Kline Legal Group P.L.C.

Michigan Auto Accident Blog

Vehicle deaths at highest rate since 2007

There were approximately 40,100 motor vehicle fatalities throughout the United States in 2017. This was the second straight year in which there were more than 40,000 such deaths in the country. The 2017 estimated fatality figure was 8 percent higher than it was in 2015, and vehicle fatalities are at their highest since 2007. Part of the reason for the increase is more vehicles on roads in Michigan and across the country.

According to the data compiled by the National Safety Council, the number of miles Americans drove in 2017 increased 1 percent from 2016. In addition to the 40,100 deaths, there were another 4.57 million people who were seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents. It is estimated that car accidents and the resulting injuries cost $413.8 billion. Preliminary data for 2017 suggests that the number of deaths per mile driven was 1.25 per 100 million miles traveled.

Data suggests distracted driving risks spike in summer months

Accidents related to distracted driving can occur anytime in Michigan. However, a recent analysis of the behaviors of 20,000-plus drivers suggests that people spend more time looking at their devices while behind the wheel from June through August. Findings from the analysis, which was commissioned by a major insurance company and a leading smartphone telematics platform, shows that summertime drivers are distracted for nearly 15 minutes per each hour spent driving. This is about 10 percent higher than what's typical during other times of the year.

Summer is also a time when more people are on the road for vacations or holidays, making it more important to pay attention while driving. There are also more construction projects taking place and more pedestrians out and about during summer months, further presenting possible risks for motorists not paying attention. Inattentive drivers also present risks for other drivers who are keeping their eyes on the road along with nearby bikers and walkers.

Increase in pedestrian deaths blamed on distracted driving

Distracted driving is responsible for the sharp increase in pedestrian deaths that has occurred in Michigan and elsewhere over past decade according to traffic safety experts. Cellphones and vehicle infotainment systems appear to be the top culprits.

Federal statistics show that pedestrian deaths have spiked 46 percent since 2009 while overall traffic deaths have only gone up 11 percent over the same period. The increase comes despite automotive safety improvements designed to better protect pedestrians. These improvements include lower bumpers that strike pedestrians further down on their legs and extra space in the engine compartment to provide more cushion on impact.

New tax laws could impact the outcome of divorce cases

Michigan couples going through a marriage dissolution in 2018 may want to ensure that they get a divorce decree before the end of the year. This is particularly important if their case happens to involve a lot of assets. The tax reform package approved by the Trump administration has a few line items that will impact the financial outcomes of divorce cases across the United States.

The so-called "divorce subsidy" of spousal support payments will go away starting January 1, 2019. This means that individuals who are ordered to pay alimony will no longer be allowed to deduct taxes from these payments. As for individuals who receive alimony, they may no longer be able to deposit tax-free funds in their individual retirement accounts if they are not working. As long as an agreement to pay alimony is finalized before New Year's Eve, this new tax disadvantage can be avoided.

How safe is it to bike on and around campus?

Many people think that if they wear a helmet and stick to bike lanes, they are safe from the risks that might otherwise impact bicyclists. On the contrary, biking is dangerous even when you take all of the necessary safety precautions. Areas such as college campuses are often have reputations as havens for bicyclists, but how safe is it really to bike in Ann Arbor, even when you are on or around campus? 

There are a number of risk factors that campus bicyclists should be aware of. If you are injured while biking, seek medical treatment as soon as possible and research your legal options. In the meantime, consider the following the next time you are riding your bike. 

Report shows drugged driving on the rise and taking lives

Drivers in Michigan know that road hazards often include drunk drivers. However, driving under the influence goes beyond just alcohol. A report by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that in 2016, a high percentage of drivers who were killed in auto accidents tested positive for drugs. While alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have remained relatively steady over the past 10 years, the number of drug-impaired driver deaths has sharply increased.

The drugs that were found in drivers in the study were mostly marijuana and opioids. The report found that among fatally-injured drivers who had been tested for drugs and had known results, 44 percent tested positive. That's almost double the number from 10 years earlier when 28 percent tested positive for drugs.

Reducing distractions on the road with new devices

Several companies have developed technologies that could reduce smartphone-related distractions behind the wheel. Of course, their success all depends on whether individual motorists choose to use them or not. Drivers in Michigan may be interested in two of the most recent devices out there.

The first, which is still in its pilot phase, is called Groove. Developed by the Colorado-based company Katasi, it plugs into any car and can link the driver's phone to its service provider through a cloud platform. The service provider will know when the user is driving and can block all communications, incoming and outgoing, on that phone. Its features are more comprehensive than the various free apps offered by providers like Sprint, AT&T and Verizon.

GHSA reports rise in pedestrian deaths 2016-2017

The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released a new report about pedestrian deaths that may be of interest to Michigan residents. There were 5,984 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. in 2017, according to the report. This is the second year in a row in which the numbers have almost reached 6,000. The GHSA believes that this is not a mere statistical anomaly.

The most probable explanation for the increase is that both pedestrians and drivers are more distracted than ever before. The widespread use of smartphones has led to fatality rates not seen for over 25 years, according to the report's author. Another factor is marijuana use; seven states, in addition to Washington, D.C., have legalized pot use for recreational purposes.

Journalists defend coverage of semi-autonomous car crashes

For people in Michigan and across the country, developments in automobile technology have sparked a great deal of interest and curiosity. In particular, autonomous vehicles that allow the car to drive itself with little to no input from a human driver have received a large amount of media attention. This has included car accidents involving semi-autonomous vehicles, which have been highlighted nationally even when they have involved minor injuries. Some supporters of the autonomous vehicle industry argue that this media attention is disproportionate, especially in comparison to the coverage of traditional crashes involving human-driven cars.

However, journalists have argued that car accidents involving semi-autonomous vehicles carry a significant amount of legitimate news value, even when they do not result in fatalities or severe injuries. While over 100 fatal car crashes take place each day across the country on average, they often receive only local coverage. Unlike traditional cars, however, autonomous driving is a new and newsworthy technology. According to some journalists, media coverage of crashes involving these vehicles helps to deepen the discussion about the safety of this technology as it becomes more widely adopted.

5 common pedestrian injuries

As a pedestrian, you may suffer severe injuries if you get by a vehicle. Whether you are walking, running or simply taking in the view, you may get hit by a negligent motorist. According to statistics from the CDC, more than 5,000 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2015.

Whether you are on a sidewalk or crosswalk or in a parking lot, an inattentive or malicious driver may come into contact with you. Here are some of the injuries that you may sustain in such an accident.

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483 Little Lake Drive, Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Phone: 734-249-6100
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