Keep your eyes on the road: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

no-cells-1131636-m.jpgUnfortunately, the problem of distracted driving continues to have a serious impact on roadway safety in Joplin, Missouri and nationwide. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Missouri lawmakers recently participated in a simulation exercise designed to illustrate the dangers of texting while behind the wheel. As state officials consider banning texting for all Missouri drivers, Dave Schatz, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee pointed out that texting isn't the only dangerous roadway distraction. "What we really need to focus on is distracted driving in general. There's other forms of distracted driving other than just texting. I'm trying to advocate how do we best move something forward that addresses that issue. Not just texting alone," Schatz said.

By now, most people have probably seen some of the numerous studies that illustrate the dangers of texting while driving: we know it causes car accidents and frequently results in injury and death. But other electronic devices affect the brain in the same way. For example, handheld GPS usage is a major contributor to distracted driving related collisions. It may seem ironic that a handheld GPS can be a driving hazard: after all, it was designed to help drivers arrive safely at their destinations. However, it can also be a distraction, if it takes a driver's eyes and mind away from the road. Likewise, ipods, mp-3 players, tablets, and other similar devices can drastically impair a driver's perspective.

And it doesn't stop there. Potential distractions are everywhere - and any task that diverts your attention from the primary task of driving can endanger you and everyone you're sharing the road with.

Staying focused on the road: A few reminders for Joplin drivers

• When you drive, let driving be your only task. Don't plan to focus on any other activities while you're behind the wheel, no matter how small.

• Drive defensively. Be on the lookout for distracted drivers: driver who don't appear to see you, who are veering in and out of lanes, who are failing to obey traffic signals, etc.

• Pull over to send a text, or have a passenger text for you.

• Pull over to use a handheld GPS or map or have a passenger check it for you.

• Pull over to make and take an important call, even on a hands-free device.

• Secure pets and children before getting on the road. If needed, pull off the road to provide attention and care.

• Don't put on makeup when you're driving.

• Don't eat or read when you're driving.

• Don't drive when you're tired or have been drinking.

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Traumatic brain injuries & Joplin car accidents: Facts about diagnosis & treatment

file000894312228.jpgEvery year, over a million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries, also known as TBIs. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, a TBI can cause numerous long-term consequences, including disability and death. And sadly, as our Joplin personal injury lawyers know, car accidents are the most common causes of TBI: according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, approximately half of all TBIs can be attributed to transportation accidents. Currently, there are an estimated 5.3 million Americans who are struggling with long-term disability due to TBIs. In this post, we share some basic information about these debilitating injuries.

What kinds of TBIs are there?

• Penetrating injuries: When an object penetrates the skull and enters the brain, damaging specific parts of the brain.

• Closed head injuries: When a blow to the head causes internal brain damage. These injuries can be complicated, since there's often no visible evidence of the degree of injury. "There are countless 'walking wounded' who look just fine on the outside, but who aren't the same on the inside," explains Jonathan Lifshitz, assistant professor at the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center.

What are some common symptoms of TBI?

Mild TBIs can cause the following symptoms:

• Feeling dazed, dizzy or disoriented
• Trouble concentrating or remembering things
• Losing consciousness (for a period of a few seconds to a few minutes)
• Headaches
• Nausea/vomiting
• Feeling drowsy or tired; sleeping more than normal
• Insomnia
• Sensory problems (blurred vision, ringing in the ears, etc.)

Moderate to severe TBIs may be accompanied by these symptoms:

• Abnormal behavior (feeling confused, agitated, or combative)
• Losing consciousness (for a period of several minutes to several hours)
• Slurred speech, poor coordination, or loss of other motor functions
• Constant headaches, or a headache that gets progressively worse
• A weak or numb feeling in the fingers and toes
• Dilated pupils
• Seizures

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Avoiding pedestrian accidents: Tips for Joplin motorists

94066_push_the_button.jpgAs our Joplin personal injury lawyers know, collisions involving motor vehicles and pedestrians can have devastating consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 70,000 more were injured in 2010 traffic accidents throughout the United States. In this post, we share some safety tips for Missouri pedestrians and drivers alike. To ensure we all arrive safely at our destinations, it's essential that we work together to share the road.

