Recently in Department of Transportation Category

October 3, 2012

Older Driver Safety in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

According to the Associated Press, older drivers are on the road more than ever before. Nearly 34 million drivers are 65 or older. By 2030, deferral estimates show there will be about 57 million, making up about a quarter of all licensed drivers.

Older drivers have the highest rate of deadly crashes per mile even though they don't drive as often as younger drivers. Measured by miles driven, older drivers crash rates begin to rise in their 70s and even more in their 80s, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Health Issues can also impair older drivers. Health issues such as: arthritis and dementia, slower reflexes and they also use multiple medications, which can impair their driving. On average, about 60% of seniors voluntarily cut back their driving. Most avoid driving at night, on interstates and during bad weather. Older drivers seem to have more difficulty with intersections, making left turns, and changing lanes and/or merging. This is due to their gradual decline in vision and reaction times that come with aging.

In the District of Columbia seniors are required to have more vision tests, are required to renew their licenses more often than younger drivers and starting at the age of 70, older drivers must submit a doctor's certification that they are healthy enough to drive every time they renew their licenses. In Maryland, the Motor Vehicle Administration requires all people, starting at the age of 40, to take eye exams, and in Virginia, starting at the age of 80, drivers must renew their license in person and also pass an eye exam.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a national guideline for older driver safety earlier this summer. The proposal recommends that every state needs a program to improve older driver safety, doctors should be protected from lawsuits id they report a possibly unsafe driver and driver's licenses should be renewed in person after a certain age. These recommendations would push states to become more consistent and have safer roads.

September 25, 2012

"Give Bikes 3 Feet When Passing - It's the Law", in Maryland

In October of 2010, the state of Maryland enacted the vehicle law, SB 51, which states the rules of the road in regards to keeping three feet of space between a vehicle and a bicyclist when passing a bicyclist. This includes bicycles and motor scooters.

Therefore, a new campaign was announced by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) this week for Cyclists in order to remind drivers and bicyclists that the SB 51 law exists. The new campaign is being called the "Give Bikes Three Feet When Passing - It's the Law" in order to promote bicycles safety.
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It has been proven that in the fall months more people use bicycles to commute around Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, therefore; the MVA added this new slogan to their outer envelopes of more than 120,000 vehicle registration renewal notices and in addition, distributed over 5,000 yard sticks (3 feet in length) all over Maryland to visually illustrate the distance drivers must provide when overtaking a bicycle.

This new campaign will educate the public and possibly change behaviors in order to have fewer bicyclists injured and killed on Maryland roads. It mainly means that everyone should share the roads. For more information, please visit the www.mva.maryland.gov

July 5, 2012

How Common Are Seizures While Driving?

Seizures are defined as episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention or behavior.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are two main types of seizures. The first is Primary Generalized seizures, which involve both sides of the brain and the second is Partial seizures, which involve smaller regions of the brain.

Suffering a seizure while driving is extremely rare, but it is far more likely to end in death than suffering a seizure anywhere else. In a 2009 report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it was determined that:

- only about 1.3% of all drivers have been involved in a medical emergency crash;

- older drivers are more likely to be involved in medical emergency crashes;

- drivers involved in medical emergency crashes usually are aware of their medical
condition prior to the accident;

- drivers who suffer from a medical condition and are involved in medical emergency crashes are more likely to be severely injured or to die as a result; and

- the most dangerous time of day for medical emergency crashes are between 6am and noon.

Therefore; drivers who suffer from seizures should contact their state's motor vehicle department to see what their rules are in regards to drivers with this medical condition. Rules vary from state to state and some states may bar you from driving for a period of time.

June 26, 2012

How to Tell if a Traffic Ticket Will Raise Your Insurance Rates

Here are three things that must happen in order for an automobile insurance company to raise your rates, once you have been issued a traffic ticket/citation:

1) The ticket must show up on your motor vehicle record (MVR);
2) Your state must allow insurance companies to penalize you for the violation, and
3) Your Insurance company must consider the violation a risk factor

Automobile insurance companies won't consider traffic violations/tickets that do not appear on your MVR. MVR's usually only reflect moving violations that endanger lives or property. Such violations include: running red lights, changing lanes without caution, speeding, DUI/DWI, reckless driving, etc..

