Driving Tips

Washington Ranked 5th Worst Driving State: Will light rail help?

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Washington State was ranked 5th worst state for driving in 2017 according to Quote Wizard. Quote wizard looked at accident rates between states to rank the drivers. No surprise on who was number one on this list, California. However, two through four on states with the most car accidents was a surprise – Minnesota, Utah, and South Carolina.

Accident rates as a whole have been going up across the country as more and more people are hitting the road with a booming economy again. Additionally, car accident related deaths are also on the rise according to the New York Times. Car accident related deaths rose a whopping 6 percent in 2016 compared to 2015. However, in Washington State, traffic related deaths fell 5% in 2016 from 2015 but rose 15% since 2014.

Why does Washington have so many car accidents, especially recently? The reason is almost certainly due to the influx in people coming to Washington State everyday for new jobs from Amazon, Facebook, Google, Starbucks, Microsoft, and more. In 2017, the Stranger posted an article stated that 1,000 people are moving to Seattle every week! More people on the road means more chances for car accidents.

More people on the road coupled with less room on the road, at least in the short term, equals more car accidents. However, it doesn’t seem like more room on the road is actually going to happen any time soon. Instead, Seattle and King county is focusing on actually decreasing the room on the road in favor of creating more room for mass transit systems like the light rail. King county just recently took down the express lanes on I-90 in favor of using those lanes instead for light rail.

Light rail so far has done nothing to decrease congestion on the roads and it probably won’t do anything to lessen traffic on the roads for a very long time. It’s not because the option is not there, it is more because people do not feel comfortable riding light rail and would rather have the ability to chose their own destiny and be on the road, no matter the cost. In fact, a light rail booster even said that light rail will do nothing to decrease traffic in King County.

Right now, it is faster to drive downtown than it is to drive to a park and ride and take two transfers on a bus to get to your destination. This could change but not for a very long time. Unless light rail gets giant park and rides in every neighborhood, I really don’t see how many people are going to be taking light rail versus driving in. Unless congestion gets to a point where it takes longer to drive than to drive to a light rail station and park your car by probably at least an hour, I don’t see it happening.

In fact, one study published in the Washington Post showed that light rail actually had no affect on traffic congestion. The study took place in London from the 90’s to 2000’s.

If you have been injured in a car accident, please contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer for a free consultation. Seattle personal injury lawyers are paid out of the settlement so everyone can afford a lawyer but you can’t afford not to have one against insurance companies.

 

Andrew CherinWashington Ranked 5th Worst Driving State: Will light rail help?
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Is it safer to drive with your doors locked versus not?

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There is a rumor out there that it is safer to drive with your doors unlocked versus locked. The reason for this rumor is that if your doors are unlocked you will be able to easily be able to get out of your car in case of a car accident. If your doors are locked, this says that your doors may not unlock and you will be more likely to be stuck in your car and unable to get help in case of a car accident.

I did a search of the internet to see if this rumor was true or not. I came to a blog by well know car experts Tom and Ray Magliozzi. They actually had done a show about this very question in 2011. In the show the caller had the very same question, is it safer to drive with your car unlocked in case of a car accident so paramedics can get you out or you can exit in case your car catches on fire.

In the 2011 article titled “how do locked doors help during a car accident”, Tom and Ray stated that it is actually more likely you would be injured in a car accident if you drive with your car doors unlocked. They stated the reason behind this was because the doors being locked actually creates a tighter seal on the car and better allows the car’s body to protect the people riding in the car. Additionally, by the car doors being locked, there is far less chance of the doors being loosened and being opened in case of a car accident.

If your car doors open in a car accident, you are more likely to fall out of the car, be hit by debris or other objects outside of the car, and the car’s stability rating on the outside is less able to absorb impacts.

Most new cars these days come with automatic locks so it is much harder if not impossible to unlock your doors while cars are moving.

If you are injured in a car accident, contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer for a free consultation. Personal injury lawyers are paid out of the settlement so there are no hourly fees and out of pocket costs. Everyone can afford a Seattle personal injury lawyer because of this but you can’t afford not to have one against the insurance companies.

Andrew CherinIs it safer to drive with your doors locked versus not?
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What to do when an ambulance is on the freeway behind you?

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I know a lot of people probably don’t know the answer to this question and many people probably are in violation of this law. Ambulances have their sirens on when they are either on their way to or from an emergency scene to provide life saving support to someone in a very serious car accident or who has suffered life threatening injuries or episode somewhere else. We all need to give these life saving people the space they need to get to where they need to go because every second counts in these situations.

