Category Archives: Children

New Study Shows Importance of Seat Belts, Nationally and for West Virginia

The Associated Press published an article yesterday, a copy of which appeared in the hard copy of the Register-Herald:

More than two-thirds of young drivers and passengers killed in nighttime car crashes aren’t wearing seat belts — deadly proof of what can happen when young people don’t heed parents’ pleas and authorities’ threats to “click it.”

Though seat-belt use actually is rising slightly nationwide, fatality figures published Monday offered a somber contrast as law enforcement launched its annual pre-Memorial Day drive to persuade Americans to buckle up.

Total belt use rose to 82 percent last year — from 81 percent in 2006 — the government said. Twelve states had rates of 90 percent or better, led by Hawaii and Washington. Only three were below 70 percent: Arkansas, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. West Virginia was ranked between 85% and 90%, which is well above the national average of 82%. But the study was hardly encouraging.

Sixty-eight percent of drivers and passengers between the ages of 16 and 20 who were killed in car crashes at night in 2006 were unbuckled, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During daytime, 57 percent of the young motorists and passengers who were killed were not wearing seat belts.

The problem isn’t just with teens. The percentage of unbuckled drivers and passengers who died at night is well up in the 60s through the age of 44. It declines to 52 percent for people 55-64 and 41 percent for those older than that.

The problem still remains however, that when you combine carloads of teens, with inexperience and poor judgment, the result is often disastrous, especially in West Virginia with our winding roads. I am reminded of a car wreck that took place on the border of Monroe County and Greenbrier County not too long ago, where a car load of teenagers were killed as the result of excessive speed, poor vehicle maintenance, and unbuckled seat belts.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.


Tragedy Often Strikes on Prom Night – 12 Tips For Teens Driving on Prom Night

A tragic story from the Associated Press, as carried by the Charleston Daily Mail:

A Northern California mother is dealing with a double tragedy after her daughter was killed during a weekend prom date and her son was severely injured in a car crash. Jennifer Carrigan and Steven Furtado were found dead Sunday by Carrigan’s mother at a house in Chester, about 150 miles north of Sacramento. Both were 18.

When told of his sister’s death, 20-year-old Billy Carrigan headed home from Berkeley. Shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday, just before he reached Chester, Billy Carrigan crashed his Toyota Tacoma pickup truck into a stand of pine trees along Highway 36.

Read the entire article here.

The article did not mention how or why the daughter was killed, but it is a tragic story and it is one of dozens each year that illustrate the dangers of teen drivers – especially on prom night. Sadly, every year Americans hear reports of prom-goers getting into car accidents as a result of drinking and driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has worked passionately since 1980 to lower these statistics. It’s been a successful campaign, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which reports that drinking and driving among teens dropped 35% from 1990 to 2005.

Nationwide insurance company published a list of 12 tips for driving on prom night that every teen should read:

For teens:

– Always wear your seatbelt and make sure everyone in the car does, too.

– Concentrate and drive defensively. There are likely to be a lot of impaired drivers on the road prom night.

– Have directions to the dance — even drive by the location during daylight hours — if the prom is not held at your school so you know where you’re going.

– Understand that the average vehicle weighs 3,000 pounds. It may be easy to drive, but it’s still a heavy hunk of metal.

– Never allow someone who has been drinking to drive, no matter how confident the driver is about his abilities. It’s not worth the risk.

– Remember that tired drivers are dangerous, too. If you’re barely awake, you shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

– Call home to get a ride. No matter what time it is, parents would rather pick you up than have you drive in a dangerous situation.

– Take your cell phone to prom so you have one in case of emergency.

– Take a spare pair of comfortable shoes with you for driving so you don’t have to hit the brakes while wearing unfamiliar high heels or bulky dress shoes.

And for parents:

– Make sure you know where your child is going to be during prom and at the after-prom parties.

– Don’t allow too many prom-goers into one vehicle. (More passengers means more distractions.)

– Consider a limo or an adult driver to chauffeur students — someone who has more experience driving at night and someone who is not hopped up on prom night adrenaline.

Read the entire publication here.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

School Bus and Car Collide in Greenbrier County

From the Register-Herald:

Yet another accident involving a school bus loaded with children, this time in Greenbrier County, WV.

A Greenbrier County school bus with seven children aboard collided with another vehicle Wednesday in what school officials called a “minor accident.”

Superintendent John Curry said the accident happened in the Ft. Spring area about 4:30 p.m.

