Posted On: August 30, 2011

Maryland Motorcycle Accident Fatalities : The Statistics Tell Part of the Story

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that Maryland motorcycle traffic accident deaths reached a five-year low in 2009 -- at 69 motorcycle crash fatalities in 2009, compared to 91 deaths in 2008, and 96 deaths in 2007. Data is still pending for 2010, although preliminary data released by the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) showed an uptick in motorcycle accident deaths in Maryland for the first nine months of 2010.

Other statistics of note, from the GHSA report:

> Motorcycle traffic accident fatalities for all of 2010 nationwide are expected to be 4,376 or fewer -- a decrease of at least 2% from the 4,465 fatalities of 2009.

> The year 2009 saw an encouraging decline in motorcycle accident deaths nationwide -- down by 16%. Prior to 2009, the US experienced 11 straight years of increases that more than doubled motorcyclist fatalities from 2,116 in 1997 to 5,312 in 2008. The GHSA credits the reduction in biker road deaths to state helmet laws, law and traffic enforcement, motorcycle operator training programs, and increased public awareness regarding driving safety.

> The GHSA study looked at the first nine months of the year. Maryland had 59 motorcycle accident deaths in the first nine months of 2009, and 61 motorcycle accident deaths for the same months in 2010. The numbers could go up as data for the remainder of 2010 become available.

> Use of DOT-compliant helmets dropped alarmingly in 2010, down by 13% nationally. Helmets can protect motorcyclists from suffering deadly and debilitating head injuries in traffic crashes.

(Maryland, it's worth noting, is among 20 states and Washington, DC, that have universal motorcycle helmet laws on the books. Some states only require helmets to be worn by younger riders and passengers, while still other states have no helmet laws at all. Helmet use remains higher in states with universal helmet laws, not surprisingly.)

Experienced Baltimore County motorcycle accident lawyers know from their work with Maryland clients -- motorcycle accident injuries can be devastating, and fatal. Motorcycle operators and passengers are physically more vulnerable when a traffic accident with a car, SUV, or truck occurs. Single-vehicle motorcycle crashes -- where the motorcyclist loses control of the bike and strikes the pavement, highway barrier, trees, or other objects -- also account for a large percentage of motorcyclist accident deaths (44% reported by NHTSA in 2005).

The GHSA theorizes that increased motorcycle travel could account for why the reductions in motorcycle accident fatalities have levelled off. The GHSA concludes, "To prevent an increase in motorcyclist fatalities in 2011, states should work to increase helmet use, provide motorcycle operator training to all who need or seek it, and reduce motorcyclist alcohol impairment and speeding."

Traffic accident statistics help law enforcement and public safety advocates get a picture of what's working to save lives, from state to state. But statistics don't always reveal the human side of the story. A Maryland motorcycle accident attorney knows from work with bereaved families -- even one motorcycle crash fatality is one too many. Given Maryland's alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased in 2009 (up to 162 deaths in 2009, compared to 145 deaths in 2008) -- we still have plenty of work to do when it comes to making Maryland roads and highways safer for automobiles, pedestrians, and motorcycles.

Sources:

NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland: 2005 - 2009 (PDF)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State: 2010 Preliminary Data (PDF)
Governors Highway Safety Administration

Fatal Two-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes (PDF)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Sept. 2007

Related Web Resource:

Maryland Choose Safety for Life Campaigns : Motorcycle Safety

Posted On: August 22, 2011

Prevent Drunk Driving Accidents in Baltimore, Maryland This Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us. Here in Baltimore County, Md. and around the country, the long holiday weekend gives people one last chance to enjoy some R&R with family and friends before the fall school schedule swings into gear. Like all other holiday weekends, Labor Day is also a time of heavier traffic ... and alcohol consumption.

More alcohol + more traffic on Maryland roads and highways is a bad combination that leads to serious and deadly Baltimore County auto accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced its annual public awareness campaign to curb alcohol and drug impaired driving now through Labor Day Weekend. NHTSA's Impaired Driving Division works cooperatively with law enforcement partners to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce traffic-related healthcare and economic costs resulting from impaired driving (that is, driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs).