Traveling by foot: Safety tips for Missouri pedestrians

• When waiting to cross the street, be sure you keep a safe distance from the roadway.

• Always look both ways before you cross. This advice might seem like basic common sense, but it's a simple step that pedestrians often overlook - and it just might save your life.

• Only cross the street at intersections, and use marked crosswalks whenever possible. Doing so makes it much easier for drivers to see you.

• Never "jaywalk" or dart into traffic unexpectedly. Objects along the roadway - other vehicles, trees, hedges, etc. - can obscure a driver's vision.

• Don't assume that a driver sees you. Even if you have the right of way in a crosswalk, you should proceed across the street with caution, just in case.

• Make yourself visible. Wear brightly colored clothing and use reflectors or a flashlight if you must commute by foot after dark.

• Use sidewalks when possible - if there is no sidewalk, it's generally safer to walk facing traffic.

• It can be extremely dangerous to cross multi-lane roads, where traffic tends to be thicker and speed limits tend to be higher. Take extra precautions if you must cross the street in these conditions.

• Review pedestrian safety tips with children, especially if they regularly cross the street on their own. The website safekids.org offers several useful resources for parents of young pedestrians.

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Preventing motorcycle accidents in Joplin: Keep safety in mind this spring

February 27, 2014

335471_motorcycle_at_dusk.jpgIt's hard to believe, given the winter storm expected to pass through Missouri this weekend, but spring will be here in a matter of weeks. As temperatures begin to warm, Joplin drivers can expect to see area motorcyclists getting back on their bikes once again. Since there isn't much motorcycle traffic during the winter months, many drivers have forgotten all about sharing the road with motorcycles by the time spring rolls around. In this post, our Missouri personal injury lawyers review some important motorcycle safety tips that all motorists should keep in mind this riding season.

Sharing the road: What drivers can do to reduce motorcycle accidents

• Be aware of motorcyclists traveling near you and respect their right to the road. Remember, under the law, motorcycles are entitled to the same rights and privileges as other kind of motor vehicles.

• Allow extra space for motorcycles. Always increase your following distance when traveling behind a motorcyclist. Motorcycles handle differently than other kinds of passenger vehicles, so it's essential to give riders plenty of room in case they need to swerve or stop suddenly. Also, importantly, a larger vehicle should not attempt to share a lane with a motorcycle. Though there may appear to be plenty of room, a motorcycle needs a full lane to maneuver safely.

• Signal your intentions. Always use your turn signals when you're preparing to make a turn, change lanes, or merge into traffic. Doing so will help motorcyclists anticipate your next move and respond accordingly.

• Expect riders to make sudden adjustments for roadway conditions. Hazards like loose gravel, uneven pavement and wet roads can be especially dangerous for motorcycles. Riders often need to change their speed or adjust lane position when they encounter these conditions.

• Always look twice. Many motorcycle accidents happen because other drivers simply don't realize a motorcyclist is there. It's paramount that you check your mirrors and your blind spots, especially at intersections and when making left turns. It just might save someone's life.

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Watch for bicyclists on Joplin roads this spring

February 13, 2014

shadow-of-the-past-1432188-m.jpgThe weather hasn't exactly been ideal for riding a bike in recent weeks, but thankfully, spring is just around the corner - which means Joplin drivers can expect to see more bicycles on local roads. Our Missouri car accident lawyers want to remind area motorists about the importance of sharing the road so that everyone can arrive safely at their destinations. In this post, we share some important tips for cyclists and drivers alike.

