Bureau of Land Management under Fire after Deadly Race Accident in CA

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

For years now, the Bureau of Land Management has allowed off-road races to be held on land that falls under its jurisdiction.  There have always been critics alleging that the agency was blind to the dangerous conditions at many of these races, where throngs of spectators inch closer to the racing “tracks,” placing their lives at serious risk.  Over the weekend, a deadly accident during the California 200 race in Lucerne Valley, proved these critics right.  A racer lost control of his pickup truck after a jump, and rolled into a crowd of people nearby.  Eight people lost their lives, and at least five were injured.

The accident has received national media attention, but the critics, who have long held that the BLM remains blind to the dangers in allowing these unregulated races on its land, have always been around.  These critics have found a new voice since the accident.  The BLM has admitted that it will now conduct a review of its current safety policies for permitted off-road races on land that falls under its jurisdiction.  It is also considering a review of the accident.

It's not just the BLM that's come under sharp criticism since the accident.  The promoter of the race, El Monte-based Mojave Desert Racing, has come under sharp fire for failing to ensure that spectators were standing at a safe distance away from the racing trucks.  An accident like this could have been prevented if, as the company’s own requirements spell out, the spectators were standing at a distance of at least 100 feet away from the trucks.  That didn't happen, and the spectators were too close to all the racing, with lethal consequences. 

The promoter also has a contract with the BLM, which requires that spectators be kept at a distance of at least 50 feet away from the trucks.  It's not just the failure of the promoter to follow these rules which Los Angeles truck accident lawyers will focus on, but also the failure of the agency to ensure that its rules were followed.

Petition to Prevent Rental Car Companies from Renting Recalled Cars

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It took the death of two sisters in an accident involving a defective Chrysler PT Cruiser to focus national attention on a long-standing practice at Enterprise Rent a Car - renting out vehicles included in manufacturers’ recall lists.  That practice could soon come to an end. 

Two consumer safety groups are joining hands with the mother of the two victims, to petition the Federal Trade Commission to get Enterprise to repair recalled vehicles before renting them out to unsuspecting consumers.  The two sisters were killed in an accident when the Enterprise rental car they were driving, crashed.  The car had been recalled by Chrysler for a power steering fluid leakage problem, but Enterprise rented it to them anyway. 

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Enterprise.  During the trial, former employees of Enterprise testified that the company had no policy in place preventing the renting out of recalled vehicles.  In fact, it was a given at Enterprise that employees could place a recalled car for rent, when other cars were not available.  The family of the two women was awarded $15 million.  Even more valuable was the admission by Enterprise that its negligence caused the death of the sisters.

Now, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety and the Center for Auto Safety have filed a request with the Federal Trade Commission.  They are seeking an order to get Enterprise to fix all recalled vehicles on its lots before these are rented to customers.

Enterprise Holdings Inc. is the country’s largest rental car company, and accounts for one-third of the total auto rental business in the US and Canada.  It includes the National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car brands, and these cars are rented to millions of people every year.  These customers may be at risk of death or serious injury if they drive a recalled vehicle. 

With the number of auto recalls announced every day, Los Angeles auto accident lawyers know it's not possible for the ordinary American consumer to keep track of each and every recall.  Enterprise needs to reevaluate its policies to completely prohibit the renting of any vehicle that features on manufacturers’ recall lists, unless the vehicle is repaired.

Why it is Important to Take Part in Anti-Distracted Driving Efforts

Monday, August 09, 2010

A survey of motorists last year by Nationwide Insurance found that approximately two-thirds of the respondents admitted to feeling pressure from colleagues and friends to be constantly available by cell phone even while they were driving.  This year, another survey of employees found that more than half of the workers secretly check their smart phones while driving, and 20% admitted to checking it every time it rang or beeped.  In a bad economy, workers are under more pressure than ever to present themselves as the ideal employee, and that includes being available to the office via cell phone or some other electronic communication device, even while they're driving. 

There is much that employers can do to prevent such behavior, but private businesses have not been so keen on jumping on the anti-distracted driving bandwagon.  The Department of Transportation is encouraging private businesses to get more involved in educating their workers about the need to switch off all distractions while they're driving.  In fact, the DOT is partnering with the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety in these efforts.  If you're an employer who wants to phase in a "no-cell phones while driving" policy at work, then the folks at NETS have compiled a great collection of resources and materials for you.  These include fact sheets, activity sheets, tips and community tools.

A campaign to phase in a "no cell phones while driving" policy in the office is likely to be unpopular.  However, the NETS details steps that employers can take to promote a safer driving culture among their employees.  This includes the use of presentations, offering call blocking technologies, and making better use of voicemail technologies to avoid receiving a call while driving.  Employers can also brainstorm mass transit options or carpooling options for their employees, so that workers can be in touch with their office even while they're traveling, without becoming an accident risk.

There are tons of other resources that the NETS is making available for free to employers.  Los Angeles car accident lawyers would encourage California's employers to make use of these resources to promote a safer motoring culture in the workplace.  It not only keeps employees safe, but could also save you from liability in the event of an accident.

