December 2011 Archives

Six New Year's Resolutions that Every Springfield, Missouri Driver Should Make

December 28, 2011

1335432_new_year_2012.jpgAs 2012 approaches, many people are making resolutions to help improve their quality of life in the coming year. The Greene County, Missouri car accident attorneys suggest that you consider making some resolutions related to safe driving: in this way, we can all work together to make Missouri roadways safer. Some of them may seem like common sense - and they are. However, there would be far fewer injury accidents in our great state if more of us followed these basic guidelines:

1. Keep a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you.

Sometimes, when we're in a hurry and frustrated by traffic, it can be tempting to tailgate. Tailgating is the most common cause of rear-end accidents: remember, you should leave enough distance to stop safely if needed. (Note: if you hit someone from behind, you will usually be considered the at-fault driver, no matter why the car in front of you stopped.)

2. Use your turn signals.

Turn signals are the easiest way to make sure the vehicles around you know what you're doing. Try to signal at least 100 feet before turning - and make sure your turn signal is off when you've completed your turn. We've all driven behind someone who neglects to turn off their signal, and aside from being annoying, it's confusing to the other drivers on the road: there's no way of knowing if and when you're planning to turn.

3. Observe the speed limit.

Obviously, excessive speeding is dangerous, but driving significantly under the speed limit can be equally risky. If you're going 40 mph when the speed limit is 70, you're creating a hazard for other drivers, just like if you were going 90.

4. Don't react to road rage.

So many drivers who are normally reasonable, even-tempered people fall victim to road rage. Do yourself a favor: don't drive erratically or behave irresponsibly because you're angry about a choice another driver made. It's not worth it. All you're doing is creating the ideal conditions for an accident. Take a deep breath, and get yourself to your destination safely.

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Missouri Highway Patrol Reports 3 Fatal Car Accidents Over Christmas Weekend

December 27, 2011

The Springfield, Missouri car accident attorneys hope you had a happy and safe holiday weekend! We've been writing regularly about the importance of defensive driving during this time of year: with so many holiday celebrations and so much holiday traffic, there's an increased risk of injury accidents throughout the period between Christmas and New Year's. We encourage you to remain vigilant as we move into the last week of 2011.

1134387_open_road_mo.jpgAccording to a press release from the Missouri Highway Patrol, three Missourians died in car accidents during the Christmas holiday counting period (beginning December 23 at 6:00 p.m. and ending on December 26 at 11:59 p.m.).

On Friday, December 23, a Springfield man was killed when he was struck by a pickup truck as he walked along High Street. According to Springfield Police, a car and the pickup truck were headed to the same location when they encountered 58 year-old Kenneth Winningham in the roadway. The car was able to avoid hitting Winningham, but the pickup truck was not. Winningham was transported to Cox Hospital, where he later died. The driver of the pickup was not injured, and the accident is still under investigation.

Meanwhile, two southwest Missouri drivers were involved in fatal accidents on Christmas day. In the first accident, 41 year-old Nancy Feldmeier of Lebanon was killed on Sunday morning in Pulaski County, about two miles south of Richland. Feldmeier was traveling north on Missouri 133 when she lost control of her car. She ran off the right side of the road and then overcorrected, running off the left side: subsequently, her 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix struck an embankment. Feldmeier was taken to a hospital and later died as a result of her injuries, according to the Highway Patrol. She was not wearing a seat belt.

The second accident occurred on Missouri Highway 7 in Camden County. 59 year-old Donna Miller of Camdenton was near Fiery Fork when her vehicle crossed the center line on a curve and collided with another vehicle head on. Miller was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the other vehicle, Warren West, sustained moderate injuries, while his passenger, Tonya Kelly, suffered serious injuries in the crash. West and Kelly were wearing seat belts, but Miller was not.

