Category Archives: Car Accidents

Is Pokémon Go a Distracted Driving Crisis?

In July of 2016, Pokemon Go was released to an eager audience. Fans were able to catch pocket monsters through their mobile phones using an augmented reality (AR) app. This led many gamers to get off the couch and go outside, but there was a drawback. Some people used this mobile phone app while driving their vehicles, causing massive amounts of damage in distracted driving crashes. But just how much damage did these distracted drivers cause? A new study may have some long-awaited answers to this question.

The Distracted Driving Crisis and Pokemon Go

In 2015, there were over 6 million automobile crashes in the U.S., that’s around 1 million more crashes than what was seen in 2011. Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell, researchers at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management believe this increase is due to a rise in mobile app downloads. However, outside factors made it particularly difficult to test such a wide-sweeping hypothesis, so the researchers chose to do a more focused study.

They reviewed 12,000 accident reports from Tippecanoe County police between March 1, 2015 and November 30, 2016. From that data they were able to determine that Pokemon Go had potentially caused a 47 percent increase in traffic accidents after it was released.

The researchers found that out of the 286 additional crashes they logged, 134 happened near Pokestops, where groups of players would gather to get in-game items and bonuses. Faccio and McConnell were not able to say if the crashes were directly caused by people playing the game or by increased traffic in those areas, but in either case, it would seem that Pokemon Go had a role to play.

When the researchers applied their findings in Tippecanoe County to the rest of the country, they estimated that somewhere between $2 billion and $7.3 billion worth of damage had been caused by Pokemon Go distracted driving incidents. This is why it is critical for drivers to pay attention to the road and not their phones when out on the open road. The automobile accident attorneys at Mary Alexander & Associates want you to be aware of this danger, and if you or a loved one fall victim to this type of driving negligence, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

What If I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver in California?

Every year when winter falls on San Francisco, driving becomes more challenging. Rain, cold and winds at this time of the year often catch drivers off guard, and then the crashes start. If you aren’t up to date on your insurance coverage, then this is the time of year to get everything straightened out. Especially considering that not every driver on the road has coverage. Do you know what to do if you are involved in a traffic incident with an uninsured driver?

How Dangerous Is Bay Area Driving in the Winter?

Thanksgiving weekend ended poorly for many Bay Area drivers this year. Thanks to rain, wind and unpreparedness, many drivers found themselves the victims of crashes, and some even lost their lives. On Highway 101, CHP responded to a crash where a driver lost control of his van, and was ejected from the vehicle only to have it roll on top of him. The driver did not survive. In Emeryville, a 10-year-old girl passed after the vehicle she was riding in lost control at the Berkeley Curve on I80. The vehicle she rode in spun out, crashing into a pickup that had also just lost traction and crashed into the center median.

Damage and loss of life in these incidents can be catastrophic, but it can be even worse if one of the drivers involved has no insurance. In California, drivers are required to have proof of financial responsibility, whether it be minimum liability insurance or a full policy covering over $100,000 in damage. However, not all drivers on the road adhere to these laws, and that’s when underinsured/uninsured driver coverage comes into play.

Is There Anything I Can Do If I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?

Most insurance companies have underinsured motorist (UIM) or uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, but you have to ask for them. These policies are often good investments as they protect you in the instance that someone without insurance crashes into your vehicle. These policies can even cover you in the event that you are struck by a hit-and-run driver. However, there are things you need to be aware of when it comes to these policies.

When you file a UM/UIM claim, you and your insurer take up different roles than you do in an ordinary claim situation. You will be settling the claim with your insurer, which means you will be in the role normally taken by the other party’s insurer. That means you will be negotiating a settlement, and this can be hard for the inexperienced.

This is one of those situations where you will benefit from having experienced legal representation by your side. A motor vehicle accident attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement with your insurance company in an uninsured driver situation, which makes contacting an attorney almost essential after getting into a crash. Remember, winter in the Bay Area can make driving treacherous, so be prepared.

Are Infotainment System Causing Distracted Driving Crashes?

