Keeping your Teen Safe Behind the Wheel

If you have a teen in your house that is of driving age, you are probably wrestling with how to deal with them once they get their driver’s license. Virtually every teen looks forward to the day when they can drive by themselves without an adult in the car, but we also know that teens are less experienced, more emotional, and more prone to make poor judgments while behind the wheel.

There are number of things that parents can do to help keep their teens safe behind the wheel:

Understand the Hazards Facing Teen Drivers

As we talked about earlier, teen drivers have much more of a tendency to make critical errors in judgment that can lead to a crash. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that three of the most common causes of teen driving accidents were failure to detect and respond effectively to adverse various hazards, speeding or driving too fast for road conditions, and distracted driving. These are some of the areas that you need to focus on the most when your teen is practicing driving with their learner’s permit.

Understand the Pennsylvania Junior License Restrictions

Drivers that are under the age of 18 in Pennsylvania receive a junior’s license before graduating up to an unrestricted license. Be aware that the junior’s license requires sanctions for high risk drivers – a 90-day license suspension for any driver on a junior’s license who accumulates six or more points or is convicted of one excessive speeding violation (driving 26 mph or more over the speed limit). Junior drivers are also not allowed to drive between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM unless it is for employment or charitable work, and they may not carry more than one other passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member. After six months, this limit is increased to three non-family passengers who are under 18.

Educate your Teen and Put Them Under Contract

Before your teen ever starts driving on their own, it would be a good idea to sit down with them to discuss not only the hazards that they need to watch out for, but also go over all of the rules that they will be required to follow. These should include:

  • Having themselves and all passengers wear seatbelts at all times.
  • Driving within the speed limit and obeying all other traffic laws.
  • Never driving while intoxicated or with another intoxicated person in the vehicle.
  • Not allowing anyone else to drive the vehicle.
  • Not allowing alcohol, drugs, or weapons to be in the vehicle.
  • Never concealing any warnings or tickets received, or accidents they are involved in.

If you are looking for a template, AAA has a parent teen driving contract that you can have them review and sign. This way, your agreement will be in writing and they cannot plead ignorance later on if they break any of the rules.

Give your Teen Access to Roadside Assistance

Many insurers offer roadside assistance for a nominal fee. If you do not currently have it through your insurer, consider adding this option and give your teen the phone number to call if they ever need help with a flat tire, engine trouble, or any other vehicle problems. You might also want to consider joining a motor club (such as AAA) for more comprehensive roadside assistance services.

Use Technology to Help Keep Your Teens Safe

Although you may have thoroughly educated your teens on driver safety, you might want to go one step further and put some safeguards in place to help ensure that they will follow through with your instructions. One thing that could help a lot is using an app (of which there are many on the market) that will block them from phone calls and electronic messages while they are driving. Some of these apps can also track where your teen is driving, so you know that they are where they should be, and they can send you a notification if something is not right.

Set a Good Example for Your Teen

Finally, we know that kids imitate the behaviors of their parents far more than we even realize. With this in mind, be sure you are modeling good driving behavior. Always wear your seatbelt, put your phone away when you are driving, and follow all of the traffic laws. This will help ensure that everyone stays safe on the roadways.

Injured in a Vehicle Accident in Pennsylvania? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Assistance

Following the above recommendations will help keep your teen safe behind the wheel. Unfortunately, however, you cannot control the actions of other drivers on the road. If you or anyone in your family suffered injury in an auto accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Before dealing with the insurance company, contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman to discuss your case and legal options.

Call our office today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 or message us online for a free consultation with a member of our legal team. We look forward to serving you!

What Percentage of Car Accidents Are Caused by Human Error?

Tens of thousands of individuals are killed in auto accidents each year. In fact, the Washington Post reported in 2019 that since the year 2000, more Americans have died in car crashes than in both world wars put together. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the US, accounting for more than one third of all teen fatalities. And car accidents also result in hundreds of thousands of long-term disabilities every year.

One of the saddest facts about car accidents is that most of them are preventable. A 2016 study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that human error accounts for anywhere between 94% to 96% of all auto accidents. Several other studies have produced similar results, and every study that we know of shows that the percentage of car accidents that are caused by human error is at least 90%.

