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February 18, 2015

Why Does a Person Leave an Accident Scene?

What causes someone to leave the scene of an automobile accident, where another person might have been harmed?

Fleeing an accident is not uncommon, but there is little date on the behavior.
In the state of Maryland; there are an average of 24 deaths due to hit-and-run drivers and nationwide its about 1,600 deaths. The accidents involved striking someone on foot, riding a bicycle on in another car.

Psychologists and those who study human behavior say the drivers likely experience a flood of emotions including dear, shame and guilt. These emotions overwhelm their sense of self-control and so they flee an accident scene without making their identities known. There are some who are also under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. Alcohol is a factor in about 30 percent of traffic fatalities nationwide.

An elevated Blood alcohol level can hinder the rational decision making process and clearly makes it more difficult for someone to make a good decision. Carlo DiClemente, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County says "Fear and escape motivations kick in and, without good executive functioning, make flight more probable."

A person's upbringing and culture can also affect the reaction of a person. If while growing up, a person has been recognized for good behavior and telling the truth, it generally means they will own up to their mistakes, where, those that were always punished or physically injured for their behavior would be less likely to take responsibility for their actions/mistake.

The majority of hit-and-run accidents occur on weekends, when people are walking out more, and at night, when it's harder to see, therefore; drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all need to be more aware of others on the road and need to make sure they can be seen. Reflective gear for walkers and cyclists are important, as well as not drinking or using cellphones for those behind the wheel.

In most states, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration above 0.08 percent. In 2014, 12 states and the District of Columbia banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, and 41 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving. Maryland has enacted both bans.

There was a study conducted by psychologists, Frank Farley, in Temple University that categorized three different types of personalities for those who would leave the scene of a car crash.

1) The risk taker - self-confident and energetic and someone who feels in control of their fate. This person tends to drink more and is therefore more likely to get into an accident. This type of person would rather take the risk of fleeing than face the consequences of staying.

2) Little impulse control. Fear, adrenaline and "fight or flight" instincts kick in and they act before they think. This type of person may, however, return to the scene once they start thinking clearly.

3) "Guilty Knowledge". This type of person know they are doing something wrong, such as drinking, driving without a license or are with someone they aren't suppose to be with. This persona may also be someone in a leadership position, such as a police officer or political.


January 5, 2015

ENDUI App Available in Maryland

The Maryland Highway Safety Office has developed a new app that helps drivers determine if they've had too much to drink called "ENDUI". The app works by entering gender, weight, the type of alcohol consumed and the time frame in which those drinks were taken. With that information, the app estimates a persons' blood-alcohol content (b.a.c.) and assists users with calling designated friends and/or a taxi company.

ENDUI also has two interactive games that help assess cognitive responses and reactions to help determine whether a driver is impaired or not. The app also lets users report other drivers suspected of being under the influence.

In 2014, there were an estimated 152 people killed in alcohol-related crashes in Maryland. That is one third of all traffic fatalities in Maryland.

The app is funded with federal money from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is available in New York, New Mexico, California and Colorado.
The ENDUI app is free and available thru Google Play and Itunes.

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.
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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.

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.

January 30, 2012

Teen Automobile Related Fatalities on the Rise in Virginia

eating while driving.jpgBetween January 1, 2012 and January 24, 2012 there have been 11 teen automobile related fatalities in Virginia. At the same time period in 2011 there were only three. This is a huge increase that could be avoided if certain precautions were taken. The most common factors in the fatal automobile crashes are speed, distractions, alcohol, no use of seat belts and cell phone use.

Virginia safety organizations are urging teen drivers, as well as their parents, to take precautions to prevent further tragedies. Some of the precautions suggested are:
Teens:
- Obey posted speed limits;
- Do not Text, Talk or use handheld devices while driving;
- Do not drive distracted by changing radio stations, eating or by having too many passengers in the vehicle;
- Commit to driving safely;
- Always wear your seat belt.

Parents:
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of speeding and driving distracted;
- Set clear rules for driving and let them know that it is a privilege and not a right. They need to earn the privilege and that there are consequences to their actions;
- Set curfews, passenger limitations and make clear the punishment if these rules are broken.

Schools and Safety Organizations:
- Discuss the increase in teen fatalities, so that they are aware;
- Educate students on safe driving practices through interactive methods. Use visual displays, videos, guest speakers and programs;
- Post seat belt reminders and no cell phone use signs all over school property and all parking areas.