Safe cycling: Ten safety tips for bicyclists (and their parents)

1. Always wear a properly fitting helmet to reduce your risk of injury.

2. Check your bicycle's tires and brakes before riding.

3. See and be seen: wear bright colors and use reflectors.

4. Don't get distracted: keep your eyes (and your mind) on what the vehicles around you are doing.

5. Ride with the flow of traffic and obey all traffic laws.

6. Look out for hazards like potholes, gravel and puddles.

7. Be predicable: use signals to let drivers know what you're doing.

8. Always look twice before making a turn or crossing the street.

9. Pay attention to parked cars.

10. Use extra care - and lights and reflectors - when bicycling after dark.

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Rear-end collisions & whiplash injuries: Five common myths

January 29, 2014

923935_car_parking_dent.jpgAs Joplin car accident lawyers, we know that rear-end collisions are one of the most common kinds of crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a rear-end collision happens about every eight seconds in the U.S. Though these accidents don't always appear to be serious, the consequences can be catastrophic. In this post, we discuss a few common myths related to rear-end collisions and their resulting injuries.

Common myths about rear-end collisions and whiplash injuries:


MYTH #1: There was only minimal damage to the rear-ended vehicle, so its occupants couldn't have suffered any serious injuries.

When it comes to whiplash, the severity of vehicle damage has little to do with the severity of the occupants' injuries. Rear-end collisions that only leave minor scrapes and dents on your vehicle can cause serious damage to your neck and spine.

MYTH #2: If you don't experience pain or any other symptoms immediately after a crash, you probably haven't sustained any serious injuries.

On the contrary, the symptoms of whiplash and other soft tissue injuries often don't appear right after an injury occurs. It may take hours or even days before you begin to experience symptoms associated with whiplash - and at that point, those symptoms may come and go, or grow more severe as time passes. That's why it's so important to be evaluated by a doctor immediately following a rear-end collision, even if you think you're not hurt.

MYTH #3: Recovering from a whiplash injury generally only takes about six to 12 weeks. Permanent injuries associated with whiplash are extremely rare.

Car accident victims who suffer from mild forms of whiplash may be able to recover within a period of weeks, but severe whiplash injuries are another matter entirely. These injuries, which often involve damages to the nerves, ligaments or spinal discs, can cause chronic pain or permanent disability, and they may also require surgery.

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Outcome of "Google Glass" distracted driving case could impact future laws

January 16, 2014

driver-901196-m.jpgHere at Aaron Sachs and Associates, our Joplin car accident lawyers know that distracted driving continues to be a major safety issue on our roadways, both here in Missouri and nationwide. Any time a driver divides his or her focus between driving and another task, the driver is much more likely to be involved in a serious crash. While many people still think of texting as the main problem, distracted driving continues to change and evolve right along with technology. In other words, many drivers are finding new, equally dangerous ways to be distracted.

This week, a California woman is scheduled to appear in court after she received a distracted driving citation for wearing Google Glass while behind the wheel. In the first case of its kind, software developer Cecilia Abadie was pulled over and ticketed for driving while wearing the device, which projects a small screen into the corner or the wearer's eye and isn't even available to the public yet. Abadie, one of thousands of people who are currently testing Google Glass, has pleaded not guilty. Her attorney says there's no proof the device was operational when Abadie was stopped. Meanwhile, at least three states (Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia) are considering new legislation that would prohibit drivers from using Google Glass on the road.

The dangers of distracted driving
It's no secret that distraction often plays a key role in serious collisions. Consider these facts:

• In 2012, 3,328 people were killed and an estimated 421,000 more were injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver.

• According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at any given moment during daylight hours, there are 660,000 drivers who are using cell phones or other electronic devices while they're behind the wheel.

• A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) determined that "[e]ngaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times."

Distracted driving in Missouri
Currently, 41 states have banned text messaging for all drivers, and 12 prohibit all forms of cell phone use for all drivers. Unfortunately, Missouri's only distracted driving law prohibits texting for drivers under age 21. However, when a distracted driver causes an accident resulting in injury to another party, the driver may be subject to personal injury lawsuits filed on behalf of the accident victims.