In recent years, advocates of self-driving vehicles have used statistics like these to argue that if we eliminate the human element, our roads will be much safer. Self-driving cars have challenges of their own, however, and it will probably be a while before they become mainstream. But in the meantime, we need to do a better job of educating new and seasoned drivers alike to the common driving behaviors that increase the likelihood of an accident.

Common Car Accidents that are Caused by Driver Error

Speeding

In America, it is common practice among a large percentage of drivers to regularly exceed the speed limit, even if it is just by five or 10 mph. Motorists know that in a lot of places, they will not get a ticket unless they are going at least 10 mph over the limit, so they push the boundaries of what they can get away with. But just because a lot of people do it, however, that does not mean it is safe. There is a reason for the speed limits we have, and when we are driving too fast, it gives us a lot less time to react and avoid an accident when adverse road conditions arise.

Aggressive/Reckless Driving

Speeding is one form of aggressive driving that increases the likelihood of a car accident. There are many other ways that motorists drive aggressively as well. These include tailgating, making sharp turns, speeding through a yellow light, illegal or dangerous passing maneuvers, and many others. Sometimes, aggressive driving crosses the line into recklessness, which only increases the dangers of a vehicle accident.

Distracted Driving

Our digital age has heightened the risk of accidents that are caused by distracted driving. While motorists have always had distractions, texting and other forms of electronic messaging bring this hazard to a whole new level. When someone is sending or reading an electronic message, they are distracted manually, visually, and cognitively, which means their focus is taken completely away from the road where it belongs.

Chemical Impairment

It is well-known that driving while intoxicated greatly increases the chances of getting into an accident. Alcohol and various types of drugs can make a motorist sleepy and slow their reaction times, or it can have the opposite effect and put them into a state of mind where they have willful and wanton disregard for the rules of the road and the safety of others.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy and fatigued driving is not talked about as much as other forms of dangerous driving, but it is far more common than most people realize. A National Sleep Foundation study found that nearly half of all Americans have driven while they were drowsy. 20% admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel during the past year, and 40% say that this has happened at least once since they have been driving.

In addition to drivers, there are several other parties whose negligence or recklessness could contribute to a car accident. These may include:

  • Vehicle passengers
  • Employers of a commercial driver
  • The manufacturer or distributor of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part
  • The party in charge of maintaining the roadways

Injured in a Car Accident in Pittsburgh? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Legal Help

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a vehicle crash, chances are it was caused by some type of human error. If this is the case, you may have a right to compensation. For a free consultation to assess your case and find out what your legal options are, call Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.

 

How to Recover Full and Fair Compensation after a Car Accident

If you or someone close to you has suffered injury in an auto accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation. But before you think about that, your first priority should be your physical well-being. Be sure to get the medical attention you need, so your injuries will be promptly treated, and you can get on the road to recovery. Once your medical condition has been addressed, it is very important to protect your legal rights.

There are several steps that you should take at the scene of a car accident and shortly thereafter in order to help ensure that you recover full and fair compensation:

Call the Police

The police should be summoned whenever there is a vehicle accident with injuries. The police will help secure the accident scene, and they will produce an official accident report, which will be relied upon heavily during any subsequent legal claim for damages. Sometimes, the 911 operator who you have called to bring an ambulance will also contact the police for you. Otherwise, call them directly and get them to the scene.

Obtain Visual Evidence

Take multiple photos of the accident scene from various angles, showing how the collision occurred. If you are not physically able to do this, have someone else who is with you take the pictures (if possible). Also, if you have a dashboard camera, remember to capture any video footage of the accident as well.

Create your Own Report

Although there will be a police report, it is also a good idea to make your own report as well. If you have a pen and paper handy, right down in as much detail as possible everything that happened while it is still fresh in your mind. If you are unable to write, use the voice recorder on your smartphone to create an audible report.

