Posted On: May 26, 2010

Bucks 'n' Clucks for Buckle-Ups: Maryland Praised for Novel Approaches to Promoting Seat Belt Use

Maryland is among the states being praised by the national Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) for getting creative when it comes to promoting seat belt use, in an effort to reduce Maryland car crash injuries and deaths.

The Maryland Highway Safety Office (HSO) has partnered with 7-Eleven convenience stores and Chick-fil-A chicken restaurants, which have donated gift cards for buckled-up motorists checked at Maryland seat belt checkpoints. The HSO is running a second incentive program called "Buckle Up for a Buck," where police give a dollar to motorists who are observed wearing their seat belts; banks donated the bucks. Both programs involve the charity of Maryland businesses and reward citizens for wearing their seat belts without draining federal or state dollars. (Source: GHSA Press Release, "States Launch Massive Seat Belt Use Crackdown," May 24, 2010.)

Any experienced Harford County, Maryland car accident attorney will tell you: Maryland seat belt laws aren't in place to encroach on anyone's freedom or to wrinkle their neatly pressed work clothes. Seat belts save lives. They prevent serious injuries that can occur in Maryland traffic accidents, including devastating and often fatal spine and head injury.

Maryland is among the states participating in a national Click It or Ticket campaign. In Maryland in 2007, there were 615 deaths resulting from 100,943 traffic accidents that were reported to the police; deaths include motor vehicle drivers, passengers, as well as motorcycle riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians killed in Md car crashes.

That same year (2007), Maryland's safety belt use rate was 93.1 percent -- a rate that had increased over the previous five years, as the numbers of Maryland traffic accident deaths decreased. (Source: Maryland Highway Safety Office, State of Maryland FFY 2009 Highway Safety Plan.) Maryland has a primary seat belt law which requires adults and young adults ages 16 and over to wear front-seat seatbelts, with a $25 maximum fine for first offense. Separate safety laws are in place regarding seat belts, car seats, and restraints for youth, children, and infants riding in motor vehicles in Maryland.

Related Web Resources

Click It or Ticket: 2010 Mobilization State Activities

GHSA: State Seat Belt Laws

Maryland State Highway Administration

Posted On: May 20, 2010

Kent Island, Maryland Chain Reaction Car Crash Under Investigation; Bridge Repairs Underway Near Accident Site

Last week, a four-vehicle chain reaction car accident on Route 50 westbound in Kent Island, Maryland, sent three people to Anne Arundel Medical Center with injuries. While an accident reconstruction team investigation was underway, this case illustrates what can happen when morning traffic in Maryland meets up with road construction and bridge repair.

According to news reports, the accident occurred on Route 50 westbound near Romancoke Rd on Kent Island, before the Route 8 overpass. (Kent Island is on the Chesapeake Bay in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, on Maryland's Eastern Shore region.) Reports state that on Thursday May 13 around 5 a.m., a four-car collision occurred where a road construction crew was clearing out from doing bridge maintenance work.

The Maryland Transportation Authority reported that the accident occurred where traffic had been stopped to allow the construction crews to exit the bridge. Witnesses reported debris strewn all over the road, which was closed down during rush hour traffic for hours.

Kent County, Md car accident injury lawyers may be consulted by families when questions of responsibility and liability surround a motor vehicle accident case. While the full details of this case have not been released, it shares some common characteristics with other chain-reaction car crashes (which can cause injury and motorist fatalities), also known as pile-up accidents: volume of traffic, road construction, and unexpected stops. It is unclear if weather and/or driver inattention (a/k/a distracted driving) were factors in this pileup car accident case in Maryland.

Chain reaction crash stalls morning traffic May 13, 2010

Related Web Resources

Maryland Transit Administration

U.S. Route 50 in Maryland (on Wikipedia)

Kent Island Online Guide

Posted On: May 14, 2010

Maryland Nursing Home Patients with Alzheimer's Disease Increasing in Number

A new report by the Alzheimer's Association reveals that Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is on the rise. Some daunting statistics:

  • Alzheimer's disease affects one in eight people over age 65 (a total of 5.1 million senior citizens).
  • In addition, 200,000 younger people experience early onset of the disease, bringing the total number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease to 5.3 million.
  • Annual costs associated with caring for people with the disease are estimated at $172 billion, with 10.9 million caregivers (such as family members) who are not paid.
  • Alzheimer's disease is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

As Baltimore County, MD personal injury lawyers, we are keenly aware of how vulnerable seniors who suffer from dementia and their families can be. Nursing homes, retirement communities, and skilled nursing centers have a responsibility to care for these special needs patients. Yet sadly, nursing home abuse and neglect can and does occur in Maryland, especially to impaired people who can not speak up for themselves.

