Posted On: January 31, 2012

Maryland Hybrid Drivers : Pedestrian Accident Injury Liability Claims Up, Insurance Report Says

Hybrid vehicles are rising in popularity in Maryland and across the U.S., as more people seek to save money on gas with an environmentally friendlier vehicle. However according to a recent insurance industry report, hybrids vehicles aren't always as friendly to pedestrians. Liability claims for pedestrian accidents with hybrid vehicles are on the rise because people on foot -- as well as bicyclists -- may simply not hear them coming.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) issued a report late last fall stating that hybrids are actually safer than their non-hybrid equivalents when it comes to protecting motorists in car accidents. However the same cannot be said when pedestrians are struck by hybrids. The IIHS reported that hybrid vehicles are 20 percent more likely to be involved in traffic accidents with pedestrians.

A Baltimore County pedestrian accident injury lawyer works with individuals in cases where a person on foot has been struck and injured or killed by a motor vehicle. We're hearing more about pedestrian traffic accidents involving hybrid cars, whose engines are very quiet when the vehicle is in electric only mode. Unlike conventional gas burners that rumble along the Maryland roadways, hybrids running on all electric current may approach almost silently -- particularly for pedestrians who are wearing iPod headsets, and/or are texting or talking on their cell phones.

(Distracted walking is a related and increasing pedestrian traffic accident hazard, as more and more people on foot multi-task with their SmartPhones, unaware of the traffic around them.)

According to the IIHS report, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) examined 17 different hybrid vehicles as well as their nonhybrid counterparts, model years 2002 - 2010 -- which were involved in traffic accidents from 2004 to 2010, amounting to more than 25,000 personal injury claims. Their findings that hybrids are 20% more likely to be involved in pedestrian traffic crashes is in line with 2009 and 2011 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies, which concluded that "hybrids have a higher rate of pedestrian and bicyclist crashes than nonhybrids."

As Baltimore car accident injury attorneys, we've worked with families who've been devastated by pedestrian and auto crashes. Someone walking on foot or on a bicycle is obviously at a huge disadvantage when they find themselves on the same path as a motor vehicle. These types of pedestrian and bicycle accidents with motor vehicles can cause serious, debilitating injuries, including brain and spine injuries.

Maryland hybrid owners would be well advised to take it slow in Baltimore or anywhere that pedestrians are in and out of the roadways. They may simply not know your vehicle is driving close by. At the same time, pedestrians should pay attention to what's around them. No text message or iPod tune is more important than your life.

Sources:

Hybrids Chalk Up More Injury Claims for Pedestrians
IIHS Status Report, Vol. 46, No. 10, Nov. 17, 2011
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety news release

Pedestrian-Related Bodily Injury Liability Claim Frequencies, Hybrids versus their Conventional Counterparts (PDF)
Highway Loss Data Institute Bulletin, Sept. 2011


Posted On: January 18, 2012

U.S. Highway Safety Group Green Lights Maryland Traffic Laws, While Noting Areas that Need Improvement

Though Baltimore County commuters might beg to differ, Maryland has recently been ranked as one of the safer states in the country for motorists. (See related Maryland Injury Attorney articles below.) Now a new study released by a national highway traffic safety advocacy group ranks Maryland among states given a "green light" for basic traffic laws on the books.

However many aspects of Maryland traffic laws and regulations could use improvement, as the study authors -- and experienced Baltimore County car accident injury lawyers -- would agree. Let's take a brief look at the study findings and recommendations.

Maryland's basic traffic laws were given "green light" passing grades by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The group is comprised of consumer, insurance, health, safety, and law enforcement representatives and conducts a national survey of traffic laws by state every year. Its report titled 2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws looks at 15 basic traffic laws covering a range of safety areas, including use of motorcycle helmets and seat belts, texting while driving, Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs, child safety seats, and ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers.

