Tips & Advice

How Fatigued Drivers Can Avoid Car Accidents

Spending hours on the road settled in one position while driving past monotonous landscape is enough to exhaust anyone. Long road trips can be the cause of exhaustion, which can lead to accidents on the road. Sleep deprivation, drowsiness, or extreme fatigue are common causes of car accidents, both conditions prevent drivers from remaining alert on the road. Distracted drivers may collide with other drivers or make other fatal mistakes. An estimated 100,000 car crashes are the result of a fatigued driver, most of these car accidents occurred while the driver fell asleep at the wheel. There are simple ways to remain alert on the road, a few of these are listed below.

  1. Nap Time

Taking a short power nap before you get on the road can prevent drowsiness or fatigue. A 15-20 minute nap can revitalize you, anything longer than that will usually lead to sleep inertia. Usually after 20 minutes our bodies slip into deeper sleep leaving us groggy and drowsy when we wake. Power naps often give us bursts of energy to help us complete the remaining tasks of the day. While driving if you begin to feel fatigued it is advisable that you pull over into a well lit and populated area to nap. A short 15 minute nap will give you the boost of energy to remain alert on the remainder of your drive.

  1. A friend in liquid form

Caffeinated products serve a form of stimulation, they reduce lethargy and instantly alert us. Coffee, energy drinks, or soda all contain various amounts of caffeine. A cup of steaming coffee or a Monster energy drink can between arriving alive or colliding with an 18 wheeler. Unfortunately, the effects of caffeine does eventually wears off, so it may only be a temporary fix. Consuming alcohol with caffeine can cause drowsiness, so it is recommended to stay away from alcohol if you plan to drive for awhile on the road.

  1. Roll down the windows

Sometimes a sudden rush of cool air can keep us alert on the road. The air circulating in your car can become stale and cause us to settle into sluggishness. Rolling down your windows and letting in fresh air can sharpen our focus while on the road. This can be effective especially when the heater is on and warm air is circulating in your vehicle. Warm air is often the cause of feelings of lethargy while on the road. Avoid potential car accidents by cracking your windows open just a bit.

  1. Buddy System

Alternating with someone while driving gives you time to power nap in the passenger seat. Driving alone for long periods of time will eventually lead to sleepiness, however if you have someone to switch with you can give yourself time to catch up on much needed rest. Switching drivers every couple of hours makes long road trips more bearable. However, if you feel that your buddy may fall asleep at the wheel it is best to stay awake and keep the driver company.

Long road trips can exhaust our bodies and mind, however following these simple tips can prevent serious accidents on the road.

If you have been the victim of a car accident involving a distracted driver, speak to an Austin car accident attorney at .

6 Common Boating Maintenance Mistakes

It is the season of sunscreen, sandals, and water activities. When springtime rolls around and the sun makes an appearance we begin to itch to get in the water. Spending time on your sailboat, yacht, or speedboat can be an enjoyable activity if done correctly. Thousands of boating accidents occur each year and many of these accidents are preventable. Boat maintenance is just as important as automobile maintenance. Neglecting to properly maintain your boat can lead to serious accidents for you and other people on the water.

Listed below are 6 common boat maintenance mistakes:

  1. Neglecting to check the propeller

While in the water a number of things can get caught in a propeller. Algae, fishing lines and other foreign objects can lodge themselves into a propeller and cause serious damage. Quickly checking the propeller before you leave the dock is a great maintenance tip that can save you from replacing the propeller prematurely. Remove the propeller a few times a month to check for dents, cracks, or other damages. If you notice any of the above immediately fix or replace your propeller to avoid accidents or injury.

  1. Neglecting to routinely check the fuel system

A clean fuel system allows your boat to operate efficiently in the water. Leaks in the fuel system, accumulation of rust, or a loose tank can all slowly kill your boats fuel system. While in the water it is extremely easy for foreign objects to make their way into your boats fuel system. Routinely check your fuel system for any algae, fungi, and other microbes that may have weaseled their way in.