Maryland Nursing Homes and Patients with Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease statistics in Maryland reflect the rising trend in the rest of the country, as the Baby Boom generation ages and more people are living longer -- and becoming impaired by this cruel disease. The Alzheimer's Association offers these sobering statistics for the State of Maryland:

  • In 2000, there were 78,000 people with Alzheimer's and other dementias living in Maryland.
  • By 2010, that number had increased to 86,000 people with the disease living in Maryland -- an increase of 10 percent.
  • Of the 65,573 people living in Maryland nursing homes in 2008, more than half had cognitive impairment, and 37% had severe to moderate impairment.
  • If Alzheimer's disease continues to become more prevalent, 15% of people age 65 and older in Maryland will have some form of dementia by 2020, and 28% of Maryland senior citizens (100,000 people) will suffer from dementia by 2025.

Maryland Alzheimer's Patients Who Wander and Become Missing Persons
Another concern among families, elder care professionals, and public safety officials is the risk for Alzheimer's and dementia patients to walk or drive off and become missing persons. Six in 10 people with Alzheimer's disease will wander (Source: Too often we read news stories of a senior citizen who has wandered away from their home or a nursing home and becomes at risk of being injured or killed in a traffic pedestrian accident, or of dying from exposure or injury if they get lost or wander into a remote area. In addition, people with progressing dementia who are still driving are at risk of becoming confused and getting lost on the road, and causing death or injury to themselves and others if they become involved in a serious car accident.

The Alzheimer's Association reports that if the disease continues to progress unchecked, by 2050 an estimated 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Association: 2010 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures (PDF)

Project Jason: Aging Persons with Alzheimer's and Dementia Increase Missing Person

Related Web Resources

National Institutes of Health (NIH): Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Association (homepage)

Posted On: May 1, 2010

Maryland Motorcycle Traffic Accidents in the News, Though National Motorcycle Accident Death Rates Have Declined

Maryland news media report that three fatal motorcycle accidents have occurred in recent weeks in the state, now that the weather is warm and more motorcycles are on the road.

According to Southern Maryland Online, a motorcycle accident that occurred on April 17 in the area of Prince Frederick, Md., is believed to have caused fatal injuries to a 53-year-old biker who died shortly after the motor vehicle accident. Police investigators reported that the operator lost control of his Harley Davidson motorcycle and struck a tree. While the man seemed uninjured by the crash and did not seek immediate medical attention, he was later found unresponsive in his home and was brought to an area hospital, where he died. The cause of death of this motorcycle accident victim remains under investigation.

Brain injuries can result from motorcycle and other car and truck accidents, and the severity of those injuries may not always be apparent immediately after the accident -- particularly if the person who has suffered a head injury is able to speak after the crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that head injury is the number one cause of death of motorcycle riders involved in traffic accidents.

Maryland Motorcycle Accident Deaths Decline by 20 Percent
This same news source reports that two other fatal motorcycle accidents occurred in Southern Maryland in April. This comes on the heels of a new report out of Washington, D.C., that nationally, motorcycle accident deaths have declined by 10 percent -- the first decline, in fact, since 1997. According to a Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report, nationally, motorcycle fatalities have declined from 5,290 in 2008 to 4,762 or fewer in 2009.

Motorcycle safety regulations such as the helmet law in Maryland are given credit for saving lives, though the report states that the sagging economy may be keeping more recreational motorcycles parked in their garages and off the road.

The GHSA report looked at motorcycle accidents in 39 states over two nine-month periods, Jan. through Sept. 2008 and 2009. Preliminary data shows that in that period, Maryland had 52 motorcycle accident deaths in 2009 compared to 72 motorcycle crash fatalities in 2008, representing a 20 percent decrease. Though as any Maryland motorcycle accident lawyer knows, any death on our roads and highways is one too many. We support the safety laws in Maryland such as the universal helmet law that help save lives and keep people out of our hospital emergency rooms.

So now that the weather is nice and people are traveling more in Maryland and beyond, remember -- that motorcyclist you see cruising down the highway is 37 percent more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than you, if you're driving a car, truck, or SUV. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Motorcycle Helmet Laws 2008.)

St. Leonard Man Dies, Motorcycle Accident Injuries Believed Cause
Southern Maryland Online April 19, 2010

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State: 2009 Preliminary Data (PDF)
Governors Highway Safety Association

Related Web Resource

NHTSA: Motorcycle Safety Program (portal)