Articles Posted in Transportation Accidents

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On Tuesday, May 12, at least seven people died and more than 200 people were injured, many severely, when Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailed in Philadelphia. The “black box” for the train revealed that it was traveling at approximately 106 miles per hour – twice the governing speed limit –as it went into a sharp turn. Passengers were violently flung about the train in what survivors describe as a terrifying event.

Clearly, the train engineer was reckless and must be held largely accountable for the disaster that he wrought. However, this catastrophic accident could and should have been prevented by responsible management of the nation’s train system. “Positive Train Control” computerized technology regulates trains in many other places throughout the U.S. and prevents a train from exceeding the speed limit. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended its deployment in the extraordinarily busy Northeast Corridor, where this crash occurred. However, Congress has irresponsibly voted down the funding necessary to deploy this technology. Unbelievably, Congress cut Amtrak funding the day after this fatal crash.

The Northeast Corridor is the busiest region in the country for train travel. Amtrak carries more than 750,000 passengers a day across eight states and the District of Columbia in this region alone. A vast number of Americans depend on our trains to run safely. Yet, due to a combination of a crumbling infrastructure and driver error there were, according to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis, approximately 1,241 derailments in the U.S. last year. Hundreds of people are seriously injured and many are killed in train crashes annually. By contrast, although Japan has had a high speed rail system for close to 50 years, they have never had a fatality, according to Sean Jeans-Gail, the Vice-President of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. The NARP has long been forcefully advocating for our failing rail system to be repaired and maintained in accordance with reasonable safety standards.

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Philadelphia – Investigators haven’t yet released a statement saying what caused the fatal derailment of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 in Philadelphia last night that left 7 passengers dead and 200 injured. However, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson said that preliminary data indicates that the train’s speed exceeded 100 mph before the derailment. That’s more than twice the 50 mph speed limit for the curve it was in.

Brandon Bostian, 32 from New York was the engineer operating the train. He applied full emergency brakes “just moments” before the train derailed, according to NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt. He also said that the train was traveling about 106 mph as it headed into a left turn.

The location of the wreckage and damage to the cars indicated that speed was a likely cause of this tragic accident. Most trains have a data recorder similar to the “black box” commercial airliners have. The train’s data recorder was discovered at the scene and could be the key to determining exactly what caused the accident.

For now, there are still more questions than answers.
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When driving in Florida, knowing the safest routes is just one of the things you can do to avoid being involved in a car accident.

Whether commuting, picking up the kids or running errands around town, most drivers choose the most direct, least congested routes to their destinations. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the most direct routes might not be the safest, and some roads are downright dangerous.

Motor vehicle accidents don’t usually occur in the absence of driver negligence, however, poorly designed or maintained roads are examples of another kind of negligence that can make driving even more dangerous than it already is. Take, for example, Krome Avenue in South Florida. This 37-mile long roadway in western Miami-Dade County is notorious for fatal car accidents. With dubious nicknames like “Killer Krome” and “Deadly Krome,” the roadway is narrow with poor lighting, and motorists travel at high speeds. There are a disproportionate number of large tractor trailers hauling produce and plants from farms in Homestead on Krome at any given time. This year alone, more than 11 people have died in car crashes on Krome Avenue.

This roadway is so dangerous, in fact, that community organizers have arranged a memorial service this month alongside Krome Avenue for the more than 115 people who have died on the roadway. Community and civic leaders are pushing to widen the lanes of this road, bolster the lighting, and add guardrails and a concrete median to help make it safer.

Another dangerous road: the “Overseas Highway” (also known as the “Highway to the Sea”). This highway carrying U.S. 1 to the Florida Keys with majestic water views on both sides is as beautiful as it is dangerous. Accidents are common as motorists often speed and drive recklessly along the long 127.5-mile stretch.

That said, it’s always important for motorists to keep some important safety tips in mind:
– Be aware of road conditions. Rainy weather, construction, poor lighting, and inadequate road maintenance are all red flags motorists should note and either take extra care in driving or find other routes.
– Know your routes. Take the time to scout out the safest roads to your regular destinations, whether it’s your workplace, kids’ schools, or the home of a family members. Make sure the your favored roadways are not under construction and that the lighting is adequate for even the rainiest conditions.
– Take responsibility as a safe driver. Even the safest roads are only as safe as the drivers on them. This applies to dangerous roads, too. Be a defensive driver and maintain awareness of road conditions and other motorists and how they are driving. Protect yourself with defensive driving. Give other motorists, including truck drivers and motorcyclists, plenty of room and obey the speed limit and other traffic signs.
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According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2009, Florida ranked 3rd in the nation for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) fatality rates in both adults and underage drinkers. The Sun-Sentinel reported that Floridians recorded more than 700 drunk driving deaths in 2012.

