What Is Being Done to Keep Teen Drivers Safe?

Teen Driver

It’s a fact. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash, with the risk of motor vehicle crashes higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group.

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, at approximately 2:07 p.m., the Oregon State Police responded to a head-on two vehicle fatal crash on US Highway 101 near milepost 14. The preliminary investigation revealed a black Honda Civic, operated by a male age 18, was traveling northbound and lost control rotating sideways into the southbound lane. A southbound silver Toyota 4-Runner was unable to stop, hitting the passenger side of the Honda. The teen driver of the Honda suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. Speed was considered as a contributing factor for the crash.

Statistics show that teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and underestimate dangerous situations, and alcohol is frequently a factor. Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in a crash in 2014, 36% were speeding at the time of the crash and 24% had been drinking, with 64% not wearing a seat belt. Distraction from cell phones and young passengers also increases the danger of a fatal crash.

Graduated Driving Licenses for Teens Featured in Most States

Nearly all states give graduated driving licenses to inexperienced young drivers while they safely gain experience before obtaining full driving privileges. Most programs are in three stages:

  • Learner Stage: supervised driving followed by a driving test
  • Intermediate Stage: limited supervised driving in high risk situations
  • Full Privilege Stage: a standard driver’s license

38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers. In all states, except Vermont, drivers in the intermediate stage are restricted from nighttime driving, and 46 states and D.C. restrict the number of passengers during the intermediate stage.

Once licensed in Oregon, for the first six months a teen driver can’t drive with a passenger under the age of 20 who isn’t an immediate family member, and for the second six months can’t drive with more than three passengers under the age of 20 who aren’t immediate family members. For the first year, teens may not

By |November 19th, 2017|Auto Accidents|

Request for Production with Rizk Law

By |November 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|

5 Reasons Insurance Companies Make Low Offers on Claims

The first in a new series of short, informational films, Richard Rizk reveals the 5 reasons he believes insurance companies makelow offers on claims. With experience working for and against insurance, Richard knows how to beat insurance companies at their own game.

By |November 2nd, 2017|Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Insurance Law, Personal Injury|

5 Things Portlanders Should Know about Forest Fires

Although the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge made for depressing headlines, it’s important to understand fire’s role in the forest’s life cycle. Fire is a crucial component that helps forests regrow greener and stronger than before. Our forests actually rely heavily on the occasional natural or manmade fire to renew themselves.

It goes without saying that watching coverage of the Gorge burning for days on end was difficult to bear. Many of us who relish nature hikes in our beloved public lands were heartbroken to see vast swaths of trees burned beyond recognition and smoke clouding the atmosphere for miles. The Eagle Creek fire certainly was a serious and life-threatening event; it even rained ash in the nearby city of Portland. The air quality was polluted for several days following the incident, and many people living in surrounding towns were evacuated.

How Wildfires Benefit Our Forests

Firefighters risked their lives to control the fire to protect people and property in communities nearby. It makes sense to show concern and fear over a major forest fire that grew to torch tens of thousands of acres. Yet, media coverage and politicians frequently take advantage of such events to push anti-environmental agendas, blowing their descriptions of the forest out of proportion. Even Lt. Damon Simmons of the Portland Fire & Rescue Bureau responded to The Oregonian that the forest is not the charred wasteland the media tried to portray. “The gorge still looks like the gorge. It’s not a blackened, destroyed no-man’s land.”

This is partially due to the fact that the fire burned in a healthy mosaic pattern. Several plant species that thrive in the forests of the Pacific Northwest rely on fire to regenerate and grow. Forest fires prepare the soil for seeding by creating an open seedbed, which makes nutrients more available for uptake. One of fire’s most important effects is that it often kills invasive species that compete with native plants.

Fires that burn in this pattern burn hot in some areas, killing off most of the trees, while other areas burn lightly or not at all. Heavily burned areas can initially be difficult to look at, but in time these areas produce some of the beauty we see today. These

By |November 2nd, 2017|Protecting Oregonians|

Trucker Sleep Apnea Rules Halted

Sleep Apnea





In August 2017 the administration put the brakes on a year-old effort to find ways to diagnose truckers who may have sleep apnea, a serious health condition linked to crashes.