Obtain Witness Statements

If there are any individuals nearby who saw the car accident, make sure to get statements from them at the scene if possible. Memories fade over time, and witnesses can be difficult to get a hold of later on. Try to get the witnesses to provide a statement right away if you can either by video or again by using the audio recorder on your smartphone.

Be Careful What you say About the Accident

When you are interacting with the other parties involved in the accident, the police, witnesses, and later when you talk to the insurance company, be polite, but NEVER admit any kind of fault for the accident. It can be tempting to apologize even when something happened that you did not cause, but if you imply any kind of fault, this could be used against you later on to reduce the amount of compensation you are entitled to.

Along these same lines, it is a very good idea to refrain from using social media after an auto accident. Insurance company investigators spend a lot of time looking through social media profiles for any kind of information they can use against an injury claimant. This could be things you say, photos you post, or even things other people say about the accident. Even if you have strict privacy settings, all of this information is discoverable, and it could be used against you if it is uncovered or subpoenaed. The best thing to do after a car accident is suspend social media activity for a while until your legal case is over.

The Importance of Retaining Strong Legal Counsel after an Auto Accident

Following the steps mentioned above will help put you in a strong position to recover full and fair compensation from your car accident, but there is one other step that is crucial; hiring an experienced vehicle accident attorney. You may be hesitant to go down this road, because in most situations, attorneys work on a contingency basis and they will receive a percentage of the compensation recover for their fee.

This is an understandable concern, but research indicates that the average car accident settlement is 3.5 times larger with an attorney than without one. The reason for this is simple; attorneys who have extensive experience with personal injury cases know how to negotiate successfully with insurance companies and present the strongest possible arguments on behalf of their clients.

Insurance companies also know that when a claimant is working with a lawyer who has a proven track record litigating cases like these, there is a credible threat that the case might go to trial if the insurer does not make a reasonable offer. Trials are costly and time-consuming, and damage awards are unpredictable. The last thing an insurance company wants is to lose a case in litigation and pay out significantly more in damages than if they had settled the case.

Finally, working with an attorney also provides peace of mind knowing that you have an experienced advocate by your side who is looking out for your best interests. Your attorney deals directly with the other side, and they take care of all the complicated legal tasks so you can keep the focus where it belongs; on your recovery.

What are the Most Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse?

When we place our aging loved ones in a nursing facility, we entrust that facility to provide quality care and ensure a safe living environment. Sadly, this is not always the case. As much as we would like to believe that our loved ones are receiving the care they need, there are many nursing homes that violate our trust and expose their residents to neglect and abuse.

Abuse and neglect have been ongoing problems in America’s nursing facilities for several years. An ABC News investigation from the early 2000s found that elder abuse occurs in approximately one out of every three nursing homes in the U.S. Since then, the crisis has worsened because of aging demographics, a major shortage of healthcare workers, industry consolidation, and more for-profit facilities that prioritize their bottom line over the quality of life of their residents.

Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Here are some of the most common forms of neglect and abuse that seniors are subjected to in nursing facilities:

Nutritional Deficiencies

Many seniors are on special diets and are only able to tolerate certain types of foods. And when they do not receive proper nourishment, they are at great risk of becoming ill and even developing life-threatening conditions. Part of the problem in this area is that nursing home staff are often not properly trained and do not provide the residents with the meals they are supposed to have. Another issue is that seniors require extra time to eat, and short staffing and/or lack of patience often means that residents are not given adequate time to finish their meals.

Improper Use of Restraints

Sometimes, a nursing home resident needs to be restrained for their own safety. This could be done with physical restraints or chemical restraints (such as medications), or a combination of these. Nursing home employees who are not trained and/or have poor judgment sometimes use these restraints when they are not necessary or appropriate. This can result in very dangerous and deadly conditions; such as extreme physical pain, medication overdoses, severe medical conditions, mental health issues, and even death.

Lack of Adequate Medical Care

Because of understaffing, lack of competence, and similar issues, nursing home residents sometimes do not receive even the basic medical care they need. Some common examples of substandard medical care include failure to check on patients regularly, failure to notice obvious signs that a resident needs medical attention, medication errors (e.g., overdoses, dangerously mixing medications, administering medication to the wrong patient, etc.), and many others.

