You need to be extra careful on the roads starting today
We are all glad that Governor Abbott has relaxed the quarantine and that many people are returning to jobs, stores, and restaurants. But we Texans have not driven much for the past few months, are antsy, and maybe even a little rusty. There were many more vehicles on the road this morning as Mr. Berenson drove to the office and saw many vehicles driving way too fast — almost like they wanted to be on the track of the Texas Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, we can unfortunately expect an increase in car and truck wrecks in the coming weeks. Statistics from Austin were just revealed that show that serious injuries from vehicle crashes actually increased during the last two months when driving was curtailed. So we wanted to give you ways to keep safe while driving to prevent you from being the victim of a Fort Worth car accident.
Best ways to keep safe while driving
You might think these are all obvious. But we have 80,000 collisions each year just in Tarrant and Dallas Counties.
1. Practice defensive driving
We were all taught this in driver’s education back in high school: expect another driver to violate the traffic laws and be prepared to react immediately. But it’s easy to forget that you only have a second or two to avoid a car or truck crash.
So always assume the worst could happen and be prepared. Stuff happens.
The best defensive driving tactics are to
Keep your eyes on the road – which is even harder with all the chances to drive distracted;
Keep a safe following distance;
Follow speed limits;
Obey traffic lights signals and signs;
Use turn signals;
Get out of the way of tailgaters and reckless drivers;
Watch out for hazards; and
Have an escape route and be ready to use it
2. Avoid distracted driving
Never use your cellphone while you are moving. This includes texting, dialing numbers, looking at GPS maps, and of course surfing the net. The invention of the smart phone has caused a staggering number of automobile and truck accidents.
This is why Texas finally became one of the last states to restrict texting while driving in 2017, although many people continue to do this knowing there is little chance of being caught. And the fine is only $25.00 if they are.
There are other ways drivers drive while distracted including
Talking and even getting into physical fights with their passengers;
Eating and drinking;
Looking for dropped objects, beverages, or food;
Playing with the settings on their music or other settings;
Looking at signs and objects to the side; and
Our firm has handled car accident cases involving all of the above — and on many occasions.
For example, we have seen passengers grab the wheel to force a crash — and in one case switch positions and claim the passenger was driving when the driver had no license. We have represented people injured by drivers eating with both hands and dropping and trying to pick up their beverages and packages off the seats, putting on makeup, more interested in what was on Spotify than the car stopped in front of them and zoned out.
So please keep your eyes on the road. And don’t assume another driver sees you.
3. Don’t drink or use drugs
Drunk driving continues to be a menace on our Texas roads. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an organization that Mr. Berenson proudly supports and serves on its regional board of directors, 90 people lost their lives in over 5,000 collisions in the DFW area last year.
Our firm is working on a number of crashes caused by intoxicated drivers, including one tragedy where the husband of our client was recently killed, and others where drivers guilty of DWI or DUI seriously injured people we are representing.
And don’t forget that many people take prescription (and illegal) drugs. They greatly decrease reaction times, impair judgments, and can make car collisions almost inevitable.
If you are going to be going to a bar or party and drink or are taking prescription drugs, arrange for Uber or another ride share company to take you to and from your destination or have a designated driver. Or better yet, stay home.
4. Don’t drive if you are tired
Drowsy driving is another serious problem that causes thousands of car accidents in Texas each year. Just like using alcohol or drugs, the lack of sleep can impair your judgment and prevent you from being a safe driver. The family of a woman who lived in Burleson who sadly died in a one-car accident last weekend believes that caused her crash. This is a common problem. We have seen drivers who claim they fell asleep at the wheel at all hours of the day, not just the night.
Make these habits to stay safe while driving:
Never drive if you feel tired or drowsy from medicine;
If you start to feel sleep as you drive, pull off the road and take a nap, call for help, or drink coffee or other caffeine product;
Get someone else to drive; or again
5. Wear a seat belt
You may assume that everyone does, but only about 85% of people do this. Obviously this is the state law, including for passengers. Further, a recent decision from the Texas Supreme Court held that the failure to wear a seat belt can prevent an innocent driver from collecting damages if they are injured but not wearing a seat belt.
These tips will help you keep safe while driving.
How to avoid getting struck by a vehicle if you are a pedestrian
You have seen more people than ever out walking to get exercise – and just to get out of their house. But some are at risk of getting hit.
These are things everyone walking should be doing:
Don’t walk on the street if possible. There are many trails and sidewalks, including the wonderful Trinity Trails in Fort Worth;
Don’t walk in groups with four people abreast, especially in this new age of social distancing;
Don’t dart across the street when crossing. Look both ways. Remember the driver of the car approaching you may be distracted.
Wear bright clothes, especially the first thing in the morning, at sunset and in the evening hours; and