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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.

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.

April 17, 2013

Traffic Accidents Still Leading Cause of Teenage Deaths in the U.S.

In the United States, traffic accidents are still the leading cause of teenage deaths, according to a report issued in April 2013 by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance. The main causes of teenage car accidents, according to the report, are texting while driving, driving while intoxicated, driving while under the influence, distracted driving, speeding and lack of seat belt use. Speeding in particular counts for more than half of fatal crashes which involve teens ages 15 to 19 years of age. As for texting while driving, the report states that one third of teen driver's still report texting, messaging and/or emailing while driving.

41 percent of car accidents studied in the CHOP report stated that teens had a blood alcohol content level higher than 0.01, which is an increase from 38 percent when the same study was conducted in 2008. Therefore; it is estimated that teens have car accidents at four times the rate of adult drivers ages 25 to 69.

The report states that by reducing distractions from passengers and technology, improving skills in scanning, hazard detection, speed management and increased seat belt use would lower teen crashes and ultimately teen fatalities. Parents are also encouraged to enforce tougher rules and limitations to their new licensed teen drivers. Such as, limiting the number of friends their teens may have in one vehicle at any given time and to make their vehicles a no phone zone, which means that the driver is not allowed to use their cell phone until they have reached their destination. Handheld or hands-free devices should be included. Also, parents should set time limits to their new licensed teen drivers. Make sure these teens are not driving too late into the evening, in the dark, too early in the morning or for too long a period of time.

If both teens and parents educate themselves to the rules of the road and sit down and make sure that limits and rules are set for teen drivers, then teen car accidents and fatalities as a result of teen car accidents would decrease in a major way. Remember that driving is a privilege and not a right; therefore, it is a responsibility that we all must take seriously, teen or adult. Everyone should take responsibility for themselves and others when operating a motor vehicle.

January 29, 2013

Rear-End Collisions

A rear-end collision is one of the most common types of traffic accidents. It occurs when one vehicle collides with the one in front of it, often as a result of the lead vehicle's sudden deceleration which does not permit the trailing vehicle sufficient time to stop.

Injuries sustained by passengers and drivers in either vehicle range from mild to severe although occupants in the lead vehicle typically suffer more serious injuries. The size of the vehicles and the speed upon impact also matters. The occupants of compact car struck by a speeding SUV will likely sustain much more serious injuries than if struck by a slow-moving car of relative size. To understand the impact of a rear-end collision, consider this example: Crashing into a parked vehicle of comparable size at 60 miles per hour is equivalent to crashing into a brick wall at 30 miles per hour.

Injuries

Although bumpers on automobiles are designed to cushion the impact of a vehicle collision, they are of course not full-proof. Even low-speed rear end collisions can cause serious injuries, particularly for the occupants in the lead vehicle, because of the unexpected and sudden nature of the impact. Examples of typical injuries include:

• Soft tissue injury of the cervical spine (i.e. whiplash)
• Soft tissue injury of the lumbar spine (lower back pain)
• Spinal cord injury
• Facial and head injury

Compensation

In virtually all rear-end collisions, the trailing car is at fault. Even if the lead car stops suddenly, the trailing car is considered liable because drivers are supposed to maintain a safe distance behind the cars in front of them. Occupants struck by another vehicle from behind deserved to be compensated for their injuries. Passengers in the trailing car that rear-ends the front car also deserve to be compensated.

December 26, 2012

Dangers of Rollover Accidents

There are about 280,000 rollover accidents reported each year, which result in over 10,000 deaths annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Sport utility vehicles (SUV's) are more likely to rollover when involved in an automobile crash because they carry heavier loads which make them top heavy and thus more likely to rollover.

Rollover accidents occur when a vehicle is unstable when making turns and traveling at high speeds. It has to do with the relationship between the center of gravity and the track width. When there is a lot of weight on the center of gravity it can cause the vehicle to rollover when making sharp turns or sharp changes in direction. Often, rollover accidents are a result of a flaw in the design of the vehicle and/or tires, or cause by the actions of another driver.

Most often rollover accidents occur when a driver loses control of a vehicle and it causes the vehicle to slide sideways and ultimately rollover. Sometimes the vehicle can hit a curb, guardrail, tree stump, or soft and/or uneven ground on the side of the road, causing the vehicle to rollover.