Physical Abuse

Nursing home residents may be subjected to more than just neglect. Sometimes, it turns into outright abuse. Some employees have questionable backgrounds and/or they are simply not qualified to work with the elderly. Because of their temperament and/or character issues, they physically abuse a resident when they get frustrated, or they do it just to exert their power or feel superior. Examples of physical abuse include pushing, shoving, pinching, slapping, hitting, kicking, beating, and striking with an object.

Sexual Abuse

As horrifying and sickening as it is to contemplate, sexual abuse occurs in nursing facilities far more often than most people realize. According to a 2017 CNN investigation, more than 1,000 nursing homes throughout the country have been cited in recent years for mishandling suspected cases of sexual abuse. Many of the elderly are seen as easy targets for predators, particularly those who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and are less likely to clearly remember the event. This is one of many reasons why thorough and comprehensive background checks are so crucial when nursing facilities hire employees.

Emotional/Psychological Abuse

Elderly nursing home residents are dependent on their caregivers for almost everything. This makes it very easy for wrongdoers to emotionally abuse someone who is under their care. Examples of emotional/psychological abuse include insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, and isolation. And because of the major power imbalance between the caregiver and elderly patient, nursing home residents are very reluctant to report abuse for fear of reprisal and/or fear that they will not be believed.

Has Your Loved One Been Neglected or Abused in a Nursing Home? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. for Help

With so many nursing homes not meeting even the minimum standards of care that we should rightfully expect, it is important for family members to be on the lookout for signs of nursing home neglect and abuse. If you believe that your loved one is being abused, report this to the proper authorities, and if they are in immediate danger, call 911 or the police. Next, get in touch with a seasoned nursing home abuse attorney.

At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., we are outraged when we learn that a nursing facility resident has been severely harmed through neglect or abuse, and we put our extensive experience to work to help ensure that those responsible for these egregious actions are held fully accountable. Call us today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys. You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by our Pittsburgh office in person at your convenience. We look forward to serving you!

PROPOSED CHANGES TO REVIEW OF SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY CLAIMS

The Trump Administration has proposed substantial changes to the regulations that control reviews of Social Security disability claims.  If passed, these new regulations would strip disability benefits from tens of thousands of Americans.  The rules require more frequent paperwork checks of people receiving Social Security disability payments.  The proposed regulations suggest creating a new review category – “medical improvement likely” – that will require review of claims every two years.  The proposal also allows hundreds of thousands of people to be moved into this category from categories that provide for less frequent reviews.  Neither the Trump Administration nor the Social Security Administration have provided any estimate of how many people these proposed changes will effect, but they have said that the changes will cut $2.6 billion in costs.  This money can only be saved by cutting disabled individuals’ benefits.  We urge you to voice your opposition to these changes at regulations.gov (Search for: “Rules Regarding the Frequency and Notice of Continuing Disability Reviews”).  Comments must be submitted by January 31, 2020.

Caroselli Beachler & Coleman has decades of experience helping ill, injured and disabled people in Pennsylvania secure Social Security disability benefits. We are concerned that proposed changes to the review process will adversely affect many Pennsylvanian who depend on Social Security disability payments. We urge you to voice your opposition to these changes at regulations.gov (Search for: “Rules Regarding the Frequency and Notice of Continuing Disability Reviews”).  Comments must be submitted by January 31, 2020.

 If you or someone you know needs assistance with a Social Security Disability claim, please contact us toll free at 1-800-222-8816 or through our website contact form.

Who is at Fault for Slip and Fall Accidents During the Holidays?

The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year. People are continually on the go shopping for gifts, attending various concerts and events, and celebrating the season with family and friends. This is a very festive time of the year, but all this hustle and bustle also increases the risk of getting hurt. And one of the most common injuries that are suffered during the holiday season is a slip and fall.

Slips, trips, and falls happen all the time, and most of the time, we just get back up and keep walking. Minor bumps and bruises are usually nothing to worry about, but sometimes, you may end up with a more serious injury than you first believed. When this happens and you are on someone else’s property, you might be entitled to compensation under the legal theory known as “premises liability”.