Missouri Statistics: Christmas Weekend, 2011

  • 213 traffic crashes investigated (last year: 487)
  • 3 fatalities (last year: 2)
  • 67 injuries (last year: 122)
  • 56 arrests for driving while intoxicated (last year: 51)

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Missouri Highway Patrol Investigates Fatal Hit and Run Accident in Barry County, Missouri

December 23, 2011

As Barry County, Missouri car accident attorneys, we have experience assisting the victims of hit and run accidents. The law defines hit and run as "failure to stop after a vehicle accident to exchange information (name, license number, and other pertinent information) with other involved parties." When an accident involves an injury, the law also stipulates that motorists "address the needs of victims as is necessary," whether that requires dialing 911 or simply waiting for emergency responders to arrive on the scene. If a driver fails to comply with any of these requirements, he or she is guilty of a serious crime.

949273_pedestrian_crossing_sign.jpgThe Missouri Highway Patrol is investigating a recent pedestrian hit and run accident in Barry County, and the family of the man killed in that accident has issued a public plea for information. At around 7:30 p.m. on December 14, 44 year-old Tommy G. Rickman was hit by a car as he walked along Business Highway 37, near Cassville. The Highway Patrol speculates that Rickman was walking in the roadway when the accident occurred. The car left the scene, and Rickman was transported to St. John's in Cassville. Doctors attempted to save him, but he died within the hour as a result of his injuries.

Rickman's family recently contacted a local news station to issue a formal request for the driver to come forward. In an email to KY3 News, Rickman's nephew wrote that the accident "broke everyone's heart." We send our condolences to the family, and join them and the Highway Patrol in their appeal to the suspect and to the public.

In their investigation, troopers are focusing on a black or dark colored crew cab pickup truck (either Ford or Chevrolet) that was seen traveling north on Business 37 around the time of the accident. If you have information about this vehicle, its owner, or the accident, please contact the Highway Patrol at (417) 895-6868.

The Highway Patrol reported that Rickman was Troop D's 110th fatality for 2011. To see the crash report, click here.

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Project Roadblock Raising Awareness About Drunk Driving Dangers for Springfield, Missouri Motorists

December 21, 2011

The car accident attorneys at Aaron Sachs & Associates are proud to sponsor Project Roadblock, an anti-drunk driving campaign designed to spread community awareness during the holiday season. Celebrations are popular this time of year, and many Missouri drivers will be hitting the road to visit family and friends all over the country. Unfortunately, more celebrations plus more drivers on the road can equal disaster, particularly when alcohol is involved--and that's why it's important to be especially vigilant during the holidays. Now in its 8th year, Project Roadblock is working to keep these facts on people's minds during one of the deadliest times of year for auto-fatalities.

125243_moralization_-_2.jpg"Project Roadblock: Local TV Puts the Brakes on Drunk Driving" is a public service announcement initiative exclusively for local broadcast stations. Its founders are proud that the initiative "continues to demonstrate the power of local broadcast television to influence, persuade or affect social behavior, and broadcasters' commitment to the safety of their communities." In the past, the campaign has been powerfully successful: in 2010, a post campaign Nielsen analysis showed that people who reported seeing a Project Roadblock spot during the week of Christmas and New Year's were more likely to intervene if they saw an impaired friend or relative attempt to drive.

Here in Springfield, we're happy to partner with local broadcast stations KOLR and KOZL in this campaign. This year, Project Roadblock will use the slogan "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving."

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NTSB Recommends Nationwide Cell Phone Ban for Drivers After Investigating a Missouri Rear End Accident

December 20, 2011

As Springfield, Missouri car accident attorneys, we've written a great deal on this blog about the dangers of distracted driving, particularly driving while texting. We know firsthand how often this behavior results in injury and fatality accidents. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is recommending that all fifty states implement a total ban on the use of cell phones (and all other portable electronic devices) by all drivers, except in emergency situations. What's more, this recommendation was prompted by the findings of an accident investigation that happened right here in Missouri.

