The Idaho Stop may soon be legal in Oregon. If you’re a bicyclist, here’s what you should know!

Portland bicycle accident attorneyEver hear of the “Idaho Stop?” If you’re an avid bicyclist in Portland, the term may ring a bell. Bicycle safety advocates have been pushing it for the past 15 years.

If you’re not familiar with the term, it allows bicyclists to treat stop signs and red lights as yield signs, and may soon become the law in Oregon. The bill was initially sponsored by State Rep. Barbara Smith Warner in order to address bicycle usability and safety concerns associated with frequent stopping and starting.

The bill recently passed the state legislature and is now awaiting signature from Governor Kate Brown. If signed into law, Oregon will become the fourth state to legalize the Idaho Stop, along with Idaho, Delaware, and Arkansas.

Bicycle safety advocates point to the 14 percent drop in bicyclist injuries in Idaho after implementing the Idaho Stop in 1982. Additional research concluded that cities throughout Idaho are 30 percent safer for bicyclists in comparison to most other cities.

The Idaho Stop explained

Historically, bicyclists in Oregon were required to follow the same traffic guidelines as motorists – coming to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs and waiting until they are legally allowed to proceed.

The Idaho Stop simply allows bicyclists to slow down when approaching an intersection and proceed if there is no traffic crossing. Bicyclists would only be required to stop and yield when vehicles or other bicyclists are approaching an intersection.

In a YouTube video, videographer Spencer Boomhower explains that allowing bicyclists to preserve their momentum may mean fewer risks for them at intersections.

A step in the right direction

If the Idaho Stop is signed into law in Oregon, it will be a major milestone for bicycle safety, but more needs to done to protect bicyclists.

First, drivers must acknowledge that bicyclists have just as much right to access the roadways as they do. Oregon law classifies bicycles as vehicles. Thus, bicyclists are allowed to ride with the rest of traffic, as long as they remain on the right side of the road.

Whether you’re a bicyclist or motorist, it’s best to refer to the 2016-2017 Oregon Bicyclist Manual in order to better understand the state laws pertianing to bicycles.

Most importantly, drivers have a duty to keep their attention on the road and watch out for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists.

If you or a loved one was injured in a bicycle accident because a driver failed to show regard for your safety, get an experienced attorney at Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys At Law on your side.

We proudly serve injured bicyclists throughout the greater Portland area. Contact us today to set up your free case evaluation.

Portland attorneys weigh in on dangerous open recalls on Uber and Lyft cars

Portland auto accident attorneyIn recent years, rideshare services have grown in popularity throughout Portland and across the country. Many residents of Portland find the services offered by Uber and Lyft to be more convenient than conventional taxi services.

But how well regulated is the ride-share industry? How safe are the cars?

Consumer Reports recently reviewed data collected from New York City and Seattle that found roughly 1 in 6 ride-share cars used by Uber and Lyft have unaddressed safety defects.

William Wallace, a Consumer Reports safety policy advocate, knows how this issue can put rideshare users at risk and hurt consumer trust.

“Uber’s website says people can ‘ride with confidence,’ while Lyft promises ‘peace of mind,’ yet both companies fail to ensure that rideshare cars are free from safety defects that could put passengers at risk,” he said.

ID’ing hazardous rideshare cars

Consumer Reports investigated this matter by reviewing the safety records for roughly 94,000 cars in rideshare operation throughout New York City, King County, and Washington State.

Out of the vehicles identified, approximately 15,175 (16.2%) were found to have one or more open safety recalls. Twenty-five of those cars were found to have at least five unaddressed recalls.

Consumer Reports identified open recalls by running the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) on all rideshare cars through an app developed by Carfax.

