Distracted Driving Dangerous Even without Electronic Devices

Many people recognize that distracted driving now rivals alcohol-impaired driving as the leading threat to traffic safety.  The focus of the media, government regulators, and the public tends to revolve around portable electronic devices.  While the widespread use of cell phones and the level of distraction posed by texting behind the wheel justify these concerns, the danger posed by more traditional distractions often gets overlooked.  Although many people think that distracted driving is a fairly new phenomena, inattentive drivers have been causing crash-related fatalities and injuries for many years.

The tendency to ignore the danger posed by more conventional forms of driving distractions stems from the challenge in proving this form of negligence.  While mobile phones generate call and message logs as well as cellular records, proving that a motorist was reaching for a soda, applying lipstick, or changing a vehicle’s sound system is much more difficult.  Outside of direct observation of the distracted driving activity prior to a collision or an admission after the crash by the driver, motorist inattention tends to be difficult to prove whether in a criminal prosecution or civil lawsuit for damages.

Traditional forms of distracted driving generally remain beyond the regulatory reach of lawmakers.  Laws that prevent multi-tasking behind the wheel almost exclusively address portable electronic communication technology because of the difficulty in enforcing laws that address other types of distractions, such as:

  • Hygiene practices (putting on makeup, brushing hair)
  • Reading books, magazines, and newspapers
  • Talking to or disciplining children in the backseat
  • Eating food and drinking beverages
  • Reaching for or picking up objects
  • Carrying on conversations with passengers
  • Fidgeting with car stereos, GPS devices, and Infotainment systems
  • Rubbernecking when passing traffic accidents or vehicles pulled over by law enforcement
  • Reaching to clean up a spill

In most cases, traffic collisions caused by these traditional types of driving distractions will be reported by law enforcement as being caused by an unsafe lane change, failure to yield, red light/stop sign runner, or other traffic violations that result from inattention.

Admittedly, there is a legitimate reason that texting and driving receives so much attention from traffic safety experts and lawmakers.  This form of unsafe driving involves inattention at all three levels of distraction, which include the following:

  • Manual Distractions:  This type of distraction involves a motorist removing his or her hands from the steering wheel to reach for objects or to engage in other tactile activity.  Examples include unwrapping food, grabbing a beverage, reaching for an object in the glove box, or changing the volume on a car radio.
  • Mental Distractions: When a driver attempts to divide attention between multiple-tasks, they are not actually “multi-tasking.”  This term is a misnomer because the mind does not actually focus on two high-level functions at the same time.  Instead, drivers shift attention back and forth between each activity so that at any point in time one of the tasks is not receiving any level of attention from the motorist.  Examples include daydreaming, listening to an audiobook, or planning daily activities.
  • Visual Distractions: This form of inattention involves a motorist diverting his or her eyes from the roadway.  Because a vehicle can travel a significant distance in only a few seconds at highways speeds, drivers who decide to avert their eyes from the road ahead can face deadly consequences.  Examples of this type of distraction include glancing down at a cell phone, reading e-books, and looking down to unwrap a snack.

The Handley Law Center is committed to providing persuasive legal advocacy and timely communication to victims of distracted drivers.  Our Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyers offer a free consultation to evaluate your claim and discuss your legal rights and options.  Call us at (405) 295-1924 to schedule an appointment in our conveniently located office in El Reno which is only a 20-minute drive from Oklahoma City.

Fall Accidents on Oklahoma Construction Sites

Falls, which include incidents involving ladders and scaffoldings, constitute the leading cause of injury in the construction industry according to OSHA.  These falls also are the number one cause of fatalities and account for over 100,000 injuries per year, which amounts to ten percent of all construction industry deaths.  The injuries sustained from a fall of this type can be permanent and seriously impact the victim and his or her family.  The chances of permanent disability are high, and catastrophic injuries are common.  This often results in enormous medical expenses and long periods of painful rehabilitation.

If you experience a fall on a construction site and suffer serious injuries or a loved one dies in a fall, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  Our experienced construction injury attorneys conduct a thorough investigation of worksite accidents, so we can effectively represent injured construction workers seeking compensation from negligent third-parties.

Falls from scaffoldings and ladders can result from a variety of causes that include:

  • The scaffolding collapses due to being improperly set up or poorly maintained.
  • The ladder or scaffolding is defectively designed or manufactured.
  • The worker is not trained on proper use of the equipment.
  • The worker was not supplied with proper safety equipment.
  • Workers on the ground are careless and strike the equipment or damage it in some way leading to its weakening.

Another type of serious fall that is common on construction sites is referred to as a “fall through” incident.  These construction accidents involve workers on rooftops or upper levels falling through an open floor.  These accidents usually result from improper safety measures or failure of a co-worker to properly mark an unfinished open floor.

By adhering to government safety guidelines and regulations, nearly all of these construction falls could be prevented, or the severity of injuries could be substantially decreased.  These guidelines include education of workers, the use of protective equipment, and rails and/or netting to prevent falls.  OSHA requirements are strict, and safety measures must be complied with to protect construction workers from serious falls.

If an employer does not comply with these regulations, the employer can be held responsible for a worker’s injuries sustained in a dangerous construction site fall.  A claim against an employer would be in the form of a worker’s compensation claim.   Because worker’s compensation benefits are typically more limited than damages in a personal injury action, our experienced construction accident attorneys carefully investigate negligent conduct by third-parties.  We typically pursue both worker’s compensation claims against an employer and a personal injury lawsuit against negligent third-parties.