States given a "green light" grade, including Maryland and our neighbors in Delaware and Washington, D.C., have 10 to 15 basic traffic laws on their books, including a primary seat belt law, OR 9 laws including primary seat belt enforcement AND an all-rider motorcycle helmet law. Other states with fewer traffic safety laws were given a "yellow light" grade ("caution"), such as Pennsylvania to our north. Those states given a "red light" ("danger") grade are "falling behind" in national traffic safety and law enforcement trends (sorry, Virginia).

While the coalition commends Md. for our traffic safety laws, it nonetheless identified several areas that could use improvement to prevent serious and fatal traffic accidents. These include…

  • Adoption of an Ignition Interlock Law to stop Maryland drunk drivers from operating their motor vehicles under the influence.

  • Several provisions to strengthen a Graduated Drivers Licensing program (known in Maryland as our Rookie Driver / Graduated Licensing System). These include beefing up restrictions on cell phone use while driving, passengers, and night time driving; as well as setting a minimum age of 16 years for gaining a Learner's Permit. Young, inexperienced drivers are at higher risk for being involved in serious and fatal auto accidents in Maryland, putting themselves, their passengers and pedestrians at risk.

None of the states surveyed by the Advocates for Highway Safety achieved a perfect score for all the basic traffic laws they recommend be on every state's books. As long-time Maryland traffic accident injury attorneys, we'll be interested see if Maryland adds teeth to any of our traffic laws (or adopts any new ones) in 2012. Related reading below.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Maryland Car Accident Death Rates Down, But Many Traffic Safety Challenges Remain (Jan. 2, 2012)

Should Maryland Laws Banning Cell Phone Use While Driving Get Even Tougher? (Dec. 21, 2011)

The Number-One Killer of Kids and Young Adults in Maryland (Sept. 23, 2012)

Sources:

Highway Safety Laws Needed in Maryland
Saferoads.org

2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety : Press Kit (PDF)
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Jan. 11, 2012

Related Web Resources:

Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration:
Maryland Traffic Safety Laws

Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration:
Maryland Driver's Manual (PDF)

Posted On: January 10, 2012

Maryland Work Injury and Death Statistics Shed Light on Most Hazardous Occupations

Which are the most dangerous occupations in Maryland? What types of fatal work-related accidents occur most frequently? As we look ahead to 2012, it's worth looking to the recent past to consider Maryland workplace safety, accidents that happen on the job, and trends.

The answers may be found in the most recent Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) survey results, which are available to the public (see link below). Some highlights from the 2008 Maryland Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries…

> Nonfatal work related injuries and illnesses in Maryland declined in 2008, numbering at 75,000. Maryland is statistically one of the safer states in which to work in the U.S., with a "TRC" (total recordable case) incidence rate that's 12 percent below the national average. (Md.'s TRC rate was, for 2008, 3.7 injuries and illnesses per 100 equivalent full-time workers.)

That's the encouraging news.

However, as an experienced Hunt Valley, Maryland Work Accident Injury Attorney will attest, even one injury or death on the job is one too many. Where and how are workers statistically more likely to get hurt or killed in the course of their employment in Md.? According to the MOSH report…

> 60 work related deaths occurred in Maryland in 2008. Of those, four types of events claimed the most lives:

  • Falls to a lower level (such as falling from a ladder, roof, scaffolding, or other construction accident)

  • Workplace homicides

  • Contact with electric current (electrocution)

  • Highway incidents (which includes operating a motor vehicle as part of one's employment. That can include salespeople who travel by car to pay sales calls to clients, as well as long-distance commercial truckers hauling cargo across Md. highways)

Other types of fatal Maryland work accidents included…

  • Being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects

  • Pedestrian incidents (such as a pedestrian accident where a worker on a job site is struck by a vehicle or other traffic accident)

  • Aircraft incidents

> The Maryland construction industry sector recorded the most work fatalities, followed by the goods producing industry and the service industry.

A work related accident can involve both a Maryland Workers' Compensation claim as well as legal proceedings. This is why it's critical to contact an experienced work injury attorney as soon as possible. Please see our other resource links below for more information on Maryland work related accidents, Md. Workers Comp claims, and lawsuits in the State of Maryland.

