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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

driving-933281_640-300x200The data from Tampa is in, and it shows that while coronavirus has caused many people to stay home, the drivers that are still out are punching the gas

Speeds have increased by at least 7 percent through early this week, according to more than a month’s worth of data collected by the city’s red light camera vendor from 54 cameras. Most drivers who blow through red lights are speeding.

Data collected found a blue Ford Mustang running through a red light at 71 mph. A grey Chevy Camaro with the racing stripes flew through a red light at East Hillsborough Avenue and North 22nd Street also traveling 71 mph. 

The findings, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times through a public records request, show a worrisome trend, according to Charles Territo, spokesman for Verra Mobility, the Mesa, Ariz.-based red light camera vendor.

The cameras, which are used to catch drivers blowing through red lights, also capture the speed at which cars are traveling the moment that dreaded blinding flash signals a violation.

“The violations that are being captured are being captured at some pretty high speeds,” Territo said.

And while traffic has dropped by 30 percent in Tampa, the rate of red light violations has increased by two-thirds compared to the same time frame a year ago. The company’s data also shows a rise in speed around the country.

What does this mean? While there have been fewer cars on the road since March 1, more drivers appear to be developing a lead foot.

In Tampa Bay, officials are calling this trend open-road syndrome. Fewer cars tempt some drivers to indulge their Fast and Furious fantasies.

“Traffic congestion is actually a traffic calming mechanism,” said Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter. “People forget that.”

During this crisis, many area law enforcement agencies have stopped pulling people over for all but extreme speeding to avoid the risk of coronavirus infections. Statewide, moving violations are down 92 percent due to a mix of less traffic and social distancing policies by many police departments.

In Tampa, police issued 586 traffic citations this March compared to 1,266 last March, which is a huge drop of 54 percent.

But law enforcement continues to warn people to not ignore the law even though roads may be vacant.  

Highway Patrol data comparing March 2019 and March 2020 show motorists ticketed for driving over 100 mph declined slightly in Hillsborough — from 14 to 10 — but tripled in Pinellas to 36. Drivers ticketed for blazing along at 30 mph over the posted limit fell by half in Hillsborough to 22, but doubled in Pinellas to 101.

St. Petersburg Police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said the Sunshine City hasn’t seen much of a problem with speeding during the crisis. In fact, crash data for the bay area’s second-largest city shows a decrease from last year. From March 14 to April 14, there were 508 accidents in the city compared to 856 during the same period last year.

Fewer drivers might mean fewer crashes, but more of them are speeding, the recent data from Tampa indicates. These habits could be hard to break whenever we get to whatever the new normal will be. 

It’s not just the cameras noticing, either. Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said last week at the county’s Emergency Policy Group meeting that residents have complained to her about speeding more than anything else lately.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has heard the calls about speeding drivers, too. She has acknowledged that reckless driving is a danger as two recent fatal wrecks on Bayshore Boulevard and on Adamo Drive have made that obvious.

The coronavirus pandemic has made the city sensitive to handing out a speeding ticket to someone who might be struggling to keep food on the table or the lights on, but common sense should prevail, Castor said.

“Individuals need to understand that just because there’s less traffic on the roadways does not mean that the speed limit is not in effect. I mean, we’ve seen some horrific examples of what speed can do on our roadways,” she said. 

During these strange and difficult times, our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here ready to help you. We are working remotely, but it is business as usual. After an auto accident, we can deal with the insurance company on your behalf and make sure you receive the proper settlement or financial compensation in your case. We are also able to help you find medical providers who can assist you with any pain and suffering caused by an accident.

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Three teens are dead after a head-on crash with a semi-tractor trailer on U.S. 92 early Saturday morning in Hillsborough County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

A 17-year-old from Dover and his 15-year-old passenger were killed in the crash.

A second passenger, 14, was transported to the hospital in critical condition but died on Sunday from his injuries. 

At around 12:38 a.m., the teen was driving a 2008 Ford Escape going westbound on U.S. 92, west of Turkey Creek Road, when for some unknown reason he crossed the centerline of the road and struck head-on with a 2005 semi-tractor trailer, driven by a 61-year-old man, according to FHP. 

The driver and the female passenger died at the scene and the 14-year-old passenger had to be airlift to Tampa General Hospital.

The semi-truck driver was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical in serious condition.

FHP stated that all involved in the crash were not under the influence of alcohol, however the teens were not wearing their seatbelts.

Currently, there are no charges pending.