For more safety tips and information, visit the following websites: www.yovaso.net and www.blueridgecrashteams.org

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 22, 2011

710,000 Teens in the U.S. Are Drinking Alcohol Monthly

On February 17, 2011, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a survey that showed that 710,000 Teens between the age of 12 to 14 drank alcohol per month. The survey was conducted from 2006 to 2009, and over 44,000 teens were surveyed.

The research showed that of those teens who drank, 93.4% obtained their alcohol for free from underage persons, 19.6% from parents and/or guardians, 15.7% from home, 15.2% from adult relatives, 13.9% from unrelated adults, 13.5% from someone's home, and 6.8% from other resources. Of the ones surveyed, 6.6% bought the alcohol at bars and liquor stores.

According to Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. , SAMHSA Administrator, "People who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems. Parents and other adults need to be aware that providing alcohol to children can expose them to an increased risk for alcohol abuse and set them on a path with increased potential for addiction."
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Underage drinking can lead to alcohol dependence and abuse and to serious heath problems. Alcohol not only affects the liver and pancreas, but it can also cause other chemical problems. It can lead to water loss, electrolyte depletion, deficiency of thiamine, etc.

About 5,000 people under the age of 21 die each year, as a result of alcohol use. 1,900 from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 from homicides, 300 from suicide and hundreds more from various other injuries. Therefore, parents need to be more careful and aware of the alcohol intake of their children and teens.

December 6, 2010

Drugged Drivers Increase Fatal Car Accidents Nationwide

Out of the 21,798 drivers who were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the United States in 2009, 63 percent of them were tested positive for drugs, and according to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, 18 percent of them tested positive for drugs.

Drug data was collected Nationwide and analyzed by the NHTSA as part of a Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). The types of drugs reported were over-the-counter medicines, prescription drugs and illicit drugs as well.

Previous reports by the NHTSA have shown that alcohol and drowsiness are some of the leading causes of fatal traffic accidents, but this new report will begin to explore the role that legal and illegal drug use play in accidents. This report has shown that drug involvement in fatal motor vehicle accidents is indeed increasing nationwide. This report will pave the way for more research and could ultimately lead to the establishment of standardized testing methods that would look into drug involvement and fatal accidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has also published various reports that offer a look at roadway risks and show ways that lives can be saved. One IIHS report estimates that 7,440 driver deaths could have been prevented had blood-alcohol content levels been below .08%. The report also states that ignition interlock systems are one way to fight the problem of blood alcohol.

The ultimate solution would be that if you are impaired, whether it be from drowsiness, lack of sleep, alcohol use or legal or illegal drugs, it is best to not get behind the wheel and let someone else drive. Do not put yourself or others at risk of an accident and/or an untimely death. Common sense and caution need to be put at the forefront of your decision making and you need to give your keys to someone else. If you are impaired, Do not drive!

November 30, 2010

What States Have the Safest Roadways in the U.S.?

The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) released a report in early October 2010 that shows that the two safest roadways are in Washington and Oregon, according to their 2010 ENA National Scorecard of State Roadway Laws. The District of Columbia has a score of 12, Maryland a score of 11 and Virginia a score of 9.

The 2010 ENA National Scorecard ranks states based on 14 types of legislation that address such things as seat belt use, motorcycle helmet requirements, devices to prevent drunk driving and cell phone use laws. States receive one point for each type of legislation they currently have. Oregon and Washington both had a score of 14, making them the safest roadways to travel in the United States.

Date collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that someone dies in a car crash in the US every 12 minutes and someone is injured, taken to and treated in an emergency department for injuries as a result of an automobile accident every 10 seconds. These injuries and deaths are preventable through roadways laws and enforcement of these safety laws, it is the passing of these safety laws that save lives.

Twenty six states and the District of Columbia have passed or enacted laws that prevent the entering, sending, reading or otherwise retrieving data for all drivers using wireless communication devices (i.e.: cell phones). 5,474 people died in 2009 as a result of distraction-related automobile accidents, according to the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration (NHSTA). This means that 18% of annual fatalities are a result of distracted drivers nationwide.

To view the full 2010 ENA National Scorecard and State Roadway Laws report please visit www.ena.org.

October 19, 2010

Involved in a Hit and Run Accident: Here is What You Need to Do

A hit and run accident is when you are involved in an automobile accident and one of the parties involved leaves the scene. This can leave you shaken and upset.
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Hit and run accidents have been on the rise for the last 10 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that over 10% of all automobile accidents are hit and run accidents. There are numerous reasons why a person would leave the scene of an accident, but the two most common reasons are: being uninsured and being under the influence of alcohol of drugs.