Rollover accidents are among the most serious and lethal of all motor vehicle accidents. These types of accidents come suddenly and without warning. Therefore; the NHTSA introduced a rollover rating system in 2001. The system reports rollover safety in a 5 star system. 5 stars equals a rollover risk of less than 10%, while one star indicates a 40% or greater rollover risk. Make sure and analyze the 5 star rollover rating system when purchasing your vehicle.

December 17, 2012

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

More than 300 people died nationally in 2010 in motor vehicle accidents in which a distracted driver was involved and about 416,000 people were injured, according to a government report published in July 2012.

Distracted drivers are people who are not paying attention to the road and are otherwise distracted from the important task of driving. These distractions can include talking with passengers, eating and/or drinking, using electronic devices, such as cell phones, and other technological devices, such as GPS systems and satellite radio systems.

Texting while driving is the most common, serious and deadliest distraction of them all, because the drivers mental, visual and physical attention is diverted from being able to drive safely. Texting and using other electronic devices causes up to 25% of all crashes, nationwide, according to a report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Distracted drivers; mainly those who text while driving, are 23 times more likely to be involved in car crashes, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. That is why it is illegal to text while driving in 39 states, including Maryland and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.

If you are driving and witness the following behaviors it is important for you to take some steps to save yourself from harm.

If you see a driver:
- Going much faster than the posted speed limit, going much slower than the speed limit, changing lanes without signaling, weaving in and out of traffic, cannot maintain lane position and stops longer than needed at a traffic light or sign

You Must:
- Assume that the distracted driver doesn't see your vehicle
- Give your vehicle space from the distracted driver's vehicle
- Try to pull ahead or slow down from the distracted driver
- If you cannot slow down or pull ahead of the distracted driver, call 911

October 25, 2012

No Correlation between Car Accidents and Size of Cities

Frequency of Car Accidents is completely unrelated to the size of the city in which you live in. A recent report released by the automobile insurance Allstate, which was conducted in various major cities has come to show that the size of the city does not directly influence the likelihood of an automobile crash. The report is titled "Allstate America's Best Drivers Report". The report states that the District of Columbia and Baltimore, Maryland have the shortest time between accidents, while Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Boise, Idaho and Fort Collins, Colorado have the longest periods between accidents. Therefore; Allstate considers Sioux Falls drivers the "safest drivers" in the United States.

Living in a larger city does not necessarily mean you are at a higher risk of being involved in an automobile accident. Car accidents are a major health hazard, regardless of where you live, because they are the leading cause of death for persons between 5-24 years of age. In 2009, 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers ended up in emergency rooms as a result of automobile crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2011, the U.S. saw the fewest number of automobile fatalities since 1949, but that still meant that 32,000 people were killed.

Accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. It is up to the driver to stay alert, follow driving laws, not drink and drive, wear their safety belts and not text or talk on a handheld device while driving.

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.
Bicyclist.jpg
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

September 18, 2012

Maryland Law Requires Police Officers on Duty to Wear Their Seat Belts to Save Their Lives

Maryland police officers are dying in motor vehicle accidents more than by any other reason in the last few years. As a matter of fact, according to Larry Harmel, the executive director of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, nine out of the last 11 Maryland Police officers that died in the line of duty were killed as a result of automobile accidents.
Police Cruiser.jpg
Just last month, Officer Adrian Morris was killed while in a high speed chase on I-95. Officer Morris was swerving to avoid hitting other cars when he lost control of his vehicle, flipped several times and was ejected from his vehicle and died. Officer Morris was not wearing his seat belt at the time.

According to the National Highway Safety Office, more than four out of 10 officers, between 1980 and 2008, were killed in the time of duty as a result of car crashes, and these officers were not wearing their seat belts at the time of their accidents.

Maryland and the District of Columbia make it mandatory for all police officers to wear seat belts while inside their cruisers/vehicles. Virginia, however, is one of the 10 states that exempt officers from seat belt laws while in the line of duty.

Therefore, all Police officers in the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia are being urged to buckle up in order to avoid preventable deaths.

