Posted On: June 24, 2010

Maryland Texting Ban and Car Accident Prevention: New Report Says Adults as Guilty as Youth of Texting while Driving

"Don't drive too fast." "Be careful with your mother's car." "Keep your eyes on the road." "Be home by your curfew." All typical warnings parents give to their teenagers when they hand over their car keys to them -- and pray they come back home alive. Now, 21st century parents need to tell their teenagers, "No talking on your cell phone while you're driving" and, more recently, "No texting and driving."

Problem is, an alarming percentage of adults aren't practicing what they preach.

A new study released by the Pew Research Center shows that adults are as guilty as youth of sending text messages while operating a motor vehicle (see link below). Scores of traffic safety reports show that distracted driving is a primary cause of serious and fatal car accidents in Maryland and around the country. Some scary statistics:

> One in four adults in the U.S. have texted while driving (27%), nearly the same percentage as teenagers who admit to texting while driving (26%).

> A greater percentage of adults admit to talking on cell phones while driving (61%) compared to youth ages 16 and 17 who admit to chatting on their cells behind the wheel (43%).

> Nearly half of adult motor vehicle passengers surveyed said they have been a passenger in a car where the driver was talking on a cell phone or sending text messages.

Drivers who take their eyes off the road for an instant to answer a cell phone or speed dial a number are at increased risk of causing a traffic accident, including traffic-related pedestrian accidents. Add the time and attention it takes to type in and send -- and read and reply to -- text messages, and it's a wonder anyone ever gets to work or school or home in one piece. Many states have put restrictions on cell phone use while driving and have made texting while driving illegal, including Maryland.

Maryland Laws: Cell Phone Use and Texting While Driving
Last month, Maryland Gov. O'Malley signed Senate Bill 321 into law prohibiting all drivers from using cell phones behind the wheel without hands-free devices. The law goes into effect in Oct. 2010. In Oct. 2009, Maryland made texting while driving illegal.

Experienced Cecil County car accident injury lawyers are familiar with Maryland laws designed to keep motorists safe and prevent serious traffic accidents. No cell phone call or text message is more important than a human life. We've blogged before about the dangers of teenage drivers. (See Maryland Teen Driver Safety and Accident Statistics). Now adult drivers should take a hard look at their own driving habits and whether or not they're endangering others on Maryland roads, city streets, and highways.

Adults and Cell Phone Distractions
Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project June 18, 2010

Driving Safety Tips/ Dont be distracted
ABC2News.com May 28, 2010

Maryland Texting While Driving Ban Now Law
Verizon Maryland Consumer Information Oct. 1, 2009

John T. Kuo, MVA Administrator, Addresses New Texting Law
Maryland Texting While Driving Law: Video

Posted On: June 15, 2010

Baltimore County Driving Safety: No. of Older Drivers in Maryland to Ramp Up by 2025

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released a report stating that by 2025, the number of drivers aged 65 and older will amount to 25 percent of drivers in the U.S. -- a potential driving safety issue that states like Maryland might not be fully prepared to handle. Of note:

> Most states' driver licensing systems and alternative mobility/transportation programs are not adequate to handle an influx of older drivers on the roads -- drivers who may have medical or functional impairments (e.g., related to visual perception, speed of processing, navigation and maneuvering) and/or be on medications.

As any experienced Towson car accident injury attorney will attest -- no one is a perfect driver. However, certain groups of drivers such as teenagers and senior citizens have special considerations when it comes to driving safety and avoiding serious traffic accidents in Baltimore County, Maryland and around the state.

According to the AAA Foundation...

> A majority of drivers older than age 55 are unaware that medications and driving don't always mix -- despite 78 percent of those surveyed stating they're on medication. Some prescription medications can slow down drivers' response times when the unexpected happens on the road. Failure to safely brake or avoid a traffic accident due to impaired driving can lead to serious personal injury such as head and brain trauma, as well as death on Maryland highways and roads.

> 35% of drivers feel less safe on the roads than they did 5 years ago, largely due to the problem of distracted driving -- people talking on cell phones and texting while driving. It is unknown how a large influx of aging Baby Boomer drivers onto Maryland highways and streets will play into this already hazardous driving mix.

The AAA Foundation is working with states to help them prepare for more senior citizens on our roads and highways. Health care and law enforcement personnel may have roles to play in ensuring that seniors can drive safely and not pose a hazard to themselves or other drivers in Maryland and elsewhere in the U.S.

U.S. Safety and Mobility Crisis Looms for Aging Baby Boomers,
AAA Foundation Warns
(PDF)
Press Release, collected June 15, 2010

Large Majority of Drivers 55+ Unaware of Potentially Dangerous Combination of Medications and Driving, Says New AAA Foundation Study
Press Release Aug. 11, 2009

Distracted Driving the Top Reason that 35 Percent of Drivers Feel Less Safe than Five Years Ago, According to the AAA Foundation
Press Release July 27, 2009

Related Web Resources

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

SeniorDrivers.org

AAA Mid Atlantic

Posted On: June 8, 2010

Maryland Work Injury Update: BLS Issues Revised Fatal Occupational Injuries Report -- Work Related Deaths on the Decline

Last fall, we posted a blog article on the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) preliminary results for its 2008 census of fatal occupational injury rates. The BLS recently released its final numbers, which were slightly higher than originally reported based on identification of new cases of work-related injuries and deaths. The final data offer the following insights regarding worker safety in the U.S.:

o A total of 5,214 work fatalities occurred in the U.S. in 2008 -- the lowest number of work-related deaths since the BLS began conducting its census in 1992. This represents a national fatal work injury rate of 3.7 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.

o Private industry construction accidents causing death have declined (975 deaths in 2008 -- 19% lower than in 2007); and the fatal work injury rate for this sector is down by 10%. However, even with these notable statistical gains -- which translate to lives saved -- construction remains one of the most hazardous forms of work, with a 9.7 fatal work injury rate (per 100,000 FTE workers).

o Fatal work-related highway accidents (including truck accidents) numbered at 1,215 -- 14% lower than in 2007 and the lowest since the census began in '92.

o Work deaths caused by falls amounted to 700 -- 17% lower than in 2007 (though the U.S. Department of Labor is advocating for greater slip, trip and fall prevention in the workplace; look for a future blog article on this issue. Falls from ladders, roofs, scaffolding, and other high elevations are a major cause of brain and spine injury in construction workers).

o One negative note: Workplace suicides were up to 263 cases -- the most ever reported.

Maryland Worker Injury Fatality Rates on the Decline
As fatal occupational injuries have declined across the U.S., Maryland has also seen reductions in work fatalities -- 60 work related deaths occurred in 2008, compared to 82 deaths in 2007 and 105 deaths in 2006. Causes of Maryland work-related deaths include transportation and trucking accidents, falls, contact with objects or equipment, exposure to harmful substances, as well as assaults and other acts of violence.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland work accident lawyer, I have worked with individuals and families who have experienced these types of work-related injuries and fatalities. Often people hurt at work are unsure what to do and whether to file a Maryland Workers Compensation claim along with a possible lawsuit. Which is why it's so important to contact an experienced work injury attorney if you're hurt in course of performing your job in Maryland, or if a family member is killed due to a work accident.

For more on this issue, read my blog post on Maryland Workers' Compensation Liens and Construction Accident Injury: "Can I File a Work Comp Claim AND a Third Party Lawsuit?”

Sources:

Revisions to the 2008 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) Counts (PDF)
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 22, 2010

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (Current and Revised data)
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fatal Occupational Injuries in Maryland
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Related Web Resources

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (homepage)