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; www.vinrcl.safecar.gov/vin/. 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: www.towardzerodeathsmd.com

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.

March 3, 2015

Are Businesses Liable for Snow Slip and Fall Accidents?

During the winter months plenty of businesses are left with parking lots that are packed with snow and ice. If a person falls, is the business responsible or liable for someone falling in their parking lot?

In the state of Maryland and Virginia there are doctrines of contributory negligence. This means that if the condition is open and obvious, than the person will probably not be able to recover because they are knowingly putting themselves in harms' way.

Only when the area where you slipped/tripped/fell in is part of the property owners premise, and he/she failed to take the appropriate precautions to correct a problem that led to the accident would a person be able to recover for damages.

Some common examples of these conditions and the rules regarding a property owner's duties are as follows:

- Ice or Snow outside a Building: the law does not require a property owner to remove ice or snow that accumulates outside his/her establishment as the result of weather. However, if conditions on the property cause an unnatural accumulation of ice or snow, the property owner may be liable for a slip and fall accident. For example: when ice accumulates on the rood, then melts and drips off because of clogged drains and then refreezes on the ground or when the slopping surface of a parking lot causes ice to melt and form puddles and to refreeze into black ice patches.

- Not Enough Outdoor Lighting: Inadequate lighting may cause a person to fall in parking lots, or to trip over a curbing, or fall on a step or stairs from a parking lot to a store that is not well lit. Also, holes, cracks and uneven surfaces can cause a person to slip and fall in poorly lit areas. It is the duty of the property owner to maintain the proper lighting, if not, they can be held liable for a person's injury.

- Parking Lots: The proper maintenance of parking lots falls on the owner of the parking facility. They must be kept in a manner such that it is reasonably safe for people to use it. This means that all cracks and holes must be filled and patched over properly. In addition, differences in height from one section of the lot to another should be gradual in nature, rather than abrupt to prevent a slip and fall accident from occurring.

- Sidewalks: If a sidewalk is used in an excessive manner by customers entering and exiting a business, then the property owner will be responsible when a dangerous condition exists on his/her private walkway. In general sidewalks are considered public property and are to be maintained by the city or town, but in cases where the sidewalk is used exclusively by customers of a business, then it is the business owners' responsibility to maintain it properly and if an accident occurs they can be held liable.

Therefore; if you or your loved one is involved in a slip and fall accident, please contact our office, so we can review and examine your possible claim properly, and, hold the responsible party liable for your injuries, and, obtain a proper settlement for your damages.

February 18, 2015

Why Does a Person Leave an Accident Scene?

What causes someone to leave the scene of an automobile accident, where another person might have been harmed?

Fleeing an accident is not uncommon, but there is little date on the behavior.
In the state of Maryland; there are an average of 24 deaths due to hit-and-run drivers and nationwide its about 1,600 deaths. The accidents involved striking someone on foot, riding a bicycle on in another car.

Psychologists and those who study human behavior say the drivers likely experience a flood of emotions including dear, shame and guilt. These emotions overwhelm their sense of self-control and so they flee an accident scene without making their identities known. There are some who are also under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. Alcohol is a factor in about 30 percent of traffic fatalities nationwide.

An elevated Blood alcohol level can hinder the rational decision making process and clearly makes it more difficult for someone to make a good decision. Carlo DiClemente, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County says "Fear and escape motivations kick in and, without good executive functioning, make flight more probable."

A person's upbringing and culture can also affect the reaction of a person. If while growing up, a person has been recognized for good behavior and telling the truth, it generally means they will own up to their mistakes, where, those that were always punished or physically injured for their behavior would be less likely to take responsibility for their actions/mistake.

The majority of hit-and-run accidents occur on weekends, when people are walking out more, and at night, when it's harder to see, therefore; drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all need to be more aware of others on the road and need to make sure they can be seen. Reflective gear for walkers and cyclists are important, as well as not drinking or using cellphones for those behind the wheel.

In most states, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration above 0.08 percent. In 2014, 12 states and the District of Columbia banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, and 41 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving. Maryland has enacted both bans.

There was a study conducted by psychologists, Frank Farley, in Temple University that categorized three different types of personalities for those who would leave the scene of a car crash.

1) The risk taker - self-confident and energetic and someone who feels in control of their fate. This person tends to drink more and is therefore more likely to get into an accident. This type of person would rather take the risk of fleeing than face the consequences of staying.

2) Little impulse control. Fear, adrenaline and "fight or flight" instincts kick in and they act before they think. This type of person may, however, return to the scene once they start thinking clearly.

3) "Guilty Knowledge". This type of person know they are doing something wrong, such as drinking, driving without a license or are with someone they aren't suppose to be with. This persona may also be someone in a leadership position, such as a police officer or political.

