Despite Fatal Car Accidents, Maryland’s Highway Authority Says Seneca Hwy Speed Limit Will Stand

When most people think of a car, truck or motorcycle wreck, the most common image is that of two or more vehicles sitting damaged by the side of the road. While many passenger car and commercial truck-related collisions involve multiple vehicles, we do see numerous instances of single-vehicle crashes that involve just one car or truck. As Baltimore personal injury attorneys, we have represented dozens of individuals who have been hurt in an injury-related accident, be it auto, nursing home, medical malpractice or other incident that results in bodily injury.

The fact is, when it comes to roadway accidents, some crashes are caused not by another driver, but by the roadway itself. Weather conditions come immediately to mind, but there are other kinds of problems that can result in a traffic wreck. One area of personal injury law involves defective roadway claims. Many times, a car, truck or bus crash can because the actual road surface is intrinsically unsafe or has been temporarily made unsafe due to outside causes.

Passenger cars, commercial vehicles and two-wheeled motor vehicles all require a certain amount of friction between the road surface and the vehicle’s tires to maintain steering and directional control. Most people in cold-weather states know this very well, since an icy or snow-covered street can be slippery to the point of loss of control, either when steering, braking or accelerating. The same can be said when it rains, though less so in most circumstances.

As auto injury accident lawyers, I and my staff know that a small percentage of car or trucks accidents are caused each year from what we would refer to as a defective roadway or street. Certain specific problems with the tarmac may result in a car crash, such as broken or uneven pavement, poorly placed, missing or ill-designed signage, faulty traffic control signals, missing guardrails, poor roadway lighting, and even overgrown vegetation or poor street drainage have all been known to have directly caused or contributed in a significant way to various Maryland traffic wrecks.

It’s no secret that our nation’s surface streets, expressways and other public roads are badly in need of repair. Not only does the road surface result in injury accidents, roadway overpasses and bridges can pose particular risk to drivers due to falling debris and fragments from the underside of the overpass that may fall onto the surface of the street below. The Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) paid for a study a while back that determined about 50 percent of all highway fatalities across the United States were caused in some way by deficient roadway conditions.

That study, carried out by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, showed that about 10 separate roadway-related motor vehicle wrecks happen approximately every 60 seconds. Of those — nearly five million accidents that occur every year — they cause 22,000 deaths and cost our country billions of dollars.

Part of a road’s safety can be linked to the speed limits that are set for each stretch of road. In cases where multiple deaths in the same location might be attributable to improper speed designations, one could wonder if a change to the posted speed limit might alleviate the potential danger to drivers. We were reminded of this kind of situation after running across a news article that stated the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) had no plans to adjust or even evaluate the 50mph limit posted for the Great Seneca Highway. A public call for a possible change in the posted limit apparently came after the third fatal car accident in that vicinity.

According to news reports, three fatal crashes had occurred on that roadway in less than 8 weeks. Based on news articles, one crash in September took the life of a 69-year-old Gaithersburg woman following a Sunday evening passenger car accident near Lakelands Dr. Two weeks earlier a 24-year-old Maryland man died after a collision near Longdraft Rd. This accident was preceded by a motorcycle accident that killed a Rockville, MD, rider who was thrown from his bike near High Gables Dr.

While the SHA said a change in the speed limit would likely not be forthcoming, officials said that the department would review operations at the intersections were two of the more recent crashes occurred. According to police reports, those two fatal crashes apparently happened because the victim turned directly in front of another motorist. Based on statements from the SHA, 93 percent of all traffic accidents in this state happen because of driver error.

SHA: No Plans To Change Great Seneca Speed Limit;, September 28, 2012

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