If the violation appears on your MVR and your automobile insurance company finds out about it, your rates usually increase about 5% for the first ticket, but if you have various violations on your MVR, then your rates could go up about 20% or more. Multiple violations reveal a pattern of bad decisions and behavior as a driver and make you a higher risk to your automobile insurance company.

March 22, 2012

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As of July 1, 2012, in the state of Virginia, every first time drunk-driving offender will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their automobile. The ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer in your vehicle that prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver fails the on-board alcohol breath test. In Virginia, the device is set to fail if the reading is above 0.02 percent blood alcohol content. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets the standards for the device and it varies from state to state. The device is quite small and integrated into your automobiles starting mechanism.

This new punishment bill for drunk drivers was approved by over 80% of legislators in Virginia, making the state one of the 15 states that already require mandatory interlock ignition devices for first time drunk driving offenders. In Virginia alone there were over 30,000 DUI and DWI convictions, out of which most offenders had a blood alcohol content of 0.14, in 2010. As for automobile accidents: alcohol related crashes were about 7% of total accidents, but made up about 37% of fatal accidents in Virginia, in 2010.

The Guidelines for the new law require that:
- A judge will order the installation of the ignition interlock device. After which, the court clerk will register the court order with the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will restrict the defendants driver's license and then the driver must show proof that the ignition device was properly installed in their vehicle, within 30 days of the court order.
- The court will revoke the driver's restricted license if the offender does not install the device within the 30 days after the court order is made and if the device is not properly maintained and monitored.
- An electronic log of all breathalyzer test readings will be maintained by the device. Should the offender fail any of the tests, both random and initial starter tests, the vehicle's horn will sound, repeatedly, and the lights will flash.
- The device must remain in the offenders' vehicle for 6 consecutive months without a failed breathalyzer test result and the offender may not drive any other vehicle without the device.
- After a second DUI/DWI conviction, every vehicle registered and owned by the offender must have a device installed.

In addition to the ignition interlock device, the following are also consequences of drunk-driving punishments in Virginia:
- Suspension, restriction and or revocation of the offenders' license
- Jail or prison time
- Fines
- Community service
- Probation
- Alcohol education
- Criminal record
- Treatment
- Vehicle impoundment, and
- Repayment of costs incurred by the state for state property damage, police costs and fire/emergency services

Therefore; if you or a loved one is arrested for and/or charged with DUI or DWI, you must contact my office to discuss your legal rights and discuss a plan of defense.

February 27, 2012

NHTSA Proposes New Distracted Driving Guidelines in D.C.

GPS.jpgOn February 16, 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a new set of guidelines for distracted-driving, because in 2010, there were over 3,000 deaths as a result of distracted driving in the U.S..

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the guidelines would "not allow manual text messaging, internet browsing, social media, navigation destination entries, 10 digit phone dialing or displaying more than 30 character of texts unrelated to the driving task while the vehicle is in motion." The proposed guidelines would recommend auto makers to disable in-vehicle electronic devices (which include texting and hands-free cellphone calling) that are currently available to drivers while the vehicle is in motion. The guidelines would affect General Motors On-Star, Chryslers UConnect, and Fords Sync Technology, mostly.

There will be hearings in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles in the next 60 days, for the automobile industries and the public to comment on the proposal set out by the U.S. Department of Transportation. After the 60 days, the NHTSA will issue the final guidelines.

January 19, 2012

Electric Car Charging Stations Coming to an Area Near You

Electric Car.jpgIn the state of Maryland there are 202 plug-in electric vehicles registered, of which, 94 of them are registered in Montgomery County. The owners of these plug-in electric vehicles will now have more charging stations throughout the county. A national real estate and development firm, Federal Realty, is in partnership with Car Charging Group to install eight more electric charging stations on the east coast, seven of which will be right here in the metropolitan area. In Montgomery county there will be one at the Rockville Town Square and one at Bethesda Row. The charging stations will be of the category level II and 240-volts. Charging stations come in three levels, the higher the level, the quicker the electric car charges.

These charging stations work just like gas pumps. All you need to do is pull up, plug-in and pay for the electricity with a credit card. The cost per hour of electrical charging will be between $3.00 to $4.00. An electric car can travel an average of 100 to 200 miles between charges.