899402_you_have_mail.jpgYou probably remember seeing the horrific story on the news last year. A 19 year-old Missouri man, Daniel Schatz, was traveling on the highway near Gray Summit. The Missouri Highway Patrol estimates that his pickup truck was moving at 55 miles per hour when it struck the back of a semitrailer, which had slowed down because of highway construction. Then, the pickup truck was struck from behind by a school bus, which actually overrode the pickup. Finally, a second school bus collided with the first bus.

Schatz and Jessica Brinker, a 15 year-old girl on the first bus, were both killed. 38 people were injured. The buses were carrying about 50 students from St. James, who were traveling to Six Flags for a field trip.

The findings of the NTSB investigation showed that the pickup truck driver had either sent or received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes before the collision occurred. The subject of the messages, between the driver and a friend, involved plans to attend the county fair. The cell phone records do not conclusively show that Schatz was typing at the moment of the accident, but, according to NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman, they do provide evidence of a driver who was distracted in every way: manually, cognitively, and visually. "Driving was not his only priority. No call, no text, no update is worth a human life."

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Liability in Question for Roll-Over Accident that Killed Two Springfield, Missouri High School Graduates

December 14, 2011

1196523_highway.jpgMost of the time, when Springfield, Missouri drivers think about driving defensively, they're thinking about the dangers posed by other cars. But single vehicle accidents can present just as much of a threat. The causes of single vehicle accidents are numerous and varied: excessive speed, alcohol, improper lane changes, and simple distractedness, to name just a few. Sadly, these accidents can cause serious injuries and fatalities all by themselves, and they can also initiate a horrible chain of events, involving multiple lives.

Here in the Springfield-Joplin area, we're mourning the terrible loss of two Missouri Southern football players, both of whom were former standout football players at Parkview High School. Diondre Johnson and Michael McCrimmons, both age 19, were killed on December 1 near Sarcoxie, Missouri. The two young men were passengers in a sport utility vehicle that was westbound on I-44 in Jasper County. Around 2:33 am, the vehicle left the road, struck the median, and overturned, coming to rest in the passing lane of eastbound 1-44. Johnson was thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.

After the SUV overturned, the driver, 19 year-old Jeremy Johnson, was able to leave the vehicle. But as he moved away from the accident, he was struck by a Pontiac Grand Prix that was traveling in the driving lane of eastbound I-44. Johnson was seriously injured and airlifted to Freeman West Hospital in Joplin. The driver of the Pontiac, 62 year-old Lee Charles, suffered minor injuries.

As if enough tragedy hadn't already occurred, within seconds of Johnson being hit, the overturned SUV was struck by another oncoming vehicle in the eastbound lanes: a tractor trailer. McCrimmons was killed on impact and pronounced dead at the scene. The SUV's fourth occupant, 19 year-old Patrick Holt, was seriously injured and airlifted to St. John's Hospital in Springfield.

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Recent Missouri Car-Train Collisions Highlight the Need for Caution at "Passive" Railroad Crossings

December 13, 2011

1024435_railroad_crossing.jpg Some Missouri drivers have a complacent attitude about train crossings. It's easy to forget how dangerous these crossings are - after all, there are lights and signs that indicate when a train is coming. You simply stop and wait for the train to pass. Where's the danger, right? Unfortunately, several recent Missouri accidents have illustrated just how real that danger is.

Last week, near Seymour, a father and son were killed when their vehicle was struck broadside by an oncoming train. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, 34 year-old Chad Lee was driving a dump truck through a railroad crossing and failed to yield to an approaching Burlington Northern locomotive. Lee and his father, 58 year-old Gary Lee, were both pronounced dead at the scene.

Local residents have expressed concern about the absence of control arms and lights at this particular intersection: the crossing is only marked by white crossbuck signs. Only 3 weeks earlier, another accident occurred at a similar crossing nearby: 68 year-old Helen Weatherford was killed in Bois D'Arc when her car was struck by a train at a crossing nearly identical to the one in Seymour: no lights or control arms, just the simple crossbuck signs.