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FRA reports increased number of pedestrian/train deaths in Missouri, nationwide

November 6, 2013

railway---hdr-890362-m.jpgAs Joplin auto accident lawyers, we're sad to note that the problem of pedestrian railroad deaths appears to be growing. In 2012, fatal train accidents involving pedestrians increased by 7.5% in the U.S., while the total number of train accidents dropped by 16.5%. Unfortunately, this year's data doesn't suggest any improvement - in fact, pedestrian/train accidents are becoming shockingly common, both here in Missouri and throughout the country.

Pedestrian/train accidents: What new federal data reveals

• Nationwide, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is reporting a 25% increase in the number of pedestrians who have suffered fatal injuries in accidents involving trains. Between January 1 and August 31, there were 352 pedestrian railroad deaths, which are classified by the FRA as "trespasser fatalities." The FRA reported 281pedestrian deaths during the same time period in 2012.

• If the fatality rate continues at this pace, pedestrian railroad deaths could reach 538 by the end of 2013. The rate hasn't been that high since 2002.

• Missouri has reported four pedestrian railroad deaths this year, while Illinois has reported 20. In fact, 43 out of 50 states have reported at least one pedestrian/train fatality, with New Jersey reporting largest increase (jumping from two during the first eight months of 2012 to 16 during the same time period this year).

Avoiding pedestrian accidents on railroad tracks: A few safety tips

Pedestrians must remember that all railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are considered private property. In addition to risking serious injury or death, you risk being charged with trespassing when you walk on train tracks.

There is only one safe place to cross train tracks: at a designated public crossing that is marked with a gate, flashing red lights or a crossbuck sign. Crossing the tracks in any other place is also considered trespassing.

When you're walking anywhere near railroad tracks, remove your ear buds and put away your phone or MP3 player. All too many pedestrian/train accidents occur when a pedestrian is distracted by an electronic device and fails to hear a train approaching.

Walking next to the tracks is also extremely risky. According to Operation Lifesaver, trains overhang the tracks by a minimum of three feet on both sides, and straps hanging from rail cars can stick out even further. Err on the side of caution, and keep your distance from the tracks.

Always look both ways before crossing the tracks - and never cross immediately after a train has passed. It may sound like silly advice, but a number of train accidents could be prevented if pedestrians kept this simple tip in mind. Trains don't always follow set schedules, and they don't always approach from the same direction. Also, a passing train can block your view of another train that's fast approaching.

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Recent study: teen drivers nearly eight times more likely to crash when driving with peer passengers

driving-with-a-beautiful-girl-9602-m.jpgAs Joplin personal injury lawyers, we know that teens are have higher accident risks than any other age group. This week, we were alarmed to read a recent study released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), which indicates that teen drivers are nearly eight times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident when they are driving with two or more teen passengers on board.

"Novice drivers (15 to 17 years old) are at a distinct disadvantage, not only because of their limited driving experience, but also because of their incomplete brain development," writes Russell Henk, researcher and author of the TTI study. "Research has found that the prefrontal cortex of the brain -- the region responsible for weighing the consequences of risky behavior -- is the last part of the brain to develop." Furthermore, the study maintains that the presence of peer passengers increases accident risks within an already high-risk age group. "Challenges faced by teenage drivers are more pronounced when teenage passengers are in the vehicle due to the increased distraction created by those passengers, and the increased tendency for the drivers to exhibit risky behaviors in the presence of those passengers," Henk concludes.

Teen drivers and peer passengers: Alarming facts and statistics

• A teen driver's chances of being involved in a fatal crash are more than tripled when there are two or more peer passengers in the vehicle.

• When teen drivers transport peer passengers, they are more vulnerable to passenger-related distractions. Of teen drivers who reported being distracted in the moments leading up to a crash, 71% of females and 47% of males said they were "directly distracted by their passengers' movements or actions."

