Off-duty highway patrolman killed in three-vehicle motorcycle crash

247384_e___motion.jpgThis evening, an off-duty highway patrol officer was killed while riding his personal motorcycle on California's Highway 12. According to the Napa Valley Register, 38 year-old John Fanene was traveling west when his motorcycle was clipped by an eastbound pickup truck that was attempting to turn left off the highway. The driver of the pickup, 39 year-old Edward Turner, reportedly saw Fanene at the last moment and attempted to accelerate through the turn, but Fanene struck the right rear side of the pickup.

Authorities say Fanene was ejected from his motorcycle on impact and thrown nearly 200 feet. He landed in the roadway, where he was struck by another eastbound vehicle. Fanene was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured. Police are investigating the accident, but drugs or alcohol are not believed to be contributing factors.

Sadly, many motorcycle accidents happen every year simply because drivers fail to see motorcyclists traveling near them. Consider the following facts:

• Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injury than other motorists because they do not have the protection of an enclosed vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the number of motorcycle fatalities in 2010 was about 30 times the number of deaths in other types of auto accidents.

• Motorcycles are less visible than other kinds of passenger vehicles, and less stable in braking and swerving maneuvers.

• 2009 data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that 42% of fatal two-vehicle motorcycle accidents occurred when a vehicle attempted to turn left while a motorcyclist was going straight or passing the vehicle.

So, what can motorcyclists do to help make themselves more visible to other motorists? Here are a few basic tips:

• Allow extra distance between your motorcycle and other vehicles. You need space in front of your bike in case an obstacle suddenly presents itself, so it's important to create an exit route, just in case you need it.

• Don't ride in other vehicles' blind spots. Your best bet is to ride

• Slow down as you're proceeding through intersections, and be aware of what other vehicles are doing. Position your motorcycle so it's clearly visible to motorists attempting to make left turns.

• Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing - and use your lights and signals to alert other motorists to your presence, and to your intentions.

• Ultimately, it's best to ride like other drivers can't see you. If you assume a driver sees you and you're wrong, you can put yourself in harm's way. Conversely, if you assume you can't be seen, you'll be prepared for the unexpected.

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Wrongful death / personal injury lawsuit against the Kraft Group will proceed to trial, judge rules

tennessee 070lthe long and winding road.jpgA Massachusetts judge has ruled that a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit against the Kraft Group and other companies affiliated with Gillette Stadium can proceed to trial. According to the Boston Globe, the lawsuit is connected to a 2008 drunk driving crash that killed two young women and seriously injured a third.

On the day of the crash, the three women - Debra Davis, 20; Alexa Latteo, 19; and Nina Houlihan, then 20 - were drinking in the Gillette Stadium parking lot during the New England Country Music Festival, along with tens of thousands of other tailgaters. After leaving the lot around 6:00 p.m., they traveled approximately one mile before Latteo, the driver, lost control of her vehicle on a curve, left the roadway and struck a tree. Latteo and Davis, the front seat passenger, both died at the scene. Houlihan, who was riding in the back seat, sustained multiple fractures and a broken pelvis. A blood test later determined that Latteo had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.24% - three times the legal limit - when the accident occurred. Davis's BAC was 0.20%.

The lawsuit, filed by Davis's parents and Houlihan, argues that the Kraft Group is guilty of negligence, gross negligence and willful and wanton behavior. It maintains that the Kraft Group failed to properly monitor the parking lot to verify that everyone had a ticket to the concert, and to ensure minors weren't drinking on the premises.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the Kraft Group say the parking lot was marked with signs that said "No tickets, no entry." The three women did not have tickets to the concert, but had merely gone to Gillette to participate in the tailgating festivities. In addition, the Kraft Group maintains that the women brought their own alcohol to the facility, so the drinks weren't furnished by Gillette Stadium.

However, the lawyer representing Houlihan and the Davises disagrees with that assessment. "Supplying alcohol, furnishing, means to allow underage drinking to occur, whether you actually hand the alcohol to the party or sell it to them or not," attorney Joseph Borsellino, attorney for Houlihan and the Davises, told WBUR in Boston. "If you are allowing them to underage drink on your property and you're not doing enough to prevent, you are now furnishing them alcohol."

Davis's parents are seeking $2.5 million in damages. Houlihan is seeking $250,000.

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Are older drivers in Cape Girardeau, MO at a greater risk for auto accidents?

