Driving Tips

Tips for Driving in the Seattle Rain

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With the rainy season upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to post my tips for driving safe in the rain. Seattle has some of the worst traffic in the nation. Couple that with lots of rain and you get a recipe for unsafe driving conditions and car accidents.

  1. Drive with your head lights on – many cars come with all day running lights so this is not as big of a thing as it used to be. It can be hard to see in heavy rains and if you don’t have your headlights on, someone might try to merge into your lane right in front of you and cause a car accident.
  2. Look out for large pooling water and drive slow through them – we all know certain locations where rain collects and pools. Drive slow through these areas and keep an eye out for other areas where water collects like near sidewalks and dips in the road. Hitting large pools of water at a fast speed can cause your car to lose traction (hydroplane) and cause a car accident.
  3. Give extra room for cars behind you when you are coming to a stop – this seems weird but slowing down and easing into your stop by periodically showing your brake lights will make it so the car behind you has adequate time to see that you are about to stop. This can help you avoid someone hitting you from behind and causing a car accident.
  4. Take corners slower than normal – turning around a corner in the rain can cause your car to spin out. Taking a corner fast in the rain can cause loss of traction as the momentum of the car and slick water underneath pushes your car in the direction of the turn.
  5. Stay away from cars that are driving fast and anticipate their moves – cars that are driving erratically are hazardous to you, stay away from them. They are more likely to lose control and not see you when switching between lanes.

Stay safe in the rain and look out for others as you drive.

Andrew CherinTips for Driving in the Seattle Rain
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Most Common Causes of Distracted Driving Car Accidents

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What is the number one cause of distracted driving car accident deaths? A Pennsylvania Insurance Company did a study in 2013 about the most common cause of distracted driving the past two years leading to car accident deaths, posted in the Insurance Journal in 2013.

The study showed that contrary to popular belief, daydreaming was the number one cause of distraction for drivers involved in fatal car accidents from 2010-2011. I think this would probably also include sleeping or falling asleep at the wheel – too tired. This is probably more common because it has to do with the trucking industry, where truckers have to drive a long time and have mandatory breaks while driving requiring them to sleep or rest.

  1. 62% – Day Dreaming or Lost in Thought 
  2. 12% – Cell Phone Usage
  3. 7% – Outside Person or Event
  4. 5% – Other Occupants in Car
  5. 2% – Using A Navigational Device or Headphones
  6. 2% – Eating or Drinking
  7. 2% – Adjusting Audio or Climate Controls
  8. 1% – Adjusting Mirrors or Seats
  9. 1% – Pets or Insects in Car
  10. 1% – Smoking Cigarettes 

The study was based largely on the police officer’s judgment at the time of the crash and could be underrepresented of the true numbers because most people will be unwilling to say they were distracted at the time of a car accident especially in one where the other driver dies. The use of cellphone related car accidents is probably higher given the negative response around texting and driving some people may be hiding the fact they were using their phone.

This is just a reminder of the many distractions in your car that could be taking your attention from driving carefully to keep you and other drivers around you safe. One second of distractions could be the difference between you seeing a stop sign, a person crossing the street, a car stopped in front of you, or a car merging into your lane.

Here are some tips you can use to drive safe and avoid car accidents:

  • Make sure other drivers around you see you – don’t drive in their blind spots.
  • Anticipate cars merging into your lane to give them room.
  • Keep your pets in the back seat.
  • Set your music up on your phone’s playlist before you start driving.
  • Keep your eyes on the road.
  • Explain to your children the dangers of driving and the reason you need absolute quite while driving.
Andrew CherinMost Common Causes of Distracted Driving Car Accidents
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Can you wear headphones with a chord connected to your phone while driving?

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We have all seen the person driving while wearing earbuds with a physical chord attached to their phone. Have you ever wondered if that was illegal? Does this qualify under the new handsfree requirement law for driving and using your phone in Seattle? No, it is illegal. You can only wear headphones that are approved as hands free headphones for the new driving law. These are paired with your phone via bluetooth.

What is somewhat misleading is the fact that you can wear blue tooth enabled headphones and listen to your iphone podcast or music but you cannot wear chorded headphones even though they both function basically the same. I guess the reasoning behind this is that the chord could cause a driving hazard, which could cause a car accident.

Looking further, the listening device must only cover one ear according to WAC 204-10-045

If you are caught wearing headphones with chords, you will most likely be pulled over and fined $124.

RCW 46.37.480

(2) No person shall operate any motor vehicle on a public highway while wearing any headset or earphones connected to any electronic device capable of receiving a radio broadcast or playing a sound recording for the purpose of transmitting a sound to the human auditory senses and which headset or earphones muffle or exclude other sounds. This subsection does not apply to students and instructors participating in a Washington state motorcycle safety program.

