Recently in Highway Safety Category

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


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.

April 11, 2013

Remembering the Rules of the Road

As warmer temperatures arrive in Maryland, more people get out on the roads, be it in bicycles, by foot and by motor vehicles. It is important to remember the rules of the road and to share the road with pedestrians and cyclists. The Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration (SHA), the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and the Maryland State Police (MSP) are reminding everyone to obey the rules of the road and to drive and bike responsibly.

Traffic accidents continue to be one of the leading causes of death for Maryland residents. This means that thousands of Maryland residents suffer injuries and are overall economically impacted by motor vehicle accidents. Therefore, it is important for all motorists to be fully aware of the increase in both vehicle and pedestrian volume on the roads. Everyone is reminded to obey the posted speed limits on Maryland roads, not to drink and drive, to avoid distractions, such as cell phone use, texting and the like, and to always wear seatbelts and safety belts.

Aggressive driving and speeding are real threats on roadways in Maryland. Speeding contributes to about 40% of aggressive driving deaths, according to studies conducted by the MVA and the Highway Safety.

Here are some tips for safe driving: Remember to Buckle up, slow down, always drive sober, focus and share the road with everyone. Plan ahead. In Maryland, one can sign up for MD511 to learn about travel delays and construction activity along state routes. This will help you remain safe on roadways. Also, make sure and not text while driving. Make your vehicle a no phone zone while you are operating the vehicle. If you must use the telephone, make sure you use hands-free devices. Be use and keep an eye out for construction workers and utility crew members on the roads. Most of these people are issued orange and lime colored vests/safety equipment, so be sure and keep an eye out for them. And lastly, perform vehicle safety checks. Make sure your vehicle's tire pressure is correct and that all the vehicle's fluids are at the roper levels.

For more safety information, visit the Maryland Department of Transportation safety page at www.1.usa.gov/10zMfX4

January 3, 2013

Head on Collisions

Head on automobile collisions are often the most serious types of crashes. It occurs when the fronts of two vehicles collide into each other. Head on collisions typically occur at intersections and on highways. Head on crashes at intersections occur when one driver fails to obey a traffic light or other traffic signals, such as a stop sign or yield sign. Highway head on crashes can occur when one driver goes the wrong way on an exit ramp or when a driver crosses the center line or a median barrier separating vehicles traveling in opposite directions.
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Factors that contribute to head on crashes include driver impairment, driver negligence, poor road design, or insufficient road signs. Most head on collisions are due to driver factors, such as driver behavior, visual acuity, reaction speed, distraction, fatigue, and unfamiliarity with the roadway where the collision occurred.

Any type of head on collision is exacerbated when one or both of the vehicles are traveling at high speeds. A high speed head on collision, whether it occurs on a highway, roadway, exit ramp, or intersection can result in serious injuries to the drivers and passengers. Head on collisions can even be fatal. Although head on collisions account for only 2 percent of all automobile crashes in the U.S., they account for 10 percent of fatal crashes. Injuries suffered from head on crashes can include the following:

• Brain Injury
• Head Injury
• Spinal Cord Injury, including Paralysis
• Broken Bones
• Whiplash
• Burns
• Lacerations

Some of these injuries can be permanent in nature and so an experienced attorney can make sure that you are properly compensated for your damages. Your health is the most important thing and you should reach maximum medical improvement before you settle any claim and accept any monetary value from any insurance company.

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

November 26, 2012

Young Adults More Likely to Drive Drowsy

The AAA Foundation conducted a survey recently which found that young people, between the ages of 16-24, are more likely to drive drowsy than older people. It is estimated that one in seven licensed young drivers admitted to having fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once while driving in the past year, when compared to one in ten of all licensed drivers who confessed to falling asleep during the same time period. The AAA Foundation estimates that one in six deadly automobile crashes involve drowsy/sleepy drivers.

Sleep deprivation can impair drivers by causing slower reaction times, vision impairment, lapses in judgment and delays in processing information. It has been determined that being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .08%, which is the legal limit in all of the United States.

Therefore; if you are feeling sleepy/drowsy, do not get behind the wheel. Before attempting to drive an automobile, please do the following:

- Make sure and get at least 8 hours of sleep
- Don't be rushed to get to your destination. Make sure and give yourself enough time to arrive at your destination
- Avoid driving long distances alone
- Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours, whichever comes first
- Take a nap if needed. Find a rest stop and take a 15-20 minute nap. This allows your ssystem to recharge
- Do not use alcohol or medications that may make you drowsy
- Avoid driving at times you normally sleep
- Consume Caffeine. It has been proven that caffeine increases alertness

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.
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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

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.
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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 23, 2012

New Laws Implemented for Scooter and Moped Riders in Maryland

As of October 1, 2012 all Scooter and Moped Riders will have to follow new laws being implemented in the state of Maryland. The new law going into effect will require all motor scooters and mopeds to be titled and insured, and all operators and passengers of scooters and mopeds must wear helmets and eye protection at all times.

Since the new law requires all scooters and mopeds to be insured, they must be insured with at least the minimum vehicle liability insurance for the state of Maryland. Riders must also, at all times, carry their proof of insurance whenever operating their scooters and/or mopeds.

Further titling information will be available through the Motor Vehicle Administrations (MVA) website starting October 1, 2012.

Maryland law enforcement officers have received training regarding the new laws going into effect and therefore, Scooter and Moped drivers should expect to be stopped and/or issued citations and/or warnings if they violate the new law, as of October 1, 2012.

For more information, please visit the mva website at http://www.mva.maryland.gov/

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.

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.


June 12, 2012

LATCH System Regulation Updates

Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system regulations will change for child safety seats, according to the safety guidelines established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The change in guidelines will take place in 2014. The LATCH system is designed to hold up to 65 pounds (child and car seat weight combined). The new rule is called the FMVXX 213 and will go into effect on February 27, 2014. The rule will require car seats with internal harnesses to have a label indicating the maximum child weight for using lower LATCH anchors to secure the car seat in a motor vehicle. The new label would specify a maximum child weight between 45 to 53 pounds for using lower LATCH systems.