Nine People Injured in Metro Bus-Truck Accident

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Nine people have been injured in an accident involving a Metro bus and a truck in downtown Los Angeles.  This accident comes just a few days after a Metro train was involved in an accident with another bus. 

There were about a dozen people on the bus when it collided with a truck.  The accident occurred at the intersection of Hill and Temple Street.  The impact of the accident caused the bus to strike a pole, and then a gate.  Nine people in all suffered injuries, and had to be taken to the hospital.  The driver of the truck also suffered injuries.  None of the injuries are reported to be life-threatening.

Police are investigating the accident.  According to them, both the bus and the truck driver reported seeing a green light.  Obviously, one of them was wrong.  It's very likely that one of the drivers involved here ran a red light.  There could be any number of reasons why this happened.  It's especially important for Los Angeles bus accident lawyers to discuss this considering that this is National Stop on Red week across the country.  Across the US, law enforcement agencies are marking the week with special awareness programs to educate motorists about the need to observe red light traffic rules at all times.  Red light violations may seem like minor offenses, but these can be linked to thousands of accidents and injuries every year.  The week is being marked from August 1 to August 7.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 880 people were killed in 2007 in accidents caused because a motorist ran a red light.  These accidents injure an estimated 165,000 people every year.  Many red light violation-related accidents can be traced to distracted driving.  If they motorist is not paying attention behind the wheel, it can cause him to miss a red light.  Even the most experienced driver can miss seeing the light, because he is otherwise distracted by his cell phone.

Distracted Driving Widespread among Teen Motorists

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A new survey by the American Automobile Association and Seventeen magazine shows that Los Angeles car accident lawyers must continue their concern about teen motorists and distractions.  The survey shows that nine out of the 10 American teenagers have engaged in some form of distracted driving behind the wheel, even though they are perfectly aware that such behavior can increase their risks of being involved in a crash.  According to the survey, 84% of motorists aged between 16 and 19 are aware that distracted driving can increase the risk of an accident, but it doesn't prevent 86% of them from engaging in such behavior anyway. 

That may not exactly be news, but the real eye-opener in the survey is that texting while driving and cell phone use are not the biggest distractions for teenage motorists.  There are other distractions that increase these motorists’ risk being involved in an accident, and law enforcement agencies in California and legislators would do well to target these distractions too.  Teenagers are distracted by a number of behaviors, including applying makeup, eating, texting, talking on cell phones, talking to their fellow teen passengers and changing radio stations. 

In fact, changing radio channels or changing CDs is the number one distraction with 70% of the teen motorists in the survey admitting to doing this.  Eating and talking on a cell phone while driving follow close behind with 61% and 60% of the motorists admitting to these practices.  Texting while driving is further down the list with just 28% of the motorists admitting to texting at the wheel.  That should definitely be a wake-up call to law enforcement agencies that seem to be fixated on the use of cell phones and texting devices at the wheel. 

Drivers aged between 18 and 19 years of age are much more likely to be distracted, compared to drivers between 16 and 17 years.  Obviously, age doesn't necessarily make these motorists wiser.  Teens, who drive their own vehicles are also much more likely to be distracted (35%), compared to teen motorists who have to share their cars (20%).

Bicycle Safety in Los Angeles

Monday, August 02, 2010

This week, the Royal Mail in the UK announced that it was doing away with bicycles for postal deliveries.  That decision was made because of the large number of accidents involving letter carriers on bicycles.  In fact, according to the Royal Mail, between 2008 and 2009, letter carriers suffered more than 1,000 injuries.  The English postman on his bicycle, a long and beloved tradition that dates back to 1880, will soon end.  Not that Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers don't understand why the British want to keep letter carriers off bicycles, considering that we live in one of the country's most hostile areas for bicyclists.

Last month, the city's first citizen had a sampling of what Los Angeles bicyclists face every day when he had a taxi pull out in front of his bike, sending him head first to the ground.  Fortunately, the mayor suffered no serious injuries.  However, it only served to underscore the kind of risks bicyclists face every day.  A bicyclist or Los Angeles bicycle accident attorney will tell you that this one of the most frequent ways that bicycle accidents are caused.  Motorists must understand that it's dangerous for bicyclists to brake suddenly, and that doing so can throw a bicyclist off his bike.

Unfortunately, bicycle safety groups, who were expecting strong action against the motorist in the mayor's accident, were disappointed.  Mayor Villaraigosa said no charges will be pressed against the motorist, citing that the motorist was “careless” but that wasn't illegal.  It is that kind of attitude that's very troubling to Los Angeles personal injury lawyers.  To a bicyclist, it matters greatly when a motorist is careless.  In fact, it can mean the difference between life and death when a motorist decides to drive too close to a bicyclist, or pulls out in front of him, suddenly and without warning.  The mayor could have been less flippant about his accident, and a little more concerned about the city's bicyclists.