Some of the defects found include, but were not limited to:

  • Dangerous Takata airbags that could injure or kill drivers or front-passengers. Defective Takata airbags are responsible for 24 fatalities worldwide, including 16 in the United States. Approximately 1,274 of the vehicles cited in the review are equipped with these airbags.
  • Defects in the engine that could cause a car to stall
  • Defects that could cause a fire

While Uber and Lyft are taking minimal actions to address safety recalls, Consumer Reports states that they may not be doing enough. In turn, this could potentially put rideshare users in danger.

In many cities, Uber and Lyft only require that the cars used with their service be legally registered and are no more than 10-15 years old.

Uber and Lyft reportedly address this issue by encouraging drivers to have open recalls fixed. In addition, both companies claim to block the use of any cars with dangerous open recalls with “DO NOT DRIVE” warnings from either the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to Consumer Reports, those vehicles only account for a small fraction of rideshare cars with open recalls.

What to do if you’ve been injured in a crash with a rideshare car

If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash involving a rideshare car, speak to an experienced Portland car accident attorney to find out which legal options are available to you.

The attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys at Law have over 30 years of experience representing injured motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other road users.

We’ll find out who was responsible for your crash and fight to hold them accountable. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

Our lawyers offer the best ideas on how drivers can share the road

Portland auto accident attorneyDrivers have a legal and moral responsibility to safely share the road with bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists, and failure to do so can be deadly.

Here is how the death toll broke down in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • 783 bicyclists
  • 5,977 pedestrians
  • 5,172 motorcyclists

While bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians have legal rights to the road, they also are at greater risk because they are smaller, less visible and less protected in the event of an accident.

Sharing the blame

Bicyclists and motorcyclists have responsibilities, too. They must obey signs and signals. They should always ride defensively, assuming drivers cannot see them. In the case of bicyclists, they should use bike lanes when they are available and avoid riding on sidewalks.

In addition to following the rules of the road, pedestrians need to employ common sense. This means, in the absence of a sidewalk, walking while facing traffic and as far from cars as possible. They should always cross at crosswalks when they are available, and at well-lit places when crosswalks are not available.

The Oregon Department of Transportation offers the following top driver errors:

  • Failing to avoid a stopped or parked car
  • Running off the road
  • Failing to maintain lane
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Following too closely
  • Driving too fast for conditions (not exceeding posted speed)
  • Inattention
  • Left turn in front of on-coming traffic
  • Failing to decrease speed for a slower vehicle
  • Careless driving

The department did not offer a breakdown for motorcyclists.

Share the burden of your case

If you’ve been the victim of a personal injury accident as a pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcyclist, you almost certainly are suffering from major injuries. You may be unable to work for an extended period, meaning you cannot provide for your family or pay your bills, which now include major medical expenses. An insurance company, aware of your desperation, may be pressuring you into accepting a financial settlement that is tempting yet fails to meet either your needs or what you deserve.

Don’t tackle your problems alone. The personal injury lawyers at Zbinden & Curtis have more than 30 years of combined experience handling cases just like yours in Oregon and Washington. Based in Portland, Oregon, they will thoroughly investigate your accident, interview witnesses, review police and medical reports, and take whatever other steps are necessary to secure justice for you and your family. Just as importantly, they will treat you with respect and compassion. Contact them today for a free case consultation.

Study: Speed limit boost could mean more Portland traffic deaths

Portland auto accident attorneyFewer people would die if states stopped raising highway speed limits, according to Consumer Reports.

Oregon legislators are considering a bill that would let transportation officials in Portland, instead of the Oregon Department of Transportation, set speed limits for the city.

Nearly 37,000 more people died on highways in the past quarter century after speed limits rose, than would have been the case had the 55 mph limit been maintained nationwide.

The Consumer Reports story cited a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance-industry funded group.

The study examined annual traffic deaths from 1993-2017. The study accounted for such factors as the percentage of young drivers on the road, seat belt use and unemployment.

Among findings in the study was that an additional 36,760 people were killed on highways in that 25-year period than would have been expected if speed limits had stayed at 55 mph nationwide.