Maryland Drunk Driving Fatality Statistics

Baltimore County, Md. accident injury attorneys work with families where a loved one has been injured or killed in a Maryland car crash.

Sadly, a contributing factor in nearly one-third of these serious and fatal Maryland traffic accidents is drinking and driving. NHTSA reports that of the 547 traffic accident deaths in Md. in 2009 -- 30% involved alcohol impaired driving above the legal limit of .08 BAC. While overall car crash fatalities in Maryland have trended downwards -- 547 deaths in 2009 compared to 591 deaths in 2008 -- the percentage of deadly crashes involving drunk driving has actually risen, from 25% in 2008 to 30% in 2009.

An experienced Baltimore car accident lawyer will tell you -- even one auto accident death is one too many. The statistics show we still have a ways to go to reduce drunk driving in Maryland. The National Strategy to Stop Impaired Driving includes advocating for…

> Highly visible law enforcement

> Increased drunk driver apprehension and adjudication

> Ignition interlock systems on automobiles for drivers with a history of drunk driving (to avoid recidivism and repeat drunken driving accidents)

> Programs that aid motorists in reporting drunk drivers to law enforcement, e.g., when they observe erratic drivers on the road. In Maryland, this is typically handled via a 911 general emergency called in via the #77 program, which routes the call to the Maryland State Police Barracks. The Maryland program is in place for motorists to report drunk or aggressive drivers. This program's limitations, reports NHTSA, include incomplete information from callers, not enough police on duty to respond to calls reporting drunk drivers, and/or insufficient cause for police to stop the suspected drunk drivers.

Please be safe this Labor Day weekend in Maryland. Don't drink and drive. If a friend or family member has had too much holiday cheer, take the keys and give them a ride. If you observe someone driving erratically on Md. roads or highways, use the #77 system in Maryland to drop a dime and alert law enforcement. We all have a part to play in making Maryland roads and highways safer -- over the long Labor Day holiday weekend and all year 'round.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Article:

Maryland Restaurant Sued for Liability in Fatal Drunk Driving Car Accident Case : SUV Crash Killed Girl, Age 10 (July 22, 2011)

Sources:

Stop Impaired Driving

Maryland #77 Program

Maryland State Highway Administration : Safety Programs

Posted On: August 8, 2011

Avoid Maryland Aggressive Driving Accidents : Baltimore Grand Prix Drivers Say Leave the Street Racing to Them

The Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix 2011 IndyCar Series is just around the corner, with Labor Day Weekend coming up fast. If you've been following the Maryland news or driving around downtown Baltimore, you may have noticed that the city is being turned into a racing circuit. The Baltimore Grand Prix is a professional street racing event, with a temporary street racing circuit being constructed in downtown Baltimore.

In late July, cornerstone track walls were set up in front of the Inner Harbor Amphitheater. The two mile, 13 turn street circuit will race around Camden Yards and the Scenic Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore. (See link below to the Maryland Dept. of Transportation's Baltimore Grand Prix traffic diversion plan.) The 5K pro racing event is sure to be a boon for Baltimore City -- attracting visitors and spectators from around Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic states.

There's something about watching pro race car drivers push their vehicles and their driving abilities to the limit that Americans find exhilarating. Even former Secretary of State General Colin Powell is getting in on the act as the event's grand marshal. However the Baltimore Grand Prix pro drivers are cautioning fans not to take their "need for speed" behind the wheel of their own cars, trucks, and SUVs.

As a Baltimore car accident injury lawyer knows all too well -- speeding causes Maryland traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths. This fact is not lost on pro race car drivers or Maryland police. The Associated Press reported that IndyCar champion Scott Dixon joined Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld earlier this month to announce a partnership between the Smooth Operator campaign and the Baltimore Grand Prix.

Law enforcement officials are out to apprehend aggressive drivers before their speeding causes serious and deadly Maryland car crashes: The Smooth Operator campaign in Maryland and Washington DC has resulted in more than 122,000 citations and warnings for aggressive driving being issued this year.