“We had a bus going around a blind curve and the bus and the car side swiped,” Curry said. “Nobody was hurt and the seven middle school children aboard were all transported home by their parents, who lived close by.”

No citations were issued by police.

Its odd that the police did not issue any citations. One of the drivers had to have been left of center in order for them to have collided – assuming this was a two-lane road. Regardless, both are probably at fault. If you are going around a blind curve, you have to slow down and approach with caution, keeping as far as you can on your side of the road – especially if you are driving a school bus. Fortunately none of the children were injured. It amazes me how children come out of the school bus crashes with no injuries, despite the fact that these buses don’t even have seat belts (to my knowledge).

Read the full article here.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

3-Vehicle Wreck in Beckley Sends Five People to Hospital

from the Register-Herald today:

On April 29, a man had just dropped off one of his children at Beckley Elementary School and was traveling south on Eisenhower Drive (U.S. 19) when the driver of a pickup truck lost control, entered the center lane and struck the man’s Jeep.

The Jeep was pushed into the northbound lane and collided with a third vehicle head-on. After the head-on collision, the Jeep left the roadway, crashed through a fence and came to rest on the property at 503 Eisenhower.

A witness said he saw the Jeep cross Wilkes Road, smash through a fence and travel through the yard of a home, accelerating at a high speed, and that when it came to rest, the wheels were still spinning.

Fortunately, a guardrail stopped the vehicle from going into a nearby creek. Guardrails can be either a blessing or a curse depending on the particular circumstances. In this case they were apparently a blessing, as there were two young girls in the vehicle and the driver was left unconscious.

Read the full article here.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Higher Car Accident Rates for Teen Drivers – Especially with Cell Phones

The National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) report indicated that 16 year-old drivers have a vehicle crash rate that is fully five times higher than the rate for 18 year-olds and nearly 10 times higher than the rate for drivers between 30 and 59 years-old.

n addition, Ford Motor Company research revealed that teenage drivers are four times more distracted when using a cell phone while driving, compared to adult drivers. The National Transportation Safety Board has a suggested “prohibition of the use of wireless communication device by young novice drivers” on it list of “Most Wanted” safety recommendations.

In a 2007 survey of 16- and 17-year-old drivers by Seventeen magazine and the American Automobile Association, 61% of the teens admitted to driving habits such as sending text messages while driving (46%) and talking on a cell phone while driving (51%).

I believe that the newer surveys that will be coming out will show that an enormous percentage of accidents are caused by teen drivers on cell phones, whether talking on them or texting on them. It would be a good idea to keep an eye out for these drivers, especially on West Virginia roads where they like to push their cars to the limit around each and every curve.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Mother Takes Blame for 26 Year-Old Son After Child Hit by Car – Issue of Eyewitness Testimony

From the Register-Herald today, the full article for which can be found here.

In Nicholas County, a 64 year old woman named Shirley Gilles is expected to be charged with filing a false police report. According to investigators, her 26 year-old son hit and critically injured a 12 year-old child who was walking to school. The child was taken to CAMC via HealthNet helicopter.

The son, Justin Gilles, was driving on a suspended license. He left the scene and then returned with his mother, who told investigators that she was the one driving. However, an eyewitness reportedly told police otherwise.

Eyewitness testimony becomes very important at this point. However, eyewitness testimony is also very unreliable compared to other forms of evidence. When I was in law school, a criminal clinic professor showed the entire class a video of a man walking out of a building carrying a box. Then he drops the box walking down the steps of the building, after which another person stops to help him. Then the professor stopped the video and began asking the class questions about what they remember seeing. There were about 25 different versions of what the people looked like, what color clothes they were wearing, how old they looked, and what actually happened in the video. The moral of the story is, that we don’t realize how inherently unreliable eyewitness memories can be. In the above case however, it would be pretty difficult to confuse a 64 year-old woman with a 26 year-old man. It probably has happened though, and certainly an experienced trial lawyer can muddy the waters in front of a jury.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Car Accident Death Risk Increases as Kids Get Older

WOWK TV out of Tornado, West Virginia recently reported on some alarming statistics. The full article can be found here.

A partnership between the Children’s hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Company funded a recent study showing that the risk of children dying in car accidents increases as children get older.

Out of about 10,000 passenger deaths studied, more than half were riding with a driver under the age of 20. Furthermore, two thirds of these children were not wearing a seatbelt.