States increase speed limits

The 55-mph speed limit ceased being the nationwide standard in 1995. Since then, 41 states have increased highway speed limits to least 70 mph and seven states have upped the limit to 80 mph.

Speed remains a significant reason for increased highway traffic deaths, despite vehicle safety advances, like automatic emergency braking.

Road deaths are lower overall than in 1993, which is two years before the federal government abolished the nationwide 55 mph speed limit. The study concluded, however, that highway fatalities would have been lower over the past 25 years had speed limits stayed the same.

Supporters say permission to drive faster saves time. Opponents say time gained by higher speeds is nullified by additional highway deaths.

In Oregon, House Bill 2702 would authorize the city of Portland to designate speed on highways over which the city has jurisdiction. The bill is in the Joint Committee on Transportation.

Oregon’s state transportation department said it is not taking a position on the legislation, but it is comfortable with the proposal, according to oregonlive.com.

Increasing highway speed limits continues to be the plan in other states, as well, according to online trucking resource CDL Life News:

  • Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill to eliminate the lower speed limit for trucks of over 26,000 pounds. The bill would let trucks go 70 mph, the current peak allowed for cars, instead of the current 65 mph.
  • Minnesota has increased speed limits from 55 mph to 60 mph on over 5,000 miles of state highways.
  • In Iowa the state legislature is considering a bill to increase interstate speed limits to 75 mph from 70 mph.
  • California legislators are considering a bill that would increase the speed limit for trucks in rural areas to 65 mph. Currently, passenger vehicles are permitted a speed limit of 65 mph or 70 mph on roads where the speed limit for trucks is 55 mph.
  • In Missouri, the speed limit would increase to 75 mph from 70 mph on rural interstates and freeways under a bill that legislators are considering.
  • North Dakota lawmakers are discussing a proposal to increase speed limits to 80 mph or 75 mph on some highways compared to the current 75 mph and 70 mph.
  • Oklahoma has increased the speed limit on the Oklahoma Turnpike to 80 mph from 75 mph.

Contact Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law today for help with cases where an accident may have been caused by speeding, or any other type of car accidents, truck accident or personal injury cases.

Oregon Attorney Discusses the Dangers of Motorcycle Lane Splitting

Portland motorcycle accident attorneyA new motorcycle lane-splitting bill, House Bill 2314, has picked up speed with Oregon lawmakers. Support for the bill was garnered amid a 2015 study conducted by researchers from the University of California-Berkeley.

The study concluded that motorcyclists could safely ride between lanes on highways with speed limits of 50 mph or more – as long as they don’t exceed the speed of parallel traffic by more than 15 mph. In addition, bi-partisan supporters suggest that lane-splitting increase road safety and reduce traffic congestion.

Currently, California is the only state that allows lane-splitting. If HB2314 becomes law, it would allow motorcyclists to travel between lanes only when traffic slows down below 10 mph on roads with speed limits more than 50 mph. In addition, motorcyclists would only be allowed to travel 10 mph faster than traffic.

Similar bills were proposed in 2015 and 2017. Both bills, which were sponsored by only six lawmakers, died in House committee.

Opposition to the bill

According to opponents, the law would be “unenforceable” and could potentially result in the following problems:

  • Motorcyclists speeding through traffic
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Lane-departure accidents when motor vehicles change lanes

Dylan Rivera, a Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman, cites a rise in motorcycle accidents over the past few years. In 2018 alone, approximately 77 motorcyclists lost their lives throughout the state of Oregon. In Portland, roughly a quarter of the 34 road deaths involved motorcyclists.

“If lane-splitting becomes legal on state highways, we are concerned that it would spill over to city streets – especially since the bill does not include any way to educate the public about this change,” said Rivera.

Troy Costales, Oregon Department of Transportation safety administrator, also showed opposition to the bill, citing statewide crash data between 2015-2017. Out of 3,081 statewide motorcycle accidents, approximately 2,610 resulted in injuries and 168 resulted in death. In addition, 12 of the motorcycle deaths were caused by rear-end collisions – nine of which involved motorcycles striking vehicles from behind.

