Recently in Driver Safety Category

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 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.

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

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.

October 14, 2014

Traffic Camera Revenue Increases While Driver Safety Decreases

Between 1998 and 2004, collisions were up 61 percent while fatal crashes were up by 81 percent, due to red light and speed cameras in the District of Columbia. Traffic cameras can increase fatal and injury collisions because they can alter the driving behaviors of drivers. The major concern is that it causes drivers to come to sudden stops when they see these traffic cameras, therefore; causing more rear end collisions and fatalities.
In Virginia the same can be said for the use of traffic cameras. Rear-end collisions increased about 27 percent between 1998 and 2004.

With the use of these traffic cameras come fines for drivers. While the District of Columbia and Virginia see an increase in revenue, due to the cameras, drivers are burdened with these fines. It is clear that motorist who speed, run red lights and otherwise violate traffic laws need to be ticketed. But, the automated system that is imposed in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, are clearly focused on revenue first, not safety. There needs to be a more accurate and a fair way of ticketing these unsafe drivers.

By the end of this fiscal year, which was September 30, these traffic cameras have generated $26.1 million in revenue for the District of Columbia. The District should not have to depend on the revenues from these cameras to balance its budget. The purpose of these cameras, originally, was safety, but it is clear that now it is more about the revenue that come from the use of these cameras, then safety of drivers in the city.

October 6, 2014

Motorcycle Safety In the State of Maryland

Driving a motor cycle takes skill and concentration. In the state of Maryland, there are voluntary courses that riders can take, in order to get the proper training and strategies to operating a motorcycle. These courses are offered to new, as well as, experienced riders. Since the MVA's Motorcycle Safety Program began, over 100,000 people have learned to ride motorcycles. The criteria for the MVA Motorcycle Safety program, meets and exceeds the standards established by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Maryland residents under the age of 18, who want to apply for a motorcycle license, however, need to complete either of the two motorcycle safety courses offered by the MVA. One is the Basic Rider Course and the other is the Alternate Basic Rider Course. In these courses, riders learn special skills and mental strategies necessary to ride a motorcycle responsibly. They also learn awareness of motorcycle safety and state laws.

In the program riders are given certain safety tips. Some of which are:

- Make ones' self visible. This means wearing riding gear that makes you more visible in traffic in addition to providing protection in the event of a crash. Wear bright colors and reflective strips/decals at night.
- Ride with your headlights on and in areas where you can be seen easily. Do not ride in a vehicle driver's blind spot. If you can't see them, they can't see you.
- Give yourself ample space and time to react.
- Always use your turn signals as well as hand signals, I possible. Avoid weaving in and out of traffic lanes and flash your brake lights when you are slowing down and before stopping.
- Be Non-aggressive and cooperative. Share the road with other drivers.
- Make sure and wear the proper gear when riding your motorcycle, which should include, over the ankle boots, gloves, protective jacket, pants and a helmet with a face shield or protective glasses.

Therefore; if you are involved in a motorcycle accident, first seek immediate emergency treatment and then contact an attorney to help you handle your claim. Our office is open Monday-Friday 8 am-5:30 pm, but we are always available by phone and email.

September 22, 2014

"Move Over Law" to Include Tow Trucks as of October 1, 2014 in Maryland

The state of Maryland has passed a new traffic law which states that a driver is required to move over a lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle. This means that if for example: A police officer is on the far right lane and is flashing its lights, every motorist in the far right lane should move one lane to the left, if not they can and will be ticketed. It is referred to as the "Move Over Law" and it is intended to provide police and other emergency responders a bit more of a safety margin when they're at work on highways and major roadways. This law in particular took effect in Maryland in 2010, but many drivers are unaware and therefore being ticketed for this infraction. As for Virginia, the law took effect in 2002 and the District of Columbia has yet to implement such a law.

In Maryland the exact language of the law is the following:

"Drivers approaching an emergency vehicle using signals while stopped on a highway are required to make a lane change, if possible, into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle. If mobbing to another lane is unsafe, the driver must slow to a "reasonable and prudent speed, given the current conditions on the highway."

Emergency vehicles are considered to be those operated by law enforcement agencies, vehicles of rescue squads and fire departments, Maryland emergency medical services, state vehicles responding to oil or hazardous material spills and ambulances of all types. As of October 1, 2014, this law will also include tow trucks.

