Emotions are justifiably high after a recent fatal alcohol-related car accident in Texas, in which a drunk driver plowed through a group of persons standing outside a popular music festival. One of those injured was a tourist on his bicycle. A number of pedestrian and bicycle safety organizations are calling for stronger laws, holding drivers accountable for such accidents.
Two people have been confirmed killed in the carnage that resulted when the drunk driver allegedly broke through the barricades in his vehicle. The driver did not stop and continued to drive on, plowing through pedestrians standing outside the venue of the music festival in Austin. After a while, the car came to a complete stop, and the driver fled the scene on foot. By the time the carnage ended, two people had been confirmed killed, and more than 20 people had been injured. At least five of the injured are believed to be in a critical condition.
The loss of life here, and the number of injuries that have occurred as well as the preventability of this accident, has heightened tempers. Pedestrian and bicycle safety groups are calling for stronger rules that hold drivers responsible, when they engage in such negligent driving.
They are specifically calling for pedestrian and bicycle safety rules that mirror those in countries like the Netherlands, and in other European countries. In the Netherlands, for instance, strict liability applies in an accident that injures a pedestrian or bicyclist. Regardless of the kind of negligence involved, the motorist is held responsible for the injuries that have been caused to the more vulnerable person, that is the pedestrian or bicyclist. Compare that to the United States, where motorists very often get a wrap on the wrist for an accident that leaves pedestrians seriously injured.
Lawyers for a California man, who was involved in a fatal Santa Cruz bicycle accident, have announced that they plan to investigate the Tesla car that the motorist was driving at the time.
According to prosecutors, the man has been charged with a misdemeanor, but not a felony offense, because they believe that he exercised “ordinary negligence,” and failed to use reasonable care in avoiding the accident. The accident occurred when the man apparently dozed off at the wheel of his Tesla, colliding with a bicyclist. According to the California Highway Patrol's investigation report, there was nothing that the bicyclist here could have done to avoid the accident. He succumbed to his injuries. The victim was a librarian at University Of California Santa Cruz.
According to the motorist's attorneys, they plan to investigate the Tesla because of a possibility that the drowsy driving could have been the result of an odor in the car. The motorist happens to be a vegetarian, and does not use meat or animal-based products, and because of this, the interior of the car was not made from leather or fabric, but from a synthetic material. The motorist had placed a can of baking soda in the car to absorb the smell of the synthetic material, and attorneys believe that the smell could have played a role in his dozing off at the wheel.
So far, the motorist who happens to be a technology executive has not been arrested for his role in the accident.
As we move into spring and summer, we are likely to see far more bicyclists on the road, and an increase in collisions like these caused by motorists, who fail to lookout for people on bicycles.
A string of fatal bicycle accidents were recorded in California this year, and December offered no respite. A 65-year-old Woodland Hills resident, who also happens to be a music industry veteran and entertainment lawyer, died this month in an accident involving a patrol car.
Milton Everett Olin Jr was a former chief operating officer of file-sharing website Napster. He was also a very prominent entertainment lawyer, and had been practicing law since 1975. It's not yet clear how the accident occurred, but it is clear that he was hit by a sheriff's patrol car. The accident occurred in Calabasas. He was declared dead at the scene of the accident.
Investigations into the accident have begun, but as of now, police do not have any reason to believe that speeding was a factor in this particular accident. Additionally, officers have also ruled out the possibility that drugs and alcohol were associated with this accident.
There is little known about the road conditions in the area where the accident occurred. For instance, it isn't clear if there was a bike lane in the neighborhood where the accident occurred.
Whatever the circumstances of the accident, the fact is that California has seen an uptick in the number of bicycle accident fatalities that have taken place in 2013. Certain counties like Los Angeles County have been severely affected by a motorist lack of concern for bicycle safety, and the lack of high-quality bicycling infrastructure. For a state, that has one of the most favorable weather conditions for bicyclists, California does not seem to do a lot to help keep bicyclists safer. Bicycle accident investigations drag out, infrastructure plans are too slow to roll out, and overall, there is an assumption that the risk of accidents is part and parcel of the bicycling life.