I tried researching what you are supposed to do when an ambulance is driving behind you on the freeway and Washington State laws surrounding this instance. I couldn’t find anything that differentiated a local street from a highway or freeway. Therefore, the law applies to all situations. Therefore, even if you are on the freeway, you are supposed to pull over to the far right hand side of the road and stop your car until the ambulance passes.

As unpractical as this may seem, this is the law. Although it would appear that most people are ok if they move over a couple lanes as best as they can and slow down to let the ambulance or other emergency vehicle pass. This is because there are often a lot of cars on the freeway and highway and it can be dangerous if everyone merged over at once. However, this is not the letter of the law so anyone that does not stop may be subject to a very steep fine.

Operation of vehicles on approach of emergency vehicles.

(1) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.190, or of a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal only the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.
(2) This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.
Andrew CherinWhat to do when an ambulance is on the freeway behind you?
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What are you supposed to do if an ambulance has it’s lights on?

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If an ambulance or any other vehicle has it’s emergency lights on, not a lot of people know what to do in various circumstances. The reason behind emergency vehicle laws is so that emergency vehicles can get by without causing a car accident and get quickly to the hospital or car accident injury scene to get the injured person the care they need as quickly as possible. 

If an emergency vehicle is driving behind you in the same direction, most people know that you are required to pull over to the side of the road and stop. However, on the freeway most people continue to drive in the direction they are going and do not pull over and stop. Some people may pull over but most do not stop.

If an emergency vehicle has it’s lights on and is approaching from the opposite direction, most people do not pull over and stop. They believe that they can continue in the same direction. However, the law requires all vehicles driving in any direction to pull over to the far side of the road and stop. If you don’t you could be subject to a $1,062 fine.

Here is what the law says:

Operation of vehicles on approach of emergency vehicles.

(1) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.190, or of a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible signal only the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.
(2) This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.
Andrew CherinWhat are you supposed to do if an ambulance has it’s lights on?
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Why is it a good idea to have the police come to a car accident?

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Most people generally want to get on their way and don’t want to wait for the police to arrive at the scene of a car accident. If you are injured and you call 911, police, ambulance, or the fire department will arrive on the scene shortly. However, if you say you are not injured, police will take much longer to come to the scene.

It is a good idea to have the police come to the scene and an ambulance to check you out because often times you will not know how bad you are actually injured. The best thing for you could be to go to the hospital and get checked out. However, after a car accident injury, a lot of people are running off of adrenaline and emotion making them feel like they are not actually hurt and making rash decisions without properly thinking. However, hours later injuries can become extreme when adrenaline begins to wear off and swelling starts to manifest itself.

Having the police come to the scene of a Seattle car accident is a great thing because they can document the scene, interview the defendant, get statements, and be an independent witness that verifies your side of the story. They can also write down contact information of potential witnesses, get accurate information from the defendant including their insurance and contact information from a person you may not want to talk to since they just caused your world to be rocked by the car accident they caused.

If you don’t call 911 or wait for the police, you should make sure you do these things:

  1. Take pictures of the damage to the other person’s car and accident scene before it is moved off the road, if possible –You want to make sure you have a good independent witness like a picture that can show what happened. A picture is worth 1,000 words and can make or break your case. A picture can show the severity of the impact by showing what condition the other person’s car is in. The insurance company may try to hide this information without filing a lawsuit if not and claim the impact was so minor that no one could have been injured. Your car could show little damage because bumpers are very strong on some cars but show tremendous damage on the other person’s car.
  2. Get witness contact information – It is always good to have a witness on your side. Immediately, try to get someone who saw what happened at the car accident to give you their contact information in case the other driver tries to lie about who was at fault and what happened. A short hello did you see what happened and can I have your phone number and name is all you need.
  3. Exchange information with the defendant – You need to make sure you have all the information that you need from the defendant including a picture of their license, a picture of their insurance card, and a picture of their registration. A picture is so fast and easy that this should take you no time at all. It will be important to have this information in case the other person decides to give you false information about who they are and their insurance numbers.
  4. Do not admit liability or say you are fine to the defendant or anyone – If the police, insurance company for either party, or the defendant interview you, do not say you are sorry and you are not injured if that is not true. The police will write a report saying your exact words so be careful what you say. This can and will be used against you. If you have a twinge in your neck that was not their before or a headache, let them know. Say you want to get further evaluated.

