Articles Posted in Traffic Safety

Auto accidents can take a toll on accident victims and their families. These accidents can take multiple forms, from single-vehicle accidents to crashes at an intersection. Fortunately, a

driver’s conduct can reduce their risk for various types of crashes. While not all accidents are completely preventable, drivers can exercise caution to avoid a crash.

How Can You Stay Safe on the Road?

Drivers can follow several safety tips to prevent multiple types of deadly accidents. First, to prevent a rear-end collision, maintain a safe following distance. If a car stops or slows without warning, a safe following distance will allow you to avoid colliding with the car. As a general rule, stay at least three seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you. During inclement weather, you should stay even farther behind. Similarly, avoid talking on the phone while driving so you can remain focused and respond to sudden changes in traffic. Second, to prevent single-vehicle accidents, scan the road for debris, animals, or sudden sharp curves. Speeding also can lead to accidents even if you are the only driver on the road.

Any time we get behind the wheel, there is a risk of getting into an accident. This risk, however, often increases depending on what road you are driving on. According to the most recent Fatality Analysis Reporting System data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), I-95 is the most dangerous highway in the United States.

The report, which analyzes which roads, counties, and states present the greatest risk for drivers based on the number of fatalities in auto collisions, found that total vehicle fatalities increased by an estimated 7.2 percent from 2019 to 2020. In addition, in 2020 alone, the United States experienced the highest rate of fatalities from auto accidents since 2007, with nearly 1.37 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Based on data from the Federal Highway Administration, drivers drove 430.2 billion miles less in 2020 compared to 2019, resulting in about a 13.2 percent decrease. This dramatic change is likely because of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, which kept many people at home. The decrease in total miles traveled by vehicles combined with an increase in auto accident fatalities resulted in the significant 7.2 percent increase in total vehicle fatalities that took place between 2019 and 2020.

Sometimes, the wait at a traffic light can feel like a lifetime—but this is never grounds for disobeying traffic signals. When drivers willfully run a red light, they not only place themselves, but everyone on the road, in danger. On particularly busy traffic days, cars may be moving through a busy intersection, and running a red light or speeding through a yellow light at the last second could result in deadly consequences and significant injuries for everyone involved. Those who choose to recklessly operate their vehicles and cause these issues can be held accountable in a variety of ways under Maryland laws.

A recent local news report discusses a major car accident and fire that left two Maryland drivers dead. An initial investigation revealed that a Subaru was speeding northbound and ran a red light. The Subaru subsequently crashed into a Ford, which was crossing the intersection at a green light. Upon impact, the Ford caught on fire. When local deputies arrived on the scene, one vehicle was engulfed in flames with at least one occupant was still inside. Both occupants of the Ford were pronounced dead at the scene, and the driver of the Subaru suffered significant injuries and was transferred to a local hospital. Although an investigation is still ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the crash, local authorities believe that speed and failure to obey traffic lights were primary contributing factors to the collision.

Are Drivers Who Run Stop Signs Liable for an Ensuing Accident?

Yes, in Maryland, stop light and stop sign violations are typically misdemeanors that carry a $140 fine. If a stoplight or stop sign violation leads to an accident, the fine is increased to $180.A red light or stop sign accident can also result in the at-fault driver facing civil liability through a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury liability is not contingent upon the at-fault driver being cited for a violation, so even if the at-fault driver didn’t get a ticket an accident victim can still pursue a claim.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released updated reports concerning traffic safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reports revealed that though fewer drivers were on the road during the pandemic, some who continued to drive engaged in riskier behaviors. These risky behaviors included failing to wear a seat belt, speeding, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The data reflected that people who sped during the second quarter of 2020, were more likely to drive at “extreme speeds.” These behaviors were also seen among Maryland drivers, where speed camera violations exceeding 100 mph were up 500% the last week of April 2020 compared to the previous year. The proportion of seriously or fatally injured drivers testing positive for opioids almost doubled after mid-March, compared to the previous six months and marijuana use increased by around 50%.

The consequences for Maryland drivers for reckless driving can be severe. State law defines reckless driving as driving with wanton or willful disregard for the safety of other people or property or in a way that indicates such a disregard. Drivers can be charged criminally and may also have to pay compensation to victims because of the damages that resulted.

Drivers must exercise reasonable care while driving, which means they have to drive carefully under the circumstances presented. A plaintiff in a Maryland car accident case must prove that the defendant was negligent in acting or failing to act in some way. In a simple negligence case, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant driver had a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the plaintiff, the defendant failed to exercise such care, and the plaintiff suffered damages, which were caused by the defendant’s failure to exercise care. In a gross negligence case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted with a wanton or reckless disregard for others.

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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