• Male teens are especially prone to aggressive driving behaviors when peer passengers are in the vehicle. Young men are more than six times more likely to perform illegal maneuvers and two times more likely to act aggressively when in the presence of peer passengers, compared to when they are driving alone.

• Teen drivers aren't necessarily conscious of the way passengers affect their concentration and driving performance. A study conducted by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that "only 10% of teens correctly view passengers as 'potentially hazardous.'"

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Avoiding scooter accidents & obeying the law: Tips & info for Joplin motorists

September 4, 2013

vespa-scooter-514071-m.jpgWith this year's high gas prices and comfortable weather, scooters and mopeds are becoming an increasingly popular form of travel, both here and Joplin and nationwide. Our Missouri personal injury lawyers want to encourage the drivers of these vehicles to make sure they understand their roadway responsibilities when sharing Joplin streets with larger passenger vehicles. In this post, we discuss some common misconceptions about scooters and state laws, and we also provide some useful safety tips to help you avoid injury in a collision with another vehicle.

Scooters and Missouri law: Common violations committed by scooter drivers

According to the Springfield News-Leader, a scooter is defined as a motorized bicycle if it is equipped with two or three wheels, an automatic transmission, and a motor with a cylinder capacity that does not exceed 50 cubic centimeters. If your scooter has a maximum speed that exceeds 30 miles per hour on flat ground, it is technically considered a motorcycle, which means the vehicle must be registered as a motorcycle, it must display valid plates, and the operator must obtain a motorcycle endorsement on his or her driver's license. Here are a few basic reminders about Missouri laws that apply to scooter and moped operators:

You must have a driver's license to operate a scooter or moped. A common misconception is that scooter drivers don't need a license, but you must be a licensed driver to operate a scooter.

You must obey posted speed limits, just like other vehicles on the road. Some scooter drivers believe they aren't bound to the same rules as other motorists, but all drivers are required to follow the same traffic laws.

You must use your turn signals and change lanes properly. Darting in and out of your lane without signaling is not only illegal: it also increases your chances of being involved in a serious accident.

You should never operate a scooter or moped while under the influence. It's no secret that alcohol use has an extremely negative impact on driving skills, including reaction time and decision making. Since scooter occupants have virtually nothing to shield them from the force of impact, you need to be sober and focused to ride safely.

Avoiding a scooter crash: Useful safety tips

Make it easy for other motorists to see you. Wear bright colors and reflectors, be aware of your lane position, and ensure that your headlights, brake lights and turn signals are operational.

Know your skill level and avoid taking unnecessary risks. Riding a scooter safely requires skill and experience - be sure you are aware of your strengths and your limitations as a rider.

Keep an eye on your speed. It's extremely easy to lose control of a scooter when you're traveling too fast for conditions.

Use extra caution when passing through intersections, where many scooter/vehicle collisions occur.

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Make roadway safety a priority as Joplin students head back to school

students1.jpgTomorrow, K-12 students in Joplin are heading back to school, and next week, classes will resume for students at Missouri Southern State University. The beginning of a new school year means that drivers can expect to encounter heavy traffic - along with an increased number of pedestrians on our area roads. Our Joplin personal injury lawyers want to encourage all drivers to be prepared for busy roadways to help reduce accident risks for students and motorists alike. In that spirit, we want to offer a few useful tips to help keep everyone safe during the busy weeks ahead.

Safety tips for Joplin drivers:

• Keep your eyes open. Watch for students walking, riding bicycles, and waiting at bus stops. You'll also want to look for "School Bus Stop Ahead Signs," and be ready to slow down and stop.

• Expect heavy traffic. Be prepared for traffic congestion around schools, especially during the morning rush hour and the afternoon hours following dismissal. Do your best to anticipate the maneuvers of other vehicles and pedestrians: young students can be easily distracted and behave unpredictably.

• Use special caution when traveling near school buses. Remember that school buses start slowly and stop frequently, which means other drivers must adjust accordingly. Also, remember that you must stop when a bus's red lights are flashing and its stop sign is extended: failing to do so is a violation of state law.

