Recently in Transportation Safety Category

April 2, 2015

Lowest Levels of Traffic Deaths in Maryland since 1948

In March of 2015, a report published, by the state transportation officials, stated that 442 traffic deaths were reported in Maryland for 2014. That is the lowest level it has been since 1948. The highest record was in 1968 with a total of 872 traffic deaths.

In the past 50 years, Maryland has cut the number of traffic deaths by half thanks to its hard work on highways, in the community and in the legislature. It was with these comprehensive and aggressive initiatives that have enhanced highway safety over the last 50 years. Laws have been put in effect to fight impaired and distracted driving and increase seat belt, as well as, motorcycle helmet use, statewide. Also, one must consider the advances in technology and better medical care for the decrease in traffic deaths.
For example, in 1969, Maryland's Medevac Program and Shock Trauma were introduced and with these programs the death toll has decreased.

Maryland transportation officials have a program in effect called the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, which addresses six major areas of traffic safety. These areas are the following:

- Aggressive driving prevention,
- Impaired driving prevention,
- Distracted driving prevention,
- Highway infrastructure,
- Occupant protection, and;
- Pedestrian safety

Other campaigns include Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Checkpoint Strikeforce and the newest program which is called ENDUI. It is an app available at Google Play for Android devices and iTunes for iPhones, which is intended to prevent impaired driving by helping people plan ahead or find a safe ride home if and when they have been drinking.

For more information on Maryland's Zero Deaths Campaign, you may visit the following website: www.towardzerodeathsmd.com


March 30, 2015

Safety Campaign in Effect in D.C. , Maryland and Virginia

Drivers and cyclist have been instructed to be on the lookout for one another by Transportation officials in the Washington Metropolitan area, which includes Maryland and Virginia. A safety campaign has been launched and therefore everyone on the road has been instructed to be on the lookout for one another in order to avoid accidents and fatalities.

Since Spring is here and Summer with soon follow, many residents of D.C., Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area will be spending more and more time outdoors and therefore enforcement is being stepped up throughout the region to make sure everyone makes an effort to be aware of one another and keep people safe.

Police officers and other law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who break traffic safety laws. They will face stricter violations, fines and tickets. The Safety Campaign was launched last week and it will continue to run thru April 19, 2015.

January 20, 2015

Safest to Riskiest States in the U.S.

According to a new report by WalletHub.com, Automobile insurance requirements vary widely among states. The District of Columbia and the 50 states were ranked from safest to riskiest by awarding points based on the minimum coverage requirements for the mandatory forms of automobile insurance in each state and also the percentages of uninsured drivers in those specific states. Points were also assigned to those states that had other types of insurance requirements, such as personal injury protection, medical payments coverage and/or uninsured motorist coverage.

It was determined that the state of Maine has the most stringent requirements. Maine requires minimum bodily injury coverage per person of $50,000 and per accident of $100,000 and minimum property damage coverage per accident of $25,000. North Dakota, New York, Maryland, New Hampshire and Utah followed.

The report also took into account that many states, nationwide, as well as the District of Columbia, have bans on hand-held cellphone use and some states and the District of Columbia even ban texting while driving. Therefore; a driver who crashes while distracted may be held liable for damages.

For more information, visit www.WalletHub.com

December 22, 2014

Over 60 Million Automobile Recalls Reported in 2014

As a result of Takata Corporation Air bag problems and General Motors Company defective ignition switches, over 60 million U.S. Automobile recalls were reported in 2014. The total to date is well over 60.5 million, making it the highest ever and twice the previous annual record of 30.8 million set in 2004, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This number will rise, even more, as recent recalls have been announce but not recorded, as of yet.

The number will continue to rise in the coming years, mainly, because of the Takata air-bag recalls and GM defective ignition switches. It is because of the slow response to GM's ignition switch defect that the number will continue to rise. Therefore; the NHTSA has pressured automakers to recall cars more quickly when evidence of a flaw is detected. It is with the use of subpoena power and the threat of hefty fines that the NHTSA can pressure automakers to solve their recall problems more quickly.

GM recalled 27 million cars and trucks in the U.S. in 2014, a record for any single automaker. According to the NHTSA, GM issued 10 safety actions of more than 1 million vehicles each. Mainly, for their ignition switch problems; which led to, 42 deaths and 58 injuries. These recalls caused GM almost $2.47 billion through the first three quarters of 2014.

Takata air bag recalls, however, were made on 5.4 million vehicles, mostly from Honda Motors Co. Other recalls of more than 1 million vehicles included steering, cruise control, engines and seat belt problems. The investigation to flaws in the Takata airbags, were for about 8 million vehicles. It was detected that these airbags exploded with excessive force and spread shrapnel through the car during a crash. An estimated 4 people died as a result and over 100 were injured.