(3) This section does not apply to authorized emergency vehicles, motorcyclists wearing a helmet with built-in headsets or earphones as approved by the Washington state patrol, or motorists using hands-free, wireless communications systems, as approved by the equipment section of the Washington state patrol.
Andrew CherinCan you wear headphones with a chord connected to your phone while driving?
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How far is too far in a left turn lane?

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How far can I go in a left turn lane that is in the center dividing two lanes of traffic in each direction for the purpose of turning left before it is illegal? We have all seen them around. We have all wondered how far can I travel in them to overtake traffic.

How far can you go in a turn lane to make a turn? If you are planning on taking a left turn into a business in a turn lane, you cannot use this lane unless the business you are turning into is less than 300 feet away or about the length of a football field. This is not very far.

Can I travel in a turn lane to overtake traffic? No, you cannot enter a turn lane in order to overtake or pass other cars going in the same direction. Turn lanes depicted like this are for left turns only.

What happens if you cause a car accident while driving in a turn lane too far? If you are in a turn lane for more than 300 feet or your destination from when you entered the turn lane was more than 300 feet away, you are potentially at fault for a car accident that you cause. However, the other vehicles around you must have also acted reasonably in their assumption that there is no traffic in the center lane and they took precautions to enter the turn lane safely.

Therefore, if you want to get into a left turn lane to take a left, you should make sure that where you want to take a left turn at is less than 300 feet away. 300 feet away is about 6 seconds of travel for a car going 35 mph, about 5 seconds for a car traveling 40mph, and about 4 seconds for a car traveling 45 to 50mph.

The law-

RCW 46.61.290(3)(c) Upon a roadway where a center lane has been provided by distinctive pavement markings for the use of vehicles turning left from either direction, no vehicles may turn left from any other lane. A vehicle shall not be driven in this center lane for the purpose of overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. No vehicle may travel further than three hundred feet within the lane. A signal, either electric or manual, for indicating a left turn movement, shall be made at least one hundred feet before the actual left turn movement is made.

 

Andrew CherinHow far is too far in a left turn lane?
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70% of Motorcycle Accidents Occur Where?!

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Riding a motorcycle is fun to do in the summer time. The wind in your face, the feel of the open road, the freedom to go wherever you please, it doesn’t get much better than that. Everyone knows the inherent risks of riding a motorcycle, but the benefits often outweigh the risks. The thrill of the ride.

Motorcycles are dangerous because of their vulnerability to crashing and high likelihood of severe injuries suffered by the rider if there is a crash. Motorcyclists are only protected by the protective clothes they wear like leather coats, jackets, vests, and pants – of course the helmet as well. Any time a rider is struck by a car, there is a high likelihood of hitting the pavement and even being run over by other cars.

Motorcycles are often hit by cars because people in cars do not see them. However, when I think of not being able to see a motorcycle, I think of not seeing them on the freeway when someone merges and doesn’t see them. However, would you be surprised to hear that 70% of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections?! I was when I saw this. The reason behind this was that drivers were not likely to see the motorcycle when they were turning across the intersection into the motorcycle because they were looking for a car, much larger object.

Along with this statistic, it would not be surprising then to know that nearly 2/3 of motorcycle accidents are the fault of the car driver and not the motorcycle rider. Not being able to see someone riding a motorcycle is not an excuse, as you would imagine.

What can you do to prevent being hit by a car if you are on a motorcycle to avoid an accident?

  1. Wear bright colors – if a car cannot see you, they will pull out in front of you or merge into you. Bright colors on your helmet, bike, jacket, legs, etc. are not just for style but are for safety as well.
  2. Avoid driving in bling spots – driving a motorcycle is all about avoiding risks. Riding next to a car is a huge risk. Try to be up in front of a car or a ways behind it so you don’t get hit by it.
  3. Don’t drive near parked cars – if you see parked cars, assume someone is going to open their door and give yourself some space. If a car door opens in front of you, you are in trouble because it will knock you off your bike and you won’t have time to react in most cases.
  4. Drive defensively – When approaching intersections, drive slow so that people can see you and you have time to react or accelerate if need be. You should assume no one sees you and everyone is an obstacle that could take you down. Make sure you have an eye on the car that wants to turn at the intersection in front of you, they may not see you and start their turn. You need to be prepared to take evasive action and at a high speed, you are most likely going to drop your bike and hit the pavement. Driving slow gives you the option to speed up or go a different direction if need be to avoid a collision.
  5. Avoid driving at night and in inclimate weather – Night time and heavy rain or snow is not a good time to ride a bike. If it is already tough to see you in the day time, how much easier do you think it will be to see you at night or in a rain storm? Everything should be done to give you the best ability to be seen and be safe on the road.

If you are injured in a Seattle motorcycle accident, call today for a free consultation. We are paid out of the settlement and not hourly so everyone can afford a Seattle personal injury lawyer but you cannot afford not to hire one.

Andrew Cherin70% of Motorcycle Accidents Occur Where?!
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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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