• Obey school zone speed limits. Slow down when speed limits are reduced near schools. While some school zones are marked by signs equipped with flashing lights, other zones are designated by more traditional signage.

Safety tips for Joplin students (& their parents):

• Obey all traffic signs and signals. Remember, pedestrians and bicyclists have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road.

• Use sidewalks whenever possible. If you absolutely must walk in the street, be sure to face traffic and stay close to the road's edge - and if you're walking with others, stay in a single-file line.

• Use intersections to cross the street whenever possible. When you dart into the roadway suddenly, you can encounter drivers who aren't prepared to slow or stop. Wait until vehicles are completely stopped - or until the roadway is completely clear - before crossing.

• Be attentive to what's happening around you. Don't use cell phones, headphones, or hand-held electronic devices while walking. Your safest bet is to assume that drivers don't see you, and always look both ways before crossing any roadway. If you drop something in the street, don't run back to retrieve it until you're absolutely sure it's safe.

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Hot car deaths a continuing problem in Missouri and nationwide

childincarseat.jpgAs Joplin car accident lawyers, we know that child passengers are a parent's most precious cargo. Sadly, the problem of hot car deaths (also known as vehicular heat stroke or hyperthermia) continues to plague families in Missouri and nationwide. On average, 38 American children die inside hot vehicles every year, and 20 have already died this summer, reports AccuWeather. "[Car] windows let in a lot of sunlight and when that sunlight is absorbed, it becomes trapped inside the car," says meteorologist Michael Pigott. "The temperature inside the car can become twice that of the temperature outside."

Recently, an Illinois man was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child after his 23 month-old son died of vehicular hyperthermia. Police say 32 year-old Wayne Hubert was drunk when he loaded his son Nathan into his car seat and then returned inside his home and passed out. Nathan was discovered in the vehicle when his mother arrived home from work about two hours later. The boy's body temperature was 104.7 degrees. Hubert's five year-old daughter was also found unattended inside the house.

Child Vehicular Heat Stroke: Facts and Statistics

• According to KidsandCars.org, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can spike to 125 degrees within a matter of minutes, even when the windows are cracked open. Since a child's body temperature can rise three to five times as fast as an adult's, leaving children unattended in a vehicle - even for just a moment - is extremely dangerous.

• Hundreds of children - ranging in age from five days to 14 years old - have died of vehicular hyperthermia since 1998. Sixteen of those deaths occurred in Missouri.

• About 31% of these victims are under one year old, which means they were likely riding in a rear-facing car seat in the back of a vehicle.

• Over half of U.S. hot car deaths involve children who were unknowingly left in a vehicle by a parent or caregiver. Around 30% climbed into a vehicle on their own, and nearly 12% were knowingly left in a vehicle.

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Does "hands-free" technology reduce distracted driving accidents in Missouri?

steeringwheel.jpgAs Joplin personal injury lawyers, we know that distracted drivers pose a serious threat to roadway safety, both here in Missouri and throughout the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,331 people were killed and an additional 387,000 suffered injuries in 2011 car accidents involving distracted drivers. Indeed, the risks associated with distracted driving have prompted several recent technological developments, including "hands-free" devices and apps that purport to be safer than using a hand-held cellphone while driving. However, two recent studies have indicated that hands-free technology is equally distracting - and dangerous - for drivers.

Recent distracted driving research: "Hands-free doesn't mean risk-free"

The first study, conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), examined voice-to-text apps and the impact of their use on driving performance. Researchers observed 43 participants driving actual vehicles on a closed course. The participants completed the course four times: once without engaging in any form of cell phone use; once while texting manually; and twice while using two different voice-to-text apps (Siri for the iPhone and Vlingo for Android).

Ultimately, researchers determined that the voice-to-text apps did not provide any safety advantages compared to manual texting: the drivers' reaction times were equally delayed regardless of the method they used to send texts. "In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren't texting," said Christine Yager, who directed the study. "Eye contact to the roadway also decreased, no matter which texting method was used." In fact, Yager said the voice-to-text apps actually took longer than manual texting, because the participants often had to correct errors in the electronic transcription.

