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San Jose Personal Injury Law Blog

3 killed in California street racing crash

On Nov. 14, three people were killed and two others were critically injured when a car plowed into spectators during a street race in the City of Commerce. The crash was reported at around 1 a.m.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the accident occurred at the intersection of South Malt Avenue and Telegraph Road, which is a hot spot for street racers. There were reportedly up to 100 vehicles gathered in the area when a car involved in the race struck a car that was doing donuts, causing the vehicles to careen into onlookers. Two Los Angeles men, ages 27 and 29, and a 15-year-old South Gate boy were killed in the collision. All three victims were said to be related. Two other people were transported to the hospital with critical injuries.

Underage drinking and driving target of new ad campaign

Many California residents may be familiar with the public service campaign that advised "friends don't let friends drive drunk," and recent surveys show around nine in 10 adults still recognize this phrase. The Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have again partnered on a campaign to discourage underage drinking and driving. In October 2015, a representative from the NHTSA presented the new campaign at a summit focused on safer driving for teens.

Teens in the United States are more likely to die in vehicle crashes than from any other cause, and NHTSA data reveals that nearly 25 percent of young drivers involved in fatal crashes had been consuming alcohol. The ads discouraging young people from drinking and driving were created by an ad agency for free and filmed entirely on an iPhone.

Driving while fatigued leads to serious accidents

Some California drivers may have experienced falling asleep while driving. In a 2015 survey conducted by the American Automobile Association, around 43 percent of drivers said that they had fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in their lives. Among drivers aged 19 to 24, 39.6 percent said that they had dropped off while behind the wheel in the past month, and in all age groups, almost one-third admitted to having done so.

A representative of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spoke during National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week at the Asleep at the Wheel forum in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4. He said it is estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 fatalities happen annually due to drowsy driving.

Container slips off truck and kills bicyclist

A bicyclist in California was killed on Oct. 27 when a cargo container fell on top of him. The accident took place at around 5:05 p.m. while the victim was riding his bicycle along Santa Fe Avenue in Long Beach. A large container fell off of the truck right as it was passing the bicyclist.

A witness to the fatal accident said that he had seen another container fall off of a different truck the day before. No injuries apparently occurred as a result of the first incident, but the witness expressed concern about trucking companies cutting corners on safety. He said that while truck drivers in Los Angeles and Long Beach have been on strike, trucking companies have been hiring flatbeds and strapping 40,000-pound containers onto them.

Safety precautions in industrial dust accumulation

As California workers may know, dust accumulation in a workplace environment may lead to an explosion when not monitored and and controlled. In a 25-year period ending in 2005, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board reported 281 combustible dust incidents that resulted in injuries to 718 workers and the death of 119.

Safe-handling procedures are important to lower the risk in environments where dust accumulates in the air. Combustible dust may accumulate in a number of work environments, including plants that work with sugar, wood, plastics, coal and pesticides. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in 2008, an explosion of sugar dust in a plant in Georgia resulted in the deaths of 14 individuals. Industries that may be subject to dust accumulation include metalworking operations, agriculture, pharmaceutical manufacture, and chemical manufacturing plants.

Nursing and inpatient facilities from an OSHA perspective

Workplace accidents may not be the greatest public concern of California residents with regard to nursing care facilities, but worker safety and welfare is just as important as the well-being of the patients. OSHA announced its intention to more carefully monitor inpatient settings for worker safety concerns, especially in cases of facilities with high levels of reported accidents and employee illnesses related to work conditions.

Although health care injuries and illnesses might not seem as severe as issues like construction accidents, workers can face serious hazards in their handling of patients, medications and biomaterials. Moving patients can result in musculoskeletal injuries. Bloodborne pathogens, diseases such as tuberculosis, and germs like MRSA can also affect the health of workers. Workplace violence is a serious concern in these environments, while slips, trips and falls are common because of various activities in nursing homes. Hospital workers face similar hazards, which is why these areas are of particular concern to OSHA. A general duty provision addresses hazards that may not be clearly identified.

Intersection crashes resulting from red-light running

More crashes are the result of red-light running than drivers may realize, and it is a serious safety problem across the United States. California residents may be surprised to learn that about 165,000 people suffer injuries in such accidents each year around the country, and in 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 762 related fatalities.

In 1999, Old Dominion University in Virginia conducted a survey to generalize the type of drivers who are most likely to run red lights. The survey found that red-light runners are not necessarily frustrated at the time. They are generally young, are in a hurry, are driving alone and either have no children or have children who are younger than 20. They are also frequently unemployed or work jobs that require relatively little education, such as lower technology and blue collar jobs. Additionally, they often run red lights more than 2 miles from home and are more likely to have previously received a ticket for running a red light.

Car fatalities not as high as health issues

Drivers in California and around the country have access to vehicles that contain several technological advances that have helped to reduce the frequency of fatal car accidents. However, such incidents still are one of the significant causes of death to U.S. residents.

Every day the news is filled with stories about people being killed in car accidents, leading readers to believe motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in this country. That just isn't so. Deaths from car accidents have decreased by approximately a third over the past three years, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. According to 2013 data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four people in the United States died from heart attacks that year, while one in 34 people died from alcohol or drug problems. Only one in 77 people died in car accidents, the same rate as those who were killed by firearms. Fire had the lowest death rate, with only one out of 821 people dying in fires.

Company fined $963,000 after blast kills 2, injures 1

California residents may have read about a deadly accident at Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services in Omaha on April 14. Two employees died and another was hurt in the incident.

A major explosion occurred inside a railcar after a 41-year-old employee and a 45-year-old employee went inside of it to begin their work, even though it was known that the air quality within the railcar was dangerously close to causing an explosion. Once inside the railcar, the two workers, who were not adequately equipped with emergency rescue gear and proper respirators, were instantly killed in the blast.

Opinions differ about safety of roundabouts

Although roundabouts are meant to slow traffic down and prevent accidents, many people believe that they are not right for California. In Berkeley, a roundabout that was constructed on Gilman Street near Interstate 80 is thought to be causing accidents rather than preventing them. However, proponents of roundabouts argue that they just take getting used to and ultimately cause traffic to flow better.

According to traffic studies, roundabouts can prevent accidents in an area by up to 47 percent. Roundabouts have also been shown to reduce traffic delays by 23 percent. Cars going through roundabouts do not always need to come to a complete stop, and the time that is saved can result in a less clogged intersection. Pedestrians may be safer crossing the street near roundabouts because they only have to look out for cars traveling in one direction.

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John J. Garvey III

Attorney John J. Garvey, III

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