Posted On: September 29, 2009

Baltimore Pedestrian Accident Prevention: Are Hybrid Cars a Walking Hazard?

Now that students are back to school and working people have all but forgotten their summer vacations, we're seeing the usual uptick in fall foot traffic. As Maryland pedestrian accident attorneys, we've handled many unfortunate cases where someone walking to or from school or work was injured or killed by an errant driver. Now we have to wonder if some technologies are making walking even more dangerous.

A research report from earlier this year noted that Japan is making strides to build hybrid cars that make more noise. Now the U.S. is also looking at the issue of hybrids being too quiet for pedestrian safety. Apparently these energy-saving vehicles are so much quieter than conventional cars and SUVs that pedestrians may simply not hear them coming. This presents a challenge for the motor vehicle industry, which has always strived to make vehicles quieter, the ride "smoother," and reduce noise pollution.

Researchers suggest auto manufacturers should "add engine noise" to hybrid vehicles to avoid pedestrian accidents. Hybrids running in electric mode on low speeds may be difficult to hear. Older people with hearing loss, vision-impaired people -- as well as distracted pedestrians wearing headsets, iPods, or talking on cellphones -- may simply not hear a nearly silent hybrid car approaching as they step into the street or intersection.

Traffic accidents in Maryland involving pedestrian fatalities numbered at 116 in 2007. That's a five-year high, up from a low of 95 in 2006. While Maryland's total number of traffic fatalities are down, the number of pedestrians who lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents is up (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Maryland 2003 - 2007).

Nationally, a total of 4,654 pedestrians were killed and more than 70,000 were injured in 2007. It will be interesting to see how safety advocates and the motor vehicle industry respond to the issue of vehicles that are now too quiet.

Noise -- the lack of it -- a problem with silent hybrid autos
DelawareOnline.com Sept. 27, 2009

Japan may add noise to quiet hybrid cars for safety
PhysOrg.com July 3, 2009

Hybrid cars too quiet for pedestrian safety? Add engine noise, say human factors researchers
PhysOrg.com Nov. 17, 2008

Related Web Resource

NHTSA Traffic Safety: Pedestrian Safety Program

Posted On: September 22, 2009

Maryland Workers Compensation Cases and Injury Due to Occupational Disease

People get hurt at work in the course of performing their jobs, whether it's unloading cargo on the docks at the Port of Baltimore, working on a factory floor, or performing white collar jobs in downtown Baltimore office buildings. As Maryland Workers Comp lawyers who've served the people of Baltimore County and neighboring communities for decades, we've seen a wide spectrum of work-injury cases as a result of everything from heavy lifting to heavy typing.

Fact of the matter is, while certain occupations -- construction, for example -- are more hazardous than others, you don't have to fall off scaffolding or have an accident as such to suffer injury as a result of your work. We can break down types of work related injuries into two broad categories: Accidents and Occupational Disease. We've discussed what to do if you are injured in an accident at work (see our Workers Compensation webpage for more, as well as our Work Comp blog archive). Let's discuss occupational disease here.

Maryland Law & Occupational Disease / Work Related Injuries
The Maryland statute defines "occupational disease" as an "injurious exposure" that occurs in the course of a person's work. Carpal tunnel syndrome -- which has afflicted so many of today's professionals, from secretaries to computer programmers to people who simply need to type a lot as part of their jobs -- is the most well-known type of occupational disease. Other examples include respiratory damage from prolonged chemical exposure or neck/arm/hand problems from operating heavy machinery that causes vibrations, such as a jack hammer -- that can be directly linked by a doctor to the person's work.

A doctor's written testimony is essential to file a successful Workers Comp claim in the State of Maryland. As with accidental injuries that occur on the job, a claim of occupational disease requires undeniable medical proof. A doctor needs to put in writing that Suzy Jones's carpal tunnel syndrome is a direct result of her typing 40 hours a week on a flimsy keyboard for XYZ Corporation. The insurance companies may try to put the blame on some other activity, such as lifting up a small child, knitting, or playing tennis (all of which can cause carpal tunnel syndrome).

