In this Blog category you will find articles about motor vehicle accidents and how to avoid them. Personal Injury suits and insurance claims may require the help of an attorney. A good lawyer can protect your rights under the law.

Portland Prepares for 2018 Winter Storms with Salt and More Plows

Snow Storm

 

 

 

To prevent a repeat of last winter’s extreme snow and ice accumulations that paralyzed the city for days at a time, Portland plans more widespread use of road salt this year.

City Unprepared for Last Year’s Thaw and Freeze Event

Last year’s storm was complicated by a short thaw followed by a days-long deep-freeze that turned packed snow into a sheet of ice that plows couldn’t remove. Traffic was stopped trying to navigate slippery hills and city streets, and schools and businesses were closed for days at a time. Finally, the Washington Department of Transportation brought in eight plows and a supply of road salt, however, many felt that not enough salt was applied and too late to be effective.

Portland Reconsiders More Road Salt Use This Year

The city has begun to re-evaluate its long-held belief that road salt draining into rivers and streams from runoff is too environmentally hazardous. This year, city officials felt that the benefits of using road salt during the area’s crippling though relatively short winter freezes would outweigh any environmental damage.

The city’s new plan calls for more widespread use of road salt, with six new salt spreaders that can be installed on city trucks, and it will turn to other bureaus and private businesses to get more crews out clearing roads. City Commissioner Dan Saltzman and the Transportation Bureau asked for $1.2 million to buy new snow-clearing equipment and $1.6 million a year for PBOT’s weather-response staff and materials. Instead the bureau got $30,000 for the new salt-spreaders, with $300,000 set aside in contingency funds for any unforeseen snow removal costs.

“If we do see a major snow or ice event on the level of last year, I won’t be hesitant to ask for more money,” said Saltzman.

City’s Goal of Passable Roads During This Year’s Snow and Ice Storms

Portland’s transportation bureau this year is prepared for what weather forecasters predict to be a similar snowy season due to the influence of La Nina, a pattern of oceanic cooling. The city will keep 300 tons of salt on hand, enough to treat between 2,000 and 3,000 lane-miles of roadway, and will be able to receive and store another 1,000 tons of salt ahead of a big storm.

With a goal of trying to achieve “passable” roads that are navigable for vehicles with front-wheel drive, Portland will try to limit its use

By |December 16th, 2017|Auto Accidents|

Textalyzer Would Help Officers Bust Distracted Drivers

Driver with Phone

Even though most states, including Oregon, ban texting and other kinds of cell phone use while driving, cell phone laws are sometimes difficult to enforce. With a device called a Textalyzer, police officers at the scene of an accident could tell if phone use was involved in the crash.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than eight people are killed every day in the United States and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Including those not reported, the numbers are probably much higher.

Proving cell phone use during a crash can be difficult. Although it is standard procedure for both sides in a disputed vehicle crash to subpoena cell phone call records from the other side, securing cell phone records often takes time.

Textalyzer Would Determine Cell Phone Use at the Scene of an Accident

Modeled after the Breathalyzer, a device called a Textalyzer is currently being developed by Israel-based company Cellebrite. Tailored to laws in the jurisdiction in which it is used, it would determine at the scene of a crash, or afterward, if a driver had been using his or her phone illegally while driving.

A police officer at the scene of an accident would go to the driver and, with the driver still able to hold the phone, attach a cord to connect the Textalyzer to the phone. The officer would tap one button and, in about 90 seconds, the device would show the last activities, with a time stamp. Without downloading any content, the device would only display a summary of what apps were open and in use, and show screen taps and swipes to determine if there was an outgoing call or incoming call.

Privacy Advocates and Civil Libertarians Express Concerns

Controversies surrounding interception of cell phone data by law enforcement have delayed development and approval of the Textalyzer. Following leaks of secret documents in 2013 that revealed its controversial covert surveillance methods, the National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying tactics have been intensely scrutinized by privacy advocates and civil libertarians. Interference with communications signals is supposed to be prohibited under the Federal Communications Act, making the use of these devices by law enforcement in a legal gray zone.

The Stingray II, used by the FBI to track suspects, is one of many spy tools called cell site simulators

By |November 26th, 2017|Auto Accidents, Distracted Driving|

Requests for Production (Rizk Law Mini-Series EP02)

In this video short, join Rizk Law’s paralegal, Don Nash, as he briefly introduces the Request for Production document, an important aspect of any litigation. Whether you are a potential client with a recent injury, or you are unfamiliar with the process of resolving your claim for an injury, Don will have some useful tips.

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|

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|

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.

Hazelwood

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.

Lents

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.

Powellhurst-Gilbert

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.

Centennial

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

Montavilla

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.

Plan

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.

Durso

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

Tougher Distracted Driving Laws Take Effect

Beginning October first, Oregonians can expect police to pay closer attention to their habits behind the wheel. On that day, the state’s new, fortified distracted driving law will have taken effect. The new law makes it easier for distracted drivers to get pulled over by police, who can now issue citations to anyone holding any electronic device. The new law seeks to address gaping loopholes in the old law, which let people use their digital devices for everything except talking and texting. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce instances of auto accidents caused by distracted driving.

Distracted Driving More Dangerous than DUII?

