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What are the Top 5 Causes of Car Accidents?

11-28-21    

rear-end-car-wreck

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s estimates, around 36,680 people died in 2020 due to motor vehicle traffic crashes—the largest number of deaths since 2007. This rise is despite the smaller number of cars on the road last year, while we socially-distanced, stayed and worked from home, and generally got out less during the pandemic.

What’s caused this spike in fatal car accidents in the last year? And why is 2021 projected to be even worse? There are five main reasons that people get into car crashes. If you can, avoid the following so you don’t become a statistic!

1. Distracted Drivingwoman-driving-while-texting

Research from the American Automobile Association’s Traffic Safety Division has found that between a quarter and a half of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by distracted driving. But what is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that moves your attention from traffic on the road ahead to something else. These activities include the following:

  • Talking—and especially texting—on cell phones
  • Rubbernecking
  • Driver fatigue
  • Looking at scenery on the side of the road
  • Engaging with passengers or children
  • Adjusting the radio, CD player, or other aspect of the car’s infotainment system
  • Reading books, maps newspapers or other documents
  • Eating
  • Self-grooming

2. Drunk Driving

The NHTSA reports that about 32% of all traffic fatalities in America are caused by drunk drivers. Remember—though the legal limit for blood-alcohol level in Ohio is 0.08, it’s safer to establish a sober, designated driver for the night. The only way to prevent being at-fault for a drunk driver accident is to not drink and drive.

3. Speeding

Speed is one of the deadliest factors in any car accident: as you increase your speed, you decrease the time you have to react and avoid a crash, you increase your risk of crashing, and you increase the severity of any crash you’re in. In fact, drivers’ increased speed due to emptier roads was the main driver of the jump in fatal crashes in 2020. Common scenarios that can lead to a speeding accident include:

  • Sharp turns on curves
  • Ignoring speed limit signs
  • Drivers losing control of their vehicle based on the speed at which they were driving, which can result in collision with another vehicle
  • Speeding on major roadways and rear-ending another vehicle as a result

When driving, make sure to follow the posted speed limits and observe common sense regarding your speed. Never drive faster than is safe for current weather conditions—slow down for rain, snow, and fog. Reducing your speed is the easiest, and one of the most effective, things you can do to make the road safer for everyone.

4. Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving is defined as “driving in a manner that presents a threat to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and/or bicyclists.” Aggressive driving includes a number of behaviors that you’ve likely seen while driving, and possibly have done yourself:

  • Aggressive tailgating
  • Driving without a seatbelt, or improperly securing a child
  • Failure to follow traffic signals
  • Failure to yield
  • Following at an unsafe distance
  • Inattentive driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Unlawful or unsafe speeds
  • Unsafe or illegal lane changes (weaving in and out of traffic)

If you’re in traffic with an aggressive driver, your best course of action is to keep your distance. Don’t attempt to pass or interact with them—this can escalate the situation and possibly lead to a car wreck. If you are concerned for the safety of yourself and others (including the aggressive driver), call 911 and report the aggressive driver as soon as it’s safe to do so.

5. Inclement Weather

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Fog, snow, ice, hail, heavy rain, and even high winds can make driving much more difficult. Poor visibility, poor tire tread or brakes, or a poorly functioning engine and exhaust are just a few things that can become extremely unsafe due to inclement weather, increasing the likelihood of an accident. However, there are some actions you can take to decrease the likelihood of a car wreck in bad weather.

Make sure to adhere to the speed limit at all times, and lower your speed if conditions worsen. By slowing down, you provide yourself more time to react to conditions, which is needed in heavy weather. There’s also no shame in pulling over or stopping at a rest stop if conditions get extremely bad. It’s better to be late to your destination than to be in a deadly accident.

What to Do After a Car Accident in Ohio

Though some accidents aren’t completely avoidable, by following the 5 above tips you can make them more rare. If you are involved in an Ohio car accident, however, you’ll need one of our reliable and experienced Columbus car accident lawyers to argue your case in court. The attorneys at Rinehardt Injury Attorneys have years of experience litigating complex injury cases in our state, and are here to help.

