Distracted Drivers – Phone Calls / Texting

It took some time, but finally, the Federal Department of Transportation issued a regulatory ruling that banned texting while driving in most commercial motor vehicles.

A study out of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) showed that for heavy trucks the following activities increased risk by:personal injury attorneys

Dialing Cell Phone, 5.9 times more likely to have a crash
Use/reach for an electronic device, 6.7 times as likely
Texting, 23.2 times as likely.
Those are some sobering statistics.

A new factor

A ruling out of California plays into the mix in an interesting way. Although the case involved looking at information on a cell phone subsequent to a drug arrest, the courts held that police could search a cell phone without a warrant as part of their investigation. This means that at the scene of an accident, officers may pull up recent cell phone activity to see if the driver involved was texting.

States are still working out the law. A ruling in Ohio found just the opposite, and in that state, a warrant is required.

Attorneys who are establishing the facts of a truck vs. car collision for their client will often subpoena cell phone records. They do this to find out if a truck driver may have been driving distracted – a situation that may have contributed to an accident. With the police able to do this on scene however, the case is made that much stronger by having their independent testimony on record in the police report. This may also be used to establish penalties against truck drivers under the DOT regulations.distracted drivers

Of course, for professional truck drivers, there are many more distractions than cell phones alone. As noted in the VTTI study, merely reaching for an electronic device can dramatically increase the chances of having an accident. Modern truck cabs may have a CB-radio, radar detector, laptop computer, GPS display, electronic manifest or log, and other devices – all or any of which can impair driving.

More accidents and more deadly accidents

Distracted driving not only increases the numbers of accidents, but increases the likelihood that an accident will be serious. Data shows that 20% of injury crashes involved distracted driving – and these are only the ones reported. The assumption is that many go unreported.

The reason is simple. When you are attentive, you can take some action – braking or swerving – to lessen the damage. But with distracted driving, the responsible party is often unaware an accident is about to happen. Quite often, these accidents involve ramming into the back of a stopped vehicle at full speed or drifting into the wrong lane. The mental or cognitive impairment is akin to falling asleep at the wheel – much worse even than someone who is driving slightly drunk. Their reactions will be slowed, but the distracted driver can completely zone out, allowing the truck to move along on autopilot.

So Many Reasons Why You Need Insurance

Rental car agencies have a menu of insurance policies they would like to sell you. While each policy could be of some benefit under the right circumstances, you should review each plan (its provisions, limitations, and exclusions) before making a purchase. It is a good idea to request the detailed information from an agent at the rental office, as most companies only provide a summary on their Web sites.insurance agency

Keep in mind; you may not need to buy this additional car insurance because you have auto insurance from your own car insurance company. Generally speaking, when you rent a car, the liability coverage limits you have in your own auto insurance policy remain in effect with the same limits. In addition, the comprehensive and collision coverages you have in your own auto insurance policy remain in effect with the same deductibles. You do have comprehensive and collision coverage don’t you?

You may also have some kind of additional auto insurance coverage through your credit card but it is important that you check your credit card information for specific details. Some cards only offer coverage if you rent your car from a particular agency. Some limit the days for which coverage is available. Some will only provide coverage for certain types and/or classes of cars. With some cards, the coverage is not automatic and you must enroll in a program to get coverage. Some cards that advertise automatic rental insurance really only reimburse you for the deductible that you would have to pay under your regular insurance policy. Still others may provide only collision and comprehensive coverage, leaving you exposed for personal injury or property damage to others. Rental car agencies typically offer liability coverage in two parts – a supplemental liability policy protects against claims from others and a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) covers the rental car. LDW is not technically insurance; rather, it is a company’s agreement not to hold the consumer liable for loss from all or part of any damage to merchandise.

Before you rent a vehicle, realize the charges you could be responsible for and how these charges are covered or not covered by both your own auto insurance policy and the car insurance the rental company is offering.

If you suffer a loss that is not covered under your auto policy, check your other insurance policies. For example, if personal property has been stolen from your rental car, it may be covered under your homeowners or renters policy. Similarly, certain medical policies may cover costs of injuries not covered by your car insurance policy.car insurance

As always, check with your insurance company to find out exactly what is covered under your own auto insurance policy.