Your legal options in a motorcycle crash

Motorcycle accidents are a serious matter. With limited protection, motorcyclists often sustain severe and life-threatening injuries – primarily due to the reckless and inattentive actions of motor vehicle drivers.

In the event of a motorcycle accident, crash victims are within their right to pursue compensation for medical expenses and other financial losses accrued. An experienced litigator at Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys At Law know how to handle motorcycle accidents and get results.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation, case evaluation.

Oregon Attorney Discusses Marijuana Use and Impaired Driving

Portland auto accident attorneyThe cannabis industry has taken hold of many parts of the United States, including here in Portland. Marijuana is now legal in 33 states for medical use and 10 states for recreational use. 

If used irresponsibly, it can carry risksespecially when users get behind the wheel. This problem is more common than you might think — at any given moment, you could be sharing the road with someone who is under the influence of marijuana. 

The prevalence of impaired driving

Researchers from the University of Michigan Addiction Center conducted a survey of Michigan adults seeking to obtain medical marijuana certification or recertification in 2014 and 2015. The study found that about one in five medical marijuana patients reported driving under the influence of cannabis within the past six months.  

Out of all respondents in the study: 

  • 56 percent said they have driven within two hours of using cannabis 
  • 51 percent reported that they had driven while mildly high 
  • 21 percent reported that they had driven while very high 

According to The Verge, studies surrounding traffic accident trends in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use have shown an increase in fatalities by one additional death per one million people.  

Additionally, neighboring states that haven’t legalized recreational cannabis have experienced an increase in traffic fatalities within the first six months of legalization. The fatality rate dropped back down to usual levels after the first year. 

As research suggests, a temporary spike in road deaths after marijuana legalization may be due to new users being inexperienced with using cannabis. Many users may simply underestimate the potency of cannabis products before getting behind the wheel. 

Holding negligent drivers accountable

Until further research is done, there is currently not enough available data suggesting that marijuana legalization has a profound impact on car accidents. There is also no current method available to determine if someone is driving under the influence of cannabis. After an accident occurs, police may be able to determine intoxication by administering a blood test. 

What we do know is the THC found in cannabis can impact drivers’ motor functions, judgment, reaction time, concept of distance and time, and may even cause drowsiness. 

If you or a loved one was injured in a crash with an impaired driver, contact Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys At Law to discuss the legal options available to you. 

Oregon Attorney Discusses Winter Driving Risks

Portland auto accident attorneyIt may not snow as much in Portland as in Chicago or New York City, but drivers must still be prepared when it does. This is especially true for people living in or visiting the mountainous regions of Oregon, where it snows much more often. Snow and ice reduce a vehicle’s traction and maneuverability, causing slower speeds, reduced roadway capacity, and an increased chance of being involved in a crash.

Understanding the risks

Winter weather can slow down traffic by over 30 percent and severely limit visibility. It is common for vehicles, especially smaller cars, to skid and fishtail. Lanes can be obstructed by snowbanks and debris, which can be even more dangerous if drivers can’t see them from a distance. After a storm, melting snow can become slush and refreeze, creating more ice. Vehicle crashes in these conditions account for nearly 900 deaths and nearly 76,000 injuries annually.

How to be prepared

By being aware of the weather forecast in the winter, you can prepare yourself for the commute. If possible, stay home when a storm passes through. If that isn’t an option, then you should know how to stay safe. Besides checking the weather, have a mechanic check the following vehicle systems before heading out on the road:

  • Ignition
  • Brakes
  • Wiring
  • Hoses and fan belts
  • Spark plugs
  • Air, fuel and emissions filters, and PCV valve
  • Distributor
  • Battery
  • Tire wear and air pressure
  • Antifreeze level and freeze line

If your vehicle breaks down or is disabled in any other way, do not abandon it. If you have flares, light them in front and behind the car and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow, mud or any other object. Along with flares, consider bringing a shovel, high energy foods, a first aid kit, and other supplies to help you if you get stuck in an unfamiliar place.