Slips and falls cause moderate to severe injuries more often than most people realize. Millions of individuals in the United States are hospitalized or treated in the emergency room because of a fall each year, and thousands of individuals die from these types of injuries.

Slips and falls are especially hard on the elderly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 800,000 older adults are hospitalized because of falls each year, and more than 3 million are treated in the emergency room. Overall, approximately one out of every five falls among seniors results in a serious injury.

Who is to Blame for a Slip and Fall Accident?

When someone is hurt after falling, determining liability is not always cut and dry. The accident could be the fault of the injured party, or the owner or caretaker of the property on which the fall occurred could be responsible. The parties may also share the blame, and if the fall happened at work, compensation should be available through a workers’ compensation claim, regardless of who was at fault.

If you are suing another party (or their insurer) for a slip and fall injury, you will need to demonstrate negligence by proving the following:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care to take reasonable steps to keep their property safe;
  • The defendant breached this duty of care by creating or knowingly allowing a hazardous condition to exist;
  • This breach was the proximate cause of your injuries;
  • Your injuries resulted in compensable losses (i.e., “damages”).

It is important to note that, in premises liability cases, the duty of care is different depending on the type of visitor you were when you were injured on the property. There are three general categories of property visitors:

  • Invitees: An invitee is someone who has explicit or implied permission to enter a property, generally for the benefit of the owner or lessor. Examples may include patrons of restaurants, grocery stores, and retail establishments, hotel and resort guests, and residential or commercial building tenants. The highest duty of care is owed to invitees, and those who oversee the property have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep it safe and free of hazards.
  • Licensees: A licensee also has explicit or implied permission to enter a property, but it is generally for his/her own purposes. Examples of individuals in this category include neighbors, social guests, postal carriers, and unsolicited salespeople. A slightly lower duty of care is owed to licensees. Owners are obligated to address any known hazards on the property, but they are not necessarily required to regularly inspect and uncover unknown hazards.
  • Trespassers: A trespasser is someone with no legal right to be on a property, and as such, the lowest duty of care is owed to individuals in this category. The only obligation owners have is to refrain from willful and wanton conduct or entrapment that may cause harm to a trespasser. There is one exception to this rule in the case of children. Owners are required to exercise care to avoid a reasonably foreseeable risk that children may enter the property and get hurt.

Clearly, duty of care is much easier to establish for injured individuals who were invitees and licensees. Although not impossible, trespassers who get hurt face an uphill battle if they want to pursue legal action.

Once duty of care is established, you need to also show that the existence of the hazard which caused your slip and fall injury constituted a breach of this duty. This is where a defendant will often push back against what they may argue is a frivolous claim. For example, they may claim that the hazard was clearly marked or was “open and obvious” to a reasonable person. They might also claim that the injury was your fault because you are not watching where you were going, or because you were in an area of the property that was restricted or where visitors do not usually go.

To successfully pursue a slip and fall injury claim, you need to be ready to effectively address these arguments and persuade a court that you are entitled to damages. This will require sufficient evidence, such as photos of the hazardous condition, testimony of witnesses, and any video footage that is available. You will also need extensive documentation of your injuries by a reputable medical professional in order to accurately calculate the damages you suffered.

Because of the complications that are typically involved with slip and fall accident cases, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your attorney can put together the strongest possible claim for damages, take care of all the complex legal tasks, and negotiate a settlement directly with the other side for full and fair compensation. If the other side is not willing to be reasonable, your attorney will also be fully prepared to take your case to trial if necessary.

Speak with a Skilled and Knowledgeable Pennsylvania Premises Liability Lawyer

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a slip and fall injury in Pennsylvania, contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. for strong legal guidance. Call our office today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.

CAROSELLI BEACHLER & COLEMAN–ADVOCATES FOR ANIMALS

Since 1972, the lawyers at Caroselli Beachler & Coleman, LLC have carried on the firm’s mission to fight for and protect the legal rights of ordinary working people, consumers and their families. Now, Caroselli Beachler & Coleman has stepped into the ring to fight for and protect the rights of innocent abused animals. In a recent case decided by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Attorneys David A. McGowan and Susan A. Meredith represented All But Furgotten, Inc., a non-profit humane society dedicated to the prevention of cruelty and suffering of all animals.