February 10, 2015

Tough Treadz Trucks Recalled Nationwide

Over 254,000 "Tough Treadz" plastic toy trucks have been recalled by Family Dollar stores. The specific model being recalled is the one with a plastic case that holds six die-cast metal toy cars in assorted colors. These toy cars can have sharp edges that pose a laceration hazard. The "Tough Treadz" toy trucks were sold at Family Dollar stores all across the United States for about five dollars from September through December 2014.

Consumers who purchased the "Tough Treadz" toy trucks can return the product to any Family Dollar store for a full refund.

Any and all consumers who would like to reach Family Dollar can do so by calling them at (800)547-0359 from 8:30am to 5pm Monday through Friday.

January 20, 2015

Safest to Riskiest States in the U.S.

According to a new report by WalletHub.com, Automobile insurance requirements vary widely among states. The District of Columbia and the 50 states were ranked from safest to riskiest by awarding points based on the minimum coverage requirements for the mandatory forms of automobile insurance in each state and also the percentages of uninsured drivers in those specific states. Points were also assigned to those states that had other types of insurance requirements, such as personal injury protection, medical payments coverage and/or uninsured motorist coverage.

It was determined that the state of Maine has the most stringent requirements. Maine requires minimum bodily injury coverage per person of $50,000 and per accident of $100,000 and minimum property damage coverage per accident of $25,000. North Dakota, New York, Maryland, New Hampshire and Utah followed.

The report also took into account that many states, nationwide, as well as the District of Columbia, have bans on hand-held cellphone use and some states and the District of Columbia even ban texting while driving. Therefore; a driver who crashes while distracted may be held liable for damages.

For more information, visit www.WalletHub.com

January 5, 2015

ENDUI App Available in Maryland

The Maryland Highway Safety Office has developed a new app that helps drivers determine if they've had too much to drink called "ENDUI". The app works by entering gender, weight, the type of alcohol consumed and the time frame in which those drinks were taken. With that information, the app estimates a persons' blood-alcohol content (b.a.c.) and assists users with calling designated friends and/or a taxi company.

ENDUI also has two interactive games that help assess cognitive responses and reactions to help determine whether a driver is impaired or not. The app also lets users report other drivers suspected of being under the influence.

In 2014, there were an estimated 152 people killed in alcohol-related crashes in Maryland. That is one third of all traffic fatalities in Maryland.

The app is funded with federal money from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is available in New York, New Mexico, California and Colorado.
The ENDUI app is free and available thru Google Play and Itunes.

December 22, 2014

Over 60 Million Automobile Recalls Reported in 2014

As a result of Takata Corporation Air bag problems and General Motors Company defective ignition switches, over 60 million U.S. Automobile recalls were reported in 2014. The total to date is well over 60.5 million, making it the highest ever and twice the previous annual record of 30.8 million set in 2004, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This number will rise, even more, as recent recalls have been announce but not recorded, as of yet.

The number will continue to rise in the coming years, mainly, because of the Takata air-bag recalls and GM defective ignition switches. It is because of the slow response to GM's ignition switch defect that the number will continue to rise. Therefore; the NHTSA has pressured automakers to recall cars more quickly when evidence of a flaw is detected. It is with the use of subpoena power and the threat of hefty fines that the NHTSA can pressure automakers to solve their recall problems more quickly.

GM recalled 27 million cars and trucks in the U.S. in 2014, a record for any single automaker. According to the NHTSA, GM issued 10 safety actions of more than 1 million vehicles each. Mainly, for their ignition switch problems; which led to, 42 deaths and 58 injuries. These recalls caused GM almost $2.47 billion through the first three quarters of 2014.

Takata air bag recalls, however, were made on 5.4 million vehicles, mostly from Honda Motors Co. Other recalls of more than 1 million vehicles included steering, cruise control, engines and seat belt problems. The investigation to flaws in the Takata airbags, were for about 8 million vehicles. It was detected that these airbags exploded with excessive force and spread shrapnel through the car during a crash. An estimated 4 people died as a result and over 100 were injured.

Therefore; it is imperative that every consumer is aware of recalls when they are attempting to purchase a new or used vehicle. There are certain sites one can visit to research whether a recall has been issued for the vehicle one is interested in, and dealership can also inform the consumer of safety issues with every vehicle on their inventory.

December 4, 2014

General Motors Ignition Switch Recall Victim's Compensation Fund Cases to Be Heard in 2016

The General Motors Ignition Switch Recall Victim's Compensation Fund was launched in August of 2014. To date, there have been over 2,200 personal injury claims filed, with 36 of those claims being wrongful death claims.

The GM recall fund was establish in order to address the 2.5 million claims that stem from defective ignition switches in the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice , Saturn Ion, and Saturn Sky vehicles, that were manufactured between 2003-2007.

