Southern California’s Memorial Day Weekend Continues Trend of Drunk Drivers and Car Accidents

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, left California drivers with ominous feelings after hundreds of car accidents and DUI arrests occurred.  Regardless of whether the DUI arrest involved a car accident, many of those that did ended with deadly results.  Even car accidents that did not involve intoxicated drivers saw several injuries and wrongful deaths occur.  Sadly, these incidents are not unusual for the holiday, as summer holidays traditionally represent the deadliest time to drive.  With the influx of tourists and drivers coming to the beach communities in Orange County and Los Angeles this summer, now is the time to be especially cautious on the roadways.

If you suspect that there is a drunk or reckless driver on the roadway, make sure to call local police. If you are involved in a car accident with a drunk or reckless driver this summer, be sure to speak with a car accident attorney right away.

Memorial Day Weekend’s Historical Car Accident Statistics

Along with remembrance and barbeques, Memorial Day weekend has become just as well known for car accidents and drunk drivers.  The holiday has sadly become the least safe time to drive on the road. Unfortunately, statistics show that things do not get much better as other summer holiday weekends continue.  Los Angeles, in particular, stands out as a locale with an increased number of holiday car accidents.  Unsurprisingly, holiday car accident statistics show that there is a clear correlation between the increased number of drunk drivers on the roadway and the number of accidents that occur.

According to the financial firm Value Penguin, from 2011-2015 an ordinary three-day weekend in the United States saw an average of 250 traffic fatalities.  On Memorial Day weekend, the average number of traffic fatalities jumped to 312.  Respectively, the Fourth of July weekend averaged 307, and Labor Day 308. The question begs to ask, is there a reason for the increase in fatal car accidents on the holiday weekends?

Fatal Car Accident Statistics on Holiday Weekends vs. Normal Three Day Weekend

Drivers and passengers face the highest risk of being in a fatal car accident during the three major summer holiday weekends.

The answer might be that the number of fatal car accidents is related to the number of people driving under the influence.  The available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 40.3 percent of all car accidents on Memorial Day weekend involved a drunk driver. The usual rate of car accidents involving someone driving under the influence was 29.2%.  Thus, there is an approximate 40 percent increase in the number of car accidents involving people driving under the influence on holiday weekends compared to ordinary three-day weekends.

Percentage of Car Accidents Involving Drunk Drivers

The summer holidays represent three of the top four holidays involving car accidents and drunk drivers.

Memorial Day Weekend 2019 Car Accidents

This year, car accidents, arrests of drunk drivers, and fatalities came rapidly in Southern California. By Monday, the California Highway Patrol reported that Memorial Day weekend resulted in 1099 arrests for people driving under the influence.  After a car accident involving a Long Beach pedestrian resulted in a fatality before the weekend commenced, fatal accidents continued to come in fast and furious.  In total, Memorial Day weekend resulted in the wrongful death of at least a thirty-four drivers and passengers.

Before Memorial Day Weekend began, Long Beach car accident reports relayed a sad pedestrian hit-and-run death.   The report stated that a vehicle struck 44-year-old Latonia Williams while she walked just outside of a crosswalk at Pacific Ave. and 25th Street.  After the car hit Ms. Williams, she was then hit by another car and died at the scene. The first vehicle that hit Ms. Williams fled the scene, and the driver is still at large.  We are asking anyone with information regarding this hit and run incident to contact Det. Sirilo Garcia at the Long Beach Police Department.

Then, within the first six hours of the holiday weekend, eight people died in a car crash. Authorities reported that more than half of those that died were not wearing a seat belt. Authorities did not release the names of any the victims or state what the cause of the crash was.

In Silverado, CA, a car crash Saturday morning killed two teens and left three others injured.  The 1998 Mazda Protégé was being driven by Joshua Morales on Santiago Canyon Road when it suddenly left the road. Property damage photographs show that the vehicle struck a tree and required the jaws of life to pry the occupants out.  Joshua Morales died in the car.  One passenger, Colton Mundy, died hours later at UCI Medical Center.  Three other teens went to hospitals with major injuries. Families of Morales, Mundy, and another passenger have set up GoFundMe pages.

Then on Sunday, a Pomona family died when they crashed into a tree near Los Banos, CA.  Reports stated that the driver lost control of his Nissan Altima, causing him to cross the freeway onto a dirt shoulder where he hit a tree. The wreckage was scattered on the road and included a car seat latch, broken glass, and a taillight. A relative identified the driver Samuel Soto, and his pregnant wife, Alondra Soto.  The Soto’s two children also died in the crash.  A family friend set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses.

Take Action and Help Make our Roads Safe this Summer

In sum, Memorial Day Weekend 2019 ended with tragic consequences.  The holiday typically marks the deadliest three-day holiday weekend of the year before two of the next three follow.  Huntington Beach, Bolsa Chica, Seal Beach, and Long Beach will see countless tourists flock to the beaches this summer.  Statistics show that on holiday weekends an increased number of those tourist drivers will drive under the influence.  It is vital that members of the community call the police if they suspect a drunk driver is on the road.  Residents and tourists should also generally be on the lookout for reckless drivers and make sure to report them immediately.

If You Have Been in a Car Accident in the Long Beach Traffic Circle Contact a Local Personal Injury Lawyer Right Away!

If you have been in a car accident, call a personal injury attorney right away. Make sure that you gather all of the other drivers’ auto insurance information.  No one article can cover everything that people should know after a car accident.  Additionally, car accidents with drunk drivers present unique legal challenges.  There are many local personal injury law firms throughout Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach that can help with filing a claim.  Most personal injury law firms can also assist if you have a wrongful death action.  Contact a lawyer right away to protect your statute of limitations, and ensure that you receive full justice for your insurance claims.  Don’t let an insurance company lowball your demand for reimbursement of medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering.

The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this post, or website, should be taken as legal advice for any individual or case situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  Contact us If you have lost a loved one or have pain and suffering from a personal injury.  For more information, visit our wrongful death page and car accidents page. For a free consultation, please reach out to our attorneys to arrange a time to discuss your case.  All you have to do is hit the big blue button labeled Contact Us at the top of this page!

Seal Beach bike vs. car accident memorial

We regret to learn that on January 11, 2019 in Seal Beach, CA, a tragic bike accident/car accident led to the wrongful death of a 64-year-old local rider.  This incident is already the third bicycle fatality in Southern California this year.  Moreover, it follows a November 2018 bicycle vs. car accident that occurred in Huntington Beach. That accident also resulted in the death of a 78-year-old cyclist.

As a personal injury lawyer, we become all too familiar with these kinds of accidents. Unfortunately, we usually become aware of this type of accident as a result of a wrongful death action. Generally, understanding where and how these collisions happen is a positive first step in reducing the number that occurs.  We hope that this post serves to remind everyone to be extremely cautious when encountering a cyclist on the roadway.

According to the Orange County Register, this tragic bicycle vs. car accident occurred on Friday morning January 12, 2019. The incident occurred near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway (“PCH”) and Seal Beach Boulevard.  According to witnesses identified by Biking LA, the cyclist was traveling northbound on Pacific Coast Highway when he was struck from behind (rear-ended). The vehicle involved incurred windshield damage.

One witness stated, “I was at the scene when the accident happened, and CPR was rendered by 4 of us before EMS arrived.  We all knew what to do and did our best, but we know the tragic outcome all too often when it’s bike versus auto.  I ride my bike on that route most weekends and have had several close calls at that intersection.  I’m very sad for my fellow rider and his family and friends.  Talk about him a lot… it hurts but it helps too.  Peace.”

The fellow rider initially had his name withheld by the Seal Beach Police Department. He was later identified as 64 year old Long Beach resident and Parkcrest Christian Church parishioner, Paul Smith.  The Seal Beach Police Department later issued a press release about the incident.  The statement indicated that Paul Smith had sustained traumatic injuries at the scene.  His injuries required that he be transported via ambulance to a local hospital. He was later pronounced deceased at the hospital.

On Sunday, January 13, 2019, Paul Smith’s family and friends held a memorial for him.  The memorial which can still be seen is at the intersection of Seal Beach Blvd. and PCH.  Paul Smith was described as an avid and experienced rider who competed around the country.  His friends also described him as a good man who gave back to the community and country. One example was when he went to Texas in 2017 to help flood victims affected by Hurricane Harvey.  Sadly, car accidents and personal injury law regularly remind us that it is always the best that are taken too soon.

Bike vs. Car Accidents in Southern California

No more demonstrative of this heavy toll are the statistics that reflect bike accidents in Southern California communities.  According to Biking LA, Pacific Coast Highway is regularly referred to as “SoCal’s killer highway.”  Information is available from the California Highway Patrol’s (“CHP”) SWITRS crash database reflecting just how dangerous riding at our beaches can be.

In 2016, Ed Ryder prepared a report called “Bike Collisions on the Pacific Coast Highway.” The report compiled data from the CHP SWITRS crash database. The report also discussed bicycle accidents in Southern California’s Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County.

One of the components discussed in the report is when and where these bicycle accidents are occurring.  It was noted that the top 10 cities for bicycle accidents include Newport Beach (#1), Long Beach (#2), Huntington Beach (#3), and Seal Beach (#9).  In fact, for the time period reviewed, Newport Beach had more bicycle accidents than Los Angeles and Malibu combined!  Furthermore, the bicycle accidents disproportionately occur on Saturday (23%) and Sunday (17%).

Understanding when and where these bike accidents occur can be helpful in understanding why they occur. The Ryder report found that bike collisions are historically the most prevalent on weekends in the Orange County beach communities.

The logical conclusion is that there must be a correlation between the increased volume of riders on the road, and the number of auto vs. bike collisions that occur.  However, when focusing on the most serious of automobile vs. bike collisions, more typical causation factors are present.

With regard to cyclist fatalities, Ryder’s report found that in auto accidents, driver’s were found to be at fault 46% of the time.  Sadly, driving under the influence (“DUI”) and biking under the influence (“BUI”) were leading causes for these kinds of accidents.  In fact, driving under the influence (“DUI”) and biking under the influence (“BUI”)  accounted for 47% of rider fatalities.

The other four factors identified were traveling at an unsafe speed (19%), improper turning on the roadway (14%), failure to use traffic signals and signs (10%), and unsafe lane changes (10%).  The potential correlation between an increased number of DUI/BUI drivers at Orange County beaches on the weekends, and the increased number of cyclist, is another potential point of discussion when examining the cause of these collisions.

Drive with Caution Near Cyclists on the Roadway

To minimize the chance of a car crash with a bicycle rider, it is essential that every driver remember the rules of the road.  The rules of the road can be found in the CA Driver’s Handbook.  Furthermore, the CA DMV makes the CA Driver’s Handbook available on its website.

The CA Driver’s Handbook states, “bicyclist have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle and motorcycle drivers.”  It goes on to state that due to the slower speed of cyclist, drivers should follow at a safe distance.  In the event a driver wishes to pass the cyclist, the Driver’s Handbook recommends changing into another lane.  If the driver cannot turn into another lane, the Driver’s Handbook advises drivers to allow at least 3 feet between the car and bicycle.  Then once the road is clear, the driver should pass at a safe speed to not endanger the rider.  It is also important to remember that riders may be traveling faster than you think.  The Driver’s Handbook states, a driver should not turn in front of a cyclist unless there is enough time to make the turn safely.  Regardless of the situation at hand, the common theme is to operate a vehicle with caution around a cyclist.

We hope that the information presented in this post helps drivers remember to be extremely cautious when sharing the road with a bicycle.  If you have any information regarding this particular incident, please call the Seal Beach Police Department.  Please remember, cyclist have the same rights as drivers on the roadway, and they must be treated with caution.

If you are involved in a car accident with a bicycle, it is essential to call the police and paramedics.  Furthermore, if you have suffered personal injury as a result of a bicycle accident, reach out to a bicycle accident lawyer right away before speaking to any insurance companies.  With this information in hand, get out there and practice safe driving and safe riding practices!

The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this post, or website, should be taken as legal advice for any individual or case situation. For more information on car accident claims, go to our car accidents page.  For more information on wrongful death claims, go to our wrongful death page.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death action or have pain and suffering from a personal injury case, we are available to assist.  For a free consultation please reach out to our attorneys to arrange a time to discuss your matter.  All you have to do is hit this link or the big blue button labeled “Contact Us” at the top of this page!