This is why it is so important, if you feel you've been hurt at work, to contact a qualified, experienced Maryland Workers' Compensation attorney right away. Getting hurt on the job is bad, but getting turned down for a claim due to inadequate reporting and documentation -- and lack of medical proof -- is even more painful.

Related Web Resources

NIOSH: Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders

OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Ergonomics

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission

Posted On: September 16, 2009

Baltimore County, Maryland Hit and Run Traffic Accident Kills Car Driver

The Baltimore Sun reported that a driver was killed this weekend in a fatal hit-and-run Baltimore County car accident.

According to news reports, the fatal hit and run crash occurred Saturday night at 10 p.m. in Baltimore Highlands at the intersection of Virginia Ave. and Annapolis Rd. The suspect, who was driving a cargo van, allegedly fled the scene of the accident but was later apprehended by police and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver of the car that was struck by the van perished and a passenger suffered personal injury. The Sun reported that the driver was 20 years old and lived on Virginia Avenue, Baltimore. The suspect, age 54, is also from Baltimore.

Baltimore County accident lawyers are familiar with the many hazards of driving on Maryland's roads and highways. Some regional statistics...

Baltimore County and Baltimore City Traffic Fatalities for 2007
In the state of Maryland in 2007, there were 179 alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths (involving drivers with blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit of .08). Of fatal traffic accidents for that same year, 216 involved speeding and 120 involved an intersection. There were 72 deaths in Baltimore County (12 percent of the total for the state) and 47 in Baltimore city (8 percent of the total). (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007)

In this fatal hit/run car accident case, the suspect was apprehended. Hit-and-run scenarios include drivers who failed to stop their vehicles following a car, SUV, motorcycle, truck accident, or pedestrian accident; who flee on foot; and/or those who cause an accident and either fail to exchange information, report the accident or offer assistance at the scene.

In some cases, where the hit/run suspect is never found, the victims' own auto insurance may "stand in" for the at-fault driver's insurance and provide coverage for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and property damage resulting from the accident. As always, it is best to consult an experienced Maryland injury attorney in hit and run auto accident situations. You may want to do this even before you contact your insurance company, so that your attorney can clearly explain the various scenarios which may unfold in this complex situation.

Victim identified in Baltimore County crash
The Baltimore Sun, Sept. 14, 2009

Driver dies in hit-and-run
The Baltimore Sun, Sept. 13, 2009

Posted On: September 2, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Crackdown: Maryland Drunk Driving Accident Prevention

Labor Day traditionally heralds the end of summer. It's an opportunity for family and friends to get together one more time before diving back into the fall season's school-and-work grind. Not surprisingly, this long holiday weekend typically sees a spike in alcohol-related traffic accidents nationwide.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is ramping up its public awareness safety campaign in an effort to reduce the number of Labor Day car, truck, and motorcycle accident injuries and fatalities. Called "Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest," the campaign brings together law enforcement and public safety advocates to drive home the message that drunk driving is not an accident, nor is it a victimless crime.

The DOT reports that last year, 40% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents that occurred over Labor Day weekend were due to drinking and driving. Law enforcement will be cracking down on impaired driving this holiday weekend for drivers of all types of vehicles including motorcycles, cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

NHTSA reports that in 2007, some 13,000 people were killed in highway crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders whose blood-alcohol levels were .08 or higher, above the legal limit set in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico. The agency wants to get the message across that drunk driving deaths can be prevented if people take precautions, such as designating a sober driver when they plan on consuming alcohol.

Maryland Drunk Driving Fatality Statistics
In Maryland, 179 people died in 2007 in alcohol-related traffic accidents. Though any death due to drunk driving is one death too many, the number in Maryland is down from a five-year high of 211 drunk driving deaths in 2004--in part thanks to law enforcement and public awareness safety campaigns such as this one (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003-2007). Too often, Maryland car accident lawyers witness how families' lives are changed forever when a party-goer drinks too much and gets behind the wheel. Be safe this Labor Day weekend. It's supposed to mark the end of summer -- not someone's life.

Stop Impaired Driving: Campaign Headquarters

Law Enforcement August/Labor Day Crackdown: Fact Sheet

Related Web Resources

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD):
Law Enforcement Officers Prepare for Labor Day Weekend

Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP):
Sober Ride Program