Here are a few tips in case you are a victim of a hit and run accident:
- Assess your physical well-being as well as any other person involved;
- Call the police and report the accident;
- Write down any information you remember about the vehicle that left the scene;
- Identify any witnesses and obtain contact information from them, so you can contact them at a later time; and
- Call the Ambulance, if necessarily

If you are injured as a result of the hit and run accident it is important to seek emergency medical care. You will also need to contact you insurance company and report the accident. You will need to handle your property damage directly with your insurance company. You will also need to make sure that you have under-insured or un-insured coverage under your own person automotive insurance policy. You may find all this a bit much to handle, and if you do you will need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you in dealing with the insurance company on your behalf.

September 14, 2010

As Vehicle Deaths in MD Fall, Alcohol Related Deaths Increase by 12%

The number of alcohol related deaths in Maryland has increased by 12%, even as the national count declined. Non-alcohol related deaths in Maryland in 2009, declined by 7%. That means that 44 fewer people died in automobile accidents in Maryland in 2009, than in 2008.

The decline in automobile deaths may be associated with fewer drivers on the road, due to the recession and unemployment. People may also be taking less road trips and therefore there is less congestion on the roads and less chance for multiple car crashes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2009, 162 people died in alcohol related accidents in Maryland, while in 2008, only 145 died. Nationally, however, more than 30,000 lives are being lost a year on our highways, and a third of those involved drunk driving.

Spokesperson for Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Shaun Adamec said, "O'Malley would continue to seek stiff penalties for drunken drivers and repeat offenders, and would support the ignition interlock bill if it is reintroduced. The Governor is also committed to investments in the first responder network, including $50 million for new medevac helicopters."

Despite safer automobiles, safer highways, better trauma facilities and more seat belts being used in the United States, Marylanders still drink and drive. Police Officers arrest over 25,000 people a year for drunk driving, in Maryland. Of these, more than 300 are during Labor Day weekend.

Spokeswoman for AAA in Maryland, Christine Delise said, "the organization will continue to advocate for more use of ignition interlock devices for repeat DUI offenders, as well as first time offenders with excessive blood alcohol content."

Lets hope that all these changes and stricter law enforcement will lower the number of both automobile accident deaths and alcohol related accident deaths, not only in Maryland, but nationwide.



September 7, 2010

Costs of Traffic Accidents Have Increased in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study that shows; that the costs associated with injuries from automobile crashes is more that $99 billion a year, nationwide. These costs include medical care costs and loss of productivity costs. Of this, $58 billion was due to fatalities, $28 billion for nonfatal injuries that required hospitalization, and $14 billion was for people treated as outpatients at hospitals. The study was released in August 2010. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this number increases considerably when you factor in higher insurance premiums, taxes and delays in travel, to nearly $230.6 billion. Grant Baldwin, Director of the CDC's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention said, "This study highlights the magnitude of the problem of crash-related injuries from a cost perspective."

Injuries to occupants of motor vehicles, is about $70 billion, motorcyclist $12 billion, pedestrians $10 billion and Cyclists $5 billion.
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Injuries and deaths from traffic accidents, however, have been falling. The lowest level since 1961 occurred in 2008, but traffic accidents are still the 9th leading cause of deaths worldwide. It is expected that by the year 2030 deaths caused by traffic accidents will become the 5th, surpassing diabetes, HIV/AIDS and Heart Disease. In the United States, 15 to 16 fatalities as a result of traffic accidents occur per every 100,000 people.

Motor vehicle-related injuries and deaths are preventable in the United States, if more laws were implemented that require helmets for motorcyclists, stricter seat belt, drug, alcohol and texting laws, as well as increasing teen rules until the age of 18.

August 30, 2010

Drunk Driving On the Rise in MD, DC and VA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is spending over 13 Million on ads and teaming up with about 11,000 police agencies for Labor Day Weekend. It is reported by the government that there are about 17 million drunk drivers a year in the United States, much of which have deadly results.

David Strickland, Administrator for the NHTSA said, "We have got to go more to close the gap between believing that drunk driving is a threat and actively doing something about it."

The message in Virginia is clear: "Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest."
A government survey conducted in 2010 shows that 1 in 5 people admit driving just two hours after drinking, while a quarter of drunk drivers report drinking at least 3 times a week. The survey also shows that 1 in 10 people knowingly get into a vehicle with a drunk driver.

The Director of the Maryland Highway Safety Office, Mr. Vernon Betkey, said, "If we eliminated drunk driving on our highways, and also had 100 percent seatbelt usage, we would cut the amount of fatalities we have by one half."

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.