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Personal Injury Risks of Riding in a LimousineTwenty people died as a result of a recent stretch limousine accident in New York, highlighting the potential dangers of these vehicles. Renting a limousine seems like a practical and responsible action for a large group of people going out for an evening of fun that may involve alcohol. In the case of the New York accident, 17 friends were heading for a birthday party at a brewery. Stretch limousines do not follow the same safety regulations as normal vehicles. As a result, passengers can be at greater risk of suffering injuries during a crash.

Design

Major car manufacturers do not produce the stretch limousines that you see on the road. Limousines are normal vehicles that have been extended by cutting the vehicle in half and adding a longer middle section. The smaller company that made the limousine may have removed some of the safety features that the vehicle needed to pass federal safety standards, such as:

  • Side-impact airbags;
  • Reinforced rollover bars; and
  • Easily accessible exits.

There are no federal safety standards when a vehicle is modified into a limousine. Illinois requires modified vehicles to be inspected every six months but puts no limit on how large a modified limousine can be.

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Safety Features Could Reduce Crashes with Large TrucksFrom 2005 to 2009, the number of driving fatalities from accidents with large trucks precipitously dropped from 5,049 to 3,147 people, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Since then, the fatalities have increased to 3,986 people in 2016, and the number of truck-related accidents has also increased. Safety experts often blame distracted driving for increases in accident rates. Drivers of both trucks and smaller vehicles may be paying too much attention to electronic devices in their vehicles. Other safety advocates believe mandatory safety standards for all trucks in the U.S. could decrease the number of fatalities and serious injuries.

Safety Devices and Rules

Some trucking companies have voluntarily installed equipment on their vehicles that safety studies have concluded reduce the number and severity of crashes. Safety advocates, such as the Truck Safety Coalition, focus on three devices that they believe federal regulators should make mandatory for all trucks:

  1. Automatic Emergency Braking: An automatic braking system could prevent trucks from rear-ending vehicles. Truck drivers need to respond quickly when braking because the size of the vehicle makes it take longer to stop.
  2. Front and Side Underride Guards: Smaller vehicles can suffer severe damage if they slide underneath a truck during an accident. The U.S. already requires rear underride guards on trucks, but guards on the front and sides could protect drivers from more angles.
  3. Speed Limiters: A speed limiter prevents a truck from exceeding a certain speed, making it slightly less dangerous in the event of an accident. Advocates would like the device to cap trucks’ maximum speed to 60 miles per hour.

Safety advocates also oppose any legislation that would increase the maximum allowed size of large trucks. Bigger and longer trucks would take even more time stop and would have larger blind spots. A heavier truck crashing into a vehicle would cause a more severe impact and injuries.

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Sun Glare Does Not Waive Vehicle Accident LiabilitySun glare can be just as dangerous of a vision hazard while driving as heavy rain or fog. National traffic crash studies estimate that sun glare causes a couple hundred accidents each year, but the number may not represent all of the sun-related crashes because police reports often cite other factors as the cause. Sun glare can temporarily blind you to obstacles in the road and is most prevalent at dawn and dusk during the spring and fall months. Drivers cannot use sun glare blindness as a defense against liability for a traffic crash that they caused.

Preventing Glare

You are expected to take necessary safety precautions against being blinded by sun glare or causing an accident if you are blinded. Unlike with severe weather, sun glare is not legally an “Act of God” that makes you unable to control your driving. There are several ways you can protect yourself and other drivers:

  1. Wear Polarized Sunglasses: Completely polarized sunglasses should eliminate the glare on your eyes, though you may still not have optimal vision.
  2. Clear Off Your Dashboard: Reflective objects on your dashboard can shine the sunlight onto your windshield and into your eyes.
  3. Use Additional Sun Visors: The standard sun visors in a vehicle may not deflect the sun from all angles. Installing additional sun visors can cover the gaps.
  4. Clean Your Windshield: Streaks and marks on your windshield can make the glare worse and reduce your visibility further.
  5. Change Your Driving Route: The sun will always rise from the east in the morning and set in the west during the evening. You can try to avoid driving in a direction that makes you face the sun.
  6. Drive at a Different Time: You can adjust your driving schedule so you are not traveling during the morning and evening hours when the sun glare is at its worst.

If the sun glare is blinding you, you should reduce your driving speed or pull over and stop. You cannot expect your visibility to suddenly improve.

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Which Factors Correlate with More Pedestrian Fatalities?Pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. increased between 2007 and 2016 and became a larger percentage of the overall number of vehicle-related fatalities, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There were 5,987 pedestrian deaths in 2016, which accounted for 16 percent of the total fatalities. The statistics do not include the number of pedestrian injuries, which may also be increasing. Studying the subcategories of pedestrian fatality statistics uncovers interesting correlations. Pedestrian fatality rates were higher, depending on when they happened and who was involved.

Time of Day and Season

Three-quarters of pedestrian fatalities occurred while it was dark, which is not surprising. Nighttime drivers deal with decreased visibility and are more likely to be impaired. Fatalities were most frequent between 6 p.m. and midnight, which is the time of night when the most people are active. The time of year seems to determine at which point during that 6 p.m. to midnight time period that fatalities are more likely to occur:

  • During the fall and winter months, more fatalities occurred between 6 and 8:59 p.m. than between 9 p.m and midnight; and
  • During the spring and summer months, more fatalities occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight than between 6 and 8:59 p.m.

These statistics make sense because of the extended daylight hours during the spring and summer. Pedestrians are also less likely to be out at night when the weather is cold.

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Determining Injury Liability at Amusement ParksAmusement parks and carnivals can be full of excitement for attendees but also rife with dangers. Accidents that occur on the large rides can cause serious and deadly injuries. There is also a possibility of injury at smaller attractions, where attendees can slip or bump into objects. Amusement park injuries often fall under the premises liability section of personal injury law. Illinois law requires ride operators to have liability insurance in case of injuries. Identifying which party is liable for your injuries depends on the cause of the accident.

Owners and Operators

The people who own and run an amusement venue are often most directly liable for any injuries that occur on their premises. Examples of negligence include:

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