2:58 pm    

Once again, we are in that time of the year when we are likely to encounter snowy and icy road conditions. While no one enjoys driving in slippery or snowy conditions, there are some basic steps that you can take to help make winter driving safer. Here are some winter driving safety tips provided by Travelers Insurance Company.

A. BEFORE YOU GO:

• Make sure your car is ready for cold temperatures and winter conditions. This means keeping your vehicle properly maintained and that everything is in good working order. Be sure to include a winter survival kit in your vehicle.

• Clear snow and ice off of your car. Make sure that the windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk are clear of snow and ice.

• Keep at least a half a tank of gas at all time during the winter season.

• Keep your windshield washer reserve full and make sure that your car has wiper blades that are in good condition.

B. TIPS FOR DRIVING IN THE SNOW:

• Drive with your headlights on and make sure to keep them clean to improve visibility.

• Avoid using cruise control.

• Know how to brake on slippery road surfaces. Vehicles equipped with anti-lock brakes operate differently from those that do not have anti-lock brakes. Consult your vehicle’s owners’ manual for instructions on how to brake properly on slippery roads.

• Remember that speed limits are meant for dry roads. SLOW DOWN and increase your following distances. It will take much longer to slow down and stop on snowy and icy roads.

• Be cautious on bridges and overpasses. They are commonly the first areas to become icy.

• Avoid passing snow plows and sand trucks. The drivers of these vehicles often have limited visibility and the road in front of them can be worse than the road behind them.

• Monitor road conditions and weather conditions by checking internet traffic guides, weather sites and local news stations. (In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Police also provide weather advisories.)

• Use caution when snowbanks and drifting snow limits your view of oncoming traffic.

• If you are caught in a snowstorm and encounter problems, stay with your car and wait for help. Although you can run the car’s heater to stay warm for 10 minutes every hour, you need to be sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. There is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if snow blocks the exhaust pipe and enables the carbon monoxide gas to build-up in your car. Open the window slightly to help prevent the build-up.

• If you must travel during a snowstorm, be sure to let a relative, friend, or co-worker know where you are headed and when you are expected to arrive.

What should you include in your winter survival kit? The AAA recommends that you include blankets, gloves, hats, food, water, important medications, and your cell phone. Travelers Insurance also recommends an ice scraper, snow shovel and sand or salt.

One final word of caution, ask yourself if you really need to go out when the roads are in bad condition. If you really don’t have to go out, stay home. Remember, even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.

Source: An article appearing at Travelers.com entitled Winter Driving Safety Tips and an article appearing at exchange.aaa.com entitled Winter Driving Tips.