Archive for July, 2011

Unsafe Rental Car Accidents Can Ruin Summer Vacation Plans

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

There are many arrangements to be made when planning for vacation from making airline and hotel reservations to reserving a rental car. There are also a great number of variables that can go wrong. One issue that few people worry about is whether their rental car is safe. A significant number of summer travelers may end up renting cars that are subject to recall and have not had the repairs done. It may be surprising, but there are no current laws or regulations that require rental car companies to fix recalled vehicles before leasing them out to the next customer.

New legislation called the Safe Rental Car Act is being proposed by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to address a number of recent crashes involving rental vehicles with recall issues that were not repaired prior to providing the vehicle to the consumer as a rental. A notable example that received national attention involved a case in California. Two sisters were killed when they rented a PT Cruiser that they rented erupted in flames causing the car to collide with a tractor-trailer. The PT Cruiser had been recalled because of the possibility of a leak in the power steering fluid that could cause the vehicle to catch on fire. The sister’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Enterprise and recovered an award of $15 million.

The problem stems from what has been characterized as a “loophole” that permits rental car agencies to send vehicles out on the road that could not be sold by car dealerships. Rental car agencies repair vehicles subject to recall a mere 33 percent of the time within a month of the recall according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It is even more alarming is that only half of all rental cars subject to recall are repaired even a year later. Data from General Motors regarding the number of rental cars fixed within three months of a recall reveals that although Enterprise was involved in the $15 million product liability verdict, it is not the worst offender:

• Enterprise repairs not fixed within 3 months of recall: 35 percent
• Hertz repairs not fixed within 3 months of recall: 66 percent
• Budget/Avis repair not fixed within 3 months of recall: 47 percent

The bottom line is that it is estimated that tens of thousands of defective rental cars subject to recall are currently on the roadways. While the proposed legislation is a step in the right direction for those who live and vacation in New York, it does little to help us here in Mississippi. Admittedly, some defects subject to recall do not pose significant safety hazards, but the law is now silent on ALL rental car defects.

When a car rental company rents a car to an unsuspecting traveler without repairing a defect that makes the vehicle unsafe and fails to disclose the defect and potential risks to the consumer, the rental car company should be held accountable. Defects like the one in the fatal PT Cruiser rental car accident lawsuit needlessly puts unsuspecting consumers at risk. Anyone renting a car should ask if the vehicle they are renting has been recalled and whether the defect has been repaired. If you or someone you love has been injured or you have lost a loved one in a Mississippi car accident involving a rental car, the Mississippi car accident attorneys at Barrett Law Offices can advise you on your rights to seek compensation. We offer a free initial no obligation case evaluation so call us today at (662) 834-2376.

Drunk Driving in Mississippi: Ignition Interlock Devices Can Save Lives

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Many states including Mississippi use a combination of strategies to reduce the risk of serious injuries and fatalities caused by drunk drivers. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that millions of people drive under the influence of alcohol annually. Drunk driving claims the lives of approximately 300 people annually in Mississippi with thousands more suffering serious injury.

The issues of preventing repeat DUI offenders is critical because most DUI accidents that result in serious injury or fatalities do not involve first time DUI offenders or those that are very occasional social drinkers. A few statistics regarding the rate of repeat DUI offenses make the problem clear:

• One-third of all DUI convictions involves repeat offenders.
• A drunk driver typically drives drunk 87 times before being arrested.
• Repeat DUI offenders are four times more likely to be involved in an accident with high BAC.
• Drunk drivers that are repeat offender are 1.4 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than a first time offender.

While the statistics regarding DUI repeat offenders is disturbing, this data suggest that the best way to address the problem of drunk driving accidents resulting in fatalities and catastrophic injuries is to discourage repeat offenders. DUI policy should be developed to keep drivers with a history of DWI from offending again and support high visibility enforcement of impaired driving laws.

