Posted On: October 30, 2012

Maryland Foul Weather Driving Safety Tips : Stay Off the Road, and If You Must Drive – Prepare First, and Drive Defensively

Hurricane Sandy showed us how quickly weather conditions can go from bad to worse to downright dangerous on Baltimore County, Maryland roadways. Despite weather forecasts and state advisories for motorists to stay off the roads, there are always a few souls who venture out onto the roads into a storm. The combination of wind, rain, water soaked roads, downed trees and power lines, and motorists rushing to get home is a recipe for disaster.

Baltimore County, MD car accident lawyers like us advocate for families when a motor vehicle accident with injury or death happens. We've heard so many sad "if only" stories. "If only we hadn't gone out that night.…" "If only he'd slowed down.…" "If only we'd taken a different route.…" The best driving tip for Maryland motorists facing a hurricane or winter storm is stay off the roads. Not only are you putting yourself and other motorists at risk – you may be getting in the way of emergency vehicles attempting to clear roads, repair power lines and assist injured or stranded people.

If you absolutely must drive in foul Maryland weather, drive slowly and defensively. Listen to news reports and plan the safest route possible. You do not want to become part of a sea of cars stranded in a flood or snowstorm. Hurricanes create flooding and ponding on roads that can cause cars to "hydroplane" – that is skidding on top of a film of water. This is a nerve-wracking experience for anyone who's ever lost control of their car on slick roads, even briefly. Hydroplaning vehicles can leave their lanes and cause head-on collisions and other serious auto accidents.

A number of driving safety websites (see links below) offer tips for drivers to get through bad weather conditions on the road. It's worth a read to prepare for a situation that calls for a calm, controlled response. Whether driving in a rain storm, a hurricane, or snow storm in Maryland, some very basic driving and auto maintenance tips apply:

--Drive slowly and defensively, especially around curves. Maryland motorists rushing to get home in a storm, particularly on our winding back country roads, can lose control taking curves too fast.

--If you skid or hydroplane, don't panic. Yes, this is easier said than done. Read the driving safety tips below to learn more about how to safely steer and brake during a skid or while hydroplaning.

--Keep tires well maintained. Your tires are the rubber than come between you and the roadways in Maryland. Keep them properly inflated and rotated per the manufacturer's recommendation. Watch for signs of wear and replace old tires.

--Keep brakes well maintained. Anti-lock brake systems (ABS) have greatly enhanced auto safety. If you firmly apply your ABS brakes during a skid, the computerized programming will pump the brakes for you in a controlled manner designed to safely slow the car down. Like tires, brakes are only as good as the maintenance that keeps them in good repair and functioning.

--Replace worn windshield wiper blades. This small piece of automotive equipment makes a big difference if you're trying to see through sheets of rain. Replace wiper blades that are beginning to fray at the ends.

The foul weather season in Maryland has started off rough with Hurricane Sandy. There could be more bad storms this fall, and we have a long winter ahead of us. Keep your cars and trucks well maintained and drive defensively.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Baltimore County Winter Driving Safety : Is Your Car a Moving Igloo After a Maryland Snow Storm? (Jan. 2011)

Car Accidents with Farm Equipment on Public Roads in Maryland: When Lifestyles and Vehicles Collide (Dec. 2010)

Sources:

Driving Safety Tips: Skidding and Hydroplaning in Rainy Conditions
The Weather Channel

Driving in Bad Weather
Allstate

Tips for Safe Driving
Maryland Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA)

Maryland Traffic Information
Federal Highway Administration

Posted On: October 25, 2012

Maryland Among States at Highest Risk for Auto Crashes with Deer

Some drivers may think that the Baltimore Beltway and other Maryland highways are the most dangerous places to drive in the state. It's true: Sharing the highway with speeding commuters, large commercial trucks, and drivers distracted by cell phones CAN be dangerous. But it's Maryland's rural, undivided highways and winding back roads where motor vehicle accidents are more likely to occur.

Now a new report confirms what anyone who drives through rural Maryland already knows: Maryland is among states at the highest risk for auto accidents with wildlife – specifically deer. When mating season is in full swing, Maryland's deer are on the move, and that means moving in and across our back roads and sometimes even highways.

As experienced Baltimore County, Maryland car accident injury lawyers, we've seen firsthand the damage that can occur when a vehicle collides with a large animal. According to a report by State Farm, deer and car accidents rose by 8 percent between 2010 and 2011 due to the economy picking up, more cars on the road, and a booming deer population. In addition, suburban sprawl in Maryland means more homes built in or close to woodlands, where hunting is not allowed. This gives deer a chance to graze without human predators. So more people are literally seeing wildlife such as deer in their own backyards, and on our Maryland roadways.

A front end collision with a deer in Maryland can cause serious damage to a vehicle and injuries or death to driver and passengers. What are your chances of hitting a deer with your car or truck in Maryland? State Farm estimates that Maryland drivers have a 1 in 114 chance of being involved in a motor vehicle accident involving deer. That's a sobering statistic (e.g., compared with a lower risk state such as California, where the risk is 1 in 1,076). In our experience as Maryland injury attorneys, we've seen cars totaled by deer strikes and motorists badly injured or killed when they've struck the animals in the road or swerved to avoid an animal that suddenly appeared in the headlights.

Maryland back roads have a number of other hazards that can lead to auto accidents, including farm vehicles in the road and livestock in the road. Be careful driving out there, particularly with deer mating season upon us. Go slow and expect the unexpected. Deer are mostly likely to be on the road between 6 and 9 p.m. If you see one, expect more in the area. State Farm says that November is the peak month for deer strikes nationally, with an estimated 1.23 million motor vehicles in the U.S. involved in deer strikes between July 2011 and June 2012.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Article:

Maryland Car Accidents with Livestock and Other Animals in the Road (Oct. 2010)

Sources:

Deer vs. car crashes on the rise as wildlife hits the road
Yahoo! Autos Oct. 24, 2012

Oh, deer! How to avoid crashing into critters with car
The Virginian-Pilot Oct. 24, 2012