Transportation officials refer to crossings like these as "passive crossings," meaning they do not use "active warning measures" (lights, bells, control arms, etc). And, believe it or not, officials say that the vast majority of railroad crossings are passive. Eric Curtit, the Missouri Department of Transportation's (MoDOT's) administrator of railroads, says that Missouri's approximately 3800 crossings are rated according to a "severity index." MoDOT decides which crossings are active and which are passive based on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the frequency and speed of the trains that pass through the intersection and the amount of regular traffic.

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Buggy-SUV Rear End Collision Serves as Warning to Southern Missouri Drivers

December 8, 2011

253619_amish_drive-by.jpgMissouri drivers know a little something special about "sharing the road." Of course, like drivers nationwide, we always have to be on the lookout for pedestrians, bicyclists, and children waiting at bus stops or playing in the street. But in southern Missouri, especially in Greene and Webster Counties, drivers will quickly recognize a unique yellow sign that depicts a horse-drawn buggy: this sign alerts highway drivers that they are sharing the road with a very different kind of vehicle. It's imperative that Missouri drivers take these signs seriously: failing to do so can have serious consequences.

Sadly, such was the case very recently on Highway O, four miles northwest of Seymour, MO, close to Diggins, near an area where an Amish community resides. On the morning of Wednesday, November 30, eighteen year-old Peter Zook was driving a horse drawn buggy down a Webster County road when he was rear-ended by a sport utility vehicle.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Zook was ejected from the buggy upon impact. The buggy was totaled. Zook was seriously injured, and was air-lifted from the scene to St. John's Hospital in Springfield, MO. The driver of the SUV, 87 year-old Loin Barker, was not injured in the accident, but his vehicle sustained extensive damage. Southern Webster County firefighters remained on the scene for several hours. There is no word as to what factors caused the accident, or whether or not charges will be filed against Mr. Barker. (To see a copy of the crash report, click here.)

Granted, this accident received a great deal of media attention simply because of the type of vehicle involved. But while buggy-SUV collisions are a rarity, rear end collisions, unfortunately, are not - in fact, they're among the most common kinds of accidents. There are many possible causes, several of which have to do with inattentiveness: using a cell phone, reaching for something, changing the radio station, etc. Often, rear end collisions are caused by following too closely, attempting to go through a yellow light when the car in front of you decides to stop, poor road conditions or visibility, or something as simple as a foot sliding off a brake pedal. In most rear end collisions, the at-fault party is presumed to be the driver that did the hitting, although there are a few exceptions.

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Drive Sober in Ozark, Missouri to Avoid Traffic Accidents This Holiday Season

December 7, 2011

Drunken driving accidents continue to plague our roadways in Ozark, Missouri and across the state. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, through to New Year's Day, historically brings an increase in the number of drunk driving accidents. Injury and fatal car accidents tend to spike around holidays and particularly the coming holiday season. From serious injuries to fatal accidents, driving while intoxicated can permanently mar the holidays for everyone involved.

Stay Sober or Get Pulled OverDrive_Sober.gif
The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety has launched a new safety campaign. A new logo and a new slogan are being publicized to get the word out in time for this holiday season. "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" is the latest message as the Coalition works to reduce the number of car accidents, injuries and deaths on our Missouri roads.

This latest campaign was launched Tuesday November 29, 2011 as Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) trooper's and families of drunk driving victims came together to help the Coalition unveil the new campaign. The unveiling was held at the state capital as part of a memorial service for those killed by drunk drivers.

The logo itself sends a powerful message. It is simple but effective: a stylized police officer silhouette combined with a badge holding the slogan in front. It shows the seriousness of this new message and of the campaign. The message will be spread on the radio, in print media, as well as video and digital showings.

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