Planes, Trains, and Automobiles in Summer 2021

| May 28, 2021 | Car Accidents, Injuries

As the starting gun sounds for summer vacation 2021, coronavirus cases are plummeting and vaccination rates are rising. So, for many people, it’s time to hit the road.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the COVID-19 infection rate is almost at pre-lockdown levels and over 60 percent of eligible Americans have received at least one vaccine shot. As a result, the CDC eliminated the facemask requirement, at least in some cases. Many public and private organizations changed their rules to conform to the new guidelines.

On a related note, major retailers report that shoppers are getting out more frequently and they have an appetite for luxury goods.

Planes

COVID-19 cases have plummeted since June 2020. Similarly, the commercial aircraft accident rate has declined, and usually declined sharply, almost every year since the mid-1980s. Therefore, safety is not as much of a concern as issues like passenger behavior.

Facemask requirements are a good example. The CDC has stated that fully-vaccinated people need not mask up. But most airlines still have universal masking rules. However, the rules vary by airline, and the enforcement might vary on specific flights. The crew on your outbound flight might take a different masking stance than the crew on your return flight.

Generally, passengers quietly, although somewhat begrudgingly, comply with these confusing requirements. But we have all seen videos of passengers forcibly removed from flights, sometimes for very ticky-tack violations.

Frequently, airline brass pronounce that unruly passengers will never be allowed on a plane again. Legally, that’s usually not the case. Typically, one incident, be it a mask dispute, a drunk-and-disorderly situation, or anything else, does not result in permanent no-fly status. Two incidents, even if they are unrelated, could result in placement on the naughty list.

Buses

People who are surprised to see this heading on this blog probably forgot this scene in the 1987 classic.

Air travel is getting safer, but ground travel is becoming more hazardous. Bus crashes have increased significantly since 2007. Operator fatigue causes many of these wrecks.

Many bus drivers, especially intercity bus drivers, spend long hours behind the wheel. Driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for commercial operators in Kentucky. Drivers with pre-existing conditions, such as sleep apnea, often fight a losing battle against fatigue.

Sleep is the only effective weapon in this battle. Common shortcuts, like drinking coffee or chewing gum, might make drivers feel more alert for a few moments. But it’s not a long-term fix. Furthermore, these shortcuts do nothing to improve judgement, speed up reactions, or address other fatigue symptoms.

Most buses have Electronic Logging Devices. These gadgets, which track HOS (Hours of Service), are attached to the vehicle’s drivetrain. So, when the bus is moving, the ELD clock is ticking. The trucking industry fought the ELD mandate all the way to the Supreme Court. These lawyers know how devastating such data can be in the hands of a skilled Lexington personal injury attorney.

HOS sometimes has little or nothing to do with driver fatigue. The time of day could be relevant as well. Most people are naturally drowsy early in the morning, late at night, and around midday. Most drivers are on the road at these times.

Automobiles

Private vehicles are the most popular and most dangerous form of summer vacation transportation. Car crashes kill or seriously injure about four million Amercians every year. Driver impairment causes most of these wrecks. Some examples of impairment include:

  • Alcohol: Authorities began cracking down on drunk drivers around 1990. Some thirty years later, alcohol is still a factor in about a third of the fatal crashes in Kentucky. This depressant slows reactions and impairs judgement.
  • Distraction: Hand-held cell phones get most of the attention in this area, but these gadgets make up only a small part of the problem. Other distraction hazards include using a hands-free phone, eating and/or drinking while driving, and talking to passengers while driving.
  • Drugs: In many jurisdictions, there are more “stoned” drivers than “drunk” drivers. Marijuana is the largest culprit, followed by prescription painkillers or antidepressants. These substances might be legal to ingest. But it’s always dangerous, and usually illegal, to drive while under their influence.

Driver fatigue, which was discussed above, is another serious problem among Kentucky motorists.

Operational errors, such as speeding also cause many vehicle collisions. Speed increases the risk of a collision as well as the force in a collision. Speed multiplies stopping distance from six vehicle lengths at 30mph to eighteen car lengths at 60mph. Additionally, according to Newton’s Second Law, speed multiplies the force in a collision between two objects.

The same basic legal principles apply in both bus and car crashes. Victims are entitled to compensation if they prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely that not. Bus crashes are usually more complex because the duty of care is higher and these wrecks usually involve multiple victims from multiple jurisdictions.

Stay safe on the road or in the sky this summer. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters. #goodelawyers