Recently in Traffic Laws 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


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

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.

June 19, 2012

Helmet Laws Reduce Motorcycle Accident Deaths

Motorcycle.jpgStates that have helmet laws implemented have fewer motorcycle accident deaths than those that do not, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report states that five times more motorcyclists die as a result of not being required to wear a helmet in the states that do not have helmet laws when compared to the states the do. In 2010, there were 4,502 motorcycle accident deaths in the U.S. That means that about 14% of traffic deaths were motorcycle deaths. That number is huge, considering that motorcycles represented less than 1% of vehicles on the road that year.

There are 20 states and the District of Columbia that have helmet requirements. Maryland and Virginia are included. In 2010, 739 deaths involved bikers not wearing helmets in these 20 states and the District of Columbia and there were 504 in the three states that do not currently have helmet laws. The three states that do not have helmet laws are Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire.

In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia all riders must wear a helmet and in Maryland that includes low-power cycles as well. Low power cycles are mopeds, scooters and various other 2-wheeled cycles.

May 24, 2012

88 Traffic Cameras to Be Added to the Streets of D.C.

Speed camera.jpgOn May 18, 2012, the D.C. Council approved the implementation of 88 more traffic cameras in the District of Columbia. These new high tech cameras will not only ticket drivers who run red lights and speed, but will now also ticket drivers who block crosswalks and /or speed through green and yellow lights. The fines can be anywhere between $75 and $250.

To date, the District of Columbia has 78 traditional cameras that generate about $55 million a year and with the addition of these new 88 high tech cameras it is expected to generate another $25 million a year. Therefore; there will be 166 cameras in the District of Columbia and $80 million in revenue a year.

Therefore; slow down and don't block the box while driving in D.C., or get ready to pay.

May 21, 2012

Bicycle Safety

According to a 2009 study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 50,000 bicyclists were injured and 630 of them died from automobile related accidents, therefore; before going on the road and riding a bicycle, here are a few tips:

- Always wear a helmet
- Use a bicycle that is the right size for you
- Make sure the tires are inflated to the correct pressure and that the brakes work properly
- Wear bright colors to make yourself visible to motorists
- Install rear and front lights onto you bicycle that are bright and visible
- If at all possible, avoid riding your bicycle at night.

In the United States, bicycles are considered vehicles, so cyclists are expected to follow the same traffic rules as a car driver. Therefore; here are a few rules while riding your bicycle on the street:

- Obey all traffic laws
- Yield to pedestrians
- Ride your bicycle in the same direction as traffic
- Make sure to signal when you make turns
- Be careful near parked cars as someone might suddenly open the door
- Be careful with vehicles coming in and out of driveways or side streets

For more information visit the NHTSA's website

March 22, 2012

Ignition Interlock Device.jpg
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

January 4, 2012

Pedestrian Deaths Among Hispanics in Montgomery County, Maryland Is Alarming

Pedestrian.jpgThere were 11 pedestrian deaths in Montgomery County, Maryland in 2011 and five of them victims were Hispanic. Hispanics only make up about 17 percent of the county's population, therefore; this rate is alarming. According to the AAA Midatlantic and the Latino Advocacy group Casa de Maryland, the number of Hispanics that died as a result of pedestrian accidents is disproportionate when considering that Hispanics only make up a small percent of the County's population.

According to the AAA, Viers Mill Road is one of the deadliest and most dangerous streets for pedestrians. Out of the five victims in 2011, four of them were killed on Viers Mill Road.

Phil Andres, a Montgomery County Council member says that the county will continue its efforts to reach and educate Hispanics on traffic safety, but that it is also up to the pedestrian and drivers in Maryland to be more careful and follow traffic and safety rules more carefully.

Cell Phone use should be a minimum and texting while driving is now illegal in Maryland, therefore, one should not send, receive or view text messages while behind the wheel. Also, cell phone use is only allowed when using an ear piece/bluetooth or if your vehicle comes equipt with hands-free talking. If all drivers follow these rules and more pedestrians make sure and cross at intersections and crosswalks hopefully the number of pedestrian accidents and deaths will lower for all Montgomery County Residents.