On March 16, 2018, ninety-nine animals were seized from a home in Westmoreland County.  The animals, which included 30 dogs, 67 cats, one turtle and a white tailed deer, were living in deplorable, unsanitary conditions, in a home replete with trash, urine and feces.  Many of the animals were underweight and had various respiratory and skin issues. The Costs of Care of Seized Animals Act is a little known civil statute that seeks to ensure that when abused animals are removed from their owner, the animals do not linger in a state of legal limbo while criminal charges are pending against their owner.  Generally, animals that are removed from an abusive home are placed with a county humane society or other non-profit animal shelter which bears the burden of paying for veterinarian care, food, and shelter for the animals.  The statute allows for a civil hearing to be held shortly after an animal is seized to determine if the animal’s owner should pay for veterinarian costs and sheltering costs.  Following such a hearing, if the court determines certain factors are met, the court can order the owner to pay the veterinarian and sheltering costs.   If the owner does not pay such costs within 7 days, then the owner forfeits ownership of the animals and they can be placed by the shelter with new loving and caring owners.  This not only limits the time an animal must spend in a shelter, but it limits the costs a non-profit shelter must expend to care for the seized animal.      

All But Furgotten cared for ninety some dogs and cats seized on March 16, 2018.  With the help of Westmoreland County attorney Anthony L. Rosner, Jr., All But Furgotten filed a petition pursuant to the Costs of Care of Seized Animals Act to recover the costs it had incurring caring for the seized animals. Following a hearing, the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas Judge ordered the owners of the animals to pay All But Furgotten a sum of $261,191.57, for medical care, food, water and shelter. The owners of the animals sought to delay their obligation to pay this sum and filed an appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. In addition to filing the appeal, the owners also obtained a court order from the trial judge which placed a hold on All But Furgotten’s right to adopt the animals out to new and loving homes, pending the outcome of the appeal.

Caroselli Beachler then stepped in to help. Attorneys David A. McGowan and Susan A. Meredith and their team that included Litigation Paralegal Stefan J. Heidinger, and Legal Assistant Anita DeAngelis took up All But Furgotten’s cause. Through various filings, Attorneys McGowan and Meredith stressed to the Court the importance of moving the case ahead because a prompt resolution of the case was in the best interest of the animals.  Attorney Meredith, who wrote all of the Superior Court filings and argued the case before the Court, requested the court hear the case as early as possible and issue a decision as quickly as possible.  On August 23, 2019, the Superior Court upheld the trial court’s cost order and rejected the owners of the animals’ arguments challenging the order. (See All But Furgotten Inc. v. Klochak, 2019 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3224 (Pa. Super. 2019)). The Court also overturned the trial court’s stay order.  This permitted the adoption of the animals into permanent loving homes.  

The Superior Court’s decision was a big victory for the seized animals, who had been waiting in limbo. It started with All But Furgotten’s dedicated Humane Society Police Officers and other volunteers who responded to the neighbors’ calls about the plight of the animals, and obtained a warrant to enter the property and rescue the animals from extremely cruel living conditions. The long delay caused by the owners’ appeal was stressful on the animals but all the dogs and cats are now available for adoption and anyone who is interested in rescuing and adopting an animal should contact All But Furgotten at (724) 382-7178.  All But Furgotten is a non-profit organization which relies primarily on donations and help from volunteers. If you would like to donate or volunteer to help All But Furgotten continue its mission of rescuing, caring and finding permanent loving and safe homes for neglected and unwanted animals you can do so here.

By:  David A McGowan

What are hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers?

There has likely been a time when you, while driving around Pittsburgh, have begun to feel slightly drowsy. In such an event, you know what you need to do: get off the road as soon as possible and ensure that you are well-rested before getting behind the wheel again. Should you fall asleep at the wheel, you become an extreme danger to not yourself, but also those around you. If you can cause severe damage while asleep in your vehicle, imagine how much more extensive it might be if a truck driver dozed off while driving. 

