Articles Posted in Traffic Safety

Under Maryland law, a person normally is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle unless the driver and every occupant under 16 years old are restrained by a seat belt or a child safety seat. MD. Transp. Code section 22-412.3(b). However, under section 22-412.3(h), the failure to use a seat belt cannot be considered as evidence of negligence or contributory negligence in a Maryland car accident case, and a person’s failure to use a seat belt cannot limit the liability of a party or an insurer or diminish recovery for damages. The statute further clarifies that parties, lawyers, and other witnesses are not allowed to make reference to a seat belt during a civil trial involving property damages, personal injury or death—unless the case is based on a defect in the design, installation, manufacturing, supplying, or repair of the seat belt itself.

Seat belts have been required in Maryland since 1997. A seat belt is the best way to protect oneself in a car crash. Seat belts improve a person’s chance of survival by 60 percent. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, 105 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes on Maryland roads in 2018 while not wearing a seat belt. A survey conducted in 2019 found that the state’s seat belt usage rate was 90.4 percent in 2019. Maryland Department of Transportation has said that “the only acceptable number for seat belts usage is 100 percent.” Car crashes, in general, are the most common cause of death for individuals between the ages of 5 and 24. According to national statistics, seat belt usage is generally lower among teen drivers.

Maryland’s 2019 Roadside Observation Seat Belt Survey consisted of roadside observations of 32,433 cars and trucks across the state. The state survey showed that passengers wore seat belts 93 percent of the time when the driver also wore a seat belt, and that when the driver did not wear a seat belt, only 40 percent of passengers wore seat belts. Maryland’s Department of Transportation is trying to increase the usage of seat belts through a state education campaign. The state launched a campaign entitled “Seat Belts Look Good on You,” which is aimed at drivers aged 16 to 19 who pass the road skills test by offering them a reward of a free “seat belt” necktie or scarf. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in crashes in the state.

Earlier this month, a five-year-old girl was killed and her nine-year-old sister seriously injured when the children’s mother veered off the road and into another vehicle. According to a report by the local NBC News affiliate, the accident occurred at around 5:30 in the afternoon around the 3600 block of North Franklintown Road at Leakin Park in West Baltimore.

Evidently, the two children were riding in the car with their mother when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed into another nearby car. Both children in the car were taken to the hospital. The five-year-old girl was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival, and her nine-year-old sister was admitted in serious condition. The driver of the other vehicle sustained only minor injuries.

Police are still in the process of conducting their official investigation. However, they did tell reporters that the roadway was wet and slick at the time of the accident, and the specific section of road where the fatal accident occurred is particularly curvy.

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Earlier this month in Howard County, a young man was killed in an accident involving a snow plow. According to one local news report, the vehicle the young man was driving lost control around a corner and slammed into the front of a truck with a snow-plow attachment on the front.

The accident took place around nine in the morning on Route 97, near the Howard-Montgomery County line. Evidently, the young man was driving an Acura RSX and drifted out of his lane a bit while making a fairly sharp curve. As his vehicle exited his lane of travel and entered the shoulder, he encountered a patch of slush. The slush caused the driver to lose control of his vehicle, which then crossed into oncoming traffic where he collided with the snow plow.

The driver of the Acura was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency workers. The snow plow had three passengers in it, all of whom were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police are still in the middle of conducting their investigation into the cause of the accident. However, preliminary investigations suggest that the driver of the Acura was traveling too fast when he entered the curve, causing him to leave his lane and end up on the shoulder.

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Earlier this month on Interstate 95, a massive pile-up accident claimed the life of a Staten Island rabbi on his way to a religious event. According to a report by one local news source, the accident occurred near the Baltimore-Howard County line. The accident itself actually took place in Harford County, near the intersection of Route 23 and High Point Road.

Evidently, a band of freezing rain crept in and created extremely slippery conditions on the roadway. At around 7:30 in the morning, a Honda CRV was traveling westbound on Route 23 when it lost control and crossed the median. The CRV collided with an eastbound vehicle.

The man in the back seat of the CRV was pronounced dead shortly after emergency workers responded to the scene. He was a prominent rabbi in the New York City area. The driver and front-seat passenger of the CRV were also taken to the hospital, although with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the other vehicle, as well as the passenger, were both taken to the hospital with injuries.

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Earlier this week in Washington DC, a Maryland school teacher lost her life when she was sideswiped by a police cadet making an improper turn out of an emergency crossover. According to a report by NBC Washington, the accident occurred on Friday morning on the Capital Beltway, near the Route 50 interchange.

Evidently, the 18-year-old cadet was driving an unmarked police SUV without the lights or sirens activated when he decided to use the emergency crossover from the Inner Loop to the Outer Loop. However, as he exited the crossover, he sideswiped a Lincoln, sending it into a nearby wall. The SUV driven by the officer then spun into a Subaru Outback.

