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California Accident Lawyers | Cell Phone Crackdown, Fines $159 to $279

California Car Accident Lawyers
California law enforcement agencies are cracking down on distracted driving.

Distracted driving causes accidents and police aren’t going to take it anymore. California’s statewide cell phone crackdown starts April 1; first-time tickets for talking or texting while driving will cost $159 and second offenses will jump up to $279.

•   Distracted Driving Awareness Month starts April 1.

•   Law enforcement agencies throughout California — and across the nation — will adopt a zero tolerance policy toward texting or talking on cell phones (other than hands-free) while driving.

•   Police say texting or talking on the phone while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.

California Injury Lawyers

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Talking or texting while driving is not a right. It’s not a privilege. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

The National Transportation Safety Board says people who refuse to hang up and drive are responsible for almost a half-million traffic-related injuries every year, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News. In 2009 (latest figures), distracted driving led to 5,500 deaths and another 448,000 injuries in motor vehicle accidents on U.S. roadways.

Small fines and slaps on the wrist aren’t doing enough to stop the problem. Starting Friday, law enforcement agencies all over the country are coordinating cell phone crackdowns for Distracted Driving Awareness Month. California Highway Patrol divisions across the state are working with more than 225 local police to hone in on distracted drivers.

Los Angeles Police Department traffic Lt. Ron Katono said that texting while driving can be as dangerous as drinking and driving, according to an LA Weekly article.  He said drivers who use their phones behind the wheel are four times more likely to see serious injury in a crash — and the LAPD doesn’t take that lightly.

“We take the issue of distracted driving very, very seriously,” Katona said. “The ongoing, irresponsible practice of drivers using their cell phones and texting has to stop. The practice is such a serious concern that the LAPD embraces the zero tolerance strategy. … Is a text message or cell phone call really worth risking injury or death?”

California Office of Traffic Safety director Christopher Murphy told the Long Beach Press-Telegram he knows it’s not easy for many drivers to break the habit of talking or texting while driving.

“We recognize that convincing drivers to refrain from using cell phones or texting while driving isn’t easy,” Murphy said.  “It’s very difficult to resist the urge to check an incoming text or answer a cell phone call. That’s why we are stepping up enforcement and public awareness efforts.”

Drivers under the age of 20 are the worst offenders. They have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But Murphy believes California drivers will eventually get into the hands-free habit, just like they got used to wearing seat belts. More than 96 percent of drivers in the state now buckle up, a practice which has saved thousands of lives, Murphy said.

It boils down to four simple words: Hang up and drive.

The trial attorneys at Blackman Legal Group, a California-based law firm founded by renowned trial attorney Clifford Blackman, have been representing motor vehicle accident victims for 35 years. The nationwide toll-free number to call for a free consultation is 1866-692-8126.


Stockton Car Accident Lawyers | Fatal Tow Truck Crash on I-5

Stockton Car Accident Lawyers
Fatal tow truck crash: One person was killed when a tow truck rear-ended a big-rig on Interstate 5 in Stockton. (Photo: Stockton Record)

Interstate 5 was the site of two tragic motor vehicle accidents Wednesday afternoon in Stockton. First a man sustained major injuries when he drove off the freeway and crashed into a tree. About 10 minutes later a tow truck plowed into a big-rig; the tow truck driver was seriously injured and his passenger was killed.

•  There were two serious injury accidents on either side of Interstate 5 — at the same location in Stockton — within 10 minutes of each other. One of the accidents was fatal.

•  The first accident involved a man veering off of I-5 and crashing into a tree in the back yard of a house alongside the freeway. He sustained major injuries.

•  In the second accident, a tow truck rear-ended a big-rig in traffic that had suddenly slowed down, apparently to gawk at the first accident across the freeway. The tow truck passenger was killed; the driver was airlifted to a Modesto hospital with major injuries.

Stockton Accident AttorneysThe first interstate crash occurred at about 12:25 p.m., according to a report in the Stockton Record.

California Highway Patrol officer Angel Arceo said 30-year-old Jeffery Joe Goncalves of Elk Grove was driving north on I-5, south of Hammer Lane, when his vehicle ran off the east side of the freeway. It crashed into a tree in the back yard of a home next the freeway.

Firefighters had to extract Goncalves from his vehicle. He was rushed to U.C. Davis Medical Center in Sacramento to be treated for major injuries. Arceo said Goncalves vaguely remembered changing lanes but did not recall anything that happened after that.