GOP gov candidate Kemp resigns as Georgia secretary of state

ATLANTA (AP) — Republican Brian Kemp resigned Thursday as Georgia’s secretary of state, a day after his campaign said he’s captured enough votes to become governor, even though his election rival is conceding nothing in one of the nation’s marquee midterm races.

As the state’s top election official, Kemp oversaw the race, and his resignation Thursday morning came as a hearing began for a lawsuit in which five voters asked that he be barred from exercising his duties in any future management of his own election tally. Democratic rival Stacey Abrams’ campaign had repeatedly accused Kemp of improperly using his post as secretary of state.

Kemp’s resignation takes effect just before noon Thursday.

Abrams has pointed to ballots that have yet to be counted and says there’s still the possibility of a December runoff. Her campaign has said she must pick up about 15,000 votes to do so.

Kemp said Abrams is using “old math.” Without providing specifics, he said in a WSB Radio interview that the number “is actually more like 30,000 votes.”

The Associated Press has not called the election.

At a news conference with outgoing Republican Gov. Nathan Deal late Thursday morning, Kemp declared that there are only about 20,000 provisional ballots that have not yet been counted in the race. He did not offer any details, but in response to a question said he would ask about releasing county-by-county results.

Of Abrams, he said, “Even if she got 100 percent of those votes, we still win.”

Late Wednesday afternoon — after a day of the campaigns, media and partisan observers scrambling for information about outstanding votes across Georgia’s 159 counties — Kemp aide Ryan Mahoney told reporters on a conference call, “We are declaring victory.” Campaign official Austin Chambers, added: “The message here is pretty simple: This election is over, and the results are clear.”

Abrams’ campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo retorted a few hours later that the Kemp campaign offered “no proof” other than nonspecific provisional ballot counts released by Kemp’s official state office.

“He’s offered … no indication of why we should take him at his word,” Groh-Wargo said. “The sitting secretary of state has declared himself” the winner.

The standoff leaves open the possibility of litigation as Abrams’ campaign has pushed for the continued counting of absentee, mail-in and provisional ballots, and renewed its concerns that Kemp was the chief elections officer supervising his own election, a race already marked by disputes over the voting process.

If a runoff is necessary, the second round would take place Dec. 4, extending Abrams’ bid to become the first black woman elected governor in American history while Kemp looks to maintain the GOP’s domination in a state where Democrats haven’t won a governor’s race since 1998.

Partisan observers nationally have watched intently for clues about just how much of a battleground Georgia can be in the 2020 presidential campaign.

With reported votes exceeding 3.9 million — almost 95 percent of Georgia’s 2016 presidential turnout — Kemp has just more than 50 percent.

Before the Kemp campaign declared victory Wednesday, Groh-Wargo estimated that about 15,000 votes separate Kemp from a runoff. She says at least that many outstanding absentee and mail-in ballots remained to be counted.

Kemp’s spokeswoman in the secretary of state’s office, Candice Broce, said that by Wednesday afternoon the number of uncounted absentee and mail-in ballots was less than 2,000 — with her boss still above the 50 percent threshold.

Broce said about 22,000 provisional ballots have yet to be processed, according to a canvass of county officials across the state. Mahoney asserted that those numbers make it impossible for Abrams to pick up enough votes to deny Kemp an outright victory.

In 2016, with a slightly larger electorate, there were 16,739 provisional ballots. Of those, 7,592 were counted. State and campaign officials said they expected a much higher proportion to be counted this year.

Kemp’s office has not released a county-by-county breakdown of provisional ballots, but Abrams’ campaign said they believe they are concentrated in metro Atlanta counties where Abrams won a large share of the vote. Broce said Kemp’s office is working on releasing more detailed information.

The lawsuit at issue Thursday morning in an Atlanta federal court came from voters who sued Kemp on Election Day alleging that Kemp presiding over an election in which he is a candidate “violates a basic notion of fairness.” The plaintiffs asked the court to block Kemp from having anything more to do with managing his election. The hearing ended shortly after it began with the announcement of Kemp’s resignation.

It’s not immediately clear what Kemp’s practical role was in the election tally. Local officials are responsible for counting the votes, including provisional ballots. County officials have until next Tuesday to certify their results and send them to Kemp’s office. Statewide certification must come by Nov. 20.