78226_dad.jpgAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), older drivers account for about nine percent of the general population, but they represent approximately 14 percent of all auto accident fatalities, and about 17 percent of pedestrian fatalities. As drivers age, they may find that changes to sight, hearing and reflexes can hinder their abilities behind the wheel, and it's common for their loved ones to worry about their safety. However, talking to senior drivers about these issues isn't always an easy task. "People have been driving their whole life and have trouble believing they're incapable of continuing," Richard Nix, executive director of Agingcare.com, told ABC News. "They feel like their independence has been taken away."

So, how do you know when it's time to bring up the subject? Here are some common warning signs for senior drivers, courtesy of SeniorDriving.AAA.com:

• Receiving two or more traffic tickets (or warnings) within the past two years
• Being involved in two or more collisions within the past two years
• Confusing the gas and brake pedals
• Disregarding or missing traffic signals
• Having difficulty remaining in his/her lane
• Getting lost or confused easily, even in familiar areas

If you're seeing these signs, it may be important to have a discussion about safety with your senior driver. Here are a few basic tips:

Be straightforward and respectful. Remember that these conversations are uncomfortable for all parties involved, and - understandably - they can make senior drivers defensive. Stay positive and supportive, and don't make generalizations about older drivers. Miriam Zucker, a geriatric care manager, recommends starting with something like this: "Dad, you've been a safe driver for 60 years, but with your cataracts, I know it's harder for you to drive at night. If you got hurt or hurt someone else, that would be awful."

Don't involve the whole family in the conversation. Inviting a large group of family members to an "intervention" style discussion can make an older driver feel targeted, ganged up on, and alienated. Keep the group small and non-threatening.

Don't violate your loved one's privacy. Don't talk with a driver's doctors, friends or neighbors about your safety concerns without asking permission first.

Don't jump to conclusions. Avoid making accusations and assumptions without knowing all the specific facts. Stick to what you know - for example, that a driver has a medical condition that could impair his or her driving skills.

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What to do after a car crash: Four basic steps for Missouri drivers

145315_car_accidents_by_vward_4.jpgAs personal injury lawyers, we understand that the aftermath of a car crash can be confusing and overwhelming. After all, car accidents tend to happen when we least expect them, and it's common for injury victims to feel like their lives have been suddenly turned upside down. In this post, we share four basic steps to help you ensure your rights and interests are protected. Knowing what to do before an accident occurs can save you time and stress, should the unexpected happen to you.

Four important steps to take after a Missouri car accident:

1. Assess your injuries and seek medical treatment. First and foremost, you'll want to check for injuries to yourself, your passengers, and any other parties involved in the crash. If anyone needs immediate medical attention, call for an ambulance - and if you're in doubt, err on the side of caution. Depending on the extent of your injuries, your medical treatment might involve a visit to the ER, Urgent Care or your family doctor. In any case, you'll want to seek treatment as soon as possible following the accident. Be sure to explain all of your injuries and pain in detail. Often, injury victims focus on the injuries that hurt the most, and as a result, the medical records may not reflect the full scope of their injuries.

2. Call the police and file an accident report. An accident report is extremely important - and useful - for three basic reasons. First, it contains the name and address of each driver involved and provide the name of each driver's insurance company. Second, it documents the circumstances surrounding the crash and offers the police officer's conclusions about how the accident happened and who was at fault. And third, it outlines certain facts about the collision, including weather and road conditions.

3. Gather and preserve important evidence. Take photographs of your injuries, your vehicle, and - when possible - the accident scene. Keep a journal that details your medical treatment and your recovery process. Save any paperwork you receive that's related to the crash, including medical bills, letters from insurance companies, receipts, etc. Finally - importantly - keep all of these materials together in a folder or binder to ensure no evidence is lost. These materials can play a key role in personal injury claims.

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Do distracted driving laws stop drivers from texting?

file7071257952599.jpgDistracted driving car accidents in Kennett are deadly -- and preventable. According to the Chicago Tribune, many states are now taking an in-depth look at the causes, the consequences and the costs of distracted driving accidents.

One of the most dangerous distracting diving activities that a driver can engage in is texting. Texting behind the wheel takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, and your mind off the task of driving: in other words, it involves all three main forms of distraction (manual, visual and cognitive).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 20 percent of all deadly car accidents and more than 20 percent of all injury accidents involve some sort of driver distraction. Accidents caused by texting drivers are 100% preventable. No life is worth a text message.