When driving in the snow, be cautious. That means not using cruise control, slowly changing speeds, and giving more distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. Anti-lock brakes and traction control can help you keep control of your vehicle. Both technologies are standard in most new vehicles.

Taking Action After a Crash

Even if you take every precaution to reduce your risk of an accident when driving in winter weather, other drivers may be inexperienced or careless. If you are injured in a car accident due to snow or ice, you may be entitled to compensation, but such compensation is not always guaranteed. It is important to take strong legal action and contact an experienced automobile accident law firm. That way, you can make sure your rights are properly protected.

Call or email a car accident attorney today at Zbinden & Curtis for your free and confidential consultation.

Auto Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injuries, Portland Attorney Discusses

Portland auto accident attorneyHead injuries are a common occurrence in Portland auto accidents, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is more than just a bump on the head. It causes your brain to slosh against the inside of your skull. Even if you seem fine immediately after a crash, a TBI can cause damage to the brain tissue and blood vessels.  

Crash-related TBIs are most commonly attributed to: 

  • Head-on collisions 
  • Rear-end collisions 
  • Side-impact crashes 
  • Rollover accidents 
  • Single-vehicle collisions with stationary objects 

How to identify a TBI

Recovery time from TBI can vary from one person to the next. In many cases, recovery can take months or years. And too many brain injuries never truly heal. TBI symptoms often include: 

  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Confusion and disorientation 
  • Loss of memory 
  • Severe headaches 
  • Fatigue or drowsiness 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Problems with communication 

Unlike most injuries, many brain injury victims never make a full recovery. Once damaged, some brain tissue and neurons will never regenerate, resulting in permanent complications.  

The most common types of TBIs include, but are not limited to:

  • Coup-contrecoup brain injury: When a serious accident occurs, the brain hits the inner lining of the skull on the opposite side of impact. 
  • Concussions: In comparison to coup-contrecoup brain injuries, concussions are relatively mild – but there is no such thing as a truly minor brain injury. If left untreated, concussions can result in lifelong complications.  
  • Brain contusion: When a concussion or other type of brain injury occurs, it may accompany bleeding under the skin. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove a brain contusion. 
  • Diffuse axonal injury: This type of TBI happens the same way as a concussion, but the injury is often much worse. 
  • Second impact syndrome: This occurs when a second TBI is sustained before the first has healed. The damage can be far worse, even life-threatening.  
  • Penetrating injury: Debris that is propelled during a crash, or parts of your own vehicle, can cause a penetrating injury. In this type of TBI, severe bleeding can occur.  

Take action immediately

TBIs are no laughing matter. If you have sustained one in an auto accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you are urged to seek immediate medical attention. Even if you feel fine, your TBI can worsen without treatment. Additionally, you may be faced with lifelong brain damage that can hinder your ability to engage in everyday activities. Even if you make a full recovery, you may experience a lifetime of mental and emotional trauma. 

Treatment for a TBI can be expensive. If you are unable to attend work and make ends meet, the aftermath of a single auto accident can take a devastating toll on your life. If you were injured in a crash, you need an experienced Portland auto accident attorney on your side who can help make things right. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

Common Driving Hazards During The Holidays In Portland: An Attorney Discusses

Portland auto accident attorney

Car accidents in Oregon or Washington can happen at any time, even to the most cautious drivers. You may drive defensively, but sometimes factors beyond your control can lead to a serious car accident. During the holidays, the likelihood of a crash increases because of the several unique driving conditions involved. December can be considered one of the most dangerous months for drivers because of the holidays. In particular, there are four hazards that are especially common this time of the year:

  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Pressured driving
  • Fatigued driving

Even if you’re practicing safe driving habits, other drivers may be driving under the influence of one or more of these hazards.