The violation is considered a primary offense. This means that you do not have to be doing anything else illegal to be stopped by police. The fine is $110 and one point on a driver's license. However; if the violation contributes to an automobile accident, the fine increases to $150 and three points. If however the violation contributes to a fatal automobile accident or one where there is a serious injury, the fine is $750 and three points on a driver's license.

April 29, 2014

2014 List of Top 10 Vehicles that Cause the Most Property Damage

Insure.com recently released the 2014 list of vehicles that cause the most property damage when involved in automobile accidents. The list is mainly comprised of pickup trucks and SUV's. Vehicles that tend to weigh more than passenger vehicles. The vehicles on the list tend to generate the biggest property damage claims and therefore; carry the heftiest liability insurance bills of the more that 750 2014 model year vehicles analyzed by Insure.com in its annual car insurance comparison study.

The top 10 vehicles considered to carry the biggest liability bills and therefore are likely to cause the most property damage are:
1) Ford F-250
2) GMC Sierra 2500
3) Ford F-350
4) Ram 1500
5) Infiniti QX80
6) Dodge Durango
7) Toyota Tundra
8) Jeep Grand Cherokee
9) Cadillac Escalade
10) Chevrolet Silverado 1500

The property damage liability portion of a persons' automobile insurance policy is generally a reflection of claims made against other owners of the same kind of vehicle. Property damage liability coverage pays when you damage someone else's car or property. Most drivers carry much lower limits on property damage liability than for bodily injury, that way their insurance premiums can be lower/smaller.

Regardless of the vehicle you own, premiums can and do differ from state to state and vehicle to vehicle. The common element however, is that the vehicles that cause the biggest property damage are vehicles with bumpers that do not match up with the bumpers found on sedan, coupes or passenger cars.

It is the height difference in bumpers between vehicles that cause the greatest damage. The federal government sets minimum bumper performance requirements for passenger vehicles, but those regulations do not apply to vans, SUV's or pickup trucks. Hence, SUV's , vans and pickup trucks have bumpers that are anywhere between 20-26 inches higher from the ground then passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicles are usually only 16-20 inches higher than the ground. This means that when trucks and SUV's collide with passenger vehicles, their bumpers can no right past each other, and depending on the force of the impact, can bypass the bumpers and go directly into the body of the vehicle and therefore; cause greater damage. Sometimes, bumpers overlap or even slide off each other, instead of becoming engaged, and therefore the result is extensive vehicle body damage.

March 4, 2014

What to Do When You Are Involved In An Automobile Accident

More than 5 million automobile accidents occur each year, nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you were involved in an accident, would you know what to do and what information to obtain in order to set up an insurance claim? Well here are some helpful hints and tips for you to do following a crash.

1) Be Prepared - this means that before you hit the road, it is important that you understand your automobile insurance policy and the coverage that you have. Your automobile insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. Therefore; it is important that you carry a current insurance card in the car along with the registration to your vehicle. If needed, have your insurance agent explain all the coverage you have and the specific elements included in our policy. Such things as: your deductible, collision coverage, what your liability coverage limits are, Personal injury protection or medical payments coverage, uninsured and underinsured limits, etc. All these items help protect you when you are involved in an accident and the other driver is held at fault or responsible for the collision.

2) After you are involved in an accident, it can be a hectic and stressful situation. It is sometimes difficult to remember what to do, but the most important thing is to obtain the following information from the other person or persons involved in the accident: their name, their insurance information; which should include; name of the insurance carrier and policy number.

3) The following should be done immediately after the accident occurs:
- Assess the scene and try and remain calm.
- Call the police and inform them of any injuries. If the police cannot be immediately dispatched to you, make sure and file and incident report over the phone.
- Do not admit fault at the scene. Be courteous to the other party, but do not admit fault.
- Take photographs of the damage to all vehicles involved and damage to any property surrounding the area.
- Exchange your name and insurance information with the other party; and
- Obtain the names and contact information for any witnesses.

