Recently in Community News Category

"Life on Track" event aims to discourage drunk, distracted driving among Missouri teens

October 14, 2013

cone-659634-m.jpgLaw enforcement officials, safety experts and researchers agree: young drivers have an extremely high risk of being involved in serious car accidents, both here in Missouri and throughout the U.S. According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American adolescents, and most accidents involving teen drivers occur because of "critical errors." Two factors that commonly contribute to these accidents are driver impairment and driver distraction. In recent surveys conducted by safety and wellness organizations, 24% of teen passengers admitted they "recently [rode] with a teen driver who had been drinking," and about one-third of teen drivers "[self-reported] texting or emailing while driving (in the prior month)."

Recently, a Branson business hosted an event designed to help teens understand the serious dangers associated with driving while distracted or impaired. From September 30 through October 3, the Track Family Fun Parks held its fourth annual "Life on Track" workshop, where teen drivers were invited to participate in a DUI simulation and a distracted driving exercise while operating Go-Karts. This year, about 400 local teens participated in the event, including junior high and high school students from Branson, Hollister, Forsyth, Reeds Spring and Taneyville.

"An important aspect of our company mission is to give back to our community and take an active role in enriching the lives of families," said Craig Wescott, President and co-owner of the Track Family Fun Parks, in a news release. "With our facilities and resources, we have the unique opportunity to offer a safe environment where our community's youth can learn some very important lessons. Our goal is that every student participating in the Life on Track program will realize what a bad idea distracted and/or drunk driving is for themselves and those around them."

At the event, participants attempted to navigate a Go-Kart track while wearing thick goggles, which were designed to mimic the blurred vision that drunk drivers often experience. In addition, organizers created an obstacle course and asked students to attempt sending a text message while navigating through the course. Following the exercises, local law enforcement officials showed safety videos and addressed the teens about these all-too-common roadway risks. "They get here and they have the fun, riding the go-carts, cheering each other on, seeing the activities here. Then afterwards we get into the more serious eye opener," said Officer Darold Donathan of the Branson Police Department. "They're learning how to text and they're doing it every day. They're doing it all day long, possibly. And then they're getting their driver's license."

Continue reading ""Life on Track" event aims to discourage drunk, distracted driving among Missouri teens" »

Fatal accidents down, injury accidents on the rise in Springfield

September 17, 2013

car-accidents-by-vward-4-145315-m.jpgNationwide, hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur every year. In Missouri alone, there were nearly 143,000 crashes throughout the state in 2011. Of those accidents, 716 resulted in a fatality and more than 35,000 caused injuries to vehicle occupants. As Springfield car accident lawyers, we know that a life-changing collision can occur in a matter of seconds, leaving victims to deal with the emotional and physical trauma of recovery.

Recently, the City of Springfield Public Works Department issued its newest traffic crash report card, which reflects accidents that occurred in the Queen City between January 1 and June 30 of this year. According to the report, there were seven fatal crashes in Springfield within that time frame, compared to 13 fatal accidents during the same time frame in 2012. However, while the number of crash fatalities has decreased, the total number of accidents has increased, with 94 more collisions occurring this year, as has the number of injury accidents, with 18 more crashes resulting in injury.

What causes Missouri auto accidents?

The Missouri Highway Patrol identifies several driving behaviors that commonly contribute to crashes throughout the state. For example, excessive speed was a factor in 17.3% of all 2011 Missouri accidents and in 38.2% of fatal crashes. Additionally, alcohol use was cited as a "significant contributing factor in Missouri's serious traffic crash experience in 2011," with alcohol playing a role in 26.8% of 2011 fatal crashes.

What factors have contributed to the increase in Springfield car accidents in 2013?

Dew. When temperatures drop during the overnight hours, dew and moisture forms on vehicles that are parked outdoors. Drivers are encouraged to "take time to clean windows and ensure the vehicle has warmed up to ensure good visibility."

Glare. In late March, when the season begins to shift from winter to spring, the sun is positioned in an east - west alignment, which creates increased glare that limits visibility. Officials say glare often contributes to crashes around two hours after sunrise and around two hours prior to sunset, because the sun is so low on the horizon at those times of day. When the sun is in front of you, it can be extremely difficult to see other vehicles, objects and pedestrians that may be in your path, which often forces drivers to shield their eyes. Alternatively, when the sun is behind you, other vehicles' signals and taillights are less recognizable, so it can be tough to recognize a vehicle that is turning, slowing, or changing lanes.

Continue reading "Fatal accidents down, injury accidents on the rise in Springfield" »

Join us for the Cherish Kids 5K/10K on August 24!