Then at about 12:35 p.m., a tow truck driven by 31-year-old Scott Alan Gann of Rio Linda, was headed south on I-5. Traffic suddenly slowed at Hammer Lane, perhaps because of people gawking at the accident across the freeway. Gann apparently had looked away for a split-second and did not realize that traffic had slowed so much. He crashed into a slow big-rig in front of him. The impact forced that big-rig to crash into another semi truck in front of it.

Gann and his passenger were pinned into the truck. Firefighters had to extract them from the vehicle. At that point, firefighters were working on both sides of the freeway at the same time, trying to pull people out of their vehicles in both the northbound and southbound freeway accidents.

The tow truck passenger was a 22-year-old man from Sacramento. He died at the scene. His identity was not released until his family could be notified. The tow truck driver, Gann, suffered major injuries and was airlifted to a Modesto hospital to be treated.

Arceo said there had been several smaller crashes on I-5 earlier that morning.

The trial attorneys at Blackman Legal Group, a California-based law firm founded by renowned trial attorney Clifford Blackman, have been representing highway crash victims for 35 years. The nationwide toll-free number to call for a free consultation is 1866-692-8126.


Temecula Accident Lawyers | I-15 Lane-Splitting Motorcycle Fatality

Temecula Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Motorcycle fatality: Lane-splitting is legal in California, but it also can be deadly.

A lane-splitting motorcyclist was killed Tuesday morning when he hit an SUV and then was run over by a dump truck on Interstate 15 in Temecula.

•   A motorcyclist who was splitting lanes during heavy commute traffic clipped an SUV and lost control of his bike.

•   The motorcyclist was thrown onto the pavement, in the path of a dump truck.

•   The dump truck’s rear wheels ran over the motorcyclist and he was killed.

The fatal motorcycle accident occurred at 6:18 a.m., according to a Riverside Press-Enterprise report.

California Highway Patrol Officer Ron Thatcher said 41-year-old Brent Sherrell of Temecula was riding only about 20 mph as he attempted to split lanes on the busy freeway during the heavy morning commute traffic.

As Sherrell neared and Rancho California Road, he tried to split the second and third lanes between a Jeep SUV and a dump truck towing a trailer. His Harley-Davidson clipped the back of the Jeep and he lost control of the motorcycle. He fell onto the road, directly in the dump truck’s path.

The dump truck’s rear wheels ran over Sherrell. He died at the scene. Officials had to temporarily close the freeway.

Lane-splitting — also called lane sharing — is legal in California, but it can be very dangerous. The close proximity of the cars to the motorcycle and reduced space to maneuver make it difficult; the fact that cars don’t generally anticipate a motorcycle passing them in slowed or stopped traffic can make it deadly. Here are some tips from Nolo Press to help motorcyclists stay safe while lane-splitting.

Lane-Splitting Safety Tips:

  • Always be alert and aware of the cars around you.
  • Ride with your headlights on and wear reflective clothing.
  • Enter the area where you plan to lane-split cautiously — wait until both lanes of cars have slowed to the same speed. If one lane is moving faster, cars are more likely to suddenly switch lanes — and may hit you in the process.
  • Be extra cautious when traveling in a car’s blind spot.
  • Drive at a speed slightly faster than the flow of traffic. Don’t zoom by stopped or slowly moving cars.
  • Look for signs that a car may be changing lanes, such as the driver looking into the rearview or sideview mirrors.
  • Honk if the cars get too close together. Wait until the distance is safe to pass between them.
  • When traffic speeds up to about 30 mph, get back into the lane.

The trial attorneys at Blackman Legal Group, a California-based law firm founded by renowned trial attorney Clifford Blackman, have been representing motorcycle accident victims for 35 years. The nationwide toll-free number to call for a free consultation is 1866-692-8126.


Brawley Accident Lawyers | CHP Officer Injured in Highway Rollover Crash

Brawley Car Accident Lawyers
CHP officer injured: A CHP officer was airlifted to a hospital after his patrol car overturned on Highway 111 near Brawley. (Photo: Imperial Valley Press)

A California Highway Patrol officer sustained major injuries Saturday when his patrol car overturned on Highway 111 in unincorporated Imperial County near Brawley.

•   A CHP officer was en route to a traffic accident when a rear tire blew out on his patrol car.

