Driving Tips

Seattle Solar Eclipse and Car Accidents

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August 21, 2017 marks the first solar eclipse to hit Seattle since February 26, 1979 when the total solar eclipse was nearly total 99.6% totality. This year Seattle will have a 92-93% totality but if you head down to Salem, OR you can see 100% totality, just 3 and a half hours south of Seattle.

This years solar eclipse will start around 9:08 a.m. and maximize at 10:20 a.m., where 92-93% of the sun will be blocked by the moon in Seattle. The partial solar eclipse will last until about 11:38 a.m. This means that most people will be at work on Monday when the eclipse starts. However, if you are on the road, traffic may be dangerous as people slow to look at the sun.

There are a couple of distractions that could cause drivers to get into a car accident in Seattle including taking a picture while driving, looking into the sun which causes temporary blindness, and being distracted by looking at the sun and not looking at suddenly stopped traffic ahead.

Distracted driving is already one of the largest causes of car accidents on the road today. With it being the summer time, many teenage drivers will not be at school but could be on the road trying to snap a picture of the solar eclipse. This is creating another distraction among the many we already deal with. Many drivers will be tempted to get a picture of the eclipse with many picturesque freeways and roads giving perfect picture opportunities but with a huge risk of hitting someone in front of them or others.

If you can avoid it, try to stay off the road during times of the eclipse as some drivers may be tempted to look at the sun and become temporarily blinded as they mistakenly think they can look at the eclipse for a couple seconds. Such temporary blindness may cause them to rear end someone in front of them or swerve over into oncoming traffic. Please do not look at the sun while you are driving.

Some drivers may believe their sun glasses will do enough to protect them from the sun but they would be mistaken. Most sunglasses do not offer enough protection to look at the solar eclipse.

Here are a few ideas for looking at the solar eclipse from the ground and not in your car: you can buy a pair of welders’ glasses, a self made pin hole projector that you can make at home, special solar eclipse glasses you can buy on Amazon or at a local store, or through your iphone or smart phone. You can use your iphone by shielding your eyes with the phone or looking over your shoulder in selfie mode with your camera function on.

Looking at the solar eclipse and being distracted is not an excuse in a car accident. If you have been injured in a car accident in Seattle by someone looking at the solar eclipse, please call me for a free consultation. Everyone can afford a lawyer, as we are paid out of the settlement, but you cannot afford not to hire a lawyer.

Andrew CherinSeattle Solar Eclipse and Car Accidents
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Left lane for passing only law crackdown

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We have all seen all over the news recently about Seattle and Washington State’s crackdown of left lane drivers/campers by Washington State Patrol. The Washington State Patrol will be doing a focused effort June 20-22 to crack down on left lane campers. We all like that police are cracking down on drivers in the left lane driving too slow, but what does the law actually say?

Many news media are reporting that the left lane is only to be driven in when passing someone or for emergency lane use only. Is this right, or is it to only stop people that are driving slow in the left lane and what is slow? Does slow mean driving under the speed limit? Is the left lane only for people driving over the speed limit then? Let’s examine the law to figure out what it actually says and means.

The Washington State Patrol released a statement that has been interpreted by news media far differently but here is what it actually says:

RCW 46.61.100 requires all vehicles to keep right except when passing on multiple lane roadways. Left lane “campers” are drivers who remain in the passing lane (left lane) for long periods of time without passing.

The WSP targets left lane violators to educate them on the consequences of “camping” in the left lane. Left lane camping can lead to road rage, aggressive driving, traffic congestion, and collisions. If you’re caught camping in the left lane it could result in a $136 ticket.

RCW 46.61.100 – Keep Right Except When Passing, etc.
(2) Upon all roadways having two or more lanes for traffic moving in the same direction, all vehicles shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, except (a) when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, (b) when traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow, (c) when moving left to allow traffic to merge, or (d) when preparing for a left turn at an intersection, exit, or into a private road or driveway when such left turn is legally permitted. On any such roadway, a vehicle or combination over ten thousand pounds shall be driven only in the right-hand lane except under the conditions enumerated in (a) through (d) of this subsection.
(4) It is a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway when it impedes the flow of other traffic.