4) Filing a Claim - It is important to file a claim with the insurance company as soon as possible. It is at this time that details of the accident are still fresh in your mind. When you make the initial call to your insurance carrier make sure and have all the information you obtained from the other party, witness information and if available; the incident or police report number, so that a copy of the police report can be obtained. Once the claim has been set up you will be given a claim number and the contact information for the representative assigned to your claim. Your insurance company should be able to contact the other insurance company involved and establish liability. Once it has been determined who was at fault for the accident your property damage can be taken care of. You will be given information for body shops and collision centers the insurance company deals with directly, if not you can chose your own shop, but it must be certified and have all the proper licenses to operate. A rental vehicle may be given to you, depending on the coverage, while your vehicle is being fixed. If your vehicle is deemed a total loss you will have the option of keeping your vehicle as a salvage or to turn over your vehicle to the insurance company. The choice is yours. As far as your medical expenses and treatment, that is covered by the at fault insurance carrier. Make sure and keep copies of all medical bills, records, prescription receipts and any other out of pocket costs you may have to submit to the insurance company so your claim can be properly examined.

5) Retain an attorney that specializes in automobile accidents and personal injury cases. Once you obtain an attorney they will handle all aspects of your claim directly with the insurance company. Your only job, after you obtain an attorney, is to get better, get the proper medical treatment and make sure you reach maximum medical improvement.

When a person is involved in an automobile accident and is injured, it is important to seek the aid of an experienced attorney. It will be the attorneys' responsibility to get you the best possible monetary settlement in order to cover all your medical expenses and compensate you for your pain and suffering. So, when you have been involved in an automobile accident, make sure and contact our office and we will do all we can to get you the best possible result.

February 3, 2014

State Highway Safety Laws in 2013

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety published a report titled, "2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws", in which the District of Columbia was ranked as the best for having the most basic traffic safety laws in the United States, while South Dakota was ranked the worst.

The 2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws is in its eleventh year of publication and it uses the following criteria:

- Grades all 50 states in the United States and the District of Columbia;
- Grades based on 15 basic traffic safety laws;
- Takes into consideration the progress in the last 25 years; and
- Considers the risks that put drivers and children at risk.

The purpose of the report is to advance state and federal highway and vehicle safety laws, programs and policies in the United States. It is published by a group of leading consumers, both health and safety organizations and insurance agents and companies whom when gathered together are known as the Advocates.

In the report, it states that the District of Columbia has 12 laws related to basic traffic safety laws. The report gives three different ratings to each state. They range from Green (Good), Yellow (Caution) and Red (Danger). This year was the first year that a safety law was included for enforcing seat belts to rear seating passengers. In order for any state to receive a green rating it had to have included a law enforcing all vehicle passenger safety. Also, a state had to have 11 to 15 laws including both primary enforcement seat belt laws, nine or more laws including both primary enforcement seat belt laws and an all-rider helmet law.

States with a rating of Red have less than seven laws on the books and do not include front and rear seat passenger seat belt laws, therefore; they are deemed dangerous states for drivers and passengers.

There where however six new state laws enacted in 2013. They were the following:
- Primary Enforcement of Seat Belts
- All-rider motorcycle Helmet Use
- Booster Seats
- Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) for teen drivers
- Impaired Driving
- All-Driver Text Messaging Restrictions

January 6, 2014

New Traffic Cameras in the District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia a new type of traffic cameras have been implemented. Starting February 1, 2014, the deployment of several new types of automated traffic enforcement will go into effect. One of the new types include cameras, as part of D.C. Street Safe Initiative. The purpose of these new cameras is to combat aggressive and dangerous driving habits in the District of Columbia. The new cameras are also suppose to track drivers who speed and violate other traffic infractions, such as, rolling through stop signs, crosswalks and intersections and also drivers who "block the box" at intersections.

"Block the box" refers to when a vehicle attempts to cross an intersection on a green light but cannot make it all the way through and then the light turns red, therefore; they are now blocking the intersection and blocking drivers from moving through the intersection in the perpendicular direction, in other words, they are blocking cross traffic.

These cameras were placed, in areas in the District of Columbia, based on the number of crashes and injuries, calls for service, high speed volume, near schools and churches, or in zones where commercial vehicles are prohibited from traveling. Also, they are located at intersections with known speeding problems and in congested areas. The Department of Transportation, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and community organizations also had a say in where these cameras should be placed.