September 10, 2012

Dangers of Distracted Driving

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) has published the following video regarding distracted driving and how it can and does cause a lot of automobile accidents. The Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) also helped and participated in the making of this video. The video was created because 152,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving between 2007 and 2011. Out of these 152,000 people injured, 1,100 of them were killed as a result.

August 30, 2012

Your Vehicle Is In Danger of Being Hacked by Computer Viruses

Computers and electronic communication systems that are installed in today's modern vehicles have the hazard of being hacked. Intel's McAfee, one of the best known software companies that fight PC viruses, is currently working to protect these computer and communication systems so that viruses can not affect your modern vehicle.

Automakers have failed to adequately protect these systems, leaving them vulnerable to hacks by attackers looking to steal cars, eavesdrop on personal conversations and even harm passengers by causing vehicles to crash automatically.

According to the SAE International, no violent attacks using computer viruses have been reported to date.

These viruses, worms and Trojans can be delivered to your automobile through onboard diagnostics systems, wireless connections and even tainted CDs played on radio systems.

The concern for automobile computers and electronic communication systems being hacked came from research conducted by a group of computer scientists from the University of California and the University of Washington, who published two research papers, in May and August of 2011, showing that computer viruses can infect cars and cause them to crash, harming both the driver and passengers. This group of computer scientists figured out how to attack vehicles by putting viruses onto compact discs. When victims try to listen to the CD, the vehicle is infected through the car radio and can make its way across the network and other vehicle systems. One of their examples is an attack called "Self Destruct". This is when a 60 second timer pops up on a car's digital dashboard and starts counting down. When it reaches zero the virus can immediately shut off the vehicle's lights, lock its doors, turn the engine off and release or slam on the brakes.

Therefore; the SAE's Vehicle Electrical System Security Committee, a committee of more than 40 industry experts, is working hard to develop specifications which would reduce the risk of vehicles being infected with viruses.

August 7, 2012

Automobile Fatalities on the Rise in Virginia

In the first three months of 2012 traffic deaths in the state of Virginia have jumped by 13.5 percent, compared to last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). So far this year, there have been 403 reported automobile accident related fatalities. The reason for the higher number of deaths this year is because a lot of the automobile accidents involved multiple fatalities per accident.

The number of traffic deaths nationwide has also increased. According the to the NHTSA there have been an estimated 7,630 automobile related deaths in the first three months of 2012, making it the second largest year-to-year quarterly increase in fatalities since the NHTSA started recording traffic fatalities in the mid 1970's.

The fact that we had a mild winter also has something to do with the increase in motor vehicle accident fatalities. That is because the milder the weather the more people go outdoors and drive. Severe weather keeps people off the roads, but milder weather conditions make people want to travel more.
Auto Crash.jpg
According to the Federal Highway Administration, vehicle miles traveled in January, February and March of 2012 increased by about 9.7 billion miles, 1.4 percent more than 2011. That means that the more miles traveled, the higher the risk of being involved in an automobile accident, therefore; drivers need to be more careful and practice safer driving, which include, but at not limited to, making sure one is buckled up, giving oneself plenty of time to get to your destination and never drive while impaired by alcohol, drugs and/or when tired.

July 31, 2012

Pedestrian Detection

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 4,280 pedestrians and 618 bicyclists died as a result of accidents with motor vehicles in 2010. You would think that with all the new safety technology in vehicles these alarming number of pedestrian and bicyclists deaths would be less, but they are not. That is why General Motor's (GM) is developing Wi-Fi Pedestrian Detection Technology. This new technology will be installed in GM vehicles to increase a drivers' awareness and prevent pedestrian/driver accidents.

The new Wi-Fi detection device will detect pedestrians and cyclists that carry smartphones, to drivers who carry smartphones, when the pedestrian/cyclists are in the drivers' blindspot or stepping into the roadway from behind parked cars. The communication will be directly between the smartphone of the driver and pedestrians/cyclists. The information will reach users within a second because the connection is between two wireless devices and therefore does not need to go through mobile phone towers. This new technology is said to work between two wireless devices separated by as much as two football fields in distance from one another, therefore; it should give a driver sufficient warning of a pedestrian/cyclist and ultimately decrease vehicle/pedestrian accidents in the United States.

GM is also working on a free application that can be downloaded by bike messengers and construction workers to help vehicles identify them as well.