This accident highlights just how critical it is to wear your seatbelt every time you get in a vehicle. Statistics show that seat belts save lives. When used correctly, wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45%, and risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. For those riding in the back of a larger vehicle, like a truck or SUV, seat belts are shown to be 73% better at preventing fatalities. The sad reality is that victims are not properly restrained in more than one-half of all fatal car accidents. Likewise, children are likely to be buckled 92% of the time when adults in the car use seat belts, as opposed to 72% of the time when adults do not buckle up.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), many Americans understand the lifesaving value of the seat belt as the national use rate was at 90.7% in 2019. Seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017.

In 2017, 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. Of those, 47% were not wearing seat belts, according to the NHTSA. In 2017 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts. 

seatbelt-1314338The consequences of not wearing a seat belt are pretty clear, but our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton would like to reiterate some key facts:

  • Buckling up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle. Not wearing a seatbelt can cause you to be completely ejected from a vehicle in a crash, which is almost always fatal. 
  • Air bags are not enough to protect you in a crash. In fact, the force of an airbag can seriously injure or even kill you if you’re not buckled up.
  • Not wearing a seat belt properly, such as putting the strap below your arm, puts you and your children at risk in a crash.

The benefits of buckling up are abundantly clear:

  • If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45% and your risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%. 
  • When you buckle up in a van or truck, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 60% and reduce your risk of moderate to critical injury by 65%. 

Drivers should know the risks of operating a vehicle when they get inside. Cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs can be dangerous, whether you are buckled up or not. Just because you’re wearing a seat belt doesn’t mean you will survive a car crash. However, using a seat belt as an added safety measure, along with defensive driving skills and basic safety can ultimately help reduce your risk of suffering a serious injury or fatality in the event of a car accident.

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A 30-year-old driver accused of killing two people in a wrong-way crash on Sunday at Tampa International Airport made his first court appearance Monday morning. 

A judge set the man’s bond at $150,000.  He faces two charges of DUI manslaughter and two charges of vehicular homicide. 

The man was allegedly intoxicated as he was trying to get on to the interstate going the wrong way when he hit another car head on early Sunday, according to the Tampa Police Department.

Police are looking into a potential traffic camera video that may help investigators determine how or why the man was allegedly driving the wrong way, trying to exit the Tampa International Airport on an entrance ramp.

Two men in the car the man hit died at the scene. 

According to reports, police tested the man’s breath four times following his arrest. He apparently blew just over the legal limit of point .08 twice, and just below the legal limit twice.

A blood draw was also taken, but results from that are not back.

Each charge the man faces carries a maximum 15 years in prison.

If the man posts bond, he will not be allowed to drink and he will have to wear a scram monitor that can detect alcohol in his system, according to reports.

Each year in the U.S., there are nearly 360 fatalities from wrong-way driving on highways, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. While 360 deaths might not seem like a lot, the seriousness of wrong-way collisions should not be discounted because while they are less frequent than other types of crashes, a wrong-way crash is 12-27 times more likely to be fatal, and often involve more than one fatality.

What is wrong-way driving? Wrong-way driving refers to vehicles traveling against traffic on a highway. This usually occurs when a driver enters the highway via an exit ramp rather than the entrance ramp.

How do wrong-way driving crashes happen? Wrong-way driving occurs most often when a motorist is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and fails to notice “Do Not Enter” signs and other safety precautions. According to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study, the majority of wrong-way drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even more shocking is that 59% have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or more. Sadly, Florida has one of the highest rates of drunk driving crashes in the country, which leads to more wrong-way deaths.

Sarasota is the top city in the state of Florida most at risk for DUI deaths. Sarasota averages 12.2 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. St. Petersburg averages 4.63 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. Tampa averages 3.77 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. All of these cities are well above the national average.

Other factors involved in wrong-way driving crashes include alcohol, drugs, fatigue, inattention, and driving late at night. Age can also play a role – the NTSB reports that drivers over the age of 70 are more likely to cause wrong-way crashes than right-way crashes.

While some wrong-way driving accidents happen on highway entrance ramps, the most serious and deadly wrong-way crashes occur on the highway at high speeds. Due to the fact that many wrong-way drivers are drunk or impaired, they are not only going the wrong way, but they are also likely to be driving recklessly, and may hit vehicles that are trying to avoid them. 

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A 2-month-old injured in a multi-car pileup Monday on Interstate 75 in Seffner has been pronounced dead, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

This is the second reported death from the crash. A 46-year-old man was killed at the scene Monday. 

The baby was in a vehicle with a parent and two siblings who all suffered minor injuries. 

Troopers say the pile up happened at about 2:30 p.m. when traffic on I-75 south was slowed. The driver of a dump truck collided with two vehicles, overturned on another and then collided with five more cars, according to a release from FHP.

In total, six people including the dump truck driver suffered minor injuries.