Therefore; it is imperative that every consumer is aware of recalls when they are attempting to purchase a new or used vehicle. There are certain sites one can visit to research whether a recall has been issued for the vehicle one is interested in, and dealership can also inform the consumer of safety issues with every vehicle on their inventory.

October 14, 2014

Traffic Camera Revenue Increases While Driver Safety Decreases

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

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

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

September 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 4, 2014

What to Do When You Are Involved In An Automobile Accident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 3, 2014

State Highway Safety Laws in 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


January 6, 2014

New Traffic Cameras in the District of Columbia

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

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

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

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

August 7, 2013

August Is the One of the Deadliest Months for Pedestrians and Drivers Nationwide

Yield-To-Pedestrians-Safety-Sign-K-4103.gifAccording to a study conducted by the Department of Transportation it is safer to be a pedestrian in the state of Virginia then in any other state nationwide. It was reported that less than 10 percent of traffic fatalities in Virginia involved pedestrians. It was stated in the report that in both 2010 and 2011, 73 pedestrians were killed as a result of an accident involving another vehicle each year, in the state of Virginia. This means that pedestrian fatalities in Virginia are holding steady while they increase nationwide.

In the neighboring state of Maryland the percentage was 21 percent and in the District of Columbia it was determined that 20 percent of traffic fatalities involved pedestrians. It is important to know that everyone is responsible for the safety of pedestrians. Drivers, the pedestrian and people in decision making positions are all responsible for the safety of pedestrians.

Most pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas, at night and involve alcohol, increasingly. Therefore; these areas should have better sidewalks, crosswalks, signals and overall, be safer for pedestrians.

AAA Mid-Atlantic conducted a study which determined that August is the deadliest driving month nationwide. The dates specifically seem to be August 3rd, 4th, 6th and 12th. Out of over 10,000 motor vehicle accidents on the highways of Virginia, there were 5,800 injuries and 74 deaths, making it the second deadliest month in 2012. The first deadliest month in Virginia in 2012 was July. It was the few days before, during and after the Independence Day celebrations on July 4th. In 2011, Virginia was ranked the 16th deadliest state to drive in, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Therefore, if you plan on hitting the road in August make sure and buckle up, drive safely, keep an eye out for pedestrians and children playing outside, try to have the least amount of distractions while on the road, do not get behind the wheel if you have consumed any amount of alcohol and/or drugs, and overall drive with a little more caution then normally.

July 2, 2013

New Texting While Driving Law in Virginia As of July 1, 2013

Texting while driving has become a primary offense in Virginia as of July 1, 2013, which means police can pull motorists over if they see them texting, and drivers with provisional licenses will face changes in the limits on how many passengers may ride with them at one time. The new texting while driving law will allow police to pull over and ticket offenders and it will also stiffen the fines for offenders. A warning may also be issues, but that is left up to the officer to decide.

Also, drivers under the age of 18 who have had provisional licenses for at least a year will be allowed up to three passengers younger than 21, but only when going to or from school activity, with passenger 21 or older in the front seat or in an emergency. In other words, if you've had your license less than a year, only one person under the age of 21 can ride with you at a time unless they are family or if it's a result of a school activity or function.

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

March 19, 2013

Dram Shop Liability Law Being Considered in Maryland

Dram is a small unit of liquid. Dram shop refers to a bar or tavern where alcoholic beverages are sold. Dram shop liability is when an establishment can be held liable for selling alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons and/or minors, which then cause death or injury to a third party as a result of alcohol-related automobile crashes and other accidents.

Dram shop laws are intended to protect the general public and innocent people from the hazards of serving alcohol to minors and intoxicated patrons. Serving alcohol to minors in the United States is illegal. All 50 states consider it illegal to sell and or serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

The argument against dram shop liability is that a person, drunk or sober, should be responsible for his/her own behavior and actions. Also, bar, tavern and restaurants owners believe that if dram shop laws go into effect in Maryland that insurance premiums would rise, prices for customers would rise and therefore some business would have to close. Also, some people argue that there is no way for a bartender to know if a patron had drank somewhere else before or after coming to their business, or had used drugs.

There are other people who suggest that there has to be some accountability for a situation that is created or made worse by the action or inaction of the bar and or tavern.

The Court of Appeals in Maryland has recently heard several arguments in dram shop liability cases and will start considering whether to implement dram shop liability, which would in turn make bars, taverns and restaurants liable for customers involved in drunk-driving cases. But even without dram shop liability in Maryland, there seems to be a growing trend of Maryland cases recognizing tavern liability when there is additional action or inaction by the tavern that contributes to the occurrence or makes the situation worse. If a Dram Shop law does go into effect in Maryland it would go against over 60 years of judicial precedent.

Maryland and Virginia are a few of the states that still do not have any kind of dram shop liability law in affect. Maryland does not currently hold businesses responsible for serving too much alcohol to its patrons. 44 states in the United States and the District of Columbia do have some form of dram shop laws, although they differ in scope and in the evidence required for holding a business responsible for other's actions.

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