The defective ignition switches cause the vehicle to suddenly shut off if heavy key chains are used or if the ignition is jarred, which can occur when a vehicle is involved in an accident. The ultimate result of these defective ignition switches is that the driver may lose control of their vehicle or the GM airbags may fail to deploy, which in turn increases the risk of serious, if not fatal injury.

As of December 1, 2014, over 2,215 GM claims have been confirmed. The deadline to file these claims, with the GM Compensation fund, is on January 31, 2015, therefore; the number of claims is expected to rise in the next few weeks.
GM recall injury lawsuits are also being filed against the auto maker in state and federal courts nationwide. Those claims also involved injuries associated defective ignition switches, but those are on other GM vehicles, which are therefore; not part of the GM compensation fund.

The claims that have been filed against General Motors, in federal court systems, have been consolidated for pretrial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and is part of a Multidistrict Litigation, or MDL. These cases will be heard by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of all the parties, witnesses and the courts.

The first cases are expected to go before Judge Jesse Furman in January of 2016. For more information, visit http://gmignitionmdl.com.

November 17, 2014

Cell Phone Use May Cause Brain Cancer

In October 2014, a Swedish research team published a medical journal "Pathopsysiology". The study resulted in a heightening concern for the increase of brain cancer by longtime users of mobile phones and wireless phones.

The study was conducted using two control trials. One included patients from 1997 to 2003 and the second included patients from 2007 to 2009. Almost 1500 Patients with malignant brain tumors were used along with 3530 controls.

The research indicated that people who use mobile phones for over 25 years are three times more likely to develop Glioma, a deadly brain cancer, compared to those who use these electronic devices less than a year.

The risk for developing brain cancer increased, by 30 percent, from the exposure to cell phone radiation. The risk appears to start low, but it increases over time. The risk of Glioma brain cancer increased significantly for every 100 hours of mobile phone use and per year of latency. The largest risk of Glioma seemed to be in the temporal lobe of the brain. The participants of the study who began using mobile phones at a younger age, and those before the age of 20, seemed to be at a higher risk for Glioma than all other age group participants.

The World Health Organization (WHO), announced in 2011, that it would reclassify radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted by wireless phones as a possible carcinogen. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also announced, early this year, that the will reassess the potential effects of radiation exposure from cell phones and mobile devices, as well. The FCC plans to look at the radiation exposure and determine how much is emitted by the devices and how those emissions affect humans, specifically, the human brain.

In the meantime, it is recommended that users of these devices try and reduce their risk of cancer by using headsets, speakerphones, holding the phone away from the body and text as often as possible.

October 29, 2014

Chemical Propellant Linked to Exploding Airbags Used by Takata

Airbags in motor vehicles use a propellant to inflate the airbags in the event of a motor vehicle crash, but Takata airbags has been using a chemical propellant, to inflate their airbags, that has been the cause for a recall of nearly 8 million vehicles. The problem with the Takata airbags is that to make their airbags inflate, they are using a dangerous chemical, aluminum nitrate, which can cause injury and death. When the airbags inflate and explode, they, cause shrapnel and other debris to enter the vehicle and can cause injury and death to the driver and passengers. To date, the use of Aluminum nitrate in the Takata airbags has been linked to at least four deaths and a number of injuries.

Takata airbags are mostly used by the automobile manufacturer Honda, and so far all the deaths associated with these airbags have been linked to Honda vehicles. Other vehicle manufacturers have had to make recalls, as well, but Honda has had the majority of the recalls associated with the use of Takata airbags.

To date, Takata is the only company that uses Aluminum nitrate as an airbag propellant. This chemical, though efficient at inflating the airbags in the speed needed to respond to a vehicle collision or impact, reacts negatively to moisture. This negative reaction to moisture, in turn, increases the power of the chemical reaction, and therefore; causes the airbags to explode. The explosion causes debris and other particles to enter the vehicle cabin and can hurt the driver and passengers in the vehicle. As stated, previously; four people have died as a result of using Takata airbags, to date.

The chairman of Takata Corporation, which was founded in 1930, is Mr. Shigehisa Takada. Earlier this week, Mr. Takada publicly apologized for the defective airbags. He said the company has put aside about $28 million dollars to pay for the recalls, in addition to the almost $70 million already spent.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the risk of the Takata airbags, specifically in areas with warmer climates, such as Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the Gulf of Mexico. The NHTSA has urged owners of vehicles with Takata airbags to seek immediate repairs. Therefore; all vehicle owners with Takata airbags need to have their vehicles repaired, especially those in warmer climates, as they are more seriously affected, due to higher moisture levels and the reaction that causes with the chemical Aluminum nitrate used by Takata airbags.