The driver of the Lincoln, a 59-year-old Maryland school teacher, was taken to Prince George’s Hospital Center, where she was later pronounced dead. She left behind five children and four grandchildren. The driver of the Subaru was not injured in the collision.

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Earlier this month in Lanham, Maryland, a man was killed while making a left turn. According to a report by the Washington Post, the man was driving on Fontana Road and attempted to make a left hand turn on to Annapolis Road when he was struck by an oncoming car. The accident occurred shortly after 1 a.m.

Police are still investigating the cause of the crash, however, a preliminary investigation indicates that the driver making the left hand turn failed to yield the right of way to the oncoming car. Police are currently looking into whether the speed of the other driver also played a role in the crash.

The man making the left turn was taken to the hospital where he later died of the injuries he sustained as a result of the crash. The other driver was also inured, however, he is expected to fully recover.

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Maryland lawmakers are considering a new bill, named “Jake’s Law,” that would increase the penalties for causing an accident resulting in death while texting or talking on a cell phone. The bill is named after a young, 5-year-old accident victim from Baltimore.

Back in December of 2011, Jake was killed when a driver, who was on the phone at the time, struck and killed him as he crossed the street. Jake, who was playing a Super Mario video game at the time of the crash, explained in his last words to his mother: “I have 43 lives.”

The driver of the car apparently did not see that traffic had slowed in response to an accident. He also did not see the sign several miles ahead of the accident that warned drivers traffic was slowing. The driver did not react until .2 seconds before impact, experts explained. This means that the driver did not even apply the brakes at all.

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Despite recent major traffic incidents across the country, the Associated Press is reporting that the nation’s roads are as safe as they’ve ever been.

According to their statistics, derailments and accidents at railroad crossings have been on the decline, despite an increased reliance on trains for transporting raw materials and finished products.

Purportedly, the numbers are as follows:

  • A 43% decrease in train accidents, to a total of 1,712 occurring from 2003 to 2012;
  • A 34% decrease in accidents occurring at railroad crossings, to 1,960 over the same period;
  • A 19% decrease in the number of deaths to a total of 705, which breaks down to an average of approximately 70-80 per year, nationwide.
  • Over time, railroads have made capital investments, strengthened employee training, and explored technological advances in order to anticipate the potential problems that lead to derailment.

    According to the Federal Railroad Administration spokesman,
    “Last year was the safest year on record for the railroad industry.” This may come as a surprise following the Baltimore accident this Tuesday, and the derailment of a commuter train in Connecticut earlier this month.

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    There are few things in life more precious than our youth. As the embodiment of the future of our world, children should be protected from the dangers that they have yet to appreciate. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my colleagues are all too aware of the fragility of life. This view is based on the years of experience that we have representing victims of automobile and trucking-related traffic collisions, as well as pedestrian and bicycle injury accidents.

    Through the decades, we as a society have developed laws and physical safeguards to protect the populace from physical injury or death caused by senseless and unnecessary traffic wrecks, not to mention other types of accidents that may result in personal injury. As motorists ourselves, we understand the dangers that every driver, passenger, pedestrian and bicyclist faces on our state’s roadways. For the children, this is doubly important because they do not always understand the hazards that you and I see as commonplace in everyday life.

    Helping kids get to a stage in their own lives where they can recognize inherent dangers and avoid them is the job or parents, relatives, educators and our community leaders. Because traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of childhood fatalities in the U.S., it goes without saying that we should all obey the runs and regulations that protect not only these young lives, but also those of our friends and neighbors.

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    It would be morbid to say that an improving economy may have caused more than 1,500 additional traffic deaths last year than in 2011, but you can be sure that someone will suggest it. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my colleagues have a much more grounded view of things when it comes to injuries and fatalities on our nation’s roadways; there’s never a good reason for people to be killed in senseless and often preventable traffic collisions.

    Whether you’re talking about passenger cars crashes, trucking-related wrecks or motorcycle accidents, there are often one or more individuals who will be sent to the hospital with serious or even life-threatening injuries. From broken bones and serious burns, to lacerations, internal injuries and closed-head trauma, few people come away totally unhurt following a bad automobile or commercial truck collision.

    Areas like Baltimore, the District, and other densely populated metropolitan centers get their share of roadway accidents. Having met with dozens of accident victims, we understand the physical pain and difficult recovery and rehab periods that many people experience following a car crash. And even if they survive the initial collision, the financial burden that can follow may be just as devastating, especially for families that are already struggling with money issues. Throw in a loss of income when a single parent is hurt or laid up in a hospital bed and the families troubles are only just beginning.

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