At present, 39 states, Washington D.C. and Guam have passed laws that ban texting for all drivers of all ages. Unfortunately, Missouri is not one of those 39 states. Our only distracted driving law bans texting in young drivers under age 21.

However, some states with texting bans in effect have reported difficulty enforcing these laws. For example, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia State Troopers "have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was texting at the wheel, and not merely dialing a number or talking. Most drivers simply stash their phone when a cop is in sight," law enforcement officials report. In Georgia, texting and driving is illegal, but talking on a cell phone is permissible.

And in Pennsylvania, where a similar law is in place, police report similar issues. "It's difficult to make that arrest due to the current law," Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano told the Times-Tribune. "It's difficult for an officer to discern whether they're texting or looking up numbers on their phone."

To combat this problem, the U.S. Department of Transportation is providing $550,000 in funding for pilot projects designed to improve the enforcement of texting and driving laws. Connecticut and Massachusetts will each receive $275,000 for "high-visibility anti-texting enforcement programs," which will involve training police spotters to be stationed on highway overpasses, keeping an eye on drivers from above.

"While it is relatively easier for law enforcement to determine illegal handheld cellphone use by observing the position of the phone at the driver's ear, the dangerous practice of texting while driving is often not as obvious," said David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator, in a press release. "These two new demonstration programs will help identify real-world protocols and practices to better detect if a person is texting while driving."

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Expert witnesses and their role in Missouri personal injury claims

Missouri Expert WitnessesAs personal injury lawyers, we know that witnesses can be a key component of an injury claim connected to a Missouri car accident. Different kind of witnesses can support a claim in numerous ways. For example, lay witnesses are ordinary people who are somehow involved in your case. For example, a lay witness might be someone who was a passenger in your vehicle when a crash occurred, or a bystander who witnessed the events leading up to a collision. Lay witnesses can testify about their personal, first-hand knowledge of how an accident happened.

On the other hand, expert witnesses are professionals such as medical doctors, engineers, crash reconstruction experts, economists, vocational professionals, and life care planners. These professionals must be appropriately qualified to offer an opinion in a specific field, and their testimony is used to help a jury understand evidence or make a decision about a disputed fact.

It's common for personal injury lawyers to call upon expert witnesses to help prove certain elements of a case. Essentially, these witnesses possess specialized academic training, professional experience or other specific credentials that provide direct, reliable insight into the particulars of a case. Our New Madrid, Missouri personal injury attorneys often use experts to prove both fault and damages in a personal injury case. The use of expert witnesses can help demonstrate the extent of a victim's injuries or clarify the circumstances that caused those injuries to occur.

Missouri car accident claims: How expert witnesses can help

• A medical doctor or specialist can testify to the extent of the victim's injuries, the care and treatment that victim has required (and will require); and the long-term physical consequences associated with a specific injury.

• An accident reconstruction expert can use engineering knowledge to recreate the sequence of events leading up to an accident, and then use that knowledge to draw a conclusion about what factors caused the crash to occur.

• A life care planner can identify the economic impact of a serious injury sustained in a crash, including future costs and lost wages.

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Pedestrian Accidents in Jackson a Trick-or-Treat Danger

file9251291040084.jpgAs Halloween draws near, young children will be looking forward to getting in costume and collecting candy from neighbors. Trick-or-treating may be one of our children's favorite holidays, but it can also be one of the most dangerous if we're not careful.

Parents are urged to keep an eye on little ones this year and share some safety tips with them before they head out to gather candy to avoid a child pedestrian accident in Jackson and elsewhere. Parents play a vital role in the safety of our young ones during this time of year.

Our Jackson child accident attorneys understand that car-related accidents continue to be the number one killer for children under the age of 14. These types of accidents include pedestrian accidents as well. Children may not be able to fully understand the function, risks and consequences of traffic flow. For this reason, parents are urged to supervise young children during their trick-or-treating adventures this year. Be sure to follow the safety tips listed in this blog to help ensure their safety during this year's holiday events.

