Archive for February, 2013

How Safe are the Roads in Oregon?

How safe are the roads in Oregon? The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety wanted to find out. In fact, the Advocates wanted to assess how safe the roads were in all 50 states in the U.S. Each year, the Advocates do this by conducting a review of where states stand on passing safety laws. 

The Advocates’ 10th annual state-by-state review of safety laws has now been released, and our Portland, OR accident attorneys have reviewed their 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws to see how Oregon is doing as far as passing laws that make the roads safer. Fortunately, Oregon is a “Green” state, which means that the state is just one of 14 in the U.S. that has shown “significant advancement” toward passing all of the safety laws that are recommended by the Advocates.

What Safety Standards Has Oregon Passed & Which Ones are Missing?

The Advocates did more than just give each state a rating. They actually outlined the 15 laws that they recommend, and they provided details on whether each state got credit for having such a law. According to the Advocates’ data on Oregon:

  • Credit was given for a primary seat belt law.
  • Credit was given for an all-rider helmet law for motorcyclists.
  • Credit was given for a booster seat law.
  • Credit was given for Oregon’s 6-month holding period for teens who obtain their permits.
  • Credit was given for Oregon’s requirement imposing 30-50 hours of supervised driving practice for teens.
  • Credit was given for Oregon’s laws restricting the number of passengers that may ride in vehicles with teenage drivers.
  • Credit was given for imposing a restriction on the use of cellular telephones for teenager drivers.
  • Credit was given for mandating that all DUI offenders have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle to test their BAC before their cars will start.
  • Credit was given for child endangerment laws, which impose harsher penalties on intoxicated drivers who have children in their vehicle.
  • Credit was given for a mandatory BAC test law. Such a law indicates that drivers in Oregon are assumed to give implied consent to having a blood alcohol test performed if there is reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired.
  • Credit was given for Oregon’s open container law.
  • Credit was given because there is a statewide ban on texting while driving for all drivers.
  • No credit was given because Oregon lacks a law imposing a minimum age of 16 for obtaining a learner’s permit.
  • No credit was given on the issue of requiring a driver to be 18 before obtaining a full license. Oregon is lacking such a law.
  • No credit was given for Oregon’s night time restriction law. Although a law exists, it is not sufficient for the Advocates to count it.

Oregon received credit for twelve of the fifteen driver-safety laws that the Advocates recommended states pass. Based on safety laws alone, therefore, it seems like Oregon lawmakers have done a lot to make the streets of Oregon as safe as they can be for drivers. While there is some room for improvement, these laws likely prevent many accidents from occurring and save many lives as a result.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Portland area, contact  Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000.

Oregon ATV Accidents Can Be Dangerous or Deadly

According to the Rockford Register Star, a 19-year-old Oregon man suffered critical injuries in February when he was involved in an ATV accident. Riding ATVs or all-terrain vehicles is a popular pastime and both adults and children enjoy using these vehicles to go off-roading. Unfortunately, as this recent accident shows, ATVs aren’t always harmless fun.

Our Portland, OR accident attorneys urge everyone in the state to be very careful in using ATVs and other recreational vehicles. While we know that these can be a great time, we urge you to follow basic safety tips, and we urge parents to use common sense about letting their kids ride on these vehicles or on 4 wheelers or other related types of off-road transportation.

The ATV Accident

The February ATV accident that caused the 19-year-old to suffer critical injuries occurred when he was traveling in a ditch along a roadway. The ditch was filled with ice and the ATV skidded out of control.

When the ATV lost control, the young driver crashed into a tree. The driver was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Avoiding ATV Accidents

This ATV accident wasn’t the first in Oregon, and it won’t be the last. There are, however, certain things people can and should do if they plan on riding all-terrain vehicles, 4x4s, snowmobiles or any other type of vehicle intended for off-roading or joy riding.

Some of the key safety tips include:

  • Riding in open areas away from trees, cars and other obstacles that you could crash into in the event that you lose control. There are also designated ATV trails that you can ride on in various locations, and you should consider sticking to these trails.
  • Maintaining a safe and reasonable speed when riding on an ATV or other recreational vehicle. The appropriate speed should be determined by the current weather conditions and the potential dangers of the environment where you are riding the ATV.
  • Wearing appropriate safety gear including a helmet, boots and gloves. It is possible to buy full-face sports helmets specifically intended for ATV riders that both make riding safer and that make it easier to protect yourself in the event that an accident occurs.  Whatever helmet you purchase, make sure it is DOT approved so you know it meets minimum safety requirements.
  • Riding with a friend so you are not alone in the event that you do get injured. If you are in a remote area, make sure you have a cell phone with reception or some means to get help in the event that something does go wrong.
  • Refrain from riding when you have consumed any alcoholic beverages, drugs or intoxicating substances.

Parents of young children who are interested in riding any type of all-terrain or off-roading vehicle should also think carefully about the safety risks involved. While unlicensed drivers can operate certain types of off-road vehicles for recreational use, this doesn’t mean it is safe or advisable to allow your children to do so.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Portland area, contact  Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000.

