Washington DC Injury Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in Driver Safety

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.