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driving tips

Top 10 Tips for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The National Safety Council has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the Council, thousands of people die each year in crashes caused by cell phone use while driving. But phone calls and text messages aren't the only distractions drivers should try to avoid while behind the wheel. Here are 10 tips and facts to keep in mind for Distracted Driving Awareness Month: New teen drivers are distracted more easily. Drivers between the ages of 15 to 20 make up only 6.4 percent of drivers on the road, but account for 11.4 percent of traffic fatalities. So parents, please teach your kids responsible driving habits. Every distracted second counts. Keep in mind that if you're looking down at your cell phone for only 4 seconds while driving, you could be driving the entire length of a football field without looking at the road. Eating while driving can be considered distracting. Although Distracted Driving Awareness Month focuses more on cell phone use, eating while driving can get you pulled over if cops think your snack time is taking your attention off the road. Cell phone records can be used in court. Think you can keep your cell phone use while driving a secret? Think again. Text-message and call records from cell-phone companies can be used in court to prove that you were distracted when the accident occurred. Texting and driving can lead to child endangerment charges. A California mom was arrested when she was caught texting and driving while she had her 1-year-old baby in her lap without any child restraints. Distracted driving can lead to public shaming. A local project in San Francisco called "TWIT Spotting" encourages bystanders to snap pictures of distracted drivers and turn them in. The photos are then posted on the "TWIT Spotting" website or placed on billboards in an effort to publicly shame the driver for his dangerous behavior. Texting crash videos will make you think twice. While they may be hard to watch, texting crash videos serve as a somber reminder of what can happen when you take your attention away from the road, even for a split second. Hands-free cell phone use can still be distracting. Although hands-free cell phone use while driving is generally legal in many places, it can still be a distraction for drivers who get wrapped up in their conversations and forget about the road. Use an app to curb your bad habits. There are smartphone apps out there that automatically shut off your messaging apps and temporarily stop incoming calls and text messages when you're driving. You could land in some deep doo-doo. Finally, there's a lesson to be learned from the driver who was texting while driving a rented convertible when he crashed into a truck hauling liquid manure. So don't be a doo-doo head and steer clear of all distractions while you're driving. Although Distracted Driving Awareness Month only lasts until the end of April, you should hang up all bad habits that lead to distracted driving year-round. To learn more about distracted driving laws and potential consequences, check out FindLaw's article on Distracted Driving. Related Resources: Cell Phone Crash Data (National Safety Council) Texting and Driving: 3 Ways to Prove It (FindLaw's Blotter) Texting a Driver May Make You Liable: N.J. Court (FindLaw's Injured) Driver's Google Glass Ticket Dismissed; Judge Sees No Proof (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
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Winter Car Crashes: Can You Blame the Weather?

If you get into a winter crash, can you blame the weather to avoid liability? Meeting challenging winter conditions on the road takes skill, experience and attentiveness. Unfortunately, each winter many drivers come up short, causing thousands of automobile accidents on the road. Winter car accidents often involve snow, ice or slush, or dense fog. But when you get into a crash during bad weather, will you face liability? Here's a general overview of what drivers need to know: Bad Weather Won't Excuse Negligence Generally speaking, all drivers have a legal responsibility to drive safely given the road conditions. Most winter car accidents are preventable when drivers practice safe winter driving habits and take a number of special precautions such as driving below the speed limit, leaving extra space, and outfitting your car for winter weather. The golden rule for winter is "defensive driving." But there is a steep learning curve as drivers reacclimatize themselves to winter driving during the first few storms of the season. Drivers can potentially face liability for negligence if, for example, they: Fail to adjust their driving to weather conditions, Fail to service a car for winter driving, or Are unreasonably overconfident in vehicle safety features like four-wheel drive. What to Do in a Winter Weather Crash Even when you are as prepared as possible and as safe a driver as you can be, you may still find yourself in a car crash during a bout of winter weather. If this happens, don't exit the protection of your car until it's safe to do so. Follow the standard accident protocol, if possible, of exchanging driver, registration, and insurance information, as well as reporting the accident when significant property damage or injury occurs. It may also be a good idea to take pictures of the accident scene to help illustrate the driving conditions at the time of your crash. Finally, consider contacting a car accident attorney to explore your legal rights and remedies. Your attorney can go over potential liability issues and means of recovery for property damage and injuries suffered from the accident. Related Resources: Ice Storm Car Accidents: Prepare for the Worst (FindLaw's Injured) What to Do After a Chain-Reaction Crash (FindLaw's Injured) Weather a T'giving Storm With 5 Winter Driving Tips (FindLaw's Injured) Browse Car Accident Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
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