Southbound lanes were closed until about 8:30 p.m. Monday.

FHP says the investigation is still under way, and charges are pending.

Dump trucks carry cargo that can weigh over 50 tons, and are incredibly dangerous to operate. Accidents caused by dump trucks are usually devastating, which is why we hear so much about them in the news. 

Dump trucks are mainly used to haul various materials like concrete, gravel, and sand. A standard dump truck uses what is called a hydraulic lift to tilt its cargo carrier and dump the load. Some of these vehicles are equipped with a super standard hydraulic cylinder that can haul 26 tons or more.

Dump trucks are quite tall and when they are involved in a crash, the other vehicle is usually is pushed under the truck, which can lead to serious injuries and death for anyone in that vehicle. Dump truck drivers tend to walk away from these accidents unscathed unless the truck happens to flip on its side, travel down an embankment or the if the driver opted to forgo a seatbelt.

These massive trucks have bigger blind spots and some, like the semi-trailer dumper, are even more dangerous. These vehicles have a high gravity center on the dumper  and a low weight on the truck’s trailer, so this creates an imbalance which can make the truck more prone to tip over. 

After a dump truck pile up accident, a driver or trucking company can be held responsible for any negligent actions the driver commits while on the job. Such actions include: 

  • Inadequate dump truck training for drivers
  • Not performing regular safety inspections
  • Exceeding legal limit for dump truck weight with cargo
  • Pressuring drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines for hauling cargo
  • Providing trucks that do not meet safety inspection standards
  • Failing to properly maintain the truck in safe and operable condition

Due to the fact that dump trucks are mechanically complicated, there are many ways an accident can occur. Multiple parties could actually be to blame, such as a manufacturer of faulty parts, among others. 

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a dump truck accident, you need to get legal help as soon as possible. Our Tampa Bay Truck Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can fight on your side to make sure your rights are protected. We will get to the scene right away to make sure that no evidence changes or disappears, make sure witness statements are collected, and most importantly, make sure no one tricks you into saying something you did not actually mean. These types of accident investigations can be quite expensive, and the trucking company does not have to release their records to you until after you file a civil lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death. 

Keep in mind that the insurance company will do everything in its power to mitigate the cost of your settlement, or to even deny you payment outright. The insurance company may even send an adjuster to your home or hospital to make a settlement offer. Once you accept they will have you sign a release of liability. These early offers are usually a cheap means to get you to settle out of court and do not cover the full scope of your injuries or a loved one’s death. Once you sign a release, you forfeit your right to recover any additional damages from their insurance company or your own company, which is why it is so important to never sign anything until your lawyer has reviewed it and made sure you fully understand what this money means in regards to your pain and suffering and other damages.

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A 29-year-old Lakeland man was killed Thursday in a multi-vehicle crash on State Road 60 at the intersection with Grape Hammock Road in Lake Wales.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the 2:45 p.m. crash involved four vehicles, including two semis, which resulted in significant diesel fuel and oil on the roadway and debris.

Deputies said a silver 2012 Volkswagen car being driven by the man Lakeland was heading westbound on SR 60 just west of Grape Hammock Rd at a high rate of speed when it began to hydroplane, as it was raining heavily at the time.

The VW went into the eastbound lane and bounced off of a 2019 red Kia Sorento. The VW rotated and was then struck by an eastbound 1986 Kenworth semi truck pulling a trailer, causing significant damage and killing the Lakeland man.

The semi exited the roadway and came to a rest in a ditch, with the trailer still in the eastbound lane.

Another semi heading westbound struck some debris from the crash and came to a controlled stop.

None of the other drivers were injured.

Hydroplaning happens when road conditions are wet and the surface of the asphalt becomes slippery. The combination of moisture and oil residue on roadways can result in a very slippery surface. For drivers experiencing this, the tires of their vehicle can become separated from the road surface by a thin layer of water, and they can experience a loss of steering, as well as a loss of braking ability and vehicle control. A hydroplane crash can be catastrophic, as this case shows, and affect multiple vehicles and cause significant injuries and property damage.

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A motorcyclist has been pronounced dead after apparently losing control of his bike on U.S. 19 and then being struck by a car.

The crash shut down northbound U.S. 19 just south of 126th Avenue for hours Sunday morning.

Pinellas Park Police believe the 22-year-old motorcyclist was speeding when he lost control and was thrown off the bike.

Police say the driver of a passing vehicle tried to stop traffic, but another vehicle drove through and struck the biker. Another vehicle struck the bike debris.

Police say everyone is cooperating with the investigation. No one else was hurt.