August 19, 2013

running1.jpgHere at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we're proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Cherish Kids 5K/10K, which will be held this Saturday, August 24, at James River Assembly's South Campus in Ozark (at Highway 65 and CC). We'll be there handing out cold water to event participants, and we hope you'll come and join us for what promises to be a fun event - and 100% of all proceeds will go to a great cause.

Cherish Kids 5K/10K: Event details

• 7:30 - 10:30 a.m.: Cherish Kids Family Fun! This year's event features a number of fun activities for the whole family, including bounce houses, games, face painting, great giveaways, a silent auction and a hot air balloon launch. Special guests Sara and Ethan Forhetz will also be in attendance.

• 7:30 a.m.: Start time for the 5k/10K! Participants will receive a race T-shirt and bag and free snacks - and they'll also be eligible for over $3000 in prizes. Water stations will also be positioned along this year's flatter, faster course.

• 8:30 a.m.: Start time for the "Kids K" portion of the event! The Kids K is a 0.6 mile race for participants age 12 and under (and all participants 12 and younger will receive a medal, whether they run the 5K/10K or the Kids K).

• 9:00 a.m.: Award Ceremony! The ceremony will feature OMRR Triple Crown Event Awards; Overall 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Awards (for men and women); Masters 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Awards (for men and women); 1st Place Awards in each five-year age group (including 10 and under and 75 and older); and Overall Kids K Boy and Girl Trophies.

About Cherish Kids

• Founded in 2009 by Debbie Lindell, Cherish Kids works tirelessly to find homes for the nearly 2,000 orphans throughout the state of Missouri. Their mission is three-fold: to raise awareness about the needs of children in crisis, both locally and worldwide; to offer resources to people who want to help these children; and to provide support by helping meet these children's various needs and offering financial, emotional and spiritual support to families who wish to foster or adopt.

• The organization's efforts include supplying gift cards to children to purchase clothing when they are suddenly placed in foster care; providing summer camp scholarships to foster children; and hosting special events to encourage and support foster children.

Continue reading "Join us for the Cherish Kids 5K/10K on August 24!" »

Semi truck driver charged after wrong-way chase

October 2, 2012

751630_do_not_enter_sign.jpgOn Monday, an 18 year-old semi-tractor driver was arrested leading officers on a dangerous chase and driving the wrong direction on Highway 65 for approximately 20 miles. KY3 reports that Jesse DeJongh is facing a felony charge of assaulting a law enforcement officer for allegedly attempting to strike a Christian County deputy with his semi.

On Sunday evening, employees at Hood's Truck Stop called the Greene County Sheriff's Department to report a truck driving off without paying a $710 diesel fuel tab. As the vehicle left Hood's, a friend of the owner followed it, and the semi driver eventually stopped in a parking lot. The two men spoke and the semi driver promised to return to the truck stop and pay for the fuel.

However, that didn't happen. Around 10:00 p.m., Springfield Police Department officers attempted to stop DeJongh's truck at I-44 and Highway 65, but the semi continued on to southbound U.S. 65 at high speeds. At Evans Road, the driver went up on the overpass and then traveled back down the northbound onramp. He then drove south in the northbound lanes for about 20 miles, until the truck had passed through Ozark. At some points, he turned his headlights off, making himself invisible to unsuspecting northbound drivers on the highway.

"They (oncoming drivers) pulled over because of lights on emergency vehicles," Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Ivey Warren said. "They didn't see him (truck). They would've been hit had they not seen the emergency vehicles."

Motorist Charles Sullivan agreed. He was able to pull out of the truck's path - just barely - because of a highway patrolman's lights. "Within 14 inches of hitting us. If it hasn't been for that police officer pulling us to the side, I wouldn't be here talking to you people," Sullivan told KY3.

Law enforcement officials threw down spike strips twice in an attempt to stop the semi. Under the Highway EE overpass, the driver reportedly attempted to strike the Christian County deputy in the median, missing him by an estimated five to 10 feet. The semi finally ran off the road and down an embankment near Highway BB. The driver fled the scene, but authorities identified him as DeJongh and immediately began to search for him. Christian County deputies arrested DeJongh at around 4:00 a.m. Monday, after he used his cell phone in a public park.

Continue reading "Semi truck driver charged after wrong-way chase " »

National Driver's Test Ranks Missouri in Top Ten for Driver Knowledge

February 20, 2012

868517_a_driver.jpgMissouri drivers have a reason to pat themselves on the back. According to test results from the 2011 GMAC Insurance National Driver's Test, Missouri was ranked 8th in the nation for having the most knowledgeable drivers in the country. Adequate driving knowledge reduces your risk of a car accident in Springfield or elsewhere in Missouri.