Source:

Nonfatal Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in Maryland Decline in 2008, Research and Statistics
Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation; Division of Labor and Industry; Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Articles:

Maryland Car Accidents While at Work : How MD Workers' Compensation Works with a Motor Vehicle Accident Liability Claim

Maryland Workers Compensation: The Top 3 Reasons Employers Tell Injured Workers Not to File (And Why You Shouldn't Listen to Them) (July 2009)

Maryland Workers' Compensation Cost of Living Rate Adjustments for 2012 (Dec. 2011)

Maryland Work Injury Update: BLS Issues Revised Fatal Occupational Injuries Report -- Work Related Deaths on the Decline (June 2012)

Posted On: January 1, 2012

Maryland Car Accident Death Rates Down, But Many Traffic Safety Challenges Remain

As a new year begins, it's worth noting some traffic accident statistics and trends for the state of Maryland. There's some encouraging news, but many Md. traffic safety and driving challenges remain.

A recent story reported by CBS Baltimore noted that Maryland traffic accident fatalities decreased by 10 percent last year. The report pointed to statistics for 2010 released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to NHTSA's findings, 493 motor vehicle crash deaths occurred in Maryland in 2010, compared with 549 in 2009.

A source from the Mid-Atlantic AAA reported that the decrease in Maryland car crash deaths can be credited to a number of factors. These include advances in automotive safety equipment such as air bags and anti-rollover technology, better road signage, as well as public safety campaigns targeting unsafe driving behaviors, including drunk driving in Maryland.

While this news is encouraging, experienced Hunt Valley accident and injury attorneys know -- even one traffic death on Maryland roads is one too many. While the old adage "Accidents can happen" may be true in some auto crash cases, so many traffic crashes are preventable. Let's take a look at a few of the major traffic safety challenges in Maryland.

Maryland Drunk Driving Accidents: Alcohol impaired driving remains a serious public safety concern, in Maryland and around the country. Drunk driving accident fatality rates go up around the holidays. NHTSA reports that 40 percent of US traffic crash deaths on major holidays involve alcohol-impaired driving, including those that occur on New Year's, Memorial Day, and Fourth of July. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Fatality Analysis Reporting System, General Estimates System, 2009 DATA SUMMARY, Sept. 2011)

Distracted Driving in Maryland: Though Maryland cell phone use while driving laws are some of the toughest in the country -- distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, remains a very dangerous practice. At present, Maryland law enforcement may only ticket drivers for texting if they're pulled over for some other primary offense.

Teen Drivers in Maryland: Young novice drivers are among the most dangerous on Maryland roads and highways. Teenage drivers lack the years of driving experience and maturity of adult drivers -- putting themselves, their passengers and other motorists at increased risk on Md. city streets, back roads and highways. The combination of teens, alcohol, and multiple passengers in a motor vehicle can be deadly.

Maryland Auto Crashes with Farm Equipment: Maryland's many miles of winding back roads can pose a challenge to urban and suburban drivers -- particularly those who aren't prepared to meet a tractor, combine or other agricultural vehicle, or livestock in the roadway. Car crashes with these farm vehicles and large animals can be disastrous.

Maryland Road and Highway Congestion: Maryland motorists, your driving frustrations are real. Road congestion in and around Baltimore County remains some of the most frustrating in the nation. A CBS Baltimore report named I-70 in Frederick, Md. the eleventh most congested roadway in the nation. Road construction, which will eventually improve Maryland highway driving, nonetheless poses driving accident hazards for motorists, road construction workers, and police working details in road construction zones. Parts of the Baltimore Beltway / I-695 were ranked 92nd most congested in the nation.

We've a long ways to go to make zero fatalities a reality on our nation's and our Maryland roadways. Have a safe and happy New Year.

Sources:

Md. Traffic Deaths Down 10 Percent
CBS Baltimore Dec. 8, 2011

New Road Congestion Study Names I-70 Nation’s 11th Worst
CBS Baltimore Nov. 15, 2011