If you’re the victim of a car crash, don’t hesitate to contact our car accident attorneys. Call the law offices of Rinehardt Injury Attorneys today.


Rules of the Road: Bicycle Laws in Ohio

06-30-20    

Ohio cyclists are responsible to follow the same rules and regulations as motor vehicles, which includes yielding to pedestrians, using lights between sunset and sunrise, and obeying all traffic signs and signals (ORC 4511.55). However, there are additional rules that apply to cyclists when riding on public roadways:

  • Cyclists must ride as close to the curb as possible exercising reasonable care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
  • Cyclists shall not ride more than two abreast in a single lane, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for their exclusive use.

The rule requiring cyclists to ride at the edge of the roadway does not apply when it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so. Some examples of when a rider may have to move away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary:

  • To avoid fixed or moving objects
  • To avoid parked or moving vehicles
  • To avoid surface hazards
  • If the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the same lane.

Mountain Bikes

If you are riding trails instead of public roadways, there are no specific laws that apply, but there are trail-specific guidelines to follow:

  • Plan ahead –carry necessary supplies for changes in the weather, and know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you will be riding.
  • Yield appropriately – bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users. Bicyclists traveling downhill should always yield to those heading uphill unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic.
  • Respect trail and road closures – do not trespass on private land, and obtain permits as required.
  • Leave no trace – stay on existing trails and do not create new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks, and do not leave any trash of any kind on the trail.
  • Control your bicycle – obey speed regulations and recommendations and ride within your limits.
  • Respect wildlife – give animals enough room and time to adjust to you and avoid sudden movements and loud noises.

E-bikes

Electric bicycles also known as e-bikes are becoming more and more popular in Ohio. E-bikes attract bicyclists of all ages and abilities because they have a rechargeable motor to assist riders on hills or other obstacles allowing riders to conserve energy, extend range, and equalize riders of different abilities.

E-bikes were previously classified similarly to motor vehicles in Ohio, preventing riders from using them on shared use paths or bicycle facilities that prohibit motorized vehicles. However, Ohio passed a new e-bike law House Bill 250 that went into effect on March 8, 2019. E-bikes are now regulated like non-electric bicycles rather than vehicles.

Ohio’s new law defines three classes of e-bikes according to the type of electric assistance and top speed. All classes are limited to an electric motor of 750 watts or less. The new law also defines where different e-bike classes may be used. Like bicycles, all classes can operate on any road except for a freeway. E-bikes cannot be used on natural surface trails intended for mountain biking, hiking or equestrian use. Additionally, local jurisdictions can further restrict or permit the e-bikes on any trails under their authority so it is important to check the local laws and codes.

Keep in mind that e-bike users are required to follow all traffic and equipment laws that apply to bicycles, like using lights and reflectors.

Class one (pedal assist) and class two (throttle assist) e-bikes travel up to 20 mph and are permitted on bicycle only and shared use paths. Only class three e-bikes, which are pedal assist bikes that go up to 28 mph, have special rules including:

  • They are prohibited from bicycle only and shared use paths
  • They require a speedometer
  • Riders must be 16 or older
  • Helmets are required
  • Speedometer is required

Bicycle Accidents

In most cases, it is illegal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk and are expected to ride with traffic, not against it – so when driving a motor vehicle, please be courteous, share the road, and obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals. When passing a bicyclist, allow at least three feet of space between your car and the cyclist.

With so many motor vehicles and bicycles sharing the road, these laws strive to help bicyclists avoid motor vehicle collisions. Although Ohio may not currently have a law that requires bicyclists to wear helmets, it is the number one piece of safety advice we can provide to cyclists – please always wear a helmet, ride safely, and follow all Ohio rules and regulations.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, we suggest you take the following steps:

  1. Take photos of your bicycle, the vehicle, location of accident, and most importantly, any injuries you have sustained
  2. Get the contact information of the motor vehicle driver, including name, phone number, and auto insurance
  3. Call the police
  4. Seek medical attention as needed
  5. Call us at 419-LAW-2020 for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries

If you find yourself a victim of a bicycle accident, call a bicycle accident attorney to get the compensation and justice that you deserve. Here at Rinehardt Injury Attorneys, we have a team of experienced bike accident lawyers ready to help you! Give as a call or schedule a free consultation with one of our expert personal injury attorneys in Ohio today!