According to the results, one out of five tested drivers in the United States were unable to meet the basic requirements to get a valid driver's license. This means that nearly 37 million drivers -- or 20% of those on our nation's roadways -- would fail a written driver's license test if they had to take it today.

Missouri may have not ranked number one (that was Kansas, with an average test score of 82.9%), but our Springfield car accident lawyers are pleased that we didn't score as poorly as New York or Washington D.C., where the average score was a dismal 71.8%. Missouri's average was an 81.3%.

"The GMAC Insurance National Driver's Test has become the benchmark for America's driving IQ," said Scott Eckman, chief marketing officer, GMAC Insurance. "All Americans need a refresher course when it comes to rules of the road and it begins with education. We're hoping this year's GMAC Insurance National Driver's Test results will inspire drivers to arm themselves with the knowledge they need to stay safe."

The nation's average did see a slight increase from 2010, rising from 76.2% to 77.9%. While every little bit helps, there are still way too many dangerous, ignorant drivers on our roadways. These dangerous driving habits only lead to an increased number of car accidents.

Test results reported that nearly 90% of drivers that were tested could not properly identify the correct action to take when pulling up to a steady yellow traffic light. Another 25% of those drivers were unable to determine what a safe following distance was.

Continue reading "National Driver's Test Ranks Missouri in Top Ten for Driver Knowledge" »

Save-A-Life Tour Visits Springfield, Missouri High Schools, Promotes Teen Awareness of Distracted Driving Risks

February 15, 2012

1104507_mobile_phone.jpgOur Springfield, Missouri car accident attorneys are always happy to hear about initiatives that aim to curb distracted driving, especially in teen drivers. We applaud the Springfield Council of Parent Teacher Associations (SCPTA) for sponsoring the Save-A-Life tour, which visited two local high schools this week: students from Central and Hillcrest participated in activities to promote awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.

Save-A-Life is well-known for its national high-impact alcohol awareness program: its drunk driving simulators have been widely praised for their ability to provide a sober perspective on the effects of alcohol on the mind. Last year, with support from the Missouri Eye Institute, the SCPTA brought the tour to Parkview and Glendale: students and faculty alike reported that the drunk driving presentations were hugely affecting. "They bring people to talk who really know what they're talking about," said Dawn Thompson, SCPTA president.

This is the first year the tour has offered presentations and simulation activities that address distracted driving, and Thompson said the SCPTA felt that it was a timely, relevant subject to discuss with students. "Since a lot more accidents are happening now with distracted driving, we thought this was the way to go. It affects more kids. It seems everybody has a cell phone now," Thompson said.

And she couldn't be more right. Here are just a few of the staggering statistics that reflect trends in teen driving behaviors:

• Teen drivers are significantly more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident caused by distracted than any other age group. (NHTSA)
• 40% of American teens say they have been passengers when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger. (Pew)
• 3 out of 4 teens say they own cell phones. (National Teen Driver Survey)
• 48% of teens say they talk on a cell phone, at least sometimes, while driving. (National Teen Driver Survey)

Save-A-Life's distracted driving program uses a combination of personal accounts, videos, and distracted driving simulation to present its message. Students at both high schools saw photographs of car accident damage. They also heard from the friends and family members of people who were injured or killed because of texting and driving. Then, juniors and seniors used the texting and driving simulator, which was equipped with a steering wheel, an iPod touch (which received frequent text messages), and a large screen to simulate the roadway and traffic.

Continue reading "Save-A-Life Tour Visits Springfield, Missouri High Schools, Promotes Teen Awareness of Distracted Driving Risks" »

Winter Weather Creates Hazards for Missouri Drivers: Springfield Police on Emergency Status

February 13, 2012

ice_storm_4367.jpgIt's a snowy Monday here in Springfield, which made for slick, hazardous conditions during the morning commute. Our Missouri car accident attorneys want to encourage drivers to take extra precautions today: the snow is continuing to fall, and local weather forecasts indicate that the snow will change into freezing rain this afternoon. As of 9:00 a.m., the Springfield Police Department had already reported dozens of accidents in the Springfield metropolitan area (including slide offs, non-injury collisions and a few injury accidents).

Because so many officers are responding to accident calls, the Springfield Police are currently on "emergency status." If you are involved in a collision this morning, you may be asked to a make a walk-in accident report, under the following circumstances: all vehicles involved are operable; the accident is non-injury; and no alcohol/drug-impaired driver is involved.