What does it mean? These are the two relevant passages of the law that figure into when someone can drive in the left hand lane and when they must not drive in the left lane. Basically, the law is saying that you must drive in the right hand lane when it is open. Does this mean the far right lane or does this include the center lane?

If this is taken from the context of what is written it appears to be saying on a three lane road that all traffic is to drive in the far right lane. Then if someone is driving faster than a person in the far lane, they may drive in the center lane. If someone is driving faster than traffic in the center lane, they may drive in the far left lane. However, once each person has overtaken the other driver, they must move to the right lane again unless someone is driving slower than them in this lane.

When do people get in trouble then by the police? RCW 46.61.100(4), however, states that it is only a traffic infraction when someone is driving in the left lane when it impedes traffic behind them. Therefore, you can only get a ticket when you are blocking people behind you, it appears. Therefore, you can drive in the left lane or center lane when you are driving faster than the car on your right but you may get a ticket if there is someone behind you that wants to drive faster than you in the far left lane. You need to move over if someone is driving faster than you no matter if they are going over the speed limit.

Tricky Scenario? Basically the police have a decision to make at this point, do they want to target the speeder who is going over the speed limit in the far left lane or do they want to go after the person driving the speed limit who is technically passing someone in the middle lane who is going slower than them? The speeder could technically be right on the person in the far left lanes butt and then continue to go far over the speed limit but the police officer could pull over the person who is driving the speed limit and passing someone on the right because the law says they are impeding the flow of traffic behind them.

The left lane is the lane that people drive the fastest in and is the lane of traffic in which the most severe car accident happen in. This is because speed is the biggest contributor to determining how severe a car accident will be. However, most car accidents occur in the far right lane but those are less severe and are generally due to merging traffic going on and off the freeway. Seattle personal injury lawyers have seen these car accident scenarios far too often.

If you have been injured in a Seattle or Washington State car accident, please contact me ASAP before you lose your rights or give away your case for far less than you deserve.

 

Andrew CherinLeft lane for passing only law crackdown
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What is the safest lane to drive in?

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There are statistics for just about everything you can think of so I looked into what is the statistically safest lane to drive in based on number of car accidents and severity of car accidents. As a Seattle personal injury lawyer, I thought this knowledge would be useful to anyone that is driving to figure out how to avoid car accidents, as much as possible.

The study I found came from statistics from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. The safest lane to drive in based on number of car accidents is the far left lane, the fast lane.

The lane with the most accidents was the far right lane with 40% of the car accidents, second was the middle with about 38%, and third was the far left lane with 22% of car accidents. Driving in the far left lane you were nearly twice as unlikely to be in a car accident versus the far right lane.

The reasoning behind the statistics is that the far right lane has merging traffic, both people trying to exit the Freeway and enter the Freeway. Additionally, many semi trucks drive in the far right lane that can block view of aggressive drivers and take up a lot of space leaving less room for merging traffic.

However, the statistics also showed that people were much more likely to be involved in serious collisions in the far left lane than any other lane of traffic. The reasoning behind this is that in general traffic in the far left lane travels at a much higher speed than other lanes. High speed is attributable to greater injury cases versus lower speeds.

The general consensus based on this information is that there is generally no safe lane to drive in. In an essence you are left to pick your poison – do you want to drive in a lane that you are much more likely to be involved in a car accident or would you rather drive in a lane you are much more likely to be severely injured in?

Defensive driving is one of the best ways to prevent a car accident. Here are a few driving tips:

  1. Don’t drive late at night on the weekends if you can avoid it – there are lots of drunk drivers on the road at this time.
  2. Drive at a slow and safe speed – at the speed limit or just below.
  3. Pay attention to drivers around you – if they are swerving, driving fast, or driving erratic, stay away from them as much as possible and do not engage with them.
  4. Pay attention to the road and your mirrors as much as possible – don’t get distracted by mobile devices or loud passengers, just focus on the road.
  5. Don’t change lanes a lot to get ahead of traffic – many drivers swerve in and out of lane in order to be first in line or get to places faster but merging lanes cause more car accidents by not seeing other cars.
Andrew CherinWhat is the safest lane to drive in?
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