•  The officer lost control of his vehicle and it rolled over a couple of times, slid across the freeway and crashed through a barbed-wire fence.

•   The officer sustained major injuries and was airlifted to a hospital in Palm Springs.

The highway crash occurred at 5:26 p.m., according to a report in the Imperial Valley Press.

CHP spokesperson Temo Beltran said 26-year-old officer Juan Arroyo of Holtville was driving his 2009 Ford Crown Victoria patrol car north on Highway 111 en route to the scene of a traffic accident when his left rear tire blew out.   Arroyo lost control of the vehicle, which was traveling at an unknown rate of speed. The car flipped over and rolled at least twice, Beltran said.

The patrol car rolled across the highway and a dirt shoulder before crashing through a barbed wire fence. The vehicle came to rest upright and facing southwest. Arroyo was trapped in the car. Firefighters used the jaws of life to extricate him from the vehicle.

Paramedics said Arroyo responsive right after the crash, but sustained very serious injuries. He was airlifted to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs to be treated.  The exact nature and extent of his injuries was not released, but officials said he was expected to recover.

The accident was a reminder of how dangerous a freeway blowout can be. CHP officers are very highly skilled drivers, and even they cannot always maintain control of a vehicle that experiences a blowout at freeway speeds. Following are tips from the National Safety Council for how to handle your vehicle if a tire blows out.

What to Do if You Have a Blowout on the Freeway:

•   Grip the steering wheel firmly.
•   Don’t slam on the brakes.
•   Let the car slow down gradually by taking your foot off the gas pedal.
•   Work your vehicle toward the breakdown lane or, if possible, toward an exit.
•   If it is necessary to change lanes, signal your intentions to drivers behind and do so smoothly and carefully, watching your mirrors and the traffic around you very closely.
•   Steer as your vehicle slows down. It is better to roll the car off the roadway (when you have slowed to 30 miles per hour) and into a safe place than it is to stop in traffic and risk a rear-end or side collision from other vehicles.
•   When all four wheels are off the pavement—brake lightly and cautiously until you stop.
•  Turn your emergency flashers on.

The trial attorneys at Blackman Legal Group, a California-based law firm founded by renowned trial attorney Clifford Blackman, have been representing highway crash victims for 35 years. The nationwide toll-free number to call for a free consultation is 1866-692-8126.


Gilroy Injury Lawyers | Two Killed in Fiery Pacheco Pass Crash

Gilroy Car Accident Attorneys
Two people were killed in a fiery Pacheco Pass crash near Gilroy Friday morning.(Photo: KSBW News)

A 35-year-old woman and a 5-year-old boy were killed and another woman was critically injured Friday morning when a car overturned and caught fire on the Pacheco Pass section of Highway 152 not far from Gilroy.

•   A 27-year-old woman was driving on Pacheco Pass with her 5-year-old son and a 35-year-old female passenger. She lost control of the car and slammed into a hillside. The car rolled and caught on fire.

•   Both passengers died from severe head injuries.

•   The driver broke her neck and some ribs. She was hospitalized.

The fatal highway crash occurred at about 7:10 a.m., according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

Police said a 27-year-old woman from Salinas lost control of a 2010 Chevrolet on Highway 152 for unknown reasons. The car veered off the road and slammed into a hillside, where it overturned and burst into flames.

The 35-year-old woman riding in the front passenger seat and a 5-year-old boy riding in the back seat both sustained major head trauma. Both of them died at the scene. The boy was the son of the driver.

The driver suffered broken ribs and a fractured neck, California Highway Patrol spokesperson Jaime Rios told KSBW News. She was transported to San Jose Regional Medical Center.

Police did not suspect alcohol or drugs to be factors in the accident. The CHP is investigating what caused the driver to lose control. The roads were slick from the rain, but police did not say that was the cause of the accident.

The names of the victims were not released.

There have been so many accidents on Pacheco Pass that it is nicknamed “Blood Alley.” There are many legends about ghosts of people who were killed on the heavily traveled stretch of Highway 152 that runs 42 miles from Highway 101 in Gilroy to Interstate 5. It is featured in “The Ghost Hunter’s Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area.”

The trial attorneys at Blackman Legal Group, a California-based law firm founded by renowned trial attorney Clifford Blackman, have been representing car accident victims for 35 years. The nationwide toll-free number to call for a free consultation is 1866-692-8126.