Articles Posted in Car Accidents

If you drive in Virginia, you are likely to encounter an aggressive driver. These are drivers who are in such a hurry that they show no consideration for the rules of the road or the safety of others. We’ve all complained about them. What we may not realize is the behaviors that we see as normal can be interpreted by others as aggressive. Could you be an aggressive driver?

Seven Signs That You May Be an Aggressive Driver

  1. You are often in a hurry. Northern Virginians are busy. Most of us are balancing careers, families, and other activities. Whether we are commuting from D.C. or shuttling kids to ballet and soccer, we’re almost always in a hurry. Drivers who are in a hurry are much more likely to drive aggressively. Consider traffic when making plans and allow yourself plenty of time to get from one destination to the next.
  2. You follow too closely. Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of accidents in the DC area. Rear-end accidents happen when drivers don’t allow enough following distance between vehicles. There is no time for the driver who is following to react if the driver in front has to stop suddenly. Under normal conditions, it is best to leave three seconds of following distance between you and the car in front of you. Allow even more time if the weather is bad.
  3. You drive faster or slower than surrounding traffic. In most places, the best policy is to drive at the speed limit. However, drivers rarely go 55 on the Beltway. If the majority of drivers are not following the speed limit, then it is safest to drive at the speed of traffic and change lanes as little as possible. Going faster and frequently changing lanes put you and other drivers at risk of an accident.
  4. You drive in the “fast lane.” If you know you have a left exit, you may be tempted to move into the left-hand lane and stay there. But driving in the left lane is a form of aggressive driving. The left-most lanes are intended for passing. Avoid blocking passing lanes by moving to the right. Keep as far to the right as possible when driving on narrow streets and at intersections.
  5. You pass on both the right and left. You may think that since there are multiple lanes on I-95, it is all right to pass whenever necessary. While it’s okay to change to a lane on either side, you should only pass other vehicles from the left.
  6. You use your horn to let other drivers know they are making mistakes. Many Virginia drivers use their horns to express their impatience with other drivers. The fact is that the driver who is waiting at the intersection is the only one who is able to adequately judge when it is safe for him to turn. Your car horn should only be used to prevent accidents and to alert other drivers if you feel you are in danger. Avoid using your horn for other purposes.
  7. You consider traffic rules optional. You may know that the stop sign on your street is never monitored; however, you should still come to a complete stop. Traffic laws exist to prevent accidents. Others drivers use the laws to predict driver behavior. If you aren’t following the rules, you risk causing an accident.

Is someone you know an aggressive driver? Share this post. The driver may not be aware that his behavior is dangerous.

Multitasking is the way of life in northern Virginia. Next time you are stopped in traffic, take a look around. I’m willing to bet that you’ll see several drivers who are texting, checking email, or talking on cell phones. We all know it’s dangerous, but we have long commutes and little free time. It’s hard not to multitask when traffic is moving at the speed of snails.

The traditional way of dealing with the problem of distracted driving is to tell people about the danger and ask them to cut down on distractions. This doesn’t work. Seventy-five percent of Americans say they know that distracted driving is dangerous, yet most adults admit to driving while distracted. We need a better solution.

Some experts recommend another approach. They say we should acknowledge that drivers will continue to text, check email, talk on the phone and program their GPS while driving. Instead of trying to stop the behavior, we could focus on reducing the harm. One way to do this is through safer in-car displays.

A Manassass man has recently been charged after causing an accident that claimed the life of an Arlington mother at the end February.

The accident took place outside of Nottingham Elementary School on Little Falls Road. The victim, 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson, was attempting to get one of her children out of their van on February 24 when Marvin Valladares, 33, struck her vehicle with his dump truck.

According to police and original reports, Lawson, a mother of three, was leaning into her vehicle through the rear passenger side door after just putting one of her children into a car seat. As Valladares was passing by, a step on the dump truck caught the sliding door on her van. The collision forced the door to close on Lawson, and actually ripped the door off of the van itself. Lawson’s child was not injured in the crash.

For his part in the accident that killed Ms. Lawson, Valladares was charged with failure to pay full-time attention. The charge is a misdemeanor offense. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor offense is a $100 fine and up to ten days in jail.

The Arlington Police stated that the charge against the driver was determined after an in-depth investigation into all of the various facts of the accident. The speed of the dump truck and where the victim was standing were among the factors considered.

The incident came as a shock to the community that knew Lawson as a devoted mother, school volunteer, and avid runner.

We’d like to extend our thoughts and condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones grieving the loss of Jennifer Lawson in this tragic event.

You’ve heard the rhetoric and you know that driving while texting or talking on your cell phone is dangerous. However, that doesn’t prevent many motorists from using their phones while driving. Here is some startling information connecting cell phone use with Maryland car crashes.

Talking While Driving

According to a 2012 study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than two out of three drivers reported talking on their cell phones while driving in the past month. Additionally, nearly one in three of them stated they engaged in this activity “fairly often” or “regularly.”