Therefore; starting February 1, 2014, these cameras will begin taking pictures of offenders and issuing fines. The cameras were installed and suppose to go into effect as of late November 2013, but they needed to make sure that the locations had been issuing warnings for 30 days first, as to make drivers aware of the new cameras.

September 3, 2013

Safe Driving in School Zone Tips

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) an average of 14 children die each year in school transportation related accidents, therefore; now that schools are back in session, children safety should be a priority for all drivers traveling in school areas.

D.C., Maryland and Virginia have the following school safety laws in effect:

- It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading children. The only exception to this rule is when you are traveling on a divided roadway.

- All traffic traveling directly behind a school bus must come to a complete stop until all children have loaded or unloaded the school bus and the lights on the school bus have turned off.

- The 10 feet surrounding the school bus is considered to be the most dangerous area for children, therefore; make sure and give more than the minimum amount of space between your vehicle and the school bus. In Maryland a vehicle must be at least 20 feet behind the stopped school bus and in the District of Columbia a vehicle must be at least 15 feet behind the stopped school bus.

- Keep a proper look out of children entering or exiting the school bus because most children consider the area that the school bus stops as a safe area and so they may be unaware of their surroundings or dangerous situations that could arise.

- School buses use yellow lights to advise drivers that they are approaching a stop and when the red lights and extended arm signal appear it means the school bus is at a complete stop and unloading or loading children.

- There are fines and points associated with speeding in a school zone. If you are issued a citation you will also be given 3 points on your license. If you are going more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit in a school zone you will be given 6 points on your license, a hefty citation and be charged with reckless driving. You may even lose your license for six months.

- When you approach a school zone, the safest thing to do is to travel at 25 mph as a maximum speed, unless otherwise stated by the posted speed limit signs.

- the majority of crashes involving children and school buses occur between 3 pm and 4 pm on weekdays, therefore; use extra caution during these times in school zones, as well as in the early morning hours.

July 23, 2013

Worst Drivers By State... D.C. Least Understands the Rules of the Road

The worst drivers in the United States have been determined to be in the District of Columbia, which isn't even a state. It's the Nations' Capital and a only district. This was determined by a study conducted in 2011 by GMAC Insurance Company. The study took into account the total number of crashes, the age of the driver, and how well drivers understand the rules of the road in the entire United States. The study broke down the results into 5 different categories, each with a worst state under that category.

According to the 2011 study, the District of Columbia is least likely to understand the rules of the road. Drivers were polled on basic questions one might find on any state's written driving test and overall it was determined that about 20 percent of residents of the District wouldn't pass that test. Out of 50 states and one District, the District of Columbia respondents would only pass the test 71 percent of the time.

South Dakota on the other hand has the worst teen drivers. 11 variables were examined, which included: teen fatalities, number of teen driver's licenses issued and road quality statistics. South Dakota has over 46,000 teen drivers and scored 41.72 in the study conducted by data used from US News and World Report, making the state the worst state with teen drivers. Inexperience and the inability to maintain focus are major components, when it comes to teen drivers.

One cannot be surprised with Florida coming in as the state with the worst senior drivers, considering that it is thought as the state where people go to retire. It is estimated that by the year 2030, one quarter of all drivers carrying a license in that state will be over the age of 65 and according to a study conducted by TRIP, a national transportation research group, elderly drivers over the age of 65 are more likely to get killed in a car accident. Elder drivers reaction times and overall sense becomes weaker with age and therefore are more prone to being involved in motor vehicle crashes and automobile related deaths.

Tennessee was determined to be the state with the most distracted drivers. The National Safety Council found that 10.6 percent of all fatal crashes in Tennessee involved the use of a cell phone. That was determined to be ten times the average, nationwide.

Distracted driving involves the use of cell phones and other hand held devices while driving, the use of GPS systems and being distracted overall by dashboard navigation screens and various other entertainment systems inside ones vehicle. Distracted driving can also mean that a driver is either tired or hasn't had enough sleep, therefore they are distracted when behind the wheel.

The state were one is most likely to die in a car crash was determined to be Montana. Per hundred million miles traveled, Montanans suffer an average of two fatalities per year, according to the 2012 US Census.