According to SafeKids, there were 244 American children under age 14 killed in pedestrian accidents in 2009, and about 13,000 young pedestrians were sent to emergency rooms during the same year. More than 70 percent of these accidents occurred at non-intersection locations. And importantly, a quarter of these fatalities occurred between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m., which is prime time for trick or treaters.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol recommends these Halloween Safety Tips:

Motorists: Keep an eye out for young ghosts and goblins walking along our roadways. Remember that young children could dart out in front of vehicles at any time. Be sure to drive slowly and to use extra caution in areas where trick-or-treaters are present. If you're driving to a Halloween costume party, make sure that your costume or your mask doesn't impair your vision.

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NHTSA announces federal funding for anti-texting enforcement

1212374_mobile_phone.jpgToday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it will provide $550,000 in federal funding for pilot programs designed to prevent texting and driving. NBC News reports that Connecticut and Massachusetts will each receive $275,000 to implement high visibility anti-texting enforcement programs.

"We have come a long way in our fight against distracted driving, but there is still much work to be done," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a NHTSA news release. "Texting behind the wheel is especially dangerous, which is why we're working with states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to address this important safety issue."

Secretary LaHood says the funds will be used to train police officers in the two states, equipping them with more effective methods for identifying texting drivers and enforcing texting laws. Law enforcement officials in several states have experienced some difficulty enforcing texting bans, since it can be hard to tell whether a driver is texting, or dialing a number, or using a GPS program. In addition, the grant money will work to support media campaigns designed to spread awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.

Currently, 39 states, Washington D.C. and Guam have enacted text message bans for drivers of all ages. Missouri is not one of those states: our only texting and driving law is a ban for drivers under age 21. In 2012, the Missouri Legislature considered seven separate distracted driving bills, but none of them even came to a vote.

Why is texting and driving so dangerous?

• According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there are four main kinds of driver distraction: visual (looking at something besides the road); auditory (hearing something unrelated to driving); manual (doing something with your hands besides steering); and cognitive (thinking about something other than driving). Since texting involves three of those forms of distraction, it can be especially perilous.

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Arkansas driver pleads not guilty in hit-and-run crash that seriously injured motorcyclist

file3951268343242.jpgA North Little Rock man has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in connection with a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured a motorcyclist. According to KTHV, Nathan Ray is charged with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident with injury, and driving with a suspended license.

At around 1:00 a.m. on September 3, police say Ray was traveling east on Interstate 40 when he struck the rear end of a motorcycle. The rider, 28 year-old Trevor Ware, was thrown onto the car's windshield and then dragged under the vehicle. But Ray kept driving, dragging the motorcycle for about a mile and half down the highway before it dislodged itself from his car.

Ware was seriously injured in the crash. He sustained a brain injury, a torn colon, a fractured femur and fractured vertebrae. He remains hospitalized in a coma. Family members say he was not wearing a helmet when the collision occurred.

Investigators located Ray later that morning and took him into custody. They suspect he was intoxicated at the time of the crash, but they have not released the results of his blood screen. Authorities say he has an extensive criminal record that includes charges of driving while intoxicated, refusing a breathalyzer test, driving without proof of insurance, failure to yield and leaving the scene of a single-car accident. Ray is free on bail until his next court date, which is set for January 9.

If you'd like to contribute to the Trevor Ware Hospital Fund, click here to visit his family's donation website.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) the number of motorcycle deaths was about 30 times the number of car deaths in 2010, per mile traveled. Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to serious injury when they're involved in collisions with passenger vehicles, because there's nothing to protect riders from the force of impact. And motorcycles are simply less visible than other kinds of vehicles, making them easy to overlook.

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Woman awarded $3.2 million in wrongful death lawsuit after husband was killed by truck debris

file000354569325.jpgThis week, a Pennsylvania jury awarded $3.2 to a woman whose husband was killed by a piece of mining equipment that fell from a semi-truck on the highway.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the accident happened in December 2005 and caused the death of 36 year-old Shawn Collingwood. Collingwood was reportedly traveling north when he encountered a southbound tractor trailer hauling a coal shearer loader. The loader, which was being taken for repair, included four large cylinders weighing 123 pounds each. One of these cylinders had been loaded on top of the shearer, and it was not properly secured. It flew off the truck and struck the windshield of Collingswood's Chevy Silverado. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The wrongful death lawsuit was brought by the widow of the deceased. In the verdict, the jury assigned 90% of liability to the semi-truck driver, John Milner, and 10% to the owner of the coal shearer, Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company. Milner has also pleaded guilty in criminal court to charges of driving with an unsecured load, operating a vehicle with unsafe equipment and careless driving.

