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Monmouth County New Jersey Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Study finds teen drunk driving rampant in some states

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, some 2.5% of teens aged 12 to 17, 623,000 in all, suffer from an alcohol-related disorder. Teens who drink are not only breaking the law and damaging their health; they are also putting others at risk. The CDC has found that 5.5% of teens in New Jersey and the rest of the U.S. drive after drinking alcohol. Drunk driving is to blame for thousands of injuries and deaths.

A new study from CheapCarInsuranceQuotes.com has broken down CDC data on high school students who drink and drive, determining which states are being hit the hardest by this trend. The study has a list of 15 states with the highest rates of teen drinking and driving, and Arkansas came in first. There, 10.7% of high school students reportedly drive after drinking. The rate of DUI-related fatalities is 4.8 per 100,000 people whereas the national average is 3.4.

Pedestrian fatalities in New Jersey

As more and more cities around the nation embark on efforts like Vision Zero which focus on eliminating pedestrian deaths, people in New Jersey may want to get a full understanding of how big of a risk they face when on foot. Anyone can find themselves in the position of being a pedestrian as even the simple act of walking from a parked car through a lot to get into a grocery store qualifies a person as a pedestrian.

According to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 29% of New Jersey's vehicular fatalities in 2017 were pedestrians. A total of 624 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents statewide that year, 183 of whom were pedestrians. That year also saw the number of pedestrian deaths in New Jersey jump by 20 over the previous year. In fact, the 183 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 were the most recorded in the state in the five years spanning 2013 through 2017.

Ignition interlock devices may save lives

Drunk drivers take the lives of more than 10,800 people and injure approximately 290,000 people every year in the United States, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. While families are out navigating the New Jersey roadways, they are driving alongside thousands of drunk drivers who have three or more prior drunk driving convictions. So, what is being done to limit the number of drunk drivers that are able to climb behind the wheel and commit another offense? 

Ignition interlock devices deter convicted drunk drivers from engaging in this deadly practice. The device is installed directly into the vehicle’s ignition system. Before the car will start, the driver must blow a breath sample into a tube connected to the device. The BAC level must then measure below a certain level. If the BAC level is above that level, the car will not start and all information is recorded in the device. Periodically, the driver will be prompted to submit further breath samples in order to keep the car running. The devices require regular maintenance where information regarding startup attempts and BAC levels is transmitted to law enforcement officials.

The use of stimulants and truck crashes

From poor road conditions due to bad weather to driver fatigue, there are a lot of reasons why large truck wrecks continue to occur. With the massive size of these vehicles, these accidents are especially likely to result in the loss of life or serious injuries that derail someone's life. Unfortunately, some truck drivers use stimulants (both legal and illegal) in an attempt to stay alert while they are behind the wheel. This can be very dangerous, however. Not only does stimulant usage sometimes lead to intoxication, but it can also create a false sense of alertness even though a trucker is very fatigued.

In the trucking industry, drug and alcohol abuse is not uncommon. Some truck drivers develop an addiction to an intoxicating substance, which can result in frequent intoxication while they are behind the wheel. Strong stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine can dramatically affect a truck driver's ability to stay safe on the roadway, causing them to reach excessive speeds or ignore other vehicles around them. Moreover, truck drivers may also drive recklessly when they are coming down from such substances.

Head-on collision caused by drunk driver; man sentenced

When people make the decision to still try and drive after they have consumed alcohol, they are putting everyone around them at instant risk of being injured or killed. This includes their own safety and that of their passengers and other motorists who are driving near them. Often, because they are incapacitated in some way, they do not recognize the seriousness of the decision they are making. This is why it is strongly encouraged that people in New Jersey make responsible plans for their transportation before they participate in parties where alcohol is present. 

In an unfortunate and preventable accident in Memphis, Tennessee, a drunk driver caused a tragic outcome when he slammed head-on into another vehicle carrying multiple passengers. Witnesses, including the man's own passenger, told authorities that his erratic driving was creating concern for many before he slammed into an SUV. In the collision, seven people were thrown from the SUV and the driver, a man visiting the town for a funeral, was killed. 