When driving a vehicle, it’s been considered acceptable to reach over and tune the radio or to adjust the vehicle’s climate controls. These simplistic tasks usually aren’t enough to take a driver’s attention away from the road, but that’s changed over the years. Now we have cellphones, portable DVD players and portable gaming consoles to divide our focus, but did you ever suspect that your car’s infotainment system may be just as likely to cause distracted driving crashes as these other devices?

Can Infotainment Systems Cause Distracted Driving Crashes?

A recent study released by AAA reveals interesting information that may surprise you. Despite manufacturers claiming to design their infotainment centers to reduce distraction for drivers, this new study says that these systems may actually do the opposite.

Led by University of Utah professor David Strayer, AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety has been examining how much vehicles contribute to distracted driving since 2013. And as the years have gone by, the problem of vehicles distracting their drivers has only gotten worse.

The study says that out of the 30 cars and trucks studied this year, only seven did not rate high or very high on a scale measuring how much distraction these vehicles caused drivers. None of the vehicles were rated as requiring a low amount of attention.

The study further discovered that in-vehicle GPS systems tended to be the most distracting devices in vehicle infotainment systems, distracting drivers for up to 40 seconds on average. The runner up for most distracting infotainment option was the texting function. And in case you thought voice control functions could help in reducing these distractions, the study found that voice systems were often too complex—requiring drivers to turn their thoughts away from driving tasks.

In summary, the researchers found that these infotainment systems have turned simple climate and radio adjustments into a complicated mess. Layers of menus and tasks that require more and more thought have been integrated into these systems and it is causing chaos. AAA is recommending that automakers take some of these distracting features out of their vehicle, but with almost 70 of adults in the U.S. demanding these infotainment systems, manufacturers have no reason to reduce these features.

Recent personal injury lawsuits have seen app makers like Snapchat and phone makers like Apple taken to court for creating distractions while people are driving. Could such lawsuits over infotainment systems persuade automakers to reduce the possible distractions these systems can cause? Your Bay Area personal injury law firm—Mary Alexander & Associates—will monitor the situation to let you know about any developments.

Could Distracted Driving Be Stopped by Smart Cars?

If you’ve been paying attention to the media lately, then you know autonomous vehicles are the future of driving. These new cars will be able to pick you up and take you wherever you need to go without the need of a driver. Experts even claim that autonomous vehicles will be safer and eliminate road hazards like distracted driving. However, the autonomous driving future is still a ways off, are there technological solution that could help drivers fight distraction today?

Are Smart Cars Capable of Stopping Distracted Driving?

Tesla faced a mountain of pressure from government officials when one of its cars crashed into an 18-wheeler, killing its driver while operating in semi-autonomous mode. This led to the company employing its vast technical know-how to make sure drivers continued to pay attention to the road when autopilot was activated. But what if that technology were deployed in all cars, regardless of whether they were in semi-autonomous mode or not?

That’s a question Fakhri Karray of the University of Waterloo’s Center for Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence is trying to find out. Using software and Microsoft Kinect digital cameras, Karray and his team of engineers are developing a system that cars can use to tell if drivers are distracted or not.

The system uses the cameras to watch the driver’s entire body, and uses an algorithm to determine if that driver is distracted or not. Automakers like Cadillac are also developing such systems, but they focus on just the head or eyes. The system at Waterloo observes the entire body. These researchers are also using neural networks instead of pattern recognition to develop a system that makes fewer mistakes when trying to figure out when someone is driving distracted.

How Long Before This Technology Is Available?

According to Karray, if left up to automakers, it could take years before we see systems like this developed for consumer vehicles. However, he believes he could get a system like this running in just a year, which could allow the third-party market to make options available much sooner than automakers can provide.

Regardless, we will still have to exercise self-control and care when out driving. There is all manner of distractions for drivers on modern roads—from cellphones to infotainment systems. It is the responsibility of the driver to keep their focus on the road while behind the wheel.

Public safety officials are launching safety campaigns all over the country to help remind drivers of this responsibility. And personal injury attorneys like the Bay Area lawyers at Mary Alexander & Associates can do their part by helping the victims of distracted driving seek justice against negligent drivers. Contact experienced legal help if you have a legal concern about your motor vehicle accident.

What are my Options as a Passenger Injured in a Car Accident?