The reality is that those who are repeat DUI offenders pose a substantial risk of causing fatal DUI accidents. It is far too easy to dismiss the risk of being involved in a DUI related accident as a theoretical problem that is unlikely to touch one personally, but one in three persons will be involved in a drunk driving accident during their lifetime.

One of the most effective methods of preventing drunk drivers from re-offending is use of ignition interlock systems. An ignition interlock device is a mechanism, like a breathalyzer, installed on a vehicle dashboard. A driver must exhale into the device before the engine of the vehicle can be started. If the breath sample has a blood alcohol concentration of above a specified amount, usually .02 to .04 percent, the engine cannot be started. The device will also require a periodic breath sample while the driver is traveling. If the sample is not provided in time or the sample exceeds the limit, the device will record the event and set off an alarm until the vehicle engine is turned off.

Ignition interlock devices have been found to be more effective then prison, fines, license suspension and other methods of preventing drunk driving. Statistics indicate that ignition interlock devices reduce the risk of repeat offenses by those convicted of DUI by 67 percent. Drivers with ignition interlocks are involved in fewer alcohol-related accidents than drivers whose driver’s license is suspended following a DUI conviction. Some studies indicate that almost 40 percent of all drivers continue driving after their license is suspended for DUI.

While ignition interlock devices have helped reduce the number of drunk driving fatalities, many Mississippi residents are still injured and killed in accidents with drunk drivers each year. At the Barrett Law Office, our experienced Mississippi drunk driving accident attorneys, represent drunken driving victims and their families throughout Mississippi. Our experienced Mississippi DUI accident attorneys offer a free initial case evaluation so call us today at (662) 834-2376 so that we can fight for the compensation that you deserve.

Drowsy Driving Poses Serious Danger of Mississippi Auto Accident Fatalities

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Most drivers have had the scary experience of briefly dozing off behind the wheel only to awake in a panic as one’s vehicle drifts off the shoulder of the road. Studies show that the average motorist is getting fewer hours of sleep each night. Driver fatigue is a leading cause of serious Mississippi auto accidents resulting in life-altering injuries and wrongful death. Sixty percent of drivers in the U.S. admit to driving while drowsy and 37 percent have fallen asleep while driving. There are few driving practices more dangerous than following asleep for a three-second micro nap traveling at freeways speeds. While dozing for that short period at 65 miles per hour, a vehicle will travel the length of a football field before you realize that you dozed off.

Drowsy driving is as great a risk of causing serious auto accident as drunk driving including AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving causes as many as 100,000 accidents annually and results in forty thousand injuries and in excess of 1,500 fatalities. While drowsy or fatigued driving in Mississippi presents a danger similar to drunk driving, the practice of drowsy driving is not viewed with the same public condemnation.

Fortunately, a growing number of technologies are being developed to prevent drowsy driving or fatigue based accidents. One common form of technology that is being used by several car manufacturers to reduce the risk of fatigue related accidents is lane avoidance systems. Although there are multiple versions of these auto accident avoidance systems, generally they sound an alarm if a driver appears to be drifting into another lane. There are even accident avoidance systems that provide a more customized approach based on a driver profile including sleeping patterns, length of trip, medications and other data that impacts the tendency of a driver to be involved in a fatigue based auto accident in Mississippi.

There are a number of strategies that can be used to avoid drowsy driving including:

• A driver should travel at times that are consistent with one’s normal waking hours
• You should get a minimum of six hours of sleep at night before taking a trip
• If you are feeling tired, pull over and take a nap.
• You should schedule regular breaks every couple of hours on the road.

Even when a driver does not fall asleep, fatigue can adversely affect one’s driving ability by causing blurred vision, impaired concentration, slowed reflexes and poor judgment or decision making. Mississippi drowsy driving car accidents are especially tragic because they are entirely avoidable. At the Barrett Law Office, we have deep roots in Mississippi. We have been fighting for the rights of auto accident victims throughout Mississippi for over 75 years. Our experienced Mississippi auto accident attorneys offer a free case evaluation so contact us today at (662) 834-2376.