Maryland Injury Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

Thanks to the lowest gas prices since 2008, an estimated one million Maryland motorists are expected to hit the roadways this Thanksgiving, AAA Mid-Atlantic reports. AAA forecasts some 46.9 million U.S. motorists are expected to journey by car more than 50 miles for the holidays — an increase of .06 percent over last year’s numbers.

For Maryland drivers, this translates to plenty of company — and potential headaches — on our Baltimore County highways and beyond this Thanksgiving season. AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Regina Cooper Averella stated in a press release,

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The Associated Press reports that data gathered by the National Safety Council (NSC) shows traffic accident fatalities up for the first half of 2015 — reversing what had been a trend toward fewer car crash deaths. For the last several years, traffic accident fatalities had been steadily declining on a national level, due in part to public safety campaigns, tougher state traffic laws, high gas prices keeping cars in park, and enhanced vehicle safety features.

According to the NSC, traffic fatalities in the U.S. increased by 14 percent and injuries rose by one-third between January and June 2015. Traffic safety experts theorize that an improving economy, cheaper gas prices enticing more motorists to hit the road, and an increase in distracted driving are among the chief causes. The numbers are cause for concern….
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Exploding airbags. Ignition switches turning off without warning. Accelerator pedals sticking. Tires blowing out. The list of automotive safety recalls in recent years seems to go on and on. The problem with Takata airbag inflators, which has impacted millions of cars and 11 automakers, including Honda, BMW and Toyota, is just one in a series of safety recalls in the news this summer.

The Takata airbag recall has been linked to 8 deaths. However, for some, that news is falling on deaf ears. Lawmakers and auto safety advocates are concerned that some consumers are getting sick of hearing about safety recalls—tuning them out and failing to get their vehicles repaired. This poses a danger for everyone on the road, here in Maryland and elsewhere.

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With its barbecues, beach trips and fireworks, everyone welcomes July 4 as the official start of summer. If you plan to hit the road in Maryland this holiday weekend — you’re not alone. AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts some 870,000 Maryland drivers will travel 50 miles or more to celebrate the Independence Day weekend — a 2.3 percent increase over 2014. About one million of our neighbors in the Washington, DC area are also expected to take to the highways.

Good weather, lower gas prices, a rebounding economy and the fact that July 4 falls on a Saturday this year means Maryland will see a record number of holiday travelers on its roadways. But there’s a dark side to the July 4 holiday…
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The Takata air bag recall we’ve been hearing about in the news is the most massive automotive safety recall in U.S. history, affecting an estimated 34 million vehicles and some two dozen brands. That means thousands of drivers in Maryland will need to get their vehicle’s air bags replaced. Some vehicles only need one air bag replaced, while others will require more.

Automotive news reports state that a problem with the propellant and air bag inflators could cause metal shards to exploded outwards from the air bag during deployment in a crash, potentially causing serious injury or death to driver or passengers. A number of deaths and serious injuries have been linked to these malfunctioning air bags. That’s a very unsettling thought, given airbags are considered a lifesaving feature now standard in motor vehicles. What can consumers in Maryland do?
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Last month, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation enabling the state to raise the speed limit on specified highways from 65 to 70 miles per hour. That comes as good news to those eager to put the pedal to the metal … and not so good news to safety advocates concerned about speed-related motor vehicle crashes in Maryland.

According to a spokesperson for the Maryland State Highway Administration, the speed limit increase would not be mandatory and would be determined on a case-by-case basis. Roadways located in more rural areas that already have a 60- to 65-mph speed limit would be more likely to see their speed limit raised to 70 mph.

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Until recently, conventional wisdom suggested that as drivers age, their driving skills decline. Research has supported that notion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has described car accident statistics like a letter “U,” with teenage drivers causing the most accidents at one end of the age scale and senior drivers over age 70 at the other.

However, as overall U.S. car accident injury and fatality rates have declined since 2008 (thanks to public safety campaigns, vehicle safety enhancements, improved traffic engineering and stricter law enforcement) — so have some accident injury and fatality statistics for older drivers. The AAA Foundation for Safety found the following motor vehicle accident trends for drivers of all ages between 1995 and 2010:

“While drivers of all ages experienced decreases in rates of crashes, injuries, and deaths over the study period, decreases in population-based and driver-based rates were largest for teenage drivers; decreases in mileage-based rates of crash involvement, injury, and death were largest for drivers aged 75-84.”

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General Motors has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this year, with millions of vehicles recalled for alleged safety hazards – and the company under fire from Congress and consumers over related motor vehicle accident deaths. The defect that’s received the most coverage involves an ignition switch that can allegedly turn off while the vehicle is in motion. Thirteen deaths have been linked to that reported defect, some going back many years.

Auto safety recalls cover a range of known safety hazards and potential problems in cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles and other motor vehicles, as well as tire defects. Sometimes the vehicle manufacturer initiates the recall on its own, while other times the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) orders the recall based on consumer complaints and its own investigations.

If you’ve owned more than one vehicle in Maryland, chances are at some point you’ve received an auto safety recall notice in the mail. Did you call your dealership right away to get the defective part repaired? That’s the safe and responsible thing to do. However auto industry watchers estimate a full one-third of consumers ignore safety recall notices — at risk to themselves, their passengers, the driving public and pedestrians.

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Back in the day when families typically owned one car (usually a sedan or station wagon the size of Delaware), “distracted driving” meant fiddling with the radio, eating a messy sandwich or yelling at kids in the back seat to settle down. Those rolling activities still fall under the government’s definition of distracted driving, along with smoking, putting on makeup and other things that take the driver’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.

The advent of the cell phone, however, took distracted driving to a new level. These devices that keep us connected and put information at our fingertips have become indispensable. It’s disturbing to think our new generation of drivers never knew a time when they didn’t have a phone in their car. Once people could text on their cell phones, the problem of distracted driving on our roadways got worse. Some public safety experts believe texting while driving is as much of a hazard as drunk driving. Teens texting while driving is particularly troublesome.

Over the years, states like Maryland have taken measures to pass laws, educate the public, focus on teens and parents, and partner with schools, agencies and other organizations to prevent distracted driving accidents. Maryland is among the 47 states and the District of Columbia to pass specific distracted driving laws. In 2012, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) surveyed its members to see where states had made gains, and where more needs to be done.

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General Motors has recalled an estimated 7 million motor vehicles this year for safety issues in a number of cars and SUVs, model years 2003 to 2015. Problems include faulty ignition switches, power steering and side airbags in certain Chevy, Pontiac and Saturn vehicles. Maryland drivers, is one of these recalled cars in your driveway? See link to GM owners’ portal below to search for your vehicle and see if it’s been recalled. Failure to have a recalled vehicle repaired by the dealer could lead to a serious or even fatal motor vehicle accident.

One of the most serious safety issues to land GM in the headlines of late involves a faulty ignition switch, which could shut off the car unexpectedly, disabling the power steering and power brakes. Vehicles involved in the ignition switch recall include the Chevy Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion and others.

The faulty GM ignition switch has been blamed for a number of motor vehicle accidents and 13 deaths. Now that the problem has come to light, GM officials are under intense scrutiny, with government leaders and the public demanding to know who knew what and when. For a full list of GM vehicle makes and model years involved in the ignition switch recall, see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) / webpage link, below.

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