 


Rinehardt Law Firm’s Top 10 List of Bicycle Safety Gear

06-17-20    


Whether you choose to wear one or not, you probably know that a properly fitted helmet is by far the number one most important piece of safety equipment to protect yourself from injury when out for a bicycle ride. But what other safety gear is important and why? Rinehardt Injury Attorneys compiled a top ten list of core biking gear.

#10: First Aid Kit

Even if you’re not going fast, if you fall off your bicycle, you are likely to sustain at least road rash or a gash. You will want to get even minor wounds cleaned and covered quickly. Carry a basic first aid kit on your bike including bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, burn gel, and butterfly closures.

#9 Go-Pro or Dash Cam

Bicyclists on the roadways are at risk of being hit by reckless, negligent, or distracted drivers. Bad driving can be deadly. On top of that, occasionally bicyclists must face intentional acts of aggression. A camera attached to your bike or helmet can provide invaluable video footage to document such events.

#8: Tire Pump, Patch Kit and Spare Tube

The most common problem cyclists face is a flat tire. If you are riding more than a few miles from home, you should always carry a spare tube for large punctures or blowouts. A patch kit can repair small punctures.

#7: Sunscreen

When the wind is in our face, we can forget that sun is still doing damage to our skin. Research shows that exposure to UV rays from the sun is responsible for up to 80% of visible aging signs and is the most serious threat for causing skin cancer. Apply high-SPF sunscreen 20-30 minutes before you ride, even when it’s not sunny.

#6: Mirror

Many accidents occur when a cyclist is hit from behind. A rearview mirror can help you see if a driver is paying attention or driving erratically behind you. Mirrors may be attached to your handlebars or helmet. There are even sunglasses available with a mirror on the inside.

#5: A Bell or Horn

If you can’t be seen, maybe you can be heard. When approaching pedestrians, runners, other cyclists, or even a car from the rear, sounding a bell can prevent collisions caused by unexpected motion coming into your riding path.

#4: Reflective Gear

Again, staying visible is the key to staying safe. Most accidents happen because a driver fails to see the cyclist. There is a plethora of reflective gear available to help you be seen including bright florescent colored jerseys or jackets, neon vests with reflectors, reflective stickers and bands, tires with reflective sidewalls, bright colored helmets, and reflective socks and even shoes!

#3: Cell Phone, Medical Information, and ID cards

No one expects to be in an accident, so it is best to be prepared. Always bring your cell phone so you can call for help. But cell phones can break or get lost and if you are unconscious, your phone will be locked. That’s why is it also important to carry emergency identification and medical information including allergies, medication and past medical history. It can save your life, but it can also help your ride partners help you if you are hurt and it provides peace of mind to your loved ones at home.

#2: Water

It may seem simple, but if you’re not properly hydrated before you ride and hydrating while on the road, you run the risk of dealing with serious side effects that could not just affect your performance, but your health. If you wait to drink until you’re thirsty, it’s already too late. If you’re dehydrated by even two percent of body weight, it will have a negative effect on your cognitive function. Always carry plenty of water when you ride and depending on how long you will be out there, consider adding an electrolyte infused drink mix to your water bottle.

#1: Headlight and Rear Reflector or Flashing Light

If drivers can’t see you, they might run into you. That’s why it is important to always ride with lights on, even during the day. Illumination for nighttime or low-light riding may seem obvious, but studies show that daytime lights can reduce bike accidents by 20%.


Bicycle Safety—Know and Minimize the Risks

06-15-20    


In the context of COVID-19 and the shutdown of gyms and fitness centers, many individuals are finding different ways to keep fit and pursue recreational activities. Because of this, the demand for bicycles is through the roof. Sales of bicycles for both children and adults have experienced double and triple-digit increases.

But as the rise in bicycle usage increases, more awareness of bicycle safety becomes imperative.