A Consol spokeswoman told the Post-Gazette that the company plans to appeal the verdict. "The trucking company and its driver took full responsibility for the accident at trial. For some reason, the jury found Consol 10 percent liable, but we think we have numerous and significant bases to appeal this verdict, and we intend to do so," the spokeswoman said.

Accidents caused by unsecured loads and other truck debris can have devastating consequences. In July, an 8 year-old boy died when a semi-truck dropped its transmission, throwing debris into another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle - 29 year-old Jameka Nicole Malone - lost her arm. Her young son, Cameron Mcllwain, was killed. And in May, an Iowa man was injured when a semi blew a tire, flinging debris into the windshield of his van.

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Texting teens may be influenced by their parents' driving habits

September 28, 2012

file1471245784726.jpgCar accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers in southeastern Missouri and throughout the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). What's more, 11% of teens who died in 2010 traffic accidents were distracted. And despite multiple campaigns aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, a striking number of teens are still using electronic devices when they're behind the wheel. In June 2012, the Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed teen drivers nationwide, and here's what they found:


• Approximately half of the drivers surveyed said they had talked on a handheld phone while driving within the last 30 days.

• Nearly 30% of respondents said they had texted while driving within the same time frame.

• About 8% admitted said they had used smart phone apps while driving within the last month, and 7% said they had used email or social media while behind the wheel.

Also, strikingly, nearly everyone surveyed "considered texting, using smart-phone apps, or accessing the Internet to be dangerous while driving; about 80 percent thought it was very dangerous. Also, 63 percent of those surveyed saw talking on a handheld phone while driving as dangerous."

So, why are so many teens still engaging in these behaviors? Another recent survey - this one from Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) - suggests that parents may be partially to blame:


• 59% of teens surveyed said they had seen their parents texting while driving.

• 91% reported seeing their parents talking on a handheld phone while driving.

"Kids begin to learn to drive long before we think they do," Dave Melton, director of Transportation Consulting Services at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, told the New York Times. "They go to the driving school of mom and dad for a long, long time. How can we expect them to do anything other than what we've taught them?"

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Cape Girardeau PD announces plans to escalate enforcement of underage drinking offenses

September 21, 2012

Thumbnail image for 565345_drinking.jpgThis week, the Cape Girardeau Police Department announced plans to step up enforcement of underage alcohol offenses. According to the Southeast Missourian, four agencies will collaborate to support this enforcement effort, including the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol, the Department of Public Safety at Southeast Missouri State University, and the Cape Girardeau PD.

"I think we have an implied obligation as law enforcement officers to reduce these issues," said acting police chief Roger Fields. "It's really nothing new. We've enforced alcohol laws all along. We're just putting extra effort into it and working to raise awareness. Our goal is to reduce alcohol-related issues in young people's lives before they create real problems later on."

Fields says the effort will involve saturation patrols on local roads to help prevent drunk driving accidents. Officers will also conduct compliance checks and walk-throughs at drinking establishments in an attempt to prevent businesses from selling alcohol to patrons under age 21.

According to statistics provided by Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), about 72% of teens have consumed alcohol by the time they graduate from high school. And teens have a different physiological response to alcohol than adults do: they become intoxicated more quickly and they have greater difficulty recognizing their limits, which means alcohol can be especially dangerous, even deadly, for minors. Teen drinkers are also more likely to develop alcoholism and other medical issues as they age.

Students at Southeast Missouri State University are not allowed to drink on campus or at university-sponsored events. Doug Richards, director of SEMO's police department, told the Missourian he issued 15 alcohol violations in 2010, which included nine violations on campus and six violations in student dormitories. Richards did not have specific numbers for 2011, but he said there was an "uptick" in violations last year.

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Poplar Bluff bus driver pulled over, arrested while transporting varsity soccer team

September 13, 2012

276670_bus.jpgOn Friday, a Butler County school bus driver was arrested on an outstanding warrant during a traffic stop that happened as he transported the Poplar Bluff varsity soccer team to an Illinois game. According to the Southeast Missourian, 33 year-old Bobby Joe Tippit was pulled over for speeding on Interstate 57 near the Missouri - Illinois border, as the bus was en route to Anna-Jonesboro Community High School in Anna, IL. The speed limit on I-57 is 70 in Missouri, but it drops to 65 in Illinois. Tippit was reportedly driving 75 miles per hour when he was stopped.