SUV Driver in Fresno Bus Accident Was Intoxicated

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New facts are emerging about the Fresno bus accident last week that killed six people, and injured nearly 2 dozen others.  According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver of the SUV that was struck was driving under the influence.  Initially, authorities believed that a passenger in the SUV, who was killed in the accident, had been driving the SUV.  However, they have now confirmed that the driver was an 18-year-old woman, who was returning from a dance party in Fresno with her friends. 

According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver made a sudden left turn across the northbound lanes of Highway 99, and struck the center divider.  The SUV flipped over on its side.  Just a few seconds later, the bus, which was on its way from Los Angeles to Sacramento, struck the overturned SUV.  The bus then went down an embankment, and hit a tree.  Three people in the bus and three others in the SUV sustained fatal injuries. 

The bus was severely damaged, and several people have been critically injured.  The California Highway Patrol has confirmed that the SUV driver was driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legally-allowed limit of .08%.  It has been confirmed that the driver of the bus was not driving under the influence.

Bus accident claims in California typically name the driver of the bus, the bus company, charter companies and other entities that are involved in owning or operating the bus at the time of the accident.  However, there are other entities may also be named in a claim.  For instance, if there are other vehicles or motorists that are involved in the accident, a Los Angeles bus accident lawyer can name these people in your claim.  However, for these entities to be named, their actions should have directly contributed to the accident. 

Los Angeles Mayor Recuperating after Bicycle Accident

Monday, July 26, 2010

The lack of safety for bicyclists in Los Angeles has long been a major safety issue for the bicycling community here.  Bicyclists in the city have long complained of an inadequate number of bike lanes, hostile motorists and a “don't care” attitude on the part of law enforcement agencies.  The discussion about bicycle safety in Los Angeles will get interesting this week, after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was injured in a bike accident.  The mayor was riding his bicycle on Venice Blvd., which is notorious for its lack of bike lanes.  Apparently, a taxi suddenly pulled out in front of the mayor, who applied his brakes to avoid an impact and fell off his bicycle.  He sustained an elbow injury and had to undergo surgery.

What happened immediately after the accident will be of great interest to Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers, and will confirm what Los Angeles biking groups have been saying for years.  The mayor was accompanied by security, but no one managed to take down the number of the taxi or the name of the taxi company.  The taxi fled the scene of the accident, and the driver hasn't been heard from since.  There were no witnesses to testify about exactly what happened.  There has been no investigation into the accident at all.

Bicycle safety advocates will tell you that when something like this happens to the mayor of the city, it's easy to imagine what the regular Joe riding by on his bike is subjected to.  Bicycle safety in Los Angeles would have been a joke, except for the hundreds of injuries that occur in Los Angeles on the streets every year.  Motorists pulling out in front of bicyclists, driving up close to bicyclists and honking loudly to scare them, yelling, taunting, teasing, throwing stuff at bicyclists - these are common on Los Angeles streets as any bicyclist will tell you. 

The mayor has a great opportunity to bring attention to the problem of bicycle safety in Los Angeles.  Los Angeles bike accident lawyers and bike safety groups here will be hopeful that he will step up and add his voice to ours.

Greyhound Bus Crashes Injuring 34 People and Killing 6.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Greyhound bus carrying 47 people crashed into an overturned SUV on Highway 99 in California.  The bus was traveling from Los Angeles to Sacramento when the accident occurred.  6 people were killed and 34 others were injured.  For the full story visit Greyhound Bus Crash.

LA Area City Reviewing Fireworks Program after Fatal Car Accident

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The city of Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County is looking at how it can avoid a repeat of a fatal accident on Valencia Blvd. over the Fourth of July holiday, in which one person was killed.  The city has had a long-standing tradition of holding a fireworks display, but has never seen the need to block traffic on that day.  That, however, changed on the Fourth of July.  An Infinity and a sports utility vehicle collided on Valencia Blvd.  The impact of the accident caused one of the vehicles to jump the curb, striking a pedestrian, who was watching the fireworks display.  The woman was killed in the accident and seven people, including two of the women's children, were injured.

Investigations have shown that the driver of the Infinity ran a red light just before the accident.  He has not yet been charged however. 

Santa Clarita city has never seen it fit to close traffic during its fireworks display.  The accident is forcing the city to answer questions from residents, who wonder why should take a fatal accident for the city to understand that there is a need to close off traffic when there is such a major gathering of people.

Holding a city or county agency responsible for an accident in California is not easy.  Many cities and counties enjoy certain immunities from lawsuits, and this can impact your results when your Los Angeles car accident lawyer files a claim.  However, California laws do allow city, county and state agencies to be named in a car accident claim, when an accident has been caused due to defective road conditions or poor maintenance.  The defective conditions can include poor design or construction of a road.   City and county agencies can be named in an accident caused by malfunctioning traffic lights, lack of streetlights, lack of speed breakers, and other details that can increase a motorist’s risk of accident. 


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