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Cell Phones the Culprit in Many Vehicle Crashes

It is a fact that whenever anyone gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, he or she is responsible for a potential of major destruction, to others or themselves.

This is something that is clearly underappreciated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest numbers show pedestrians injured in motor vehicle accidents were up 19 percent from a year ago.

Of course, drinking alcohol plays are large part in many wrecks. The NHTSA reports 48 percent of all accidents involved drunk drivers or pedestrians. Residents of the Lone Star State have long reveled in bragging that everything is bigger in Texas, but that unfortunately is also the case when it comes to drunk-driving deaths. Texas leads the country in this dubious category, averaging about 1,000 a year.

Small wonder why the Texas Department of Transportation recently launched “The Faces of Drunk Driving”, detailing the dangers of driving to the public.

But a rapidly emerging factor in traffic accidents is not booze, but cell phones. The National Safety Council states that 23 percent of all vehicle crashes involve cell phone use, causing 1.3 million wrecks across the country. In 2010, well over 3,000 crashes in Texas were attributed to someone being on a cell phone. Another statistic shows chatting on the phone — or texting — when driving can increase the likelihood of a crash up to 23 times. Even hands-free devices do not help much, as the conversation can have a negative effective on driver concentration.

Distracted driving has become a national issue, with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently calling it “a national epidemic.” Most states ban texting while driving, while a handful prohibit both texting and hand-held cellphone use on the road.

In Texas, the Legislature last year passed a statewide ban on texting while driving. It was already a no-no in Austin and other places, but Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the bill. “(It’s) a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults,” the Governor said.

Cell-phone use while driving can prove quite costly to the perpetrator. A Washington Post story said a Florida family was awarded $21 million after a woman was killed in a cell-phone related wreck. And after a Coca Cola sales person plowed into a woman while chatting on the phone and driving, a Texas jury ordered Coca Cola to pay the victim $21 million in damages. She suffered nerve damage to her back in the mishap.

Lawyers are becoming more aggressive in going after people — and their employers in certain circumstances — regarding these accidents. And as the dangers of cell-phone use while driving becomes more of an issue to the public, this trend probably will not slow down.

John Hale is a Waxahachie personal injury attorney and Ellis County personal injury lawyer helping injury victims near Dallas Texas. Learn more at

Cell Phones and Driving Don’t Mix

Folks who plaster those “Hang Up and Drive” bumper stickers on their vehicles might come across as arrogant, condescending and self righteous. It turns out, however, that they have the right idea.

Look at the numbers: The National Safety Council reports that 23 percent of all vehicle mishaps are cell-phone use related, resulting in 1.3 million wrecks a year. It is a big issue in the Lone Star State, but Texas has no limits on drivers using cell phones or texting. New Mexico, Oklahoma, Mississippi and South Carolina are some of the others states that are part of this crowd.

Drinking and driving — as well as speeding — have been part of the accident landscape since the first vehicles appeared on the road, and that will never change.  Be they pedestrians or drivers, alcohol was a factor in 48 percent of deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent study.

And the advent of cell phones and texting brings two more ways for drivers to behave irresponsibly while driving, causing more crashes.  Two years ago, using a cell-phone was a factor in over 3,300 Texas wrecks. Some twenty years ago, owning a cell phone was a luxury item and considered a status symbol of sorts. Now, almost everyone and his/her kid brother has one, and they are not reluctant to use them while driving, with often less than favorable consequences.

John Hale is a Waxahachie personal injury attorney and Ellis County personal injury lawyer helping injury victims near Dallas, TX. Learn more at

The Dilemma of Choosing Assisted Living or a Nursing Home

The good news is that thanks to medical advances and other factors, people are living longer than ever. The less than stellar news is this extended life span does not necessarily translate into a high quality of life in one’s later years.

With that comes the issue of what decisions should be made to make sure elder parents get the best care possible. It was not so long ago that the nursing home (aka “old folks” home) was virtually the only way to go. The Social Security act of 1935 gave rise to the nursing home industry, as Social Security provided reliable, fixed income to the elderly. Nursing homes didn’t become affordable for many and a profitable business enterprise until more than two decades later, thanks to public financing through Medicare and Medicaid.

But the tide is changing, as more and more people are looking at assisted living care possibilities and taking advantage of them. Newswise reports that a study by Health Services Research says assisted living, where the elderly are aided in everyday tasks in settings designed to replicate the home is increasing, while occupancy in the more traditional nursing homes is going down.
According to the study, nursing home occupancy dropped from 93% in 1977 to 87% in 1995. It continued to fall, to 83% in 2003. The researchers in this study found that assisted living capacity rose 10% and caused a 1.4% decrease in private-pay nursing home occupancy.
Assisted living facilities started gaining popularity in the 1980s, as they offered private rooms, food, housekeeping and other assistance. Most also have plenty of social activities for residents.

However, this does not mean a nursing home would not be a viable choice, since the type of care received in such a facility can be much better than sufficient.
“Although frequently thought of as temporary destinations for the final months of life, many skilled nursing residents thrive in these residences for a number of years,” said Jacob A. Hale, an Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney at The Hale Law Firm, P.C. in Waxahachie, TX.

John Hale is a Dallas elder law attorney and Dallas estate planning lawyer with The Hale Law Firm. To learn more visit