At present, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is reporting that I-44 and other highways in the Springfield area are snow-covered, while highways to the southeast are partly covered. Crews continue working to clear and salt local roadways.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Highway Patrol has responded to several accidents this morning, but the majority of these were minor in nature. One more serious wreck happened near Strafford at around 7:15 a.m.: an SUV slid into the path of a tractor-trailer, and the two vehicles collided nearly head on. The impact forced the tractor-trailer off the road, and it subsequently hit a fence and then a tree. Both drivers and a passenger in the SUV were taken to Mercy Hospital with moderate injuries.

Continue reading "Winter Weather Creates Hazards for Missouri Drivers: Springfield Police on Emergency Status" »

City Council Deliberates About Two Bills Impacting Springfield's Red Light Camera Program

January 31, 2012

254346_stop_on_red.jpgLast week, our Springfield, Missouri car accident attorneys discussed our city council's plans for Springfield's red light camera enforcement program. On Monday night, the council met and discussed two separate proposals regarding the cameras, which advocate opposing courses of action. Local media sources report that the issue was hotly debated, with some council members arguing that cameras help prevent certain kinds of collisions, and others maintaining that voters should make the final decision.

Councilman Tommy Bieker had initially lobbied a council committee to recommend doing away with the cameras permanently. When he was unsuccessful, he then proposed a bill that would place the issue on August ballots and in the hands of Springfield residents. Other city council members have since presented their own bill to resume use of the program: six members have signed on as sponsors of that measure.

Only two councilmembers (Bieker and Doug Burlison) appear reluctant about bringing back the cameras, which photograph cars passing through intersections when the light is red. Offenders then receive traffic citations by mail. At the council's meeting on Monday, Bieker again attempted to intervene, moving that council should table both bills and instead explore alternatives to the cameras (including increasing yellow light time at busy intersections). Council rejected his motion, and both bills were discussed.

According to a recent analysis of Kansas City camera use, the number of T-bone and right-angle accidents did decrease at camera-equipped intersections: these types of collisions are often the result of red light violations. However, the number of overall accidents increased, as drivers were more likely to slam on their breaks when the light turned yellow, creating the potential for more rear-end collisions. Traffic engineers in Springfield have argued for the cameras: they maintain that reducing T-bone and right-angle accidents is considerably more important, since these types of wrecks are more likely to cause serious injuries and/or fatalities.

Continue reading "City Council Deliberates About Two Bills Impacting Springfield's Red Light Camera Program" »

City Council Considers the Fate of the Red Light Camera Program in Springfield, Missouri: Do Cameras Reduce Accidents?

January 24, 2012

1154152_traffic_lights.jpgHere in Springfield, our Missouri car accident attorneys have noticed that local residents have strong opinions about red light cameras. Currently, there are "Automated Red-Light Enforcement Devices" at 13 of Springfield's busiest intersections, but none of those cameras have been operational since early 2010. The city suspended the red light camera program immediately following a Missouri Supreme Court decision, and now a city councilman wants voters to decide whether or not to continue with the program.

Red light cameras were installed at certain Springfield intersections in June of 2007. The cameras are designed to photograph any vehicle that passes through an intersection while the light is red: the system also records the date, the time of day, the amount of time elapsed since the light turned red, and the vehicle's license plate number. The photographic evidence is then reviewed by city police officers, and tickets are sent to offenders by mail.

To learn more about red light cameras, courtesy of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), click here. To see where our city's cameras are located, via the Springfield Police, click here.

However, in March 2010, the Missouri Supreme Court dismissed a $100 fine imposed on Adolph Belt Jr., a former state trooper. The court found that the city was violating state law by using administrative hearings to process red light camera violations: instead, the court ruled, Springfield would have to deal with those tickets in municipal and circuit courts, which require traditional standards of proof, and allow offenders the right to appeal.

In response to the decision, the city immediately turned off the cameras and announced that all outstanding tickets would be dismissed. The chief problem is this: the existing camera system only photographs vehicles, not the people inside, making it impossible to prove who was driving. So instead, Springfield ordinance was written so that a vehicle's owner was held accountable if that vehicle committed a red light violation. But the Missouri Supreme Court's decision put a stop to that practice, so the current system can no longer be used. To continue the program, the city would need to upgrade to cameras that can photograph the faces of individual drivers. And now, Councilman Tommy Bieker is sponsoring a new ordinance that would allow Springfield voters to decide this very issue.

Continue reading "City Council Considers the Fate of the Red Light Camera Program in Springfield, Missouri: Do Cameras Reduce Accidents?" »