In order to prevent truck drivers from becoming fatigued while on the job, federal regulations have been established that dictate how long they can be behind the wheel throughout the course of a single work week. Per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the hours-of-service standards for truck drivers are as follows: 

  • A driver can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after first having taken 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • A driver cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after a period of 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • A driver cannot drive for more than eight consecutive hours without taking a break of at least 30 minutes
  • A driver cannot drive for than 60 hours during a 7-day work week (70 hours during an 8-day work week)

In the context of this statute, once a work week has ended, a driver must take 34 consecutive hours off duty before commencing another one. 

Even with these regulations in place, truck drivers may attempt to push in order to appear to bolster their own personal performance. They are required, however, to log their work hours. If the truck driver that struck you has not maintained adequate logs, you might make a strong argument that they are not following the federally-mandated regulations.

What can we learn from traffic safety in other countries?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collect data concerning motor vehicle crash injuries and fatalities on our highways.

Among the studies undertaken by the CDC is a comparison between vehicle crash deaths and current safety measures in the U.S. and those in other countries in response to the question, “How is the U.S. doing?”

A little background

In the 20th century, there was a major push to reduce fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents here in the U.S., and the efforts were very successful. However, the rate of vehicle crash deaths is still too high. For example, in 2013, there were over 32,000 traffic fatalities, more than double the average in comparable, high-income nations.

Reasons for more U.S. fatalities

Impaired driving; speeding; and lack of a seatbelt, car seat and booster seat use are the primary factors in U.S. traffic fatalities. Statistics show that about 90 people die in vehicle crashes every day in the U.S. This death rate is the highest of any comparison country, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Safety measures in best-performing countries

The measures that other countries find successful in preventing vehicle crash fatalities include:

  •         Enforcement of seat belt laws covering everyone in the vehicle
  •         Enforcement of car seats and booster seats for children up to age eight
  •         Installation of ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of drunk driving
  •         Improvements in vehicle safety features
  •         Wider use of publicized sobriety checkpoints
  •         Enforcing minimum drinking age

What we can do

The federal government evaluates safety programs and policies and partners with state, local and tribal authorities to provide resources and tools that aid in preventing motor vehicle injuries and deaths. We can all learn from the success other countries have had in this area. On a more personal level, drivers must be proactive in ensuring that everyone in the vehicle is properly buckled in. Drivers must also avoid the use of alcohol or drugs, obey posted speed limits and steer clear of distractions such as texting. A motor vehicle accident can alter a person’s life in mere seconds—or end it.

On behalf of Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

How does Pennsylvania’s Graduated Driver Licensing work?

Vehicle crashes involving teen drivers are sadly frequent in Pennsylvania and are a leading cause of fatalities among young people. As a parent, you may help reduce the risk of your teen being in an accident by teaching and modeling safe driving techniques. The state’s Graduated Driver Licensing program helps ensure your teen has adequate training and experience before he or she gets full legal driving privileges.

You may get information on each phase of the state’s graduated licensing program for young drivers from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. According to PennDOT, the first stage is acquiring a learner’s permit. Your teen may get his or her learner’s permit at 16 years old after passing a written test, physical exam and vision screening. During this phase, you may help your teen learn how to drive responsibly. Your teen must accrue 65 hours of supervised driving before moving on to the next licensing phase. This number includes 10 required hours of night driving and five hours in poor weather conditions.

After completing the supervised driving hours and passing a road test, your teen may acquire a junior license. This is a restricted license with certain limitations. For example, your teen may not drive at night between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., though there may be exceptions for work or volunteer service. Additionally, this license limits the number of non-family passengers your teen may have in the car when he or she is driving.

Provided there are no driving violations while your teen has a learner’s or junior license, he or she may get an unrestricted license at 18 years old. Under the state’s Zero Tolerance Law, drunk driving may result in license suspension, fines and jail time at any phase of the graduated program.

This information on Pennsylvania’s GDL program is general and intended for educational purposes; it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

On behalf of Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. posted in Drunk Driving Accidents on Thursday, August 22, 2019.