Oregon Not Living up to Federal Drunk Driving Standards

Maintaining roads and highways can be expensive, and the money has to come from somewhere. Usually, it comes from a mix of federal and state funding, with the federal government providing cash for a state’s general fund that allows it to complete highway construction and improvement projects. This federal money, however, has some requirements associated with it, and one of the obligations is to meet certain minimum standards when it comes to drunk driving laws. 

According to a recent article in USA Today, however, the vast majority of the states in the U.S. are falling short of the federal standards. Our Portland, OR accident attorneys were distressed to note that Oregon is among two-thirds of states that are not in compliance with federal requirements on drunk driving mandates. There are consequences for not being in compliance, including a requirement that some of the federal money be shifted to programs to combat DUI.

Oregon Not Living up to Federal Drunk Driving Standards

The money provided by the federal government is normally used by states to complete construction projects as needed. This can include constructing or repairing roads and bridges. However, if a state doesn’t live up to federal standards on drunk driving – which tackle issues such as open container laws and repeat offender laws – then they are required instead to use some of the money for safety programs on DUI including enforcement and public education programs. Oregon, in particular will be required to shift $10.7 million toward drunk driving safety efforts.

One problem that exists, and one reason why so many states are out-of-compliance, is that the federal government made a change last year.  Congress voted to impose new requirements on many different highway safety programs, and one of the changes made was to strengthen compliance requirements on drunk driving prevention. This is an important issue since drunk driving deaths continue to occur throughout the United States.

In addition to tougher standards, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials weighed in to USA Today on the issue of enforcement. According to the Association’s chief operating officer, the federal government has gotten stricter on the way that the requirements are imposed upon the states, making compliance generally more difficult.

While some states are looking upon this as a burden or an imposition, and some are devising ways to get around the federal mandate on shifting the money into DUI safety programs, the change to the federal standards could be an important wake-up call. If there is more that Oregon can do to curb the dangers of drunk driving and potentially help people to avoid the serious and often deadly accidents that can result from driving intoxicated, then Oregon should do everything in its power to do just that.

So, although USA Today indicates that there are ways to shift the restricted federal money back to road construction, Oregon should instead perhaps consider actually taking active steps to improve DUI education and enforcement to meet federal recommendations. Doing so could potentially save lives.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident in the Portland area, contact  Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000.

Oregon Woman on a Drive to Save Lives

Many people have their lives touched by car accidents. In fact, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, almost one out of every three people in America has lost a relative, loved one or friend in an auto accident or knows someone who has suffered serious injury in a crash. Many of these people who lose loved ones may take legal action against those responsible for the crash and/or may quietly mourn in private where their stories are often never told. 

When one Oregon woman was impacted by a crash, however, she decided to take action. According to WDTV.com, the Oregon woman began to travel around and created a program to educate teenagers about making good driving choice. Her wish is that she can help at least one student to avoid becoming a statistic like her sister. Our Portland, OR personal injury attorneys support the important effort this young woman is making. Car accident deaths are a leading cause of death for young drivers and it is essential that teenagers learn about how dangerous certain driving behaviors are and about how to make good choices behind the wheel.

The Oregon Woman’s Safe Driving Quest

According to WDTV.com, Cara Filler’s twin sister died in a car accident one day after the twins turned 18 years old. When Filler’s sister died, Filler decided to try to do something to make a difference and to spare other teens the same fate. She created a program that would hopefully help other teens to avoid becoming involved in a serious auto accident or otherwise getting hurt during their teen years.

Filler, who was described by WDTV as a world-renowned motivational speaker, is now on a statewide tour through Oregon and will be visiting seventeen schools. The tour has been called Drive to Save Lives and the program is intended to empower and teach high schoolers how to make smart decisions. While the program also includes help for teens on dealing with issues they face at school and at parties, one of the top focuses is on driving behaviors that can cause auto accidents.

Filler’s aim is on helping teenagers to fight against peer pressure and make their own smart choices. Unfortunately, a lot of teens are at great risk when they drive for many different reasons. For example:

  • Teens have less driving experience and are less able to cope with night time driving or when driving in bad weather with reduced visibility.
  • Teens are more likely to be distracted with friends in the car or to take unnecessary risks when they have friends as passengers who they want to impress.
  • Teens are more likely to engage in texting and driving than adult peers. Distraction.gov reported on one survey where 40 percent of teens indicated they’d been in a car with a fellow teen driver doing something dangerous with a cell phone.
  • Teens are more likely to drive drowsy and less likely to pull over when nodding off than drivers in other age groups are.
  • Teens are at risk of driving drunk or intoxicated.

These are just a few of the dangerous behaviors that teenage drivers engage in. Hopefully, Filler’s program will help teens to avoid these dangerous behaviors and to reduce their risk of becoming involved in a car accident that could be deadly.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Portland area, contact  Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000.