Understanding the Risk Factors

The absence of external bicycle protection while riding results in a predictable vulnerability of the cyclist to injury from either an unintentional fall or collision with a motor vehicle. In 2018 alone, there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes.

How to Minimize the Risk

By law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. This compels familiarity with the Rules of the Road to help prevent accidents.

Another way to prevent injury is to use a properly fitted and maintained bicycle. Proper fit and maintenance allow the rider to concentrate on the road and his/her surroundings. It also incidentally prevents injury related to the repetitive motions required in cycling.

With regard to helmets, sixty-percent of bicycle deaths occurred in riders who were not wearing helmets. The data strongly supports the use of helmets to protect the brain. Specifically, helmet use may reduce the risk of head injury by 50% and head, face or neck injury by 33%.  Notably, emergency room doctors are among the strongest advocates for bicycle helmet use.  As the fit is important to ensure the benefits of protection with a helmet, refer to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration website for taking the proper helmet fitting setup.

Risk factors associated with bicycle crashes include riding between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.; urban/city riding; being a male; and ingestion of alcohol.  Knowledge of these facts can help one ride responsibly. Wear and use equipment that can make you more visible – bright clothing and the use of lights and reflectors are a good start.

Plan your route to avoid heavily-traveled areas. Understand that the ingestion of alcohol can affect one’s judgment and reaction times.

The Benefits of Cycling in the World of COVID

Cycling remains a healthy alternative in the setting of the current COVID-19 requirements to maintain physical distancing and avoid the risks of large crowds.

Continuing an exercise routine and getting outdoors also may strengthen our immune system and improve our overall mental health. With that in mind, the responsible approach to launching a beneficial cycling program is to integrate the safety principles described.

Look for a more detailed discussion of safety tips and informational tidbits in upcoming blogs.


Protecting Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak

04-03-20    

We hear a lot in the news about how to protect ourselves and our communities physically during the current health crisis, but we don’t hear as much about how to protect our mental health and stability. Given the drastic changes in everyday life and the barrage of news stories on TV and in social media, everyone is at risk for increased anxiety and depression – even people who have never had such symptoms before. But what can you do to avoid getting overly anxious or depressed? We suggest trying out some (or all!) of these strategies when things start to feel overwhelming:

  1. Take breaks. Whether you are now working from home, homeschooling your kids, or working increased hours in an essential field, give yourself permission to take a breather. Get up and walk outside, pick up a magazine, take a short nap. It doesn’t have to be long, just as long as it gives your mind and body a moment to regroup.
  2. Phone a friend. Being physically distant from friends and family can heighten feelings of anxiety and depression. But being distant doesn’t have to mean being disconnected. Try a phone call, a video chat, or even writing to someone via email or snail mail. Reach out, and you may do just as much for someone else’s mental health as your own.
  3. Stick to a routine. Even with your activities being limited, you can still wake up at the same time, shower, eat breakfast, and get your day started just like before. Not only will that help you feel some normalcy, but it will make it easier to readjust once the current situation is over.
  4. Lower expectations for your kids. They may not verbalize it in the same way, but kids (even teenagers!) are feeling the stress of this situation. Instead of getting frustrated and focusing on deadlines and outcomes, focus on supporting them, listening to them, and showing them where to go to find help with questions about their school work. Most schools have teachers that miss their students terribly and would love to be able to offer some guidance and assistance!
  5. Lower expectations for yourself. You may not be remodeling your bathroom, cleaning all your closets, or learning a new language, but if you’re keeping your family and yourself healthy and safe, you’re doing great! This isn’t an easy time, and nobody expects you to be superhuman.
  6. Limit your news intake and your exposure to social media. Check the updates once or twice a day and then let your mind focus on other things like enjoying your family or reconnecting with a friend. Don’t give in to the anxiety that makes you compulsively consume every news update and comment.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources out there, including mental health providers that are able to “meet” you and help you with remote visits via phone, video, or internet. Help is there for you!

Check out the following websites, which list lots of helpful tips and ways to find more help if you need it. Stay well!

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We’re here to help you and your family get back on track after an accident. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation.