September 14, 2015

CyberSecurity for Vehicles Connecting to the Internet

When you have the option to connect your vehicle to the internet, it is no longer just a vehicle. It is now a computer on wheels. Some vehicles are able to search on Google, send tweets and be remotely accessed from a smartphone app. These vehicles will need cyber security measures beyond the traditional safety measures currently established. Therefore; the Security and Privacy in your Car Act is currently in consideration by Congress.

These software driven vehicles will need cyber security features. To date, there are three specific measures that can dramatically improve the cyber security of vehicles.

1) Vehicles will need over-the-air update systems to avoid expensive and lengthy recalls every time a security vulnerability is found;

2) The manufacturer must separate infotainment systems and the critical drive systems, therefore; tightly controlling communication between them; and

3) Manufactures must assume that some attacks will succeed and secure each individual software component in the vehicle, so that if an attacker compromises a single system they do not automatically get access to the entire vehicle.

These three measures are just a start. It will take years for companies to develop a strong cyber security system, but in the meantime, it is up to the driver how much control they are willing to give their vehicles when connecting them to the internet

September 2, 2015

Railroad Accidents Are Up in 2015

So far in 2015, there have been 5 Amtrak Train derailments. For the past two years there has been an increase in hazardous materials releases and therefore; fires have doubled in the past two years. According to projections by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, train derailments will double in the next year. Therefore; the Federal Department of Transportation has released new rules to regulate tank cars that carry crude, ethanol, and other flammable liquids.

Derailments are usually caused by equipment failures. Broken, settled, spread, shifted or overturned rails account for about 50 percent of the equipment related derailments.

Human and environmental factors can also contribute to train accidents. Some of the human factors that contribute to train accident are things like poor train handling, incorrectly set track switches, unsecured cars on a hill, shifted loads, vandalism, and obstructions on the track. Floods, avalanches, rock slides and high winds are some of the environmental factors.

Therefore; if you or a loved one is a victim of train derailments, please contact our office, so we can better inform you and assist you of your rights and help you seek the needed medical treatment for your injuries.

August 24, 2015

Self Service VEIP Kiosk Now Available in Maryland

Maryland vehicle owners can now start using the new and convenient self-service Vehicle Emission Inspection Program (VEIP) kiosks, to test their vehicle's emissions. There are two VEIP self-service kiosks available in Maryland. One located at the Glen Burnie VEIP station and the other in the Gaithersburg branch VEIP station. Both stations/kiosks are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These stations are administered and monitored by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).

MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles and the Deputy Transportation Secretary James Ports Jr. were at each location demonstrating how the VEIP self-service kiosks operate. These kiosks are part of a pilot program which will run for one year. The driver/user will plug a device into their vehicle's computer diagnostic system to determine whether their vehicle's engine is working properly and whether its emissions are up to Maryland environmental standard. The process will take less than 10 minutes.

Light duty vehicles model years 2005 and newer and heavy duty vehicles model years 2008 and newer are eligible to use the self-service VEIP kiosk. That means that about 58% of vehicles tested annually will be able to use the kiosk. The cost will be $14 and the test must be done every two years in the state of Maryland.

August 17, 2015

Car Thefts and Break-ins at a High this Summer in D.C.

Summer in the District of Columbia seems to be a high time for Car thefts and break-ins. July and August have been deemed the top months for these types of crimes in the District. According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, since June 1, 2015, there have been 655 car thefts in the District, with 287 of the thefts occurring in July 2015. In Prince George's county there were 3,543 cars stolen in 2014 and 845 in Montgomery County. Both of these counties are larger municipalities than D.C., each with populations of about 890,000 and one million, respectively.

As for car burglaries, there have been 2,310 car burglaries in D.C. since June 1, 2015. That number is up from the 2,042 car burglaries recorded, in 2014.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that a vehicle is stolen every 44 seconds in the U.S. The NHTSA and AAA Insurance have some recommendations for preventing vehicle thefts and burglaries. Here are seven of them:

1. Get your Vehicles Identification Number (VIN) etched on each piece of glass on your car. That way the thief is deterred from taking the vehicle since all windows etched would need to be replaced.

2. Always lock your car and make sure all windows are closed. Even if you part your car in a garage.

3. Never leave expensive belongings out in plain site.

4. Never leave your keys inside your car and never leave your vehicle running at any time while you are not in it.

5. Park your car in well lit areas.

6. If your car doesn't have an alarm or hidden tracking device then have one installed.

7. Remove all spare keys from inside the car. Never hide spare keys in or around your car.

July 20, 2015

Confederate Logo License Plates Are No Longer Available in Maryland

Brian Frosh, Maryland's Attorney General, asked a federal court on Friday, July 17th, 2015 to lift a 20 year-old injuction that prevents the state of Maryland from recalling license plates with Confederate logos. This action would make it so that the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) can develop an emergency regulation to recall Confederate logo plates already in use statewide. Maryland has already stopped issuing new plates with Confederate logos. The issuing of these Confederate logo plates have been suspended until further review from the attorney general.

The Maryland request to lift the injuction follows the Supreme Court's ruling on June 18th, 2015 that found states could reject specialty license plates as a form of government speech. This means that states can exclude the Confederate flag from government specialty license plates. The issue at hand is that in 1997 the U.S. District Court made a decision that blocked the state's attempt to recall license plates with the logo of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, based on the fact that the group's First Amendment rights to freedom of speech where being violated.

The MVA says there are 151 Confederate plates on vehicles and 27 on motorcycles to date.

July 6, 2015

New Traffic laws in effect in Virginia starting July 1, 2015

The major law passed is that a driver may now cross a double yellow line to pass a pedestrian or a device powered by human power. This means that drivers can cross the double yellow lines to pass a slower bicyclist, skateboarder and/or foot scooters, when driving in a single lane road with the above vehicles going at a slower pace.

Another law now in effect is one where you have to pass a stopped waste collection vehicle at 10 miles below the speed limit and allow at least two feet between you and the waste collection vehicle. Therefore; Virginia's "move over" law has been revised to include all traffic management service vehicles with blinking amber lights to the list that requires drivers to move over one lane or slow down.

In addition, Bicycles, mopeds and other non-motorized vehicles can now be cited for tailgating.

Also, drivers who receive red light camera citations may now have the right to appeal them in court.

The final new law in effect in Virginia is where drivers of Uber and Lyft must register their vehicles with the DMV and comply with state regulations.

June 22, 2015

Affect of Takata Airbag Recalls on Automakers

Auto industries biggest problems, presently, are recall related. The number of affected vehicles and the number of recalls in the past two years have been brutal for various Automobile industries. Just when driver safety seemed to be getting better, the massive recalls due to the defective Takata airbags steered the sector uncontrollably toward yet more problems.

Safety recalls and related costs have become a major issue for most automakers. 632 recalls covering about 22 million cars have been announced since 2013. These numbers only increased in 2014. In 2014, there were 60.5 million recalls. That is nearly double of the previous record of 33.8 million in 2004, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, these numbers only cover the recalls in the United States and not globally.

With regards to the Takata airbag recalls, Takata, finally, publically acknowledged that 33.8 million of its airbags are defective. This announcement will increase the number of vehicles and trucks recalls due to the faulty airbags by almost 100%.

In total, 11 automakers were affected by the Takate airbag recalls. These included: Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd, Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. However; Honda, was the biggest company affected. Each of these companies were affected by the Takate recalls. The recall related repair costs intensify the financial burden of these auto manufacturers

June 9, 2015

Vehicle Safety Improvement Act of 2015

On June 2, 2015, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade held a hearing on the Takata Airbag recalls.

At the hearing the H.R 1181, otherwise known as the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act of 2015 was presented. The Act would increase auto safety reporting, oversight and accountability and help reduce the likelihood of another Takata like failure. It would help restore a culture of safety among automakers, parts suppliers, and federal regulators. It includes commonsense and cost effective solutions to problems revealed in various congressional committee hearings examining government missteps and auto industry cover ups of deadly vehicle safety defects.

H.R. 1811 would provide for increased and improved public safety access to motor vehicle safety information, enhanced tools and accountability for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and for the protection of motor vehicle consumers.

June 2, 2015

Methotrexate Prescription Drug Recalled by the FDA and Mylan

Prescription drugs aren't recalled as frequently as automobiles, but they are recalled every so often. However, it is more difficult to reach the person prescribed the medicine then it is to contact an owner of a vehicle with a recall in place.

The parties responsible for prescription drug recalls are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the manufacturer of the medicine being recalled. The FDA requires that customers be notified, when a recall is issues, but the definition of a customer does not include a patient. A customer can be a pharmacy, physician, insurance company and other medical entity.

The generic prescription drug called Methotrexate was recalled in May 2015 by Mylan (Nasdaq: MYL). The recall of this drug included the injectable form and three others, because of particular matter in it vials. Pieces of glass were found in the vials causing this specific recall. Methotrexate is used to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis

Mylan is also recalling three other drugs, Gemcitabine, Carboplatin and Cytarabine.

Therefore; if you or someone you know has taken the injectable form of methotrexate, please take note of the lot number, expiration date and other specifics of the drug and visit the FDA's website to see if your specific drug has been recalled.

May 20, 2015

Largest Automotive Recall in the U.S. - Takata Airbags

According to the Department of Transportation, the largest car and truck recall in U.S. history has been made by Takata, a Japanese auto-parts manufacturer, for deadly and defective airbags. The complaint is that the airbags explode and shoot shrapnel when inflating. This defect has been linked to six deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide.

The most recent and largest recall will affect 34 million vehicles in the United States. The previous recall made affected almost 17 million vehicles in the United States. It also encompasses all of the older generation of phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate driver inflators manufactured by Takata.

Takata published a statement that they are committed to "restoring the trust of automakers and the driving public".

The 34 million vehicles in the US affect means that one in seven U.S. cars have just been recalled. The vehicles more highly affected are those in humid climates with lots of moisture in the air.

In order to figure out if your vehicle is included or part of this most recent recall there are a few steps that one can take:

Step 1: Get your vehicles Identification number (VIN). This number is 17-digits long and can be found on the driver's side of your dashboard.

Step 2: Visit the following website; Once there type in your vehicles identification number and you will find out if your vehicle is included in this massive recall.

If your vehicle has been recalled, contact your local dealership to schedule your replacement appointment. The appointment and its repairs/replacements are free of charge. You should also ask your dealer or carmaker for a free loaner/rental vehicle while your car is in the shop.

May 4, 2015

Motorcycle Fatalities on the Rise in Maryland

In the state of Maryland, an average of, 60 to 70 motorcyclists, are killed annually, and another 1,400 riders and passengers are injured. The total number of traffic fatalities dropped to its lowest level in over 60 years, while motorcycle fatalities increased, in 2014.

66 drivers were killed in 2014 and that number rose from 62 in 2013. It is said that warmer weathers bring more motorcycle riders into the roads, and, therefore; motorcycling coincides with an increase in motorcycle-involved crashes and injuries. Research shows that three out of every four police reported motorcycle crashes result in an injury to the rider. Four out of every 10 riders killed had been drinking and many have very high blood alcohol concentrations. Balance, vision, judgment and responsive reflexes are all critical to riding a motorcycle safety and alcohol affects all of those.

Last week, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and the Maryland Motorcycle Safety Coalition announced the launch of a new campaign to remind motorcycle riders and vehicle drivers how important it is to the Share the Road.

Beginning in May, and throughout the summer months, the campaign will use highway message signs, radio and web advertisements, banners at MVA offices and motorcycle dealerships, direct outreach at motorcycle events and yard signs throughout the state to increase awareness and reduce crashes.

April 13, 2015

Distracted Teen Drivers

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied over 1,700 crash videos involving teen drivers and discovered that distracted driving contributes to 58 percent of automobile crashes. Teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes then adult drivers. The analysis counted six types of distractions that caused crashes. The leading causes of crashes being the interaction with other passengers, made up 15 percent of crashes. The use of cell phones came in second at 12 percent, followed by looking at or for something inside the car, looking at something outside other than the road ahead, singing or moving to music, grooming and reaching for something were the other factors that contributed to distracted driving in teens.

The fact that teen drivers have spent less time behind the wheel and are unable to manage unsafe conditions are also factors in the study.

Parents can have a system installed in their vehicles that monitors the drivers movements and driving habits. These in car systems collect video, audio and acceleration date when the driver triggers the device by braking hard, taking a corner fast or receiving a hard impact. The video is about 12 seconds and it provides data on the eight seconds before and four seconds after the trigger. This system is made by Lytx and is also used in commercial and government vehicles.

The data analyzed by researchers comprised of over 6,800 videos of crashes involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 and between August 2007 and July 2013.

The research found that using a cell phone, be it for texting or calling, caused teen drivers to become distracted for an average of 4.1 seconds in the final six seconds before a crash impact. Also, when teen drivers caused rear end collisions, in more than half the time they crashed without braking or attempting to steer to avoid the collision.

In 2013, federal data showed that about 963,000 drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 were involved in crashes. These crashes caused 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.

April 2, 2015

Lowest Levels of Traffic Deaths in Maryland since 1948

In March of 2015, a report published, by the state transportation officials, stated that 442 traffic deaths were reported in Maryland for 2014. That is the lowest level it has been since 1948. The highest record was in 1968 with a total of 872 traffic deaths.

In the past 50 years, Maryland has cut the number of traffic deaths by half thanks to its hard work on highways, in the community and in the legislature. It was with these comprehensive and aggressive initiatives that have enhanced highway safety over the last 50 years. Laws have been put in effect to fight impaired and distracted driving and increase seat belt, as well as, motorcycle helmet use, statewide. Also, one must consider the advances in technology and better medical care for the decrease in traffic deaths.
For example, in 1969, Maryland's Medevac Program and Shock Trauma were introduced and with these programs the death toll has decreased.

Maryland transportation officials have a program in effect called the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, which addresses six major areas of traffic safety. These areas are the following:

- Aggressive driving prevention,
- Impaired driving prevention,
- Distracted driving prevention,
- Highway infrastructure,
- Occupant protection, and;
- Pedestrian safety

Other campaigns include Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Checkpoint Strikeforce and the newest program which is called ENDUI. It is an app available at Google Play for Android devices and iTunes for iPhones, which is intended to prevent impaired driving by helping people plan ahead or find a safe ride home if and when they have been drinking.

For more information on Maryland's Zero Deaths Campaign, you may visit the following website:

March 30, 2015

Safety Campaign in Effect in D.C. , Maryland and Virginia

Drivers and cyclist have been instructed to be on the lookout for one another by Transportation officials in the Washington Metropolitan area, which includes Maryland and Virginia. A safety campaign has been launched and therefore everyone on the road has been instructed to be on the lookout for one another in order to avoid accidents and fatalities.

Since Spring is here and Summer with soon follow, many residents of D.C., Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area will be spending more and more time outdoors and therefore enforcement is being stepped up throughout the region to make sure everyone makes an effort to be aware of one another and keep people safe.

Police officers and other law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who break traffic safety laws. They will face stricter violations, fines and tickets. The Safety Campaign was launched last week and it will continue to run thru April 19, 2015.

March 16, 2015

70mph Speed Limit Could Be Implemented in Maryland

On March 5th, 2015 Lawmakers, in the state of Maryland, voted to increase the maximum speed limit on interstate highways to 70 mph. This would mean that state highway officials could raise the speed limit beyond the current 65 mph, but they are not obligated to do so, on, all highways or interstates. The bill, however, would still need to be passed to the governor of Maryland for further and final approval.

If the bill is passed, it would make Maryland the 23rd state in the United States with a top speed of 70 mph and just one of five states in the more densely developed northeastern corridor to let drivers push the speed limit. The other four northeastern states that are densely populated and have a speed limit of 70 mph are: Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

12 other states have their maximum speed limit set at 75 mph. Most of those states, however; are on the west coast, and all in the western U.S. have a maximum speed limit of 80 mph or more on rural roads.

Currently, in the state of Maryland, drivers are allowed to travel at a maximum speed of 65 mph on Interstates 95, 68, 70, 97, 81, 83 and U.S. Route 50, 13 and 340/15. Interstate 495, however, is set at a maximum rate of speed of 55 mph.
Speed limits are calculated by considering how fast 85 percent of traffic movers under normal conditions and by road conditions and past accidents.

To date, the bill has passed through the House of Delegates and the Senate, but each chamber must consent once more before it passes to Maryland Governor Hogan for final review.