While tough DUI laws across all 50 states have caused the DUI accident and fatality rates to go down, weak or no laws targeting distracted driving have allowed the rate of distracted driving accidents and fatalities to climb. As technology becomes ever more enthralling and commutes ever more drudging, our inclination to use technology as a distraction strengthens. As a result, more people than ever are driving distractedly by using technology at times that make them a hazard to be on the road.

Distracted driving often manifests in the form of texting while driving, which some claim is as or more dangerous than drunk driving. From 2002 to 2014, drunk driving fatalities dropped by 25%. This decline can be attributed to an increase in awareness of the dangers of drunk driving as well as tough penalties for DUI. In the same time frame, however, fatalities caused by distracted driving accidents shot up from 2,600 deaths in 2002 to 3,331 in 2011.

How does Oregon’s New Law Protect Drivers?

Under Oregon’s old cell phone law, drivers could not communicate via cell phone. As it turned out, it was difficult for cops to know just when someone was texting or placing a call when they saw a driver holding a phone.

At one point, an officer stopped a woman who was using her phone behind the wheel. He smelled alcohol and suspected she was under the influence. He then conducted field sobriety tests and arrested her for DUII. An Oregon Court of Appeals judge ruled that since the officer didn’t see the woman physically communicating on her phone, he did not have probable cause to make the stop. Thus, all the evidence obtained from the stop was suppressed. This made it difficult for police to enforce

By |October 2nd, 2017|Auto Accidents, Distracted Driving, Protecting Oregonians|

Lane Departure Warning Systems Offer Crash Prevention with Limitations

Lane Drift

New research data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that lane departure warning systems lower rates of single-vehicle, sideswipe, and head-on crashes of all severities by 11 percent and lower the rate of injury crashes of the same type by 21 percent. While encouraging, several limitations currently exist preventing this life-saving technology from reaching its full potential.

The latest data in this ongoing study, led by IIHS vice president for research Jennifer Cicchino, is based on 2015 police crash reports, which includes information on the circumstances of the crash, allowing researchers to examine the types of crashes that lane departure warning systems are designed to prevent.

“This is the first evidence that lane departure warning is working to prevent crashes of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads,” said Cicchino. “Given the large number of fatal crashes that involve unintentional lane departures, technology aimed at preventing them has the potential to save a lot of lives.”

A 2015 study of lane departure warning on trucks in U.S. fleets found lane departure warning systems cut the rate of relevant crashes nearly in half, a reduction greater than the new data. A similar study of Volvo cars in Sweden found a reduction of relevant injury crashes of 53 percent.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) believes that lane departure warning could totally eliminate almost 50 percent of all head-on collisions. Why hasn’t current test data shown those results? Greg Brannon, the AAA’s director of automotive engineering, called IIHS’ studies “encouraging,” but said that drivers need to understand the limitations as well as the capabilities of the safety technology in their vehicle.

Limitations within Lane Departure Warning Technology

There are two types of lane departure warning systems, activated by unintended lane departure:

  • Lane departure warning systems (LDW) which give the driver visual, audible, and/or vibrating warnings when the vehicle is leaving its lane
  • Lane keeping systems (LKS) which automatically take steps to ensure the vehicle stays in its lane

Lane warning and lane keeping systems are based on:

  • Video sensors mounted behind the windshield, typically beside the rear mirror
  • Laser sensors mounted on the front of the vehicle
  • Infrared sensors mounted either behind the windshield or under the vehicle

Because they rely on visible lane markings, lane departure warning systems typically cannot decipher faded, missing, or incorrect lane markings or markings covered in snow or obscured by rain or excessive glare from the sun.

Few Vehicles on the Road with Lane Departure Warning Systems

In 2000, the United States company Iteris developed the first lane departure warning system in Europe for Mercedes Actros commercial trucks.

In 2002, the Iteris system became available on Freightliner Truck’s North American vehicles. With this system, the driver is warned of unintentional lane departure by an audible rumble strip sound on the side of the vehicle drifting out of the lane, but the warning is not generated if the driver gives an active turn signal before crossing the lane.

Honda was the first U.S. passenger vehicle automaker to introduce this feature, with its Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) on the 2003 Inspire.

Nissan followed in 2004 with its Infiniti FX and in 2005 on the M vehicles, which issues a warning tone to alert the driver when the vehicle begins to drift over lane markings.

Also in 2004, Toyota added a Lane Keeping Assist feature to the Crown Majesta, which applies a small counter-steering force to aid in keeping the vehicle in its lane.

In 2006, Lexus introduced a multi-mode Lane Keeping Assist system on the LS 460. The LS 460’s LKA system issues an audiovisual warning, steers the vehicle to hold its lane, and applies counter-steering torque to ensure the driver does not over-correct the steering wheel while attempting to return the vehicle to its proper lane.

Audi began offering its Audi Lane Assist feature in 2007 on the Q7. This system will not intervene, but will vibrate the electric power-steering system when it detects an unintended lane departure. The electric power-steering system will then introduce a gentle torque that will help guide the driver back toward the center of the lane. However, a driver engaging the turn signal or accidently leaving it on will prevent the Lane Assist feature from functioning.

By |September 3rd, 2017|Auto Accidents|