According to the Associated Press, one third of the 2009 Maryland traffic accident deaths were caused by drivers speeding. So while the Baltimore Grand Prix website promises fans will be treated to "180 mph on the streets of Baltimore" (see link below) -- that doesn't mean police will be giving civilian drivers a free pass on Labor Day weekend. They'll be cracking down on aggressive driving, which includes speeding, tailgating, lane changing, running red lights and stop signs, and other reckless driving behaviors that put Maryland motorists in danger.

Illegal street racing and drag racing causes serious injuries and claims lives in Maryland -- a highly dangerous practice carried out on back roads, side streets, and highways (see link below to article about Maryland illegal drag racing deaths). So this Labor Day Weekend -- or any time you're behind the wheel -- leave the fast and furious driving to the professionals and the Baltimore Grand Prix race track.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Articles:

Maryland Vehicular Homicide Bill : Drivers Who Cause Fatal Auto Accidents Should Get Tougher Penalties, Grieving Families Say (Feb. 28, 2011)

Maryland Car Accident on I-70 Kills Two; Police Blame Illegal Street Racing (June 29, 2009)

Sources:

Baltimore Grand Prix drivers discourage aggressive off-track driving
Associated Press in The Republic Aug. 2, 2011

Baltimore Grand Prix (official site)

Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Baltimore Grand Prix Diversion Plan

Smooth Operator Program

Posted On: August 4, 2011

Is Your Maryland Workplace Unsafe? OSHA Announces Plans to Improve Whistleblower Protection Program

"Whistleblower." The name itself conjures up images straight out of a Hollywood thriller. Many movies have been made over the years about the plight of whistleblowers -- brave souls who try to expose corporate corruption, greed, and danger in the workplace -- usually at their own peril. Memorable movies about whistleblowers include Silkwood (nuclear power plant dangers), The Insider (tobacco and smoking health risks), and Erin Brockovich (toxic waste dumping).

Some of these movies are based on the real-life stories of whistleblowers and the consequences they suffered from those who'd silence them. Whistleblowers are indeed real working people who speak out against their employers and bring problematic situations to light. Their grievances may center on workplace safety violations, illegal workplace practices, and poor working conditions.

As the experienced Baltimore, Maryland workers' compensation lawyers at Butschky, Ehlers & Butschky know -- it can be very tough to speak out against one's employer. This is especially true in this struggling economy, where working people are happy to have any job at all. However standards for workplace safety in Maryland and around the country are required, not optional. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) wants to ensure that workers who have concerns about their workplace safety may raise those concerns without fear of reprisal from their employers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act)…

…prohibits any person from discharging or in any manner retaliating against any employee because the employee has exercised rights under the OSH ACT. Rights afforded by the OSH Act include employee participation in safety and health activities, such as complaining to OSHA and seeking an OSHA inspection, participating in an OSHA inspection, participating or testifying in any proceeding related to an OSHA inspection, and reporting a work-related injury, illness, or fatality.

OSHA announced on August 1 that it is releasing a report that reviews the Whistleblower Protection Program, in an effort to strengthen it. OSHA enforces 21 whistleblower laws that protect employees "who report violations of various workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws."

Employer or co-worker retaliation against whistleblowers can take many forms, according to OSHA. These include reduced pay or hours, denial of benefits, demotion or lack of promotion, threats, intimidation, and blacklisting.

If you've been injured at your job in Maryland, including in a construction accident, it's best to consult an experienced Md. workers comp attorney. Even if your employer seems like the nicest boss in Baltimore County, things can get complicated when a worker gets injured and needs compensation for lost wages and medical bills. An experienced Maryland work comp lawyer can handle the insurance claims and legal proceedings, if it comes to that, for you.

Seeking advice from an experienced Baltimore work-injury attorney isn't necessarily blowing the whistle on your employer -- but it is the wise thing to do if you're hurt at work in Maryland.

Sources:

US Department of Labor's OSHA announces measures to improve Whistleblower Protection Program
OSHA News Release Aug. 1, 2011

OSHA: Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program

Related Maryland Work Injury Lawyer article:

Maryland Work Injury Update: BLS Issues Revised Fatal Occupational Injuries Report -- Work Related Deaths on the Decline June 8, 2010