If you have been injured in a Seattle car accident, you need a Seattle personal injury lawyer immediately to help you with the insurance company and act on your behalf. You do not want to get pressured into accepting anything less than what you deserve and getting fully healed. Consultations are free and Seattle car accident lawyers are paid out of the settlement so their is no out of pocket costs to you. Therefore, everyone can afford a Seattle personal injury lawyer but you can’t afford not to have one on your side.

Andrew CherinWhy is it a good idea to have the police come to a car accident?
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What is lane sweeping and is it illegal?

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Lane sweeping is not what you think – a person with a broom sweeping a lane. Lane sweeping is avoiding a lane of traffic in order to get into another on a turn. However, some studies have shown that 50% of drivers commit lane sweeping turns. Lane sweeping is extremely dangerous and can cause severe car accidents and injuries.

If you are turning right or left, you must turn into the lane closest to you. You may not turn into the next lane over just because that is the more ideal lane that you want to be in. You must first enter the lane closest to you and then signal and change into that lane 100 feet later and not immediately.

If someone hits you because they are lane sweeping, they are at fault. You have the right to the closest lane to you and they have the right to the lane closest to them. It can be difficult to maneuver if you are the one turning left and there are cars that could be going straight or turning. You should make sure you recognize the intention of the driver in front of you before proceeding into a left hand turn across oncoming traffic without a green arrow. If a car is going straight, they have the right of way in a non green arrow situation.

Required position and method of turning at intersections.

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:
(1) Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
(2) Left turns. The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection and so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as the vehicle on the roadway being entered.
Andrew CherinWhat is lane sweeping and is it illegal?
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The type of music you listen to affects your driving?!

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Did you know that the type of music you listen to can affect your driving tendencies and make you much more likely to get into a car accident? It can also determine if you get pulled over for speeding, running red lights, and increase the chances of you getting into a high speed car accident. I’ve noticed it myself in my own driving and others but finally a study was done to prove my subconscious hypothesis.

An Israeli study connected test subjects to heart monitors and put them through a driving simulator while they listened to music of varying tempos. A no-music control group experienced significant heart rate fluctuation while driving — that is, their heart sped up when things got exciting, like if a pedestrian jumped in the street. But those who were listening to any type of music saw their heart rate stay level.

At first glance, this suggests that the drivers who were listening to music were more calm, and thus more careful drivers than the control group. But it was the opposite  was actually true. The people listening were calm (maybe), but only because they were less focused on driving than the control group — they were placated by the music.

The study also showed that drivers who were listening to higher-tempo music (between 120 and 140 beats per minute, the speed of most dance and techno music) were twice as likely to blast through red lights and had twice as many accidents as those who were listening to slower music or the deafening echo of their own thoughts.

Moral of the story: If you want someone to drive slower, turn the station to something with little beat to it such as smooth Jazz, talk radio, books on tape, or classical music. Skip the EDM music if you want your driver to drive slow, unless you want to get somewhere quickly.

Andrew CherinThe type of music you listen to affects your driving?!
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Dangers of the turn lane: First in time = right of way?

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Turn lanes are some of the most misunderstood traffic lanes. Not many people know how early is too early to get into a turn lane and who has the right of way to it. This is so misunderstood that many car accidents are caused because of the confusion on who has the right of way.

Today we will focus on who has the right of way when you turn into the turn lane ahead of other traffic and another car in front of you wants to turn into the turn lane and crashes into you. Who is at fault for this situation?

A number of driving rules come into play in this situation: When can you be in a turn lane? What can you use the turn lane for? Who has the right of way once you establish yourself in the lane?

The law on turn lanes:

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.

The law on changing lanes:

RCW 46.61.305 (1) No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided. (2) A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.

Conclusion: 

If you have established yourself in a turn lane by giving proper notice and are within 300 feet of your turn, you have the right to the turn lane as being first established in the lane even though a car in front of you wants to be in the lane as well. The earliest you can change lanes into a turn lane is 300 feet before your turn or the length of a football field. Additionally, just because a car is in front of you doesn’t mean they have the right of way into the turn lane. A car that has fully established itself in the lane legally has the right of way to that lane. A signal of lane change must be made at least 100 feet before the turn to give adequate notice to those around you.

Speeding and illegal lane changes can come into play to say otherwise on this one. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact your Seattle personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation. We are paid out of the settlement making it so anyone can afford to hire us.

Andrew CherinDangers of the turn lane: First in time = right of way?
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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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