“When accompanied by poor road conditions, these four dangerous behind-the-wheel behaviors combine into a perfect storm of risk for drivers,” explained driver safety expert Doug Horn, who founded driving safety program “Drive by Example.”

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is commonly the result of a driver using their phone to text or make calls while driving. During the holidays, drivers might be more tempted to do so when coordinating plans with their friends and family. They may also be browsing the web to check store hours or inventory when shopping for gifts.

Impaired Driving

Late-night celebrations are well-established traditions during the holidays. In many cases, they involve alcohol and drug use. The dangers of impaired driving are compounded during poor weather in December, increasing the likelihood of impaired drivers causing an accident.

“An increase in the number of impaired drivers using the roadways during the winter holidays has been well-established by law enforcement, and the loss of life resulting from impaired driving is also well-established,” says Horn.

Pressured Driving

“The winter holidays typically bring with them increased pressures, especially financial pressures and the stress created by trying to do too much in a short time span. Drivers often react to these pressures by driving too fast for conditions, making aggressive lane changes, failing to yield right-of-way, and generally disregarding the needs and safety of others using the road,” according to Horn.

Fatigued Driving

The holiday season is incredibly stressful. People are working more hours to afford gifts, fitting shopping into tight schedules, and spending long nights attending social events. Even losing only an hour of sleep can have a dramatic effect on driving safety.

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that people who slept six to seven hours a night were twice as likely to be involved in a crash compared to those sleeping eight hours or more. Sleeping less than five hours increases that risk by four to five times.

Injured in a crash? Take action!

If you were injured in an Oregon car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. But you often won’t automatically receive such compensation. It’s important to take strong legal action and contact an experienced automobile accident law firm. That way, you can make sure your rights are properly protected. Call or email a car accident attorney today at Zbinden & Curtis for your free and confidential consultation.

Oregon Drivers May Rely Too Much On Safety Technology, Unaware Of Limitations

Portland auto accident attorneyDrivers have recognized the value of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and lane keeping assist. Though these once premium technologies are increasingly being offered as standard features, misinformation on their capabilities and limitations remains widespread.

This is causing drivers to become over-reliant on the technology and develop bad habits that cause accidents. 

Understanding what they can do

Researchers found that nearly 80 percent of drivers with blind spot monitoring systems were unaware of limitations, namely that they can’t accurately detect bicycles, pedestrians or vehicles passing at very high speeds. The technology can only detect vehicles traveling in a driver’s blind spot and many systems can’t consistently detect pedestrians or cyclists. It was also found that about 25 percent of drivers with blind spot monitoring or similar systems reported being comfortable relying solely on them and don’t perform visual checks for oncoming traffic or pedestrians. 

In the cases of forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, nearly 40 percent of drivers did not know the system’s limitations or confused the two technologies. These drivers believed that forward collision warning could apply the brakes in the case of an emergency, while this technology is only designed to deliver a warning signal. These systems also lead some drivers to falsely believe that they can multitask while driving, which accounted for about 25 percent of those surveyed.  

When properly used, these systems have proven their ability to prevent 40 percent of crashes and 30 percent of fatalities. Unfortunately, research has also shown that there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that drivers are educated about the capabilities and limitations of these systems. The simple reality is that driver assistance systems are intended to supplement safe, responsible driving, not to replace it. 

At least 70 percent of motorists report that they would recommend the technology to other drivers, though only half of drivers recalled being offered training on the advanced safety features. This likely contributes to the issue at hand and can spread the misconceptions when drivers recommend the features to others.  

Driver responsibility comes first

Drivers need to be aware of the capabilities and limitations of their vehicle’s safety features. Believing that they can replace safe driving habits can nullify any safety benefits that they provide to drivers. If you were injured in an Oregon car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. It’s important to take action by contacting an experienced auto accident attorney promptly to make sure your rights are protected.  

Contact us today for a free, confidential case evaluation.