October 3, 2011

New Traffic Laws Implemented in MD As of October 1, 2011

Distracted Driving.jpgAs of October 1, 2011 Maryland Police Officers are allowed to pull drivers over for text messaging. Sending, receiving and reading text messages while behind the wheel will now be considered a primary offense. Which means, that Police, can now pull over and ticket drivers who are caught sending, receiving or reading text messages without their needing to be any other offense committed. Emergency 911 text messaging is exempt from this new law.

Under the new text messaging law, violators, can be fined up to $70 and receive one point toward suspension of a driver's license. If, an automobile accident or pedestrian/automobile accident is resulted from text messaging the fine will increase to $110 and three points towards the suspension of a driver's license.

This same law is in effect in the District of Columbia, but it is still only a secondary offense in Virginia.

Another new Maryland traffic law going into effect as of October 1, 2011, is that criminal prosecution will be allowed of drivers who are considered negligent in pedestrian and bicyclists deaths. Under this new traffic law, it will be considered a misdemeanor for a person to cause the death of another as a result of the person's driving, operating or controlling a vehicle in a criminal negligent manner.

These two new Maryland traffic laws are being implemented because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 20 percent of crashes in 2009 were cause by distracted drivers, of which, 995 fatal crashes involved drivers distracted by cell phone use.

September 6, 2011

Jaywalkers Will Be Given Tickets in Montgomery County as of September 2011

Pedestrian Walking.jpgCrosswalk.jpg
It was announced Friday, September 2, 2011 by Montgomery County, Maryland officials that there will be a zero-tolerance program to crack down on minor moving violations for drivers and for pedestrians. Such moving violations include: failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and jaywalking.

Drivers who block pedestrian crosswalks, fail to yield to pedestrians, run red lights, do not use turn signals and fail to use their windshield wipers in the rain will be ticketed. Pedestrians, on the other hand will be ticketed if they jaywalk, which is failing to cross at marked crosswalks, fail to obey crosswalk signals and for walking diagonally across intersections.

Each violation will have a fine of $50. The citations/tickets will be issued in high traffic areas and high incident areas, were police officers are more likely to enforce the law. The high incident areas include Piney Branch Road, Wisconsin Avenue, Georgia Avenue, Rockville Pike, Four Corners, Reedie Drive, Randolph Road and Connecticut Avenue.

This crack-down comes due to the fact that between January and June of this year, four pedestrians were killed and 174 collisions involved pedestrians in Montgomery County. In 2010, CountyStat (an oversight department for the county government) reported that there were 436 vehicle collisions with pedestrians and 13 pedestrians were killed. Montgomery County officials also distributed brochures and warned pedestrians of jaywalking in order to improve pedestrian safety. In 2010 alone, Montgomery County spent $8.5 million on pedestrian safety. Therefore, follow the law and remember that your safety on the road, be it as a driver or pedestrian, is your responsibility.

July 27, 2011

New Fines for Parking Violations in Havre de Grace, Maryland are Proposed

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City of Havre de Grace, Maryland, New Parking Fee Schedule is as Follows:

Handicapped Parking $125
Driving over curbs or sidewalks $100
Imitation of Signs of Signals $100
Vehicles Display of Repair on Streets $100
Fire Lane $50
Too Close to Fire Hydrant $50
Abandoned Vehicle $50
Parking at Yellow/Red curb or "No Parking Zone" $25
Time Limit Violation $25
Parking Facing the Wrong Direction $25
Prohibited Parking on City Property $25
Angled Parking $25
Commercial vehicle in Residential Zone $25
Parking on a Sidewalk $25
Other Parking Violations $25
Interference with Traffic control devices and markings $25
Failure to comply with signs, signals and directions $25
Obstruction of Intersections, Crosswalks or Sidewalks $25

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.