The aftermath of motorcycle accidents can be devastating. While some bike riders can escape a crash with just minor injuries, in many speed-related accidents, the rider can suffer life changing injuries, that may include:

  • traumatic brain injury
  • spinal cord damage
  • paralysis
  • nerve damage
  • facial injuries
  • road rash
  • broken bones
  • internal injuries
  • death

If you’ve been injured or lost someone you love in a motorcycle accident, our Pinellas County Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help level the playing field against insurance companies and fight for what you deserve. We handle all motorcycle accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay no legal fee unless we obtain financial compensation for you through an insurance settlement or jury verdict.

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A 7-year-old boy is in critical condition at the hospital after he was hit by an SUV in Clearwater Tuesday night.

Emergency crews responded to a call at an apartment complex in the 2200 block of Nursery Road a little after 7:30 p.m. Upon arrival, officers on scene were told the boy was riding a bike in the parking lot of the apartment complex when he rode into the path of a Nissan Armada, which ultimately hit the child.

The driver remained on scene and is cooperating with the investigation, according to officials in Clearwater.

The boy was taken to Bayfront Health in Saint Petersburg and is in critical condition, according to officials.

When drivers fail to take proper safety precautions and check all areas surrounding their vehicle, parking lots can be the site of very serious or even deadly pedestrian or bicycle accidents. Larger vehicles, especially SUVs and trucks, have several blind spots, so driver’s must pay extra attention to their surroundings. There are far too many preventable accidents that occur every day when driver’s do not take a few extra seconds to check out the area before beginning to drive.

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A woman, who caused a crash that killed three after she suffered a seizure, was in a wheelchair at her pretrial hearing Monday morning.

In August of 2017, prosecutors say the woman was driving over 100 miles per hour when she slammed into a Hyundai, killing a man, his wife and their 8-year-old daughter.

Investigators say the woman did not stick around after the crash. She fled the scene, but did not make it far.

Police caught up with the woman a couple of miles from the crime scene.

While being questioned by detectives, she allegedly said she takes anti-anxiety medication for her seizures.

She was emotional after the crash, even breaking down during a bond hearing.

Fleeing the scene of an accident, or hit and run, is a very serious criminal offense. Under Florida state law, drivers are required to stop and exchange information or render assistance when they are involved in an accident that causes property damage or bodily injury. Even though it is against the law to leave the scene after an accident, data from the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety shows that 11% of all car accidents involve hit-and-run drivers.

When a driver flees the scene of an accident, they leave behind victims without taking any responsibility for their actions. Our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton regularly file personal injury and wrongful death claims on behalf of those injured or killed in hit-and-run accidents. We can answer any questions you may have regarding your legal options following an incident involving a fleeing driver.

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A bill to make texting while driving a primary offense in Florida is closer than it has ever been to the governor’s desk.

The Florida Senate voted 33 to 5 Thursday to pass the House version of the bill, (HB 107) substituting it for the Senate version, which was broader and prohibited using any wireless communication device.

However, the Senate added an amendment to the House bill that would ban the use of any wireless device while in school zones or work zones. The Florida House will now have to decide what to do with the amended version of the bill.

The bill is the closest Florida has ever gotten to allowing law enforcement to pull over drivers for texting while driving. Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense, which means officers need another reason to pull over a driver in order to cite them for texting while driving.

If the bill passes the Florida Legislature and is signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, it would go into effect on July 1.

Texting while driving has been identified as the most dangerous form of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 480,000 drivers use cell phones while driving every day. These devices create a huge potential for injuries and fatalities to drivers, passengers, and everyone else sharing the road.

The truth is that most drivers underestimate the time it takes for a car accident to happen. When you are travelling 55 mph, in a matter of just five seconds – the approximate amount of time it takes to read a text – you will have travelled the entire length of a football field. Serious collisions can happen in as little as three seconds.

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Lawmakers, law enforcement and families who have faced the danger of distracted driving firsthand are urging all Florida drivers to put the phone down while behind the wheel.

At least 233 Floridians were killed by distracted drivers in 2018, according to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The Florida Highway Patrol says, on average, distracted driving accounts for more than 1,000 crashes in our state every week.

Under current Florida law, texting while driving is only a secondary offense. That means drivers can’t be pulled over for texting alone.

Some, are trying to change that, and Florida’s laws could soon change.

Even though Florida does have a statewide texting ban in place, many people continue to engage in the behavior. Distracted driving is defined as any activity that could take a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. While texting behind the wheel is considered the most dangerous distraction, others include:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to or interacting with passengers
  • Personal grooming
  • Reading maps
  • Watching videos
  • Adjusting a radio or other audio player
  • Using a navigation system

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