Drowsy Driving: A Dangerous and Common Road Behavior

Though drunk driving and distracted driving are the most publicized dangerous road behaviors, a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is highlighting another all too common issue on the road: drowsy driving.

The results of this study were released last Thursday and offered this nightmare of a statistic: 1 in 24 adults in the US admitted to nodding off or falling asleep while driving in the last month. That translates to approximately 4 percent of drivers in our country driving while drowsy.

Furthermore, the health officials who administered this particular test expect the number of drowsy drivers to be higher than reported. They believe that is because many people don't realize when they drift off for a few seconds behind the wheel.

Additional findings from this report, which surveyed nearly 150,000 drivers in 19 states, concluded that driving while sleepy was more common in people ages 25-34, for those who averaged less than six hours of sleep per night, as well as men. The CDC researchers who are experts in this field were not surprised by the results because they believe that many people are getting insufficient sleep. 

Warning signs of drowsy driving include: yawning frequently, feeling exceptionally sleepy or fatigued, not remembering the last mile or two driven, missing an exit or turn or drifting onto rumble strips on the side of the road. All of these behaviors signal that a driver should get off the road immediately and take a rest.

In order to prevent drowsy driving, health officials recommend getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, treating sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia, closely checking medication labels to check for side effects of sleepiness and avoiding the consumption of alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel.

For more information on the dangers of drowsy driving, warning signs and prevention tips, please visit: http://drowsydriving.org/ and remember to get plenty of Zzzz's so that you are able to stay safe, alert and awake on the road.

Carmakers Encouraged To Implement Safer Navigation Systems

A recent article in the New York Times highlighed the potential dangers of dashboard entertainment and navigation systems and their potential to distract drivers.

The federal traffic agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is strongly encouraging carmakers to consider designing and implementing navigation systems in a safer manner. The NHTSA has suggested a list of voluntary guidlines in order to help manufacturers develop and adhere to safer standards. 

The article mentions that even though many dashboard navigation and entertainment units are voice-activated, they still do require a bit of hands-on use, thus posing potential safety risks.

While the aforementioned proposed guidelines are not mandatory and will not eradicate all distracted driving, the NHTSA is taking a step in the right direction and their efforts have been recognized and praised by other federal agencies such as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month Helps Decrease Motorcycle Accidents In Maine

Be it on our state’s rural back roads or the open lanes of I-95, motorcycles are back in action. The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein would like to remind Maine bikers about the importance of safe riding.  

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a national initiative aimed at getting drivers and motorcyclists to coexist on the road. Typically, May is one of the deadliest months for bikers, as many begin riding again after taking the winter months off.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the two key factors in motorcycle accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities are:

  • Age - As bikers get older, their reaction time starts to diminish. Nearly half of all motorcycle accidents involve a rider over the age of 40.
  • Helmets - A recent study found that motorcyclists are 37 percent less likely to die in an accident when wearing a helmet, yet only 20 states have mandatory helmet laws. Maine bikers are urged to carefully consider wearing a helmet when they ride.

At the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, we see firsthand the effects of tragic motorcycle accidents and would like to remind bikers of some critical safety tips to keep in mind this season:

  • Look out for each other: Motorcylists - use caution when riding as your bikes are small and often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. Motorists - be sure to do a visual check for motorcyclists by looking in mirrors when entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
  • Stay away: Maintain proper distance from other motorists as bikers are affected by minor elements that may not phase a motorist, including: potholes, gravel, wet and slippery surfaces, grooved paving and railroad crossings.
  • Observe the conditions outside: Avoid riding your bike in inclement weather
  • Be obedient: Always follow the general safety rules of the road and use hand and turn signals together to draw more attention to yourself when turning.
  • Protect yourself: Wear proper safety gear and carefully consider wearing a Department of Transportation compliant helmet. The right safety gear can help save lives.

Enjoy the open road, Mainers! Just remember to be safe while doing so.

For more information on Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, please visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s website: http://online2.msf-usa.org/msf/Default.aspx

Joe Says:  "Ride Safe, Ride Smart, Ride Often."

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein - Maine Lawyers Working For Maine People.

Rick, Facilities Manager at the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein.

Car Accidents In Rural Areas On The Rise

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorists in rural areas are more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents than those in urban areas.