In the second study, researchers from the University of Utah created a scientifically-based five point rating system in order to gauge the relationship between six specific tasks and the level of driver distraction caused by those tasks. The tasks were then assigned to one of the following categories:

Mild danger: Listening to the radio or an audiobook
Moderate danger: Talking on a cell phone (whether the device was hand-held or hands-free)
High danger: Using a voice-activated feature on a device (like a voice-to-text or voice-to-email app)

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Stay safe in the summer heat: Safety tips for Joplin drivers

787993_wheels.jpgIt's summertime in Missouri, which inevitably brings high humidity and soaring temperatures to our state. Our Joplin personal injury lawyers want to remind Missouri drivers that extra precautions are necessary when operating motor vehicles on hot, black pavement. Many heat-related emergencies that occur on the road can be prevented when drivers are proactive about summer car safety. In this post, you'll find a few useful tips to help keep you and your passengers safe.

• Park in the shade. Parking in the summer sun can cause your vehicle to heat up quickly. The heat can be absorbed in your vehicle's interior and the glass can act as an insulator, raising the temperature to deadly levels within a very short time. A study conducted by researchers at Stanford University found that a car's internal temperature can reach 116 degrees within 60 minutes even when the temperature is relatively cool (72 degrees). When possible, park in the shade to help reduce the heat in your vehicle. You can also use sunshades or tint your windows to help keep your vehicle cooler.

• Don't leave kids or animals alone in the car. Because hot cars can be so dangerous during the summer months, you should never leave children or animals unattended in vehicles. Since 1998, 575 American children have died of heatstroke after being left in a hot car. Again, even if you think it's not that hot - and you crack the windows - don't risk leaving your child or pet in your vehicle, even for a short period of time. And if you see a child or animal alone in an unattended vehicle, you should immediately call 911 and notify authorities.

• Service your vehicle on a regular basis. It is very important to keep your car serviced and well-maintained, since the summer heat can put added stress on a vehicle's systems. Check your vehicle's fluids, belts and battery on a regular basis. Also, keep a close eye on your tires, giving special attention to air pressure and tread. Tires can become worn on the hot black pavement of the roads, and batteries' worst enemies are heat and vibration. The best way to keep car maintenance up is to have regular inspections.

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Planning a summer road trip? Take precautions to ensure safe travel

Packed for travel.jpgIn the months ahead, many Missourians will hit the road to enjoy summer road trips with friends and family. If you're planning to take a summer road trip, our Joplin car accident lawyers want to encourage you to take certain precautions to help ensure that you and your passengers arrive safely at your destination. As officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) point out, "prevention and planning are much easier than dealing with the consequences of a breakdown, or worse yet, a highway crash."

Summer road trip safety: Tips for Jasper County drivers

1.) Make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip. Perform basic safety checks to confirm that your vehicle is fit for roadway travel, especially if you're traveling a long distance:

Tires. Tire maintenance is particularly important during the summer months, when hot weather, heavy loads and long trips can put an added strain on your vehicle. A flat tire or blowout can certainly put a kink in your travel plans. Be sure to check the pressure in all your tires - including your spare. You'll also want to check for worn down tread and/or irregular tread wear patterns, which can indicate that your tires need to be rotated or replaced.

Belts and hoses. Check for signs of blisters, cracks or cuts, and replace any belts or hoses that show signs of excessive wear.

Wiper blades. Damaged or worn out wiper blades can present a serious problem if you happen to encounter severe weather. Replace blades that show obvious signs of wear and tear.

Fluid levels. Check your oil, brake, transmission, steering, coolant and wiper fluids and confirm that each reservoir is full and there are no signs of any leaks.

Lights. Your headlights, brake lights, turn signals and emergency flashers need to be in good working order.

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