There are also a lot of tax benefits to owning an electric car. Anyone who registers and titles a plug-in electric vehicle in the state of Maryland through July 1, 2013, is eligible to claim $2,000 excise motor vehicle tax credit along with the already established $7,000 federal tax credit for owning electric vehicles. Also, owners of electric cars can claim a $400 tax credit toward the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in their homes.

For more information on the locations of charging stations in your area, please visit www.mychargepoint.net

July 5, 2011

New Traffic Law in Virginia Effective July 1, 2011

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Virginia drivers, under the age of 21, could have their license suspended for a year if they get behind the wheel after drinking alcoholic beverages. These underage drinkers and drivers will face stiffer penalties for driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .02% or more. Violators will have their license suspended for a year and will receive either a fine of up to $500 or 50 hours of community service.

February 7, 2011

There Will Be More Traffic Cameras Installed in the District of Columbia

trafficcamera_thumb.jpgIn the Nations capital there are currently, 30 speed cameras and 50 red-light cameras that control speeding and the running of red lights. A new program was introduced that will expand the number of cameras and increase the types of tickets/infractions that can be issued. The new cameras will be installed in the next year in areas that demonstrate a need for additional control and enforcement.

There are various studies that show that traffic enforcement and the use of speed cameras and re-light cameras save lives. Traffic fatalities in the District dropped to 25 in 2010 from 75 a decade ago. This is according to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

The new cameras will use technology to cut down with vehicles blocking intersections, vehicles failing to yield to pedestrians on crosswalks, truck height-restrictions and weigh trucks along I-295.

The new program would be the most aggressive in the Nation, and studies have shown that the use of this technology reduces crashes and save lives.

December 27, 2010

If Google Cars Drive Themselves, Who Would You Sue?

Google-Car-auto-toyota-prius.jpgGoogle has developed a new car called the "Google Car". It is a Toyota Prius that is equipped with software that allows it to drive itself. The Google cars use video cameras, installed on the roof, radar sensors and laser range finders to travel through traffic on its own. These cars also navigate the road by using detailed maps. According to Sebastian Thrun, a Google software engineer, "Our automated cars use... Google's data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain."

The Google car was made with the intention to help prevent traffic accidents, free people's time, reduce distracted driving and drunk driving, and reduce carbon emissions. So far, the Google Car, has traveled about 140,000 miles and has only been involved in one traffic accident, a rear-end.

Google has yet to determine when these Google Cars will be available to the general public, but when they are, a question arises, if there is an accident, who would you sue?. The current statutes and case law in the United States were written for cars with human drivers, in order to determine the liability in an automobile accident. Therefore; once these Google Cars are put out on the market, laws would need to change.
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There are three factors that could determine liability in case of an automobile accident:

1) Google - the author of the software used by the Google Car;
2) Toyota - the current and only car Manufacturer of the Google Car; and
3) The Owner of the vehicle.

Liability would be determined on the type of accident and could have one or more of these parties at fault. The legal process would examine who is at fault. For example, was it a software issue or a mechanical failure? A software issue would be if the program made the wrong decision and caused a crash, and a mechanical failure would be if a part used to build the Google car was defective or malfunctioned.

All in all, the Goggle Car was created to make driving and roadways safer. In 2008, the NHTSA reported that there were 37,261 automobile fatalities. Lets hope that if and when the Google Car is put on the market it will lower the yearly number of deaths in the United States.

December 13, 2010

New Rear Video Camera Systems Rule in Washington, D.C.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) in Washington, D.C. announced a new proposal in early December that would put a rule into effect that would require all new cars and light trucks to have back up camera systems by the year 2014. The camera systems would require a rear video camera and interior display to be installed in all new cars and light trucks. The camera systems would add about $200 to the total cost of a new vehicle. The new rule would require the camera systems to have a driver visual area of 20 feet to the rear and 20 feet wide.
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 300 people are killed and another 18,000 injured a year due to back up accidents. If this new rule is implemented it would save anywhere between 95 to 112 deaths and nearly 7,000 injuries a year.

According to Ray LaHood, Secretary of the DOT, the changes would "help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to back up."

Currently, about 20 percent of new vehicles come with an optional back up camera system. If the new rule is put into effect, the rule would have to be met by 10 percent of 2012 new vehicles and 40 percent of 2013s and all 2014s vehicles. The camera systems would be required in all new vehicles with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds.

The proposed camera system rule would become final after a 60 day public comment period.