Truck accidents and a shortage of truckers

Tractor trailers are an essential part of the American economy, as they deliver goods to all parts of the country. Trucking companies rely on reliable and qualified truck drivers to get loads to their destination and meet tight deadlines. While there are nearly 3.5 million truck drivers in the country, a surprising 160,000 truck driving jobs will go unfilled within the next 10 years. This shortage of qualified truck drivers may lead to an increase in large truck accidents

With less truckers to transport loads, trucking companies may be pressured to put unqualified truck drivers on the road in an attempt to get their goods delivered on time. Some trucking companies turn job opportunities away simply because they do not have enough drivers to deliver products. Furthermore, truck drivers may choose to stay behind the wheel for longer periods of time, despite federal regulations mandating breaks and rest periods, in order to make deadlines and earn larger paychecks. Truck accidents caused by drowsy and distracted truckers may results from skipped rest periods. 

What are the hazards of driving at night?

Many people are not through with their day once the sun sets. As winter approaches and the days gradually become shorter, nighttime driving is a part of daily life. While you may be familiar with navigating the roadways in the dark, you may not fully understand the dangers that come with driving at night. Nighttime driving is associated with certain hazards that increase your risk of becoming involved in a deadly car accident. It is critical that you are aware of these dangers so you can minimize this risk and stay safe while driving at night. 

One of the most common nighttime hazards is the lack of natural light. We require light to process information and see our entire environment clearly. While the roadways may be illuminated with street lights, the areas around the road are dark and it can be difficult to see if there are hidden dangers, such as pedestrians or animals. Our response time when reacting to these hazards is also reduced at night. This is especially true for older drivers who require greater amounts of light to see. 

Drunk driving fatalities in New Jersey

For the last several decades, New Jersey residents have seen and heard many public awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of drunk driving and encouraging people to make alternative decisions that are wise and safe. Unfortunately, there remains a core of people unwilling to put the safety of others and even of themselves ahead of their immediate wishes. As a result, too many innocent people continue to die in accidents caused by drunk drivers.

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that New Jersey overall has a lower rate of vehicular fatalities attributed to alcohol than the national average. Still, 125 lives were lost statewide at the hands of drunk drivers in 2017 alone. That number represents 16% of all automotive deaths in New Jersey that year. In Monmouth County, however, the story is a bit different. Drunk driving was responsible for almost 21% of all vehicular fatalities in the county, claiming nine out of 43 lives lost.   

Be wary of insurance company tactics

Insurance companies provide a valuable service for many people. They help accident victims put their lives back together. However, insurers in New Jersey are probably not entirely on your side when it comes to paying for the damages you incur from truck or car accidents. At Escandon, Fernicola, Anderson, Covelli & McPherson, we believe everyone deserves an ally in these types of struggles.

Serious injuries could change your life forever. It could take you years to realize the full extent of the injuries, especially if you try to avoid medical costs associated with diagnosis and therapy. Insurance companies know this, and it is often part of their strategy to delay you and keep you happy until the statute of limitation for your legal claim expires.

Are designated drivers a safe option?

If you are like many other people in New Jersey, you may have a few drinks when going out to dinner or spending a night out with friends. In these situations, you may have been told that designating a driver to stay sober is a good option, as that person will be able to drive everyone home safely. Yet, a study shows that even designated drivers may not stay sober during an evening of festivities and could compromise the safety of everyone they are driving home. 

A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs discovered that as much as 40% of designated drivers have consumed alcohol and some had enough alcohol to compromise the safety of other passengers in the vehicle. During the study, researchers measured the blood alcohol content level of designated drivers before they were getting into the car to drive others home. Approximately 18% of designated drivers had a BAC level of 0.05 or higher. Since the legal BAC is 0.08, this puts those drivers close to being over the legal limit. 

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