Talking Increases the Risk of an Accident

Talking on a cell phone takes your mind off of the road, which means you aren’t giving your full attention to what is going on around you. Drivers who are talking on the phone when behind the wheel are four times more likely to get into accidents than those who aren’t.

Cell Phones Cause Almost a Quarter of All Crashes

According to a 2010 estimate, the National Safety Council reported that cell phones cause 21 percent off all traffic crashes in the United States. This means that almost a quarter of all crashes could be prevented by simply putting the phone down.

Driving around Maryland is already difficult enough without the use of cell phones. Roads like 295, 495 and 695 provide enough danger, and you don’t need to make things more risky by getting on the phone.

Victims of Maryland car crashes caused by distracted drivers have rights, and the lawyers of Lewis and Tompkins want to help protect them. Contact our offices today to find out what we can do for you.

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Washington, DC is full of attention-grabbing sights, including the National Mall, the White House, and the Lincoln Memorial. The landscape is pretty spectacular too, particularly when the cherry blossom trees are in bloom. Many drivers can’t help themselves, and take their eyes away from the road to look at the attractions. Oftentimes, this ends in rear-end collisions. Many of those Washington, DC car crash victims will develop whiplash. Why is this injury so common in crashes? The answer may surprise you.

The Movement

Whiplash is caused by a forceful movement of the neck and head. Typically the injury occurs when they are thrown backwards, then forward again. This movement can strain the neck’s muscles and ligaments, causing pain, stiffness, and a variety of other problems. This type of movement is common in many accidents and the neck is quite fragile, which is one of the reasons why this injury is seen so often after crashes.

The Type of Accident

Whiplash can occur in just about any accident that is forceful enough to cause a person’s head and neck to jerk about. However, the most common accident that causes the injury is rear-end collisions, because of the way they cause the neck to move backwards and forwards.

It’s no secret that many drivers talk on their cell phones while behind the wheel. What is a secret, however, is how many crashes are actually caused by this act. If your Baltimore Beltway crash was caused by a negligent driver having a phone conversation while operating his vehicle, you may never know the truth.

Proving negligence in a Maryland car crash due to phone usage can be tricky. Here are some hurdles to proving negligence:

Negligent Driver Denies Using His Phone

Admitting that you were on the phone at the time of the car crash makes you look bad, particularly if the crash caused fatalities. For this reason, many drivers don’t confess to their actions, which is why cell phone use in accidents is largely underreported.

Witness Testimony Is Shaky

Witnesses of the accident quite often don’t have clear views of what the driver was doing at the time of the crash, so they are unable to see if the driver was using a cell phone at the time. Additionally, witness testimony and statements are often inaccurate, leaving us with information that is not reliable.

Lack of Hard Core Evidence

Unless there is photographic or video evidence of the driver on the phone during the crash, proving this is quite difficult. Cell phone records are not easily obtained, and there is no test that can prove a driver was talking on the phone.

Cell phones are major distractions that can cause serious accidents and life-changing injuries. Phone use while driving is one of the leading causes of accidents on roadways across the nation. Do your part in making your road journey safer: Stay off the phone and stay alert!

If you were injured in a Maryland car crash, contact the law offices of Lewis and Tompkins to find out if we can help.

April is Distracted Driving Month across the country, and throughout Fairfax County, police are taking new steps to better train officers on the dangers of common driver practices.

The Fairfax County Police Department held its first-ever distracted driver training session for its officers. The focus of the training courses covered the topics of psychology, law enforcement, distracted driving trends, and the legal challenges that are associated with distracted driving.

Authorities identified the top five locations of distracted driving-related car crashes throughout Fairfax County. They were:

  • Colvin Run Road/ Leesburg Pike
  • Georgetown Pike/ Leesburg Pike
  • Leesburg Pike/ Lewinsville Road
  • Fairfax County Parkway/ Sunrise Valley Drive
  • Franconia Road/ South Van Dorn Street

Crash statistics for Fairfax County showed that distracted driving caused 1,060 crashes in 2011; 1,128 in 2012; and 1,175 in 2013. Even though the increases may seem small, they are increases nonetheless. This is a trend that police hope to curb in the future.

In the meantime, the Fairfax County Police Department is advising motorists to:

  • Not use cell phones to text, talk, or video record while driving.
  • Spread the word about the dangers of cell phone use while driving.
  • Understand how distractions can reduce cognitive brain function for drivers.

Besides cell phone use, there are numerous other activities that fall under the category of distracted driving. Some of these include eating/drinking, using electronic devices, talking with passengers, daydreaming, and rubbernecking.

At Lewis & Tompkins, we’d also like to urge Fairfax County drivers to stop and think about how to drive responsibly in order to keep yourselves, and others on the roads, safe. If you found this piece helpful, please share it with those you care about by posting a link on Facebook. We hope that in 2014 we’ll see a drop in these statistics.

