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Personal Injury And Criminal Defense Law Blog

Opiate's role in fatal car accidents

Wyoming residents have seen firsthand the impact opiates are having on some communities. There is evidence that the national opioid epidemic is affecting the national highway system. In car crashes, at drivers fault were twice as likely to be on opiates than those who did not initiate the crash.

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System showed that in the 18,321 fatal car crashes involving two cars, the common mistake that led to the crash was a driver not staying in their lane. Over 900 of the drivers who caused the crash tested positive to opiates as opposed to 549 crash initiators who did not. Over 5,250 crash initiators tested positive for alcohol as opposed to 1,815 who did not.

Secure that Christmas tree and other holiday driving safety tips

For you, Christmas time may mean being on the road several times in the next few weeks. You may travel to loved ones' homes, go see Christmas-related sites or even go pick out a Christmas tree that you will bring back on top of your car. Whatever your festivities involve, you know that you will likely be hitting the road a lot.

Though some people dread having to stay in the car for long trips, you may enjoy the journeys you take this time of year. You likely look forward to seeing family members you may not see often, and you undoubtedly enjoy the holiday outings you have. Of course, you do not want anything to put a damper on your plans, so staying safe on the road is a top priority.

Winter driving in Wyoming can be treacherous

Winter temperatures in Wyoming often plunge into the teens, and many cities in the state will receive more than 100 inches of snow before the spring thaw. Figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation reveal that accidents on roads covered in slush, ice or snow kill more than 1,300 road users each year and injure a further 116,800, but the risks of an icy crash can be reduced significantly by slowing down, maintaining safe distances and driving defensively.

While reducing speeds in treacherous conditions is probably the best way to avoid a winter car accident, driving too slowly should be avoided. Motorists who slow to a near walking pace in snow are far more likely to be involved in a rear-end collision and may encourage other drivers to swerve dangerously. Investing in a quality set of winter tires could be a good idea for motorists who tend to become anxious on icy roads. Winter tires have broader tread patterns to provide more grip on snow and are made out of softer rubber to improve cold-weather traction.

The risk of unconscious bias in court

Some judges in Wyoming and around the country may be influenced in their decision-making by unconscious bias. According to some neuroscience research, people sometimes make decisions under the influence of unconscious assumptions or biases that they might consciously reject. Research has also shown that in the courtroom, judges often make decisions based on intuition rather than rationality. This can lead to defendants from groups who often face discrimination, such as black or gay people, receiving harsher treatment.

This may have been the case for an attorney in Massachusetts and her defendant. A number of counterprotestors were taken into custody at a "straight pride" parade. The judge refused to release those who were charged with nonviolent offenses and who did not have a criminal record despite the district attorney's attempts to do so, which was unusual. When an attorney for one defendant began to talk about precedent and prior decisions, the judge told her stop talking and had her taken into custody as well when she refused. A few hours later, she was released.

Study reveals disturbing data on teen distracted driving

Just in time for Teen Driver Safety Week (October 20 to 29, 2016), researchers have released the results of a study involving teens and distracted driving. Parents in Wyoming should raise awareness of the danger of distractions among their teenage children, especially the danger of phone use.

Overall, phone use was the second riskiest distracted driving activity, according to the Michigan State University study. Crash risk was at its highest when teens would look at external objects such as billboards, accident scenes and so on.

When truck driver fatigue goes deeper than sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation isn't exclusive to long-haul truck drivers. With the fast pace of life, you more than likely know what it feels like to want more sleep and not have the chance to get it. Even so, you still have to work, run errands and otherwise live your life, which often means driving. How many times have you forgotten the last few miles of your trip or found yourself yawning uncontrollably?

You may know that is dangerous enough, but when the person driving is supposed to be in control of a large and heavy vehicle that could weigh up to 80,000 pounds, lives are at risk. Sleep deprivation is one thing, but there could be a larger issue at work for around one-third of the truck drivers on the road with you - sleep apnea.

Road rage incidents are becoming alarmingly common

Government crash data and the results of several studies suggest that drivers in Wyoming and around the country are becoming increasingly angry and aggressive. The number of deadly motor vehicle accidents caused by enraged motorists has increased exponentially according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and researchers from the nonprofit advocacy group Trace found that incidents involving drivers brandishing guns or firing into other vehicles increased by 373 to a worrying 620 between 2014 and 2016.

A poll of Americans conducted by the American Automobile Association reveals that the surge in road rage cannot be blamed on a small group of unstable drivers. Almost eight out of 10 of the motorists polled told the AAA that they had succumbed to extreme behind-the-wheel anger at least once during the preceding 12 months, and more than half admitted to driving aggressively to encourage other road users to speed up. Other common forms of dangerous behavior included cutting vehicles off intentionally and aggressively preventing other drivers from changing lanes or merging onto highways.

Jailhouse informants and the Brady rule

Prosecutors in Wyoming and around the country are required to turn potentially exculpatory evidence and information over to criminal defendants and their attorneys, but may civil rights advocacy groups say that new laws are required to clarify the protections provided by the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brady v. Maryland. One of the most contentious Brady issues is the value and admissibility of testimony provided by jailhouse informants who often lie to secure reduced sentences or preferential treatment.

The Innocence Project says that almost 20% of the 365 prisoners they have exonerated were incarcerated at least in part due to the false testimony of a jailhouse informant. The false convictions of two men who spent decades behind bars prompted lawmakers in Connecticut to pass a law recently that allows defense attorneys to call for a pretrial hearing to assess the reliability of jailhouse informants. The law also establishes a database to keep track of this kind of evidence and the benefits that were offered in exchange for it.

How cameras can help reduce red-light running crashes

The year 2017 saw a 10-year high in the number of people killed in red-light running crashes. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that more than two people die every day in the U.S. in such crashes. Drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists in Wyoming will want to be on their guard because most drivers who run red lights do so not because they're distracted but because they're reckless and impatient.

Eighty-five percent of drivers in AAA's recent Traffic Safety Culture Index admit that running red lights is wrong, yet nearly one in three said they did it at least once in the previous 30 days. Furthermore, over two in five drivers expressed their opinion that getting pulled over for it would be unlikely.

Subaru Crosstrek in more at-fault crashes than any other car

Insurify, an auto insurance comparison site, has analyzed more than 1.6 million insurance quotes in order to find out which vehicle models are involved in the most at-fault crashes in Wyoming and across the U.S. It compiled a list of 10 vehicles, nine of which are imports: seven from Japan and two from Korea. At the top of the list was the Subaru Crosstrek.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has given the 2019 Crosstrek the highest possible rating for crash avoidance and crashworthiness, so the finding is a startling one. Analysts stated that accidents have affected 25.81% of all Crosstreks on the road. Overall, they have affected 13.64% of the 10 vehicles listed. Still, analysts point out that other notable cars in the past have had a far worse crash record.

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