Archive for February, 2013

Connecticut in Danger of Losing Federal Funds for Non-Compliance with DUI Laws

The federal government provides funding to states for highway safety projects, including road improvement, bridge construction and public education. This federal funding, however, does not come without some strings attached. One of the things that states must do is comply with federal mandates intended to curb the number of drunk drivers.

Recently, however, an article in USA Today indicated that as many as two-thirds of states are not living up to their end of the deal as far as taking steps to combat drunk driving. These states could have some of their federal funds directed toward either anti-drunk driving programs or targeted highway safety improvement efforts. Our Hartford, CT accident attorneys were disheartened to see that Connecticut made the list of states that are not in compliance with federal requirements.

Connecticut Not Complying with Federal Drunk Driving Safety Requirements

According to the USA Today article, Congress updated the requirements last year that states must comply with in order to meet federal standards on efforts to combat drunk driving. The chief operating officer of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials also indicates that the federal government has now tightened the way in which requirements are applied, making it more difficult for states to fulfill their obligations.

Some of the different laws that the federal government looks at include state open container laws and laws on repeat offenders, both of which are important laws intended to curb drunk driving and to make sure that offenders face sufficient penalties to act as a strong deterrent for drunk driving.

When a state fails to comply, a certain amount of federal funds must be redirected toward drunk-driving efforts. For Connecticut, USA Today reports that the amount of money that must be diverted is $10.15 million. This is money that could otherwise have gone to general road or bridge construction but that now must be diverted as a result of the state’s lax drunk driving laws, which the federal government contends do not measure up.

Despite the federal government’s effort to force states to take further steps to combat drunk driving, USA Today also indicates that some locations are looking for a back door in order to put the money back to use for general construction projects. The vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, for example, indicates that it’s too easy for states to shift the restricted funds back into general construction work.

Some states may take advantage of this loophole, especially as there are certain locations that expressed anger to USA Today that their laws previously passed muster with NHTSA but are now being declared inadequate. Connecticut, however, was not one of the states that indicated displeasure within the article. The hope, therefore, is that Connecticut will tighten up its drunk driving laws to comply with federal standards and that it will put the restricted federal money to good use to improve highway safety and discourage intoxicated drivers from taking to the road.

If you’ve been in an accident, contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli, at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

Drivers Not Living Up to their Own Standards on Road Safety

Drivers are expected to obey all driver safety laws and also to be reasonably prudent when they get in their car and operate their vehicles. Many drivers try to live up to this expectation, recognizing that driving is a privilege and that bad drivers are dangerous. However, a surprising number of drivers regularly engage in driving behavior that they know to be risky.

A recent 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed just how many drivers aren’t practicing what they preach when it comes to driver safety. Our New Haven, CT personal injury lawyers were distressed to read of the findings on this recent survey, and we urge all drivers to carefully consider their own behavior to make sure that they are living up to reasonable driver safety standards and steering clear of risky behavior.

Drivers Answer on Safety Standards and Driver Behavior

The AAA survey asked drivers about their opinions on certain dangerous driving behaviors. The survey also asked drivers what they actually do when they are behind the wheel. As the results showed, many drivers think that certain driving actions are dangerous but still do those very same actions. For example:

  • Drunk driving was viewed as very dangerous, and 80.5 percent of survey respondents supported requiring an ignition interlock device for all first time DUI offenders. Yet, 14 percent of drivers said they’d driven when they may have been drunk at least once in their lives and 2.1 percent said they’d done so in just the past month.
  • Texting and driving was viewed as very dangerous, with most drivers considering the behavior completely unacceptable. Yet, 26.6 percent said that they’d texted or used a wireless handheld device to send an email while driving in the past month alone.
  • Talking on a cell and driving was also viewed as risky. Almost half of drivers wanted to ban the practice outright, regardless of whether the talker used a hands free device. Yet, more than out of every three drivers said they’d talked on their phones in the past month while driving.
  • Almost three-quarters of drivers expressed disapproval for going 15 miles per hour over the speed limit on a highway. Yet, 49.3 percent said they’d gone at least that fast in the past month.
  • 89.1 percent of drivers felt it was dangerous and unacceptable to exceed the speed limit by 10 miles per hour or more in a residential area. However, 46.8 percent said they’d gone at least that fast in a residential area in the past month.
  • 38.4 percent said they’d gone through a red light although the vast majority of drivers said this behavior was dangerous and unacceptable.
  • Drowsy driving was almost universally viewed as bad news, but one-third of drivers said they’d had some trouble keeping their eyes open as they drove in the past month and 45.9 percent said that they had fallen asleep behind the wheel one or more times in their lives.

Clearly, therefore, drivers have certain standards and beliefs about what is unacceptable and dangerous when it comes to driving, and yet many drivers are not living up to their own standards. This is a dangerous disconnect, and we urge all drivers to start doing what they know is right behind the wheel.

If you’ve been in an auto accident, contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

Huge Storm Reminds Connecticut Drivers to Practice Safe Winter Driving

As anyone living in Connecticut knows, recent snow storms have made for some very nasty winter weather. In fact, the early February blizzard of 2013 was so bad that news reports indicated President Obama signed an emergency declaration for the state. Drivers were still digging out days later and were advised to stay at home and off the roads until the snow could be cleared.

While this blizzard, dubbed Nemo, hopefully will be the worst of the winter, our Hartford, CT personal injury lawyers want to remind drivers that this likely won’t be the last our state sees of snow or bad weather this season. As such, we urge all drivers to be prepared, practice their safe winter driving and follow some basic safety tips to avoid auto accidents caused by storms, snow and ice.

Staying Safe in Winter Weather

When a storm like Nemo comes along, the best and only way to stay safe is to stay home and off the roads. The most important safe winter weather tip, therefore, is to make absolutely sure that you listen to winter storm advisories and winter weather warnings. If there is a driving ban in effect or if the news is reporting that a blizzard is coming, don’t get in your car and drive anywhere unless it is an emergency. Instead, stay at home, make sure you have candles. Plan for a power outage and stock up on supplies.

When the weather is just run-of-the-mill winter weather, however, you may need to venture out with snow and ice on the roads. If you do, keep these tips in mind:

  • Leave early for your destination so you will have plenty of time to get there without speeding. You never want to speed with slick or icy conditions as you could lose control of your vehicle, skid or spin out. In fact, in many cases you will want to drive below the speed limit when it is bad out.
  • Refrain from tailgating. You want to leave a lot of space in between your vehicle and the other cars on the road. This is because ice can make it harder for your vehicle to stop. When you do need to stop with icy conditions, you need to  step on your brakes softly so you don’t skid.
  • Have all parts of your car carefully checked over, including the windshield wipers and tires, and make sure that your car has enough fluids. Good tires are essential to good traction on slick winter roads and good wipers will help to ensure that you can see even when visibility is bad.
  • Consider practicing winter driving in an empty parking lot. If you aren’t sure what to do when your car skids or spins out, you don’t want to find out on a highway. Instead, take your vehicle to an empty lot with someone who knows how to drive safely in snow and get plenty of practice.

By following these safe winter driving tips, you can hopefully avoid becoming involved in an auto accident and you can make it through the winter safe and sound.

If you’ve been in an auto accident, contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1.