The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department, the officer who stopped Tippit discovered an outstanding warrant for failure to appear on a charge of drug paraphernalia possession. The warrant came from the mid-2000s, the Missourian reports, and it was issued in DuPage County, which is near Chicago. Tippit was taken into custody and remains incarcerated at the Tri-County Justice and Detention Center. His bond has been set at $6,000.

Law enforcement officials report that Tippit was cooperative and that he expressed concerns about the students on the bus. The Poplar Bluff soccer team waited with an assistant coach, and the Anna-Jonesboro school district sent another driver to retrieve the team. Poplar Bluff then sent a driver to Anna to bring the students back home.

Chris Hon, superintendent of Poplar Bluff Public Schools, says Tippit's warrant did not show up on the fingerprint background check that is required of all newly hired employees in the district. Hon says the district will investigate how the omission occurred. WSIL TV in southern Illinois reports that Tippit since has been fired. It's unclear how long he had worked for the district.

In Missouri school districts, effective 2005, bus drivers must pass a drug test and a background check before they are hired. Also, they must obtain a school bus endorsement on a commercial driver's license (CDL), which requires a separate written exam and driving test. Missouri law says that "No person shall operate any school bus owned by or under contract with a public school or the state board of education unless such driver has qualified for a school bus (S) endorsement and complied with the pertinent rules and regulations of the Department of Revenue." (Section 302.272, RSMo). Along with the CDL, the school bus endorsement must be renewed every six years for drivers under age 70 - drivers over 70 must renew their licenses annually.

Hon says Tippit met all of the applicable state requirements before he went to work for the district.

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Could you pass a driver's test if you took it today?

492545_multiple_choice.jpgLast year, one out of every five drivers who took the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test failed. The lack of driver knowledge may be one of the main reasons for the alarmingly high rates of car accidents in southeast Missouri and elsewhere. These statistics illustrated that nearly 37 million American drivers should probably not be operating a motor vehicle on our nation's roadways.

Our Dexter car accident lawyers understand the implications of these test results. As far too many drivers failed to meet the basic requirements to get a driver's license, it is no wonder our nation sees so many fatal car accidents each year. This is a serious problem that needs to be corrected with stricter laws, more driver education and more responsible driving habits.

According to the Kansas City Star, Missouri ranked among the top 10 states with the most knowledgable drivers through the results of this written driving test. However, even so, the Missouri Highway Patrol reported that there were 151,353 car accidents in Missouri in 2010: 821 people were killed and 54,875 suffered injuries in these crashes.

"The GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test has become the benchmark for America's driving IQ," said Scott Eckman, GMAC's chief marketing officer. "All Americans need a refresher course when it comes to rules of the road and it begins with education. We're hoping this year's GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test results will inspire drivers to arm themselves with the knowledge they need to stay safe."

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St. Louis County police announce implementation of revised pursuit policy

1235172_bee.jpgThis summer, in response to public concerns, the St. Louis County Police Department announced plans to adopt a new pursuit policy. In the past, the department was only authorized to pursue a suspect if he or she uses or threatens to use deadly force. Effective August 1, officers will be allowed to pursue drivers who are suspected of property crimes or impaired driving.

"At a community meeting some of the residents were very upset with me and the police department because we had a policy that didn't allow us to chase for property crimes," St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch told KDSK.

Last year, St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch decided to consider public opinion with respect to his department's pursuit policy. Under the old policy, officers only participated in about a dozen chases each year. However, following a string of copper thefts and vehicle break-ins in Pasadena Hills, Chief Fitch began seeking approval for the new rule, which states that officers are able to pursue suspects in both first-degree burglary and drunken driving cases. In both cases, the public seemed to support the new policy immediately, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

While some believe that more suspects should be chased on our roadways, others believe that officer chases are too dangerous and often result in serious car accidents, which can pose risks to innocent drivers on the road. Opponents of more liberal chase policies have expressed concerns that pursuing suspects on our roadways and engaging in more officer chases will only increase liability risks to drivers everywhere. Many residents don't believe that it's safe to let officers speed dangerously while attempting to catch less-than-serious criminals. For opponents, the choice is a serious one: it's either let someone go, for now, or pursue a suspect and risk endangering the lives of Missourians who just happen to be traveling nearby.

"First and foremost we are to do no harm, and we don't want to create a more dangerous situation by chasing DWI suspects at high speeds," Chief Fitch said last year.

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