  1. Failing to protect the wiring system

When installing the wiring system in your boat always hire a professional. Wiring the electrical system in a boat should not be done by an amateur. Sometimes insurance companies hire independent marine surveyors to survey the electrical wiring of the boat, if possible take advantage of this service. Water and electricity do not mix, so frayed or exposed wires or lack of circuit breakers can cause serious injury.

  1. Lack of safety equipment

Dealing with accidents on water are very different than dealing with accidents on land. Lack of fire extinguishers or first aid kits on a boat can be the difference between life and death. Checking fire extinguishers, lifelines, and the boat railing frequently is another boat maintenance necessity. Boat surfaces should also be sealed so that any water that makes its way onto the boat will not cause slip and fall accidents.

  1. Ignoring corrosion

Water, the elements, and a number of other factors can cause corrosion and damage your boat. Lubricating your zippers and checking the state of your rudder fittings, bearings, and shafts can prevent destructive corrosion. Bodies of water containing salt water can dissolve aluminum, which is a common material used for boats. While you can’t avoid the corrosive nature of saltwater you can avoid the damages it can have on your boat by using protective paint.

Whether used for transportation or leisure and relaxation, boats require adequate maintenance for them to function properly. Neglecting to maintain your boat can be the cause of accidents in the water.

If you have been a victim of a boating accident, feel free to contact our Austin personal injury attorneys at .

The 4 Different Types of Separation

Splitting up with your partner is often a painful and difficult decision to make. Serving your partner with divorce papers can often be the final act that completely eradicates any chances of possible reconciliation. If you are uncertain about the future of your marriage, other options exist that may be more suitable for you and your spouse. In most states, before you can file for divorce you must be separated from your spouse for a certain amount of time. This time period is meant to identify surfacing feelings of reconciliation from either or both individuals and also serves as a way for both parties to determine if the marriage can be salvaged. After the decision to file for separation is made the next step is to decide what type of separation is most appropriate for the given circumstances.

  1. Trial Separation

During a trial separation you and your partner are living separately in order to decide if divorce is the appropriate next step. If both parties come to a mutual decision and decide to file for divorce then any debts or assets accrued during the separation period by law are recognized as jointly owned. Essentially, during this style of separation the same legal laws are still applicable.

  1. Permanent Separation

If both you and your partner are living separately with no intention of reconciliation, this constitutes as a permanent separation. During the course of a permanent separation legal laws concerning debts and assets change drastically. Any debts incurred during permanent separation belong solely to the individual who accumulated the debts. If you’re partner accepts a loan during your time of separation the loan and any interest incurred are the responsibility of your partner.

  1. Legal Separation

If both parties decide on a legal separation then the case is settled in family court. The court issues orders about how alimony, child support, custody, and property are handled. By law, legal separation does not mean that you are divorced, however it also does not mean that you are still married to your partner. Although, you are no longer considered to be married to your partner you are unable to remarry while under the status of a legal separation. For most people legal separation is an appealing alternative because it allows both spouses to continue to receive financial support in the form of insurance or child support. Additionally, for individuals with strong religious beliefs that are opposed to divorce legal separation is an alternative that creates a loophole.

  1. Psychological Separation

In some situations financial constraints prevent a partner from moving out of the house and setting a place of their own. In cases like this some partners chose the route of “psychological separation.” Psychological separation usually means that both parties are sleeping in separate areas and completing their daily tasks/routines independently. Throughout the course of psychological separation both individuals cut off almost all forms of communication and interaction with the other partner. Psychological separation operates under the assumption that one strengthens their self-identity by becoming self-sufficient. To ease the difficulties associated with psychological separation a contract is usually created to divide responsibilities

Can I Text at a Stoplight?

By now, you probably know that it is illegal to text while driving in addition to being simply dangerous and irresponsible. But once you pull to a stop, usually at a stoplight, is it legal to go ahead and whip out your phone for a quick message? After all, if you aren’t able to use your phone while driving how can you respond quickly to messages or check for important updates about where you are going? Find out if texting at a stoplight is still considered texting while driving.

