July 2010 Archives

July 29, 2010

A Defective Electronic Circuit is the Cause of the Metro Crash of June 22, 2009

Metro Crash.jpgThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), announced on July 27, 2010, that it had completed its investigation into the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) train crash of June 22, 2009.

The crash occurred around 5pm. Two red line trains were involved. One train slammed in to the back of another train, outside the Fort Totten Station, in Washington, D.C.. The rear train, which was traveling at a high rate of speed, crashed into the rear of the front train and was propelled about 65 feet into the air and landed on the front train. Many people were ejected from the rear train and nine people, including the operator of the rear train died on impact.

The cause of the crash was determined to be a defective electronic circuit and negligent safety standards. The defective track circuit modules cause the automatic train control (ATC) to lose detection of the trains traveling on the red line track. The circuit is responsible for maintaining a safe distance between trains traveling on the same track. This circuit began to lose its ability to detect trains on the track and therefore the trains collided, because there was not enough time for the rear train to stop before crashing into the front train. The crash could have been avoided had the necessary verification tests, that were developed in 2005, had been conducted. Had this test been used, the system failure would have been detected and the lives of the 9 victims could have been spared.

Furthermore, WMATA's failure to replace and retrofit its 1000- series rail cars (cars involved in the crash) was also determined to be a cause of the crash. WMATA failed to replace these cars, despite knowing they rated poorly, when it came to crashworthiness.

Metro Crash 2.jpgNumerous accident injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against WMATA as a result of the crash. Our office specifically is representing 2 parties injured in this crash.

Deborah Hersman, Chairman of the NTSB said, "Our hope is that the lessons learned from this accident will be not only a catalyst for change at WMATA, but also the cornerstone of a greater effort to establish a federal role in oversight and safety standards for rail transit systems across the nation."

July 26, 2010

Ticketed in Maryland: What Are Your Options?

Once the ticket has been written, you have two easy steps you can take: Pay the ticket or appear in court.
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When you are issued a ticket and the officer checks the "Notice to Appear" box, you have three of the following options:
- Plead "guilty" and pay the fine. Be aware however, that a plea of guilt results in the charge becoming part of your driving record. You have 15 days to pay the ticket. If the ticket is not paid within 15 days, you will automatically receive a trial date set by the court.
- Wait for trial notice and appear in court. At trial, you and the officer that issued the ticket have the opportunity to appear in court and testify in front of a judge. If you are found guilty, you have the right to an appeal within 30 days. If you do not appear at your trial, the Motor Vehicle Administration will suspend your driver's license.
- Plead "guilty with an explanation". This option gives you the opportunity for a hearing. At the hearing you can request that the fine be reduced or waived.

"Must appear" tickets are given for more serious infractions, such as, driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, driving on a suspended license, etc. , according to the District Court of Maryland.

The Maryland General Assembly has passed a new law that will come into effect on January 1, 2011. This new law requires anyone who wants a trial to formally request one. The state will no longer automatically send you a trial date notice for a traffic violation. Once the law goes into effect, you have 30 days to respond by either, paying the fine, requesting a hearing or requesting a trial date. When you request a trial date, the District Court will give you a date and time to show up in court, in front of a judge. You may bring witnesses and any evidence to prove your case.

The previous law was changed because the courts were receiving complaints from various jurisdictions about officers wasting time appearing at trials where the defendants did not appear. The new law states that failure to take one of the above options means the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) can and will suspend your license.

July 19, 2010

Teen Drivers Risks Higher in the Summer in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Driver.jpgAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the USA. The deadliest time is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day for drivers between the ages of 15-20. It is during this time that teens are out of school, have more free time under less parental supervision and have more opportunities to drive at night, when the road risks are higher and their curfews later in the night. Inexperience and Immaturity are the two main factors in teen auto crashes.

Justin McNaull, state relations director for auto club AAA states that, "For many kids, every day in the summer is a weekend day." During the summer teens are less supervised by their parents and allowed more freedom, when it comes to driving. Teenagers also do more purposeless driving, which are more dangerous. Driving at 10pm is different than driving at 7am. The deadliest hours for teens are the hours between 10pm to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. It is because of their inexperience and immaturity that they tend to maneuver turns carelessly and rear-end other vehicles more frequently, and when you add the fact that they are doing this more at night it becomes even more dangerous.

States and Highway safety officials try to reach out to young drivers, as well as their parents, before the end of the school year to remind them to exercise caution while driving during summer vacation. The Washington Regional Alcohol Program, a non-profit group battling drunken driving and underage drinking in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, warns parents of the hazards of summer driving through media and parent-teacher organizations. According to this organization, during the summer months there are about 50% more drink driving deaths involving teens than any other time of the year.

Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia have implemented laws specifically for teens. Two of the laws implemented are the "Click it or Ticket" and "Seat Belt Laws", which push seat belt usage for teens. Other than what the states can do, parents also need to be more responsible during the summer months for their children.

July 6, 2010

New Traffic Laws Go Into Effect in Virginia

Seat Belt Fasten.jpgAs of July 1st, 2010, there are two more traffic laws that are going into effect in Virginia.

The first law is the "Seatbelt Law". The Seatbelt Law is an expansion of a law that is already in the books. It states, that persons up to the age of 17 must wear seatbelts at all times, regardless of where they are seated in a vehicle. If this law is violated, Police Officers can pull you over and issue a citation of $25.00.

The second law is called the "Move Over Law". This law applies to emergency and law enforcement vehicles, as well as tow trucks and maintenance vehicles. The law requires drivers to move over a lane when passing a vehicle flashing amber lights. If this law is violated, it will be punishable as a traffic infraction.

Virginia joins 38 other stated that already have enacted the "Move Over" laws for highway workers.