In its zeal to block and limit regulations, the administration determined not to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on sleep apnea as a cause of truck crashes, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said that “the current safety programs” and other rules “addressing fatigue risk management are the appropriate avenues to address the issue.”

FMCSA Delays Effort to Track and Treat Trucker Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is an often-undiagnosed disorder causing one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. When this happens, your sleep is interrupted repeatedly during the night, causing you to be tired during the day. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits, and no blood test can help diagnose the condition.

Truckers experiencing daytime drowsiness behind the wheel are a danger to themselves and other drivers on the road. Since 2009, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been calling for better screening of truck drivers, and for more than a year, federal officials have been working on guidelines for diagnosing sleep apnea in transportation workers.

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) says “A motor carrier may not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle if the driver has a condition, including sleep apnea, that would affect his or her ability to safely operate the vehicle,” at this time there are no federal regulations for tracking or treating sleep apnea in transportation workers.

Research Links Sleep Apnea to Truck Crashes

A study conducted in 2016 by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Morris, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital showed that truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who failed to adhere to treatment had a rate of preventable crashes five times higher than that of truckers without the condition. The researchers estimated that up to 20 percent of all large-truck crashes result from drowsy or fatigued driving. The study’s findings suggest that, to continue driving, commercial truck drivers should be regularly screened for sleep apnea and required to treat it if they have it.

Sleep Studies Accurately Diagnose Sleep Apnea

Truck driving is a solitary job that can lead to being

By |October 28th, 2017|Truck Crashes|

Top 5 Portland Neighborhoods to Avoid Trick-or-Treat

The evidence that Portland is one of America’s favorite cities is conspicuously reflected in its soaring housing costs and influx of non-native Oregonians. For several consecutive years, Portland has ranked as one of the top cities to live in the United States. As with any densely populated city, there are some neighborhoods that should be avoided after sundown.

GoLocalPDX News analyzed 5 years’ worth of data from the City of Portland and the Oregon Department of Transportation to create a list of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Portland. They considered the number of police and fire reports, and ODOT’s ranking of the city’s 60 most dangerous intersections to compile this list. On Halloween night, steer clear of these 5 neighborhoods, if you can.


Halfway between the heart of Portland and Gresham lies Hazelwood, a neighborhood in which there are consistent reports of criminal activity. In the 5-year period, there were over 10,000 police incidents and almost 500 fire calls. The Gateway Transit Center is considered the most dangerous in Portland, with many crimes taking place near this stop. In 2009, there were more rapes and murders in Hazelwood than in any other neighborhood in the city. 122nd Ave. and SE Stark is considered the most dangerous intersection in Hazelwood.


Divided by I-205 and just south of US 26/ SE Powell Blvd is Lents. The Lents neighborhood had just under 7,000 police incidents and over 400 fire calls in the five-year period. The Eastport Plaza Shopping Center, which houses a Walmart Supercenter, is regarded as the neighborhood’s most active crime corner.


Hugging Lents on its north-east corner is the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood in East Portland. This neighborhood had 6,025 police incidents and 394 fire calls. One-hundred seventy-one accidents were reported at the intersection of SE 82nd Ave. and SE Powell.


Slightly northeast from Powellhurst-Gilbert is the Centennial neighborhood, which experienced 5,568 police incidents and 254 fire calls.


Just west of Centennial is Montavilla. This neighborhood had 3,695 police incidents and 229 fire calls in the five-year span.

5 Halloween Safety Tips

Besides avoiding certain parts of town, there are many ways to keep your children safe during their once-a-year trick-or-treat endeavor. Keep these simple tips in mind.


By |October 25th, 2017|Auto Accidents, Misc, Protecting Oregonians|

New Tests Show Truck Side Underride Guards Could Save Lives

Side Underride Crash






According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 4,000 people were killed in collisions involving underride between 1994 and 2014. Of that number, about 1,530 were related to side underride crashes. Recent tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that protective side panels at the bottom of trucks would prevent deaths from passenger vehicles sliding underneath.