Distracted Driving Laws Vary by State

Texting while driving is illegal under the grounds that it is distracted driving. In some states, texting while driving is prohibited under this general law. In Austin, there is a specific ordinance enacted by lawmakers to strictly prohibit texting while driving. Though it is not a state law, the practice has been adopted by most major cities in Texas.

Texting at Stoplight May Be Legal, or a Legal Gray Area

While it is clear that texting while driving is illegal, the laws on texting while stopped at a stoplight are slightly trickier and this may not be considered while driving for the purposes of the distracted driving laws. Florida has a specific law that states that motor vehicles stationed at lights that are stopped are not being operated and are thus not subject to the texting while driving ban. This exclusion allows texting while stopped at red lights, in traffic jams, or to report criminal activity. California treats the law completely differently, stating that it is not acceptable to check email or read text messages while at stoplights or in bumper to bumper traffic. The California law specifies that a person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a phone unless it is hands free, and this definition applies to drivers even when they are stopped.

Even in areas that have stoplight loopholes and do not restrict texting while driving if stopped, any time you are distracted by your phone and cause a distraction to other drivers or impede normal traffic you can be cited for distracted or even reckless driving. So if you cause a dangerous condition to other drivers, even by not moving forward on a green light, you can be charged if an officer sees you or if an accident results.

The best bet legally and for safety options is to go phoneless when at a light or any time you drive. If you are the operator of a vehicle you will want to avoid checking your personal devices whether moving or otherwise stopped. Call our offices if you have any other questions regarding texting while driving laws and how to avoid being ticketed for this behavior. Our Austin car accident attorneys offer free consultations.

Do I Have to Stop for a School Bus?

You’re rushing, in a hurry, and frantic to make it to that meeting in five minutes. You’re going fast, faster than is legal, and yet you know you haven’t quite made up the lost time. And then it happens-the big yellow bus pulls out in front of you and puts on it’s lights. The stop signs extend from the sides, but no kids seem to be crossing in front of the road. Surely you can go forward as you aren’t posing any danger to the kids. But before you decide to go ahead and move on with your day, let’s make sure you know the facts about this crime.

Stopping for school buses is the right thing to do, but it’s also the legal thing. The reason that drivers are required to give such a wide berth to school buses is because of the risks associated with hitting children. It is far too common, in fact, a few weeks ago a Minnesotan truck driver was charged with two misdemeanors because he almost hit a sixth grader who was about to board the bus. It is almost impossible to see around the entire bus, and children are given right of way to cross the street. If you violate these rights and decide to pass a bus, here’s a taste of what could happen:

  • Jail, fines, and other punishments. Drivers who blow past a school bus that is stopped may be charged with reckless driving, which can carry a possible jail sentence or hefty fines. Reckless driving can also result in suspension of a drivers license for up to a year. In addition to these punishments, one woman in Ohio who drove onto the sidewalk to go around a stopped school bus was sentenced to a “creative shaming” where she wore a sign around her neck stating “only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.” So if you want to avoid being sent to jail, fined, or publicly shamed, do not pass the yellow bus.
  • Loss of driving privileges. In addition to having a license suspended for reckless driving, it is possible that you might have your license suspended immediately simply due to state law. You can apply for a hardship license to travel to work or other necessities, but you won’t have the leisure privileges you once had. And driving with a suspended license can lead to other citations and jail time, in addition to the risk of a permanent revocation.

Some school buses are now equipped with surveillance cameras to record the license plate and GPS location of offenders. The police are working with school districts to catch those who willfully ignore the law and endanger children. So the next time you see those red lights flash and you’re in a hurry, remember that being late one time or having to sit idle for a minute is better than the costs of injuring a child or paying traffic violations. If you have been accused of a bus stop violation or are worried about the safety of your child, call our office to speak with an Austin traffic law attorney and discuss any questions you have.