A group of researchers has been quietly experimenting with how to increase recovery after a brain injury using additional stimulation, including intellectual, cognitive, physical and social stimulation.
Some of these techniques are currently being used at the Toronto Rehab and Canada Research Chair in Traumatic Brain Injury. There, neuroscientists are researching why brain injury recovery can be impeded, and focusing on the development of treatments and strategies that can help defeat the effect of such impediments.
What is interesting about this body of work at the center is that the researchers have reason to believe that moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, could actually be a progressive neurological disorder. This is obviously a very different way of looking at traumatic brain injury, and has some interesting implications for treatment down the line.
According to the neuroscientists, soon after a brain injury, the area of the brain that is damaged leaves the undamaged and healthy areas of the brain under-stimulated. Over time, these areas of the brain actually begin to deteriorate as a result of lack of use, and lack of stimulation.
The researchers found that when people were given additional stimulation especially physical, social and cognitive simulation, it helped block the deterioration of these areas of the brain.
The field of brain injury diagnosis and treatment is a vast area of study, and there are several studies being performed across the world, aiming not just to speed up diagnosis of brain injury, but also to develop treatments that can help limit the long-term effects of these injuries.
Brain injuries are some of the most frequent injuries resulting from bicycle accidents. Even a bicyclist, who is wearing a helmet, could be at risk of traumatic brain injury in an accident.
A new bill that has just been signed into law by Governor, Jerry Brown requires that motorists, who are passing a bicycle, leave at least 3 feet of passing space when they do so.
The legislation is expected to go into effect in September 2014, and the law has been widely welcomed by California bicycle accident attorneys, and bicycle safety groups. A number of states around the country have already passed such laws that define the minimum amount of space that motorists must leave when they are passing by a bicyclist. This is meant to help reduce the risk of accidents to bicyclists when motorists drive too close to a bicyclist, yell at or taunt the bicyclist, increasing the bicyclist’s risk of being involved in an accident.
California's law now requires motorists to give bicyclists a minimum of 3 feet of space, when they're passing on a California roadway. The law has been a long while coming. In fact, Governor, Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation on two separate occasions in 2011 and 2012. Last year, the Governor objected to language in the law that would have permitted a motorist to cross a double yellow line in order to leave the required passing space. In 2011, he objected to a provision that would have required motorists who are unable to move over, to slow down to a certain speed, regardless of the speed limit on the road.
The law requires motorists to give bicyclists passing space, and requires motorists to slow down if they're not in a position to give room to the bicycle. Failure to comply with the law would be deemed an infraction, and violators can be penalized with a fine.
Police have made an arrest in a fatal bicycle accident that occurred in Pleasanton recently. The motorist, an 18-year-old has been arrested, and has been charged with several counts related to felony vehicular manslaughter and felony reckless driving.
The victim killed in the accident was a 58-year-old bicyclist, who was riding with her husband. The bicyclists were struck by a car driven by the teen driver. The victim’s husband did not suffer serious injuries.
The Pleasanton community is no stranger to bicycle accidents, and this city is believed to be one of the more dangerous cities in California for bicyclists. According to official data from the California Office of Traffic Safety, in 2010, the city of Pleasanton ranked at number 12 on a 103 city-listing of bicycle accidents, comparing cities with similar populations. Pleasanton roads are also highly dangerous for bicyclist below the age of 15. In 2010, the city ranked at number eight in the number of bicycle accidents involving persons of this age.
Even so, the Pleasanton community has been shocked by this accident, especially because it seems that the driver in this case was in the habit of using social media to boast about his high speeds. Just a few months before the fatal accident the driver boasted on his Twitter account of driving at speeds of 140 mph, and jokingly invited his 191 followers to join him for a “death ride.” Soon after this fatal accident, the driver’s Twitter account was closed, but not before he had posted one last gem-“drive fast like young.”
It is quite possible that speeding was a factor in this accident, although there are any number of other factors like distracted driving and driving under the influence that endanger bicyclists in California.