Some of the holidays and events that often lead to heaving drinking and increased risk of DUI’s are Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Whether a holiday, a wedding, a date night, or a business networking event, excessive drinking can lead to drunk driving and preventable car crashes.

In addition to choosing not to drink and drive, people who drink but also drive to their destination now have some new options beyond calling a taxi, which doesn’t get your car home, or AAA’s Tow-to- Go, which operates during certain holidays and times of the year.

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ORLANDO, Fla. — A new report suggests that pedestrians in Orlando, FL are most likely to be involved in an Orlando automobile/pedestrian accident. The report ranked Orlando as the most dangerous metropolitan area in the nation for pedestrians. Three other Florida cities ranked close behind.

The National Complete Streets Coalition’s report listed Tampa, Jacksonville and South Florida right behind Orlando with Memphis TN coming in at number five.

The safest cities for pedestrians according to the report are Boston, Pittsburgh, Seattle, New York and San Francisco.

The Florida Department of Transportation is believed to be working to improve pedestrian safety since so many Florida cities were ranked among the most dangerous.

The coalition is a program of Smart Growth America, a research and advocacy group
With no protection, pedestrians are significantly more vulnerable to catastrophic and even fatal injuries when they are hit by a car or truck. Lawsuits against the owners and operators of the offending vehicle may recover damages to help pay for expensive hospital bills and wage loss but often times there are others whose negligence contributed to the occurrence of the accident Continue reading →

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April is National Highway Safety Administration’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This year’s sponsor is FocusDriven. FocusDriven is a place for victims and their families to come together to honor those who have been affected by this issue. They are the constant reminder to the world that no call or text message is worth someone’s life.

According to Distraction.gov, the number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.

Safety advocates believe the best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses. It takes only seconds to cause or be involved in a preventable auto accident. According to AAA, taking your eyes off of the road for two seconds doubles your risk of getting into a crash.

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The public recently learned that the insurance industry uses credit scores to help determine auto insurance premiums and to predict the likelihood that you will be involved in a car accident. Our Miami, Florida car accident lawyers have discovered that some insurance companies offer discounted premiums to drivers who will allow an electronic device to be installed in their automobile to track certain driving behaviors.

What they often fail to disclose is the fact that the data gleaned from those devices (eg. Progressive’s Snapshot or Allstate’s Drivewise) might actually be used to increase your premiums.

The Palm Beach Post recently exposed that while companies tout savings of 30-50 percent, what they don’t disclose is that they can also raise your rates. The Post also reported remarks made by an executive of Ford motor Company which have created some unease about what behaviors companies monitor and what they do with the data – “we know everyone who breaks the law” by speeding thanks to GPS devices. Although the executive quickly clarified that, at this time, it does not use the data without the customer’s consent.

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Do you walk and talk on your cell phone? How about walk and text message? If so, you are not alone. Distracted walking is a growing problem putting many at increased risk of being hit by a car or even becoming the victim of a trip and fall.

You may have seen the well-publicized YouTube videos or security camera footage of people falling into water fountains at shopping malls, people walking into intersections with an oncoming car, or people landing head first on train tracks.

Reports of injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and are almost certainly underreported, according to a recent USA Today article. In 2012, about 1,152 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. for injuries suffered while walking and using a cellphone or some other electronic device, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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Florida cities, including Panama City, Daytona Beach, Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, South Beach – Miami, and Key West, are major destinations for spring breakers and tourists looking for warm sunshine and fun.

Whether by car or by air, hundreds of thousands of people flock to Florida each year to visit its miles of white sandy beaches, theme parks, restaurants, and bars. Some schools and colleges start spring break as early as the last week in February, and it runs through the end of March. According to TripSmarter.com, the two busiest weeks are March 10-17 and March 17-21.

Some common spring break dangers include:

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Tallahassee legislators will soon be voting on a bill that would allow a 75-mph speed limit on some Florida highways and also boost speeds on other roads. Today only seventeen states allow speed limits above 70 mph. But, is this a good idea for Florida?

The proposal includes:

* 75 mph on interstates and other limited access highways (currently 70 mph)