Despite more motor vehicle accidents occurring in congested areas, and only 20 percent of the population living in rural areas, 60 percent of traffic fatalities happen on rural roads. One major factor for the high percentage of traffic fatalities is the amount of miles driven. Because homes, schools, businesses, and neighboring towns are spread out, more time is spent behind the wheel. With greater distances to travel, more often than not speed limits are higher, leading to more serious accidents. Typically, there is no public transportation in rural areas.

Another major factor for traffic accident fatalities on rural roads is the lack of seatbelt usage. In 2008, half of the accident victims were not wearing a seatbelt. And, in the event that there is an accident, the time it takes for emergency services to reach an accident scene and transport those in need to a hospital is increased. In rural areas, the average time is nearly twice that of more populated areas.

Other contributing factors to the high percentage of traffic accident deaths in rural areas are that roads are often less maintained and that there are more incidents of drinking and driving. And while redesigning rural roads to make them safer may be cost-prohibitive, some states are retrofitting roadways with rumble strips, grooves, or raised patterns to alert drivers.

As winter approaches, and with it inclement weather, Mainers must be more cautious when driving. Though some locals may say tourist season, winter is the worst time for driving in Maine. Accidents occur daily, and far too often, fatally. Overall, Maine ranked fourth in the U.S. in fatal traffic accidents in rural areas. According to NHTSA statistics, out of the 155 fatal driving accidents in Maine last year, 90 percent occurred on rural roads.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of someone else, call the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein today for a free and confidential consultation. In over 35 years of practice, we have represented thousands of Mainers who have been injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents. With a statewide practice and five conveniently located offices, the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein is proud to represent Mainers from the busy streets of Portland to the greener pastures of Aroostook County.

And the next time you’re out on the rural roads, be alert, be careful, and be safe. It just may save your life.

The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein – Maine Lawyers Helping Maine People

May Means Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a national initiative aimed at getting drivers and motorcyclists to “Share the Road.” Typically, May is one of the deadliest months for bikers, as many begin riding again after taking the winter months off.

2007 marked the tenth consecutive year that motorcycle fatalities increased in the U.S. With over 5,000 fatalities and 100,000 injured bikers in the year alone, motorcycle safety has become a national health concern. Overall, motorcycles accounted for 13 percent of total traffic fatalities in 2007, while totaling fewer than 3 percent of the registered vehicles on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed the model “Share the Road” to help educate both bikers and motorists on motorcycle safety. This model includes materials such as operator licensing manuals, public service announcements, brochures, pamphlets, posters, and websites. The NHTSA notes that two contributing factors that add to the uptick in motorcycle fatalities are:

  • Age – As more and more bikers get older, their reaction time begins to diminish. In 1997, 32 percent of motorcycle fatalities involved those over the age of forty. Ten years later that number rose to 47 percent.
  • Helmets – A recent study found that motorcyclists are 37 percent less likely to die in an accident when wearing a helmet, yet only 20 states require bikers to wear one. Bikers should consider wearing a helmet when they ride.

At the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein we see firsthand the results of serious motorcycle accidents and would like to share some important motorcycle safety tips to help make your next ride a safe ride:

  • Motorcycles are small and often difficult for drivers to see. Use caution when riding as it can be difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle.
  • Always be careful of being in the blind spot of automobiles.
  • Maintain proper distance from other motorists on the road, as bikers are often affected by minor elements that may not phase a motorist, including pot holes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, grooved paving, and railroad crossings.
  • Avoid riding in bad weather.
  • Wear protective gear and consider wearing a Department of Transportation compliant helmet. Proper safety gear can help save lives.
  • Use hand and turn signals together to draw more attention to yourself when turning.
  • Position yourself in a lane where you will be most visible to other drivers. Never weave in and out of traffic.
  • Obey the general safety rules of the road.

By taking the necessary measures to ride safe, such as considering wearing a helmet and other protective gear, riding sober, and taking motorcycle training classes, bikers will help ensure their own safety. And after all, a safe ride is always a fun ride.

For more information on Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month please visit: www.msf-usa.org.

And remember: Enjoy the open roads Mainers! Just be safe while doing so.

“To be a motorcycle rider is to take on an extra sense of responsibility on the roads.”
- Maine Governor Jon Baldacci