In 2017, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ran two 35 mph crash tests, one with a side underride protection device from Airflow Deflector Inc. called an AngelWing  and the other with a side skirt made of fiberglass meant only to improve aerodynamics, not prevent side underride. Those tests showed AngelWing side guards stopped passenger cars from sliding underneath, while cars that hit trucks equipped with only a fiberglass skirt did not stop and became lodged underneath the trailer, after the truck had sheared off part of the car’s roof.

David Zuby, executive vice president and chief research officer for IIHS said “Our tests and research show that side underride guards have the potential to save lives. We think a mandate for side underride guards on large trucks has merit, especially as crash deaths continue to rise on our roads.”

Regulators Delay Acting on Life Saving Side Underride Guards

Steel bars hanging from the backs of truck trailers called underride guards have been required on trucks since 1967 when a car slid beneath the back end of a big rig, instantly killing its driver. Due to the celebrity status of the car’s driver, media attention to the horrific crash prompted new federal regulations requiring protective underride guards on the back of all big rigs. Nothing, however, was done to prevent side underride crashes.

Fast forward to 2016, when Joshua Brown’s Tesla Model S fatally collided with the side of a big rig that sheared off the top of his sedan as it slid under the truck. Side underride guards on the truck would have stopped the slide, so that air bags and seat belt could have prevented his death.

Two Mothers Suffering Loss Seek Legislative Action

Mary Karth, mother of nine children, with a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan has joined with another mother, Lois Durso in drafting legislation aimed at preventing underride crashes, called the Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017.


By |October 24th, 2017|Auto Accidents, Truck Crashes|

Fire Damaged Gorge Soil Increases Landslide Danger

Debris Flow







While Oregonians welcomed rain in late September 2017, after the Columbia River Gorge Eagle Creek fire scorched large sections of forest, consuming 48,831 acres, destroying homes and forcing evacuations, landslides posed a new threat to the area.

The Eagle Creek fire carried smoke and ash across the Portland area to the western boundaries of Washington County, until an unusually hot, dry summer gave way to cooling fall temperatures and moist conditions. Although heavy rain in October was a welcome relief, it created a new danger of landslides and flash floods in the Gorge.

Gorge Geologic History Reveals Landslide Vulnerability

Bill Burns, engineering geologist with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), predicted high risk for landslides throughout fall and winter and for several years to come. Compiling information from historic records and looking at landslides through aerial LIDAR images that reveal contours of past landslides in the area on the Oregon side of the River, Burns found evidence of 286 recent, historic, and prehistoric landslides that had traveled over a mile. The aerial images showed areas of the Gorge already susceptible to landslides overlapping with areas of the Eagle Creek fire, indicating where landslides will be more likely to occur in the future.

“We can’t predict when and where the next landslide events will occur,” Burns said. “But by improving information about existing landslide locations, we better understand what areas might be hazardous during storm events, or where taking action to reduce risk is a good idea.”

When Is a Landslide a Debris Flow?

When fire strips away trees, shrubs and grasses, water can infiltrate the ground, making it more prone to sliding. Ground movement can be expected after landslides, causing surface erosion first, followed by rock falls, and then debris flows.

A debris flow is an extremely destructive landslide that moves faster than a person can run. During a debris flow, masses of rock and earth saturated with water create a flowing river of mud that can travel suddenly with no warning, at avalanche speeds for a mile or more, growing in size as it picks up trees, boulders, cars and other materials.

Areas below steep slopes in canyons and near the mouths of canyons are especially hazardous for landslides and debris flows. The most dangerous places are:

  • Canyon bottoms, stream channels, and areas of rock and soil accumulation at the outlets of
By |October 21st, 2017|Protecting Oregonians|

Truck Platooning Limited by State Traffic Laws








Platooning trucks digitally-connected, driving in formation boosts fuel economy, limits traffic congestion and improves highway safety, yet lack of uniformity of state traffic laws is holding back its widespread use.