There’s hardly been a worse time to bicycle in Orange County. This year alone, according to California Highway Patrol data, bicycle accidents have increased by about 40% in Orange County. That isn’t the only statistic that concerns California bicycle accident lawyers. In Los Angeles County, the number of accidents involving bicycles has increased by a staggering 90% since 2002.
In Orange County in 2011, there were approximately 1,400 bicycle accident-related injuries. According to VoiceofOC.org, some of the highest at-risk bicycle accident magnets are Main Street in Santa Ana, and downtown Anaheim. In many of these in neighborhoods, bicycle accident victims happen to be Latino immigrants, whose deaths very rarely make the headlines. These bicycle accidents are never reported in the media.
According to statistics, many bicycle accident fatalities recently have involved young Latinos. Bicycling has taken off in the Latin American community in Southern California, with this segment of the population accounting for some of the highest increases in bicyclists across California. Many undocumented immigrants, who lose their licenses at drunk driving checkpoints, are bicycling to work, and school. That means more numbers of bicyclists competing for space on roads that are simply not designed for bicyclists.
There are signs that the situation could soon change. The Orange County Transportation Authority recently approved approximately 9 million dollars in grants for bicycle infrastructure projects. Hopefully, the money will be used to develop and improve the inadequate current bicycle infrastructure in Southern California, including the construction of more bicycle lanes. OC law enforcement also needs to be more active about educating motorists about bicyclist rights, and increasing safe biking practices among bicycle commuters.
One of the secrets of bicycle safety is to remain as visible to motorists as possible, so that they can avoid colliding with you. An innovative new bicycle design involves a series of LED lights that are incorporated into the bicycle helmet to serve both as a flashlight to the bicyclist, and as a beacon warning motorists about the presence of the bicyclist.
The design is called The Torch, and it includes 5 LED lights in front of the helmet and 5 at the back. These 10 lights deliver a powerful beam of light that is visible to motorists even in the dark. These LED lights have a 130° glow, which enhances light all around, and makes the bicycle more visible to motorists on the road.
The lights on this particular helmet design come in a series of modes, including steady, slow and fast flash, and the lights are powered by a rechargeable battery. Once you charge the battery, you can use it for about 2 hours at full beam, and for about 8 hours if you're using it in flashing mode. The designers are currently in the process of manufacturing the helmets for public sales, and are taking orders for these.
Obviously, the helmet is likely to be most useful for bicyclists who are out riding at night. Bicycling at night is one of the most dangerous activities, because the chances of a motorist colliding with you are much higher in poor light.
This is an intriguing bicycle helmet design, and California bicycle accident lawyers believe that the helmet could be effective in reducing the likelihood of being involved in an accident at night.
Several California cities including Davis, Palo Alto and Berkeley, have more than 5% of their workforce commuting to work by bicycle. In these cities, higher numbers of bicyclists have meant lower traffic congestion problems. But Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers fear that the higher bicyclist population also means an increasing risk of collisions with motor vehicles.
According to Census Bureau data, 5 California cities - Davis, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Chico, and Mountain View - have more than 5% of their workforce commuting to work by bicycle. In fact, the city with the highest share of bicyclist commuters is Davis, where out of a total workforce of 29,663, 4,923 choose to bike to work. That makes it a staggering 16.6% of the population that choose to bicycle to work.
Similarly, in Palo Alto, bicyclists constitute close to 11% of the total commuting population, while in Berkeley, bicycling commuters make up 8.85% of the commuting population.
According to the Census survey, those are rough estimates because it is difficult to point out exactly how many numbers of workers commute to work every day by bicycle. For instance, the data does not include those people who ride to public transportation stations. It also does not include people who simply ride by bicycle to work once or twice a week. These people are not considered bicycle commuters.
Several cities in California have promoted bicycling, and California has several cities that do feature as some of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country. However, the more the number of bicyclists, the greater the risk of accidents with motorists who are ignorant about the rights of bicyclists. Promotion of bicycling therefore should be combined with education efforts targeting motorists.
We handle cases throughout California, including the cities of:
Silicon Valley, San Jose, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Orange County and San Diego. We also have a network of qualified cycling attorneys throughout the country for clients who are seeking representation outside of California.