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Doylestown Family Law & Personal Injury Blog

Dangerous driving rises with economic recovery

As the economy improves, drivers in Pennsylvania and across the country could face more dangerous roadways. A study released in May 2017 shows that the death rate for motorists operating newer vehicles has risen as more drivers get on the road and drive more recklessly.

Despite improved vehicle safety technology, deaths in traffic are expected to remain stable or decrease only slightly in the next years as the economy is expected to continue to improve. For people driving 2014 cars, the overall rate of deaths is 30 per 1 million registered users. This is an increase over the 2011 rate, which was 28 per 1 million. There are major differences between the death rates associated with car crashes involving individual vehicles.

Speed limits and fatalities in Pennsylvania

The results of a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that higher speed limits have resulted in 33,000 deaths in the United States over the past 20 years. The fatality rates, which dropped during that period, could have been more significantly reduced without the increased speed limits.

In 1973, states that wanted to receive a portion of highway funds were required by Congress to adopt a 55 mph speed limit. While the National Maximum Speed Limit law was passed due to worries about the availability of fuel, one of its most significant results was a reduction in traffic deaths.

Tesla Model S fails to receive IIHS top safety designation

Pennsylvania motorists might be surprised to know that the Tesla Model S may not be as safe as the automaker's CEO has proclaimed. Although Elon Musk regularly discusses the luxury vehicle's safety, the Model S failed to receive the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest rating for crashworthiness in its latest round of crash testing. Funded by auto insurers, the IIHS tests SUVs, trucks and cars of all sizes, and the results are used to determine the organization's Top Safety Pick Plus designees.

In order to qualify for the safety designation, vehicles in each category must pass five safety tests, receive a high rating for front crash prevention and have an "acceptable" or "good" headlight rating. The safety tests measure roof strength, the effectiveness of head restraints and the vehicle's response to three types of crashes.

The changing roles of fathers

Fewer Pennsylvania fathers may be the sole breadwinner in the family compared to the past, but fathers are spending more time on child care according to a 2015 survey by Pew Research Group. In 1970, the father was the breadwinner in almost half of couples with children, but by 2015, that number had dropped to just over one-quarter. However, fathers in 2015 reported devoting seven hours per week to child care, and this was three times as much as 1965.

More than half of both mothers and fathers said parenting was an important part of their identity. Nearly as many parents also said they found parenting rewarding all of the time. However, both mothers and fathers also said they struggled in balancing family and work. About half of both mothers and fathers also reported wanting to be stay-at-home parents but being unable to afford it.

Safety advocates urge caution on driverless car testing

Driverless cars are considered the cars of the future, but some Pennsylvania residents may want to wait a bit before buying one. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety say safety issues need to be resolved before such cars become commonplace on U.S. streets and highways.

The advocacy group is urging Congress not to rush into the driverless cars movement as these vehicles are being test-driven on a limited basis. It wants Congress to limit the number of test vehicles and to require automakers to certify they meet safety standards. Legislation to expand the testing of driverless cars is pending in Congress.

Courts and states increasingly favor shared custody

For Pennsylvania fathers who are going through a divorce, the thought of losing regular access to their children could provoke a great deal of anguish. However, an increasing number of jurisdictions across the United States now strongly favor shared physical custody arrangements, especially when fathers are seeking it.

Shared parenting means that the child spends approximately equal time with both parents who each have important input in decision-making and participate in raising the child. Shared custody helps to ensure the strong involvement of both parties in a child's life. Numerous studies have found that shared parenting is a great benefit for children's emotional and physical health.

What protective orders do in Pennsylvania

In a domestic violence case, Pennsylvania law may call for the victim to be given a protective order. In many cases, the protective order forbids an abuser from coming within a certain distance of the victim for a predetermined amount of time. An emergency order may expire within a day while a general order may last for up to 18 months. However, an order may be extended indefinitely if necessary.

To apply for a protective order, a person must be an adult or an emancipated minor. Parents or guardians of a minor child may apply for a protective order on behalf of a child. If a child is the victim of abuse, a protective order may provide a parent with temporary custody. An abuser may also be required to give up his or her weapons and pay for any losses related to the abuse.

How to protect one's interests after a car crash

Car accidents happen every day in Pennsylvania. When an individual is involved an accident that was caused by another driver, such as a rear-end collision, he or she should collect essential information about the at-fault driver. Even if someone is uncertain about who was responsible for the accident, he or she should still obtain the other driver's name, telephone number and insurance information.

Witnesses at the scene should also be interviewed and their responses recorded. The police should be called if a wreck causes significant damage or injuries. The police report could provide an objective view of events, which may support a personal injury claim.

Child custody cases not involving a divorce

Pennsylvania child custody and visitation issues can arise in situations that don't involve the divorce of married parents. Interested parties can sometimes include unmarried parents, grandparents and other relatives who have a significant relationship with the child.

In cases in which there is a child custody dispute between unmarried parents, the mother is generally likely to given sole physical custody. Although a father who is not married to the mother of his child may not be able to gain sole custody if the mother is a good parent, he may still seek some form of visitation and custody rights.

Pickup trucks score well in avoiding vehicle fatalities

Pickup trucks and SUVs scored better than average in vehicle fatality figures, according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report released May 22. The overall rate for all passenger vehicles throughout Pennsylvania and the U.S. was 30 driver deaths per million registrations.

The study covered vehicles produced in model years 2011 to 2014. Overall, pickup trucks performed better than average, with a rate of 26 traffic deaths out of a million registered vehicles. SUVs outperformed further, with a rating of 21, while minivans had the best rating of 19. Regular passenger cars carried the highest fatality score, with a rate of 39 deaths per million registered vehicles.