What is Truck Platooning?

Platooning is a driving strategy that features trucks traveling in a line, connected using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology. The truck in front controls the braking, acceleration, and distance of following trucks, with the distance between trucks decreased to reduce wind resistance between them. This reduces drag on the truck in front and those in back, causing more fuel efficiency for all vehicles. Bicycle racers and auto race car drivers use this strategy, called Drafting or Slipstreaming, to increase speed.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in trials projects fuel/cost savings of 2.2 percent to 5.3 percent for trucks leading a platoon pack and 2.8 percent to 9.7 percent for trailing trucks. Michael Lammert, senior fleet test and evaluation engineer for NREL calculated a 4.2 percent reduction in total truck energy use and carbon emissions if adopted widespread.

Technology Advances Anticipating Nationwide Regulatory Uniformity

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) classifies six different levels of vehicle autonomy, based on the amount of necessary driver intervention. Level 0 uses no automation while Level 5, considered “high automation,” requires no human intervention with the vehicle fully self-driving. Truck platooning uses Level 1, requiring a driver to be ready to take control at any time.

Automated trucking innovator Peloton Technology in Mountain View, California has partnered with FEV North American Inc. to produce radar-based detection systems connected to its cloud-based operations center. Using GPS and radio-frequency identification technology, the program decides when weather, traffic, topography and other environmental factors are inappropriate for platooning, with the driver still in the equation as a highly skilled manager rather than laborer. With a video feed in the rear truck showing its driver what the lead driver is seeing, when another vehicle cuts into the platoon, the technology gives full manual control back to the rear driver.

Lack of Traffic Law Uniformity Delays Implementation

Already popular in Europe, platooning needs uniform state traffic laws in the U.S. for commercial deployment. Presently, state traffic laws regulating time and distance between vehicles vary or, in some states, do not exist. Some states use a “Reasonable and Prudent” standard, which requires a driver to keep enough space ahead, usually several hundred

By |October 16th, 2017|Truck Crashes|

AAA Study Shows Dangerous Driver Distraction from Infotainment Systems

Dash Controls

The recent ban on texting while driving hasn’t eliminated all driver distractions. A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that In-Vehicle Information Systems (IVIS) requiring touch screen and voice interaction are just as distracting, increasing the risk of crashes.

The features of vehicle infotainment systems have expanded, opening up more tasks accessible to motorists while driving. Many of these features are unrelated to driving and divert the eyes and attention of drivers from the road and their hands from the steering wheel, causing them to miss stop signs, pedestrians, and other vehicles.

In 2017, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, formerly known as the American Automobile Association, commissioned the University of Utah to study vehicle infotainment systems, to find the most demanding task, compare the demand required for voice commands vs touchpads, and determine whether the demand varies between makes and models.

Four types of tasks were evaluated in the study, using different modes of interaction:

  • Calling or dialing
  • Text messaging
  • Tuning the radio
  • Programming navigation

The study found navigation to be the most demanding task, taking a driver’s eyes off the road for more than 40 seconds to set and navigate the system, and suggested that drivers set the system before beginning a trip and use it only when absolutely necessary.

Depending on the available features, each vehicle offered up to three modes of interaction, including:

  • Voice commands
  • Center stack display
  • Controls in the center console

Although all methods of interacting with an infotainment system were distracting, using the touch screen and knobs and buttons built into the dashboard was less demanding than using voice commands, which was less demanding than using writing pads and dials in the center console.

Two similar studies in 2015 at the University of Utah commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that, although voice-commands resulted in lower levels of visual demand than touch commands, interaction times were longer, taking up to 27 seconds to regain full attention after issuing voice commands, the time that it takes to cover the length of three football fields traveling at 25 mph.

“The voice-command technology isn’t ready,” said Joel Cooper, a University of Utah research assistant professor of psychology and co-author of the 2015 studies. “It’s in the cars and is billed as a safe alternative to manual interactions with your car, but the voice systems simply don’t

By |October 8th, 2017|Auto Accidents|