If you or your loved one is involved in a construction site accident in the Canadian County area, our Oklahoma construction accident injury lawyers diligently pursue the rights of those injured on Oklahoma construction sites.  If the accident was caused partially or entirely by a third-party, you might have a right to financial compensation that goes beyond worker’s compensation benefits.  Our seasoned Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyers are prepared to aggressively represent injury victims seeking fair compensation for their injuries so call us at (405) 295-1924 for your free initial consultation.

 

Tire Defects and Oklahoma Auto Accidents: What You Need to Know

Auto accidents caused by tire defects are more common than most people realize.  Every year, more than 15,000 vehicle accidents are caused by blowouts involving defective tires.  These accidents frequently result from failure to replace worn out tires or improper tire pressure.  Frequently, tire blowout accidents also are caused by the defective manufacturing or use of substandard materials.

When tires blowout, it typically is due to the shredding of the tread layers.  When investigations are conducted on car accidents that are believed to be due to tire defects, the investigators will inspect the steel and rubber in steel belted radials to determine if they are properly bonded together.  If the bonding process fails, this creates a serious risk of car accidents caused by faulty tires.  A number of tire manufacturers have had their tires recalled because of tread separation due to design or manufacturing defects in recent years.  When tread separation occurs, it can cause the tire to blowout or make the vehicle very difficult to control.

There are a vast number of other manufacturing issues that can cause tires to pose an unreasonable risk of harm to vehicle occupants and others on Oklahoma roadways.  Tires can be defective if the material used to manufacture them is contaminated with objects like sawdust, candy wrappers, and cigarette butts.  If the size of the material does not match the size of the tire or if air is found between the layers of the tire, a blowout also can be caused from this type of flaw.

Tire and car manufacturers have a legal obligation to supply tires that are free from defects which might cause injury to motorists.  Businesses that manufacture and distribute tires may cut corners in the production process to increase profits.  In recent years, there have been a number of defective product lawsuits in which tire manufacturers have been found to have produced unsafe tires that caused serious tire blowouts where drivers lost control of their vehicle.  Rollover accidents can be particularly dangerous when a blowout occurs, often resulting in roof crush injuries or vehicle ejections.  When either of these situations occur, the likelihood of catastrophic injuries or wrongful death is substantial.

Along with tire manufacturers, automakers also can be liable for car accidents caused by defective tires.  It is the duty of those that manufacture cars to make sure that every part of the car is free of defects and safe to drive.  The vehicle manufacturer may be liable even if the manufacturer claims that the car has been inspected and is in good condition.

If you or your loved ones are involved in a car accident in the Canadian County area, our Oklahoma Auto Accident Lawyers diligently pursue the rights of those who suffer injury caused by the negligence of others.  If the accident was caused by a tire blowout, we can perform an investigation to determine if it was due to defective tires.  Our law firm is prepared to aggressively represent injury victims seeking fair compensation for their injuries so call us at (405) 295-1924 for your free initial consultation.

 

 

The Flawed Science at the Heart of Oklahoma DUI Prosecutions

An Oklahoma DUI prosecution typically involves a broad spectrum of scientific evidence, including physiology, chemistry, psychometrics, and other areas of specialized knowledge.  Many drivers arrested for DUI assume that the science behind the evidence in a typical DUI prosecution is solid and reliable.  In reality, one of the reasons that an experienced DUI defense attorney frequently can provide an effective defense is that the scientific reliability behind DUI evidence is shaky at best.

Most DUI investigations begin with a police officer making observations during a traffic stop.  The officer typically will point to alleged physiological symptoms of intoxication, including bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech, and lack of coordination.  However, these physical observations have very limited direct connection to intoxication.  These symptoms are equally indicative of diabetes, allergies, lack of sleep, and illness (flu or cold).  These are only a few common examples that show the general lack of reliability of typical police observations.

Field Sobriety Tests are the next type of unreliable evidence that police and prosecutors typically rely on in DUI cases.  These tests are hardly more reliable than the observations of the police officer.  When the officer has been trained properly and conducts the FSTs perfectly, the tests are still highly inaccurate.  These are supposed to be standardized tests conducted according to detailed instructions.  However, the tests are often administered incorrectly or given without proper demonstrations.  Although only three FSTs have been shown to have any more reliability than flipping a coin, officers sometimes administer FSTs that have been shown to have virtually no probative value.

Even when officers use one of the three tests that have better than 50-50 accuracy, those FSTs still have a significant false positive rate.  Most people would be surprised by the rate of inaccuracy associated the three approved FSTs:

  • Horizontal Nystagmus Test: Inaccurate 23% of the time
  • Walk and Turn: Inaccurate 32% of the time
  • One Leg Stand: Inaccurate 35% of the time

The final type of evidence in Oklahoma DUI cases based on unreliable science is blood alcohol testing, which often involves a breath test.  Courts across the U.S. have recognized that breath test results have a twenty percent margin of error.  This margin for error means that someone who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below .08 percent might produce a false result above this threshold.  Even more disturbing, this margin of error assumes that the machine is properly maintained and calibrated.

The bottom line is that there is virtually no scientifically reliable evidence used in Oklahoma DUI cases.   The presumption of innocence means that the prosecutor has the considerable task of combining all of this scientifically vulnerable evidence and combining it to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence of alcohol.  We frequently utilize scientific experts to testify regarding the lack of reliability of the evidence submitted by the prosecution in an Oklahoma DUI case.

At the Handley Law Center, our DUI defense lawyers are dedicate to diligently protecting the rights, reputation, and freedom of our clients.  Our Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers offer a free consultation to evaluate your situation and advise you of your options.  Call us at (405) 295-1924 to schedule an appointment in our conveniently located office in El Reno which is only a 20-minute drive from Oklahoma City.