If you are a passenger injured in a car accident, you also have rights. In fact, you may be in a position to receive more compensation than any of the drivers. If for instance, both drivers are partly at fault, the compensation awarded may be limited. If you have suffered injuries as a passenger, you first need to establish who was at fault. This is where our personal injury lawyers in San Francisco, CA come in. In most cases, none of the drivers will admit fault willingly. There is a need for an investigation to ascertain the party liable to cover for your injuries.

Making Third Party Injury Claims

As a passenger injured in a car accident, you can make an injury claim to the following parties:

• The insurance provider of the owner or driver of the car you were traveling in.

• The insurance provider of the other driver involved in the auto accident.

A claim to any of these insurance policies is considered a third party claim because you would be making a claim to another insurance provider other than your own. As a passenger injured in a car accident, it is also possible for you to sue both insurers. This can happen when the compensation received is not sufficient to cover for the injuries you have suffered. Our lawyers can help you sue for full compensation and receive the maximum amount allowed in injury claims.

The Need for a Personal Injury Lawyer

When you get involved in an injury, one of the things you contemplate is whether to hire the services of an accident injury lawyer. It is important to note that, even in straight forward cases complications can arise along the way. Personal injury laws also differ from one state to another. In light of this, you need a lawyer who has extensive knowledge of the law. Another hurdle in these cases is calculating the compensation. You may not be in a position to know how much your case is worth. The competent lawyers of Mary Alexander & Associates will review your case and advise you on the best way forward. Contact us and let our experience work for you.


We all know that distracted driving is unsafe and can result in an accident. But not everyone knows exactly how dangerous it really is. What is even worse is that many of those who actually understand the dangers that distracted driving poses continue to engage in acts that distract them from the road.

What is distracted driving? To put it basically, distracted driving is any activity that casues the driver’s attention to be diverted from the road. Some examples of distracted driving include:

  • Talking on the phone while driving
  • Texting while at a stoplight or driving
  • Taking videos while driving
  • Using a smartphone app while driving
  • Eating while driving
  • Using GPS while driving

A driver that texts while driving takes his or her eyes off of the road for an average of five seconds each time. If the driver is traveling at 55 miles per hour, five seconds is just enough time to go the distance of a football field. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and an additional 431,000 more were injured as a result of distracted driving.

Drivers who talk on a phone while driving are four times more likely to be involved in an auto accident. Drivers who text and drive are eight times more likely to be involved in a car accident. These alarming statistics prove just how dangerous distracted driving can be. All drivers need to pay attention when they are behind the wheel and avoid distractions. By doing so, we all play our part in making the roads and highways safer.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver call Mary Alexander and Associates toll-free at 415-966-2626 to get assistance from our auto accident attorneys.

Facebook’s executive chef killed in California motorcycle crash

Due to its beautiful weather, California has more than its share of year-round motorcyclists. But even though it is common to see motorcyclists out at any time of year, that doesn’t mean that California roads and highways are motorcycle-friendly.

These smaller, two-wheeled vehicles offer less protection to their riders and are less visible to other motorists. As a result, motorcycle accidents tend to be more deadly than car accidents.

Those who work in Silicon Valley are currently in mourning over the recent death of an executive chef who worked for Facebook and had previously worked for Google. He was killed earlier this week when his motorcycle collided with a stopped SUV.

According to news sources, he was riding with his brother on Monday night in bad weather when they approached an intersection that is known to be somewhat hazardous. The SUV was stopped in the road due to a flat tire. The victim’s brother was able to swerve out of the way in time to avoid hitting the stopped vehicle, but the chef was not. He died at the scene due to the impact of the crash.

It is unclear at this point whether the fatal crash was an unavoidable accident or if it could be attributed to some act of negligence such as poor road/intersection design. If it is the latter, the man’s family may wish to pursue legal action to make sure that no one else is forced to suffer a similar fate.

For now, however, the colleagues, friends and family of this this well-known and much-loved chef must grieve the loss of a life that was taken far too soon.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Motorcyclist dies after hitting stopped vehicle on Rt. 23 on South Side,” Allison Manning, July 23, 2013

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