April is Distracted Driving Month across our great country. Advocates, educators, and law enforcement agencies are taking great measures to get the message across that no distraction is worth the risk of getting into a fatal car crash.

High schools sponsor mock crash scenes to show teenage drivers the harsh realities of a crash. Dead for a Day events provide students with a tangible object lesson to grasp the number of lives that are stolen away tragically in teen car crashes. Billboards, banners, and pledges plead the importance of avoiding distractions when behind the wheel.

According to Drive Smart Virginia, eight out of ten accidents are related to distracted driving in some way. In a time when most of us go through life multi-tasking everything we do, it’s too easy to think we can eat a sandwich, call a friend, and drive our vehicles all at the same time. However, common sense—and research—shows that isn’t the case. Our ability to fully concentrate on any single task becomes greatly decreased with each new task that gets added to the mix.

Too many times, serious car, truck, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents are caused when motorists are distracted in some way. In most of these cases, the crash was totally preventable. Just taking a few moments to be intentional with your driving can help reduce your chances of getting in an accident.

  • Make your music selection before you start traveling down the road.
  • Finish all cell phone conversations before you drive, or invest in a hands-free device to allow you to talk on the phone (if you absolutely must).
  • Finish eating and drinking before you leave, wait until you arrive at your destination to eat, or have another licensed driver in your vehicle drive while you eat.
  • Plan your route in advance or have another passenger help you navigate the directions when traveling someplace unfamiliar.
  • Go over the rules of safety in the car with any passengers who might become unruly during the drive.

Having a safe drive free of distractions can be easier than you think. By being intentional with your time, and examining your priorities before driving, you can reduce your likelihood of getting into a car crash.

Want to help spread the word about Distracted Driving Month this April? Tell your friends about this story. You can also sign an online pledge with Drive Smart Virginia, vowing to drive distraction-free. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Stay safe this month, and let your experiences stay with you throughout the remainder of the year.

Distracted driving can be one of the most dangerous causes of car accidents. National statistics show that in 2012 an estimated 420,000 people were injured in car accidents caused by distracted drivers, and nearly 3,300 were killed.

One of the biggest trends in social media involves people video taping themselves, or others, doing interesting, dangerous, or crazy things. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, except for the fact this is being done while driving!

So, what has captivated America’s attention that drivers are willing to let the camera’s role while driving?

  • Wild animals running nearby the road.
  • Other car crashes happening in real time.
  • Themselves singing well-known songs.
  • Other motorists throwing angry fits.

One popular video that went viral involved a man who was watching a deer run alongside his car on a New England interstate highway. The video finally ended when the vehicle was involved in a rollover crash!

These are just a few of the strange events that some drivers feel the need to video, all while trying to safely handle a vehicle. Sadly, drivers are willing to put themselves, their passengers, and other motorists at risk all in an effort to see how many views they can get on YouTube or likes on Facebook.

The next time you decide to break out singing a hit Disney song for the entire world to see, all while driving on the Capital Beltway, just remember that the show might not end up how you’d expect. Otherwise, the show that the world sees might just be your car crash!

Do you know someone who has an interest in recording things while driving? Do you think that they’re putting themselves and others in danger? If so, feel free to share information on this site with them, and direct them to other articles about the dangers of distracted driving.

The driver responsible for causing injuries to six van passengers during a police chase on March 11 has been charged with stealing the van, driving under the influence, and eluding police.

According to Virginia State Police, Sonia E. Lopez, 22, stole a Toyota Sienna minivan from a home in Herndon, and took off down I-95 during the early morning hours on Tuesday. Inside the van were six passengers all ranging in age from 15 to 23.

Around 2:00 a.m. on March 11, police in Fort Belvoir reportedly spotted the van driving dangerously around the base, and attempted to pull the vehicle over. Instead, Lopez fled the scene, traveling at more than 100 mph, and headed south on I-95. While attempting to exit the interstate at Dale Boulevard in Woodbridge, the van collided with a guardrail and overturned. As a result, four of the van’s passengers were ejected from the vehicle.

Lopez and her six passengers all suffered injuries and were flown to local hospitals nearby. One of the injured victims, a 15-year-old girl, remained hospitalized for several days due to the life-threatening injuries she sustained.

According to Virginia State Police Department spokeswoman Corinne Geller, Lopez faces additional charges that are pending from the van crash. As a result of the accident, the exit where Lopez overturned the van stayed closed for nearly five hours.

No information was provided about whether or not there was a connection between Lopez and the passengers inside the van.

At Lewis & Tompkins, we’d like to offer our wishes for full and quick recoveries to those victims who were injured in this I-95 speeding van accident.

Did a driver’s negligent actions, such as speeding and erratic driving, cause your injuries? We’d like to hear your story. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or connect with connect with us on LinkedIn and use the power of social media to get the word out about the dangers of speeding vehicle accidents.

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