Maryland Injury Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

Have you ever started backing out of your driveway or a parking spot in Maryland, only to slam on your brakes when a child or adult suddenly appears behind your car? Pedestrian accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates some 210 backover deaths occur in the US every year. In response to this safety hazard, NHTSA has proposed a rule requiring auto manufacturers to install rear backup cameras in most new vehicles by May 2018.

Blind spots hamper drivers’ ability to see everything that’s in back of their vehicle. Even with side mirrors, it’s difficult to get a clear view of what’s behind the car, truck, SUV or minivan. Some of the saddest news stories we’ve heard about as Maryland pedestrian accident lawyers involve parents or neighbors backing up over children — children who are playing in the driveway or who suddenly dash behind the vehicle. NHTSA estimates about one-third of backover deaths are children, with many caused by parents.

Continue Reading

Child safety advocates report that the scariest thing about Halloween isn’t the elaborate costumes or the copious amounts of candy consumed: it’s the increased risk for traffic accidents involving young pedestrians.

Here in Maryland and around the country, kids of all ages look forward to trick or treating as an annual childhood ritual. What’s more fun than putting on a costume, and going door to door with family and friends asking neighbors for candy? However, Halloween creates a perfect storm of circumstances increasing the risk for serious and fatal pedestrian accidents. These risk factors include…

  • Children, often clad in dark costumes, traveling on foot, darting in and out of the streets
  • Distracted motorists (particularly young, less experienced drivers), unprepared to brake suddenly when excited trick or treaters run out from between cars and into the road
  • Adults and teenagers consuming alcohol at Halloween parties, getting behind the wheel and driving drunk

With a warm fall thus far, this Halloween promises to be as popular as ever in Maryland. The US Census Bureau reported that in 2010, some 41 million children ages 5 to 14 went out trick or treating on Halloween. (This figure did not include trick-or-treating youth ages 15 and over, who are more prone to “distracted walking” pedestrian accidents due to their constant texting and cell phone use.)

A State Farm study released in 2012 named Halloween as the most dangerous holiday for children at risk for pedestrian accidents. The study looked at the 115 fatal child pedestrian accidents that occurred on Halloween holidays from 1990 to 2010. State Farm reported…

  • Children ages 12 to 15 experienced the most fatalities, followed by kids ages 5 to 8
  • Most fatal pedestrian accidents occurred at dusk or after dark, from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Young drivers ages 15 to 25 posed the greatest risk to pedestrians
  • Most pedestrian accidents occurred in places other than intersections and crosswalks

The good news is child Halloween pedestrian accidents are going down. However the average number of 5.5 pedestrian deaths is double on Halloween compared to other days. Baltimore pedestrian accident injury lawyers will attest — the death of any child is one too many. Statistics don’t matter when you’re a parent who has lost a child.

Use common sense this Halloween if you’re out and about in Baltimore County, Maryland:

  • Do not let children under 12 go out trick or treating without an adult.
  • Dress children in brightly colored clothing so they can see each other and be seen. Use reflective tape on costumes and bags, and give them flashlights or glow sticks to carry.
  • Review safety tips with older kids, who should travel in groups and stick together.
  • Drivers, expect the unexpected, keep your eyes on the road and drive slow-including in city and suburban Maryland neighborhoods!

Related Maryland Accident Injury Attorney Article:

Distracted Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise Due to Texting While Walking (Aug. 2013)

Sources:

Pedestrian Injuries: The True Terror of Halloween
Children’s Safety Network Oct. 24, 2013
Halloween is ‘Deadliest Day’ Of the Year for Child Pedestrian Fatalities
State Farm Oct. 23, 2012
Halloween Safety Tips (PDF)
National Safety Council

Another summer in Maryland draws to a close, way too soon. This means streets in Baltimore and other Md. cities and towns are filling up with kids and teens heading back to school. What’s different about today’s youth compared to when we grew up is most have a cell phone in their hands. Texting friends is a way of staying constantly connected. It’s also a way for parents to keep tabs on their tech-savvy children.

Unfortunately, there’s a serious downside to texting. The well-documented hazards of texting while driving have prompted many states, including Maryland, to make the practice illegal. (FYI: Maryland lawmakers closed a legal loophole in Oct. 2011 that allowed drivers to text at stoplights.) It’s easy to see how texting while driving can lead to serious and fatal motor vehicle crashes. Taking one’s eyes off the road for a few seconds to read and send text messages is more than enough time for a serious auto accident to occur.

Now texting while walking is getting more media attention, as pedestrian accident injuries and deaths are up nationwide. Too many people are walking around with their heads down, paying more attention to their cell phones than the traffic racing around them.

A video report on ABC News (see link below) shows pedestrians from Los Angeles to New York walking obliviously into traffic — heads down, cell phones in hand, and many with ears blocked by headsets. It’s a deadly recipe for disaster. With so many adults walking around distracted by their cell phones, it’s no wonder children are following in their footsteps.

Safe Kids Worldwide did a study of some 34,000 teens. The group found that fatalities due to distracted walking have increased 25 percent over the last 5 years. The study reports:

“A shocking 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 8 middle school students were observed crossing the street while distracted by technology.”

While teens might be the worst offenders when it comes to texting while walking, adult pedestrians are also guilty and setting a bad example.

This should give drivers in Maryland and around the country pause to consider what more kids on the streets heading back to school — with cell phones in hand and headphones in ears — means for traffic and pedestrian safety. Slow down and keep your eyes on the road. Pedestrians, including school children, may have their eyes on their cell phones instead.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Maryland Seeks to Add More Teeth to Distracted Driver Laws (May 2012)

University of Maryland Research : Pedestrians Wearing Headphones at Greater Risk for Traffic Accident Injury and Death (Feb. 2012)

Sources:

Pedestrian Deaths Linked to Texting and Walking
Walkers distracted by technology in fatal accidents are on the rise.
ABCNews.com Aug. 26, 2013
Research Report: Teens and Distraction
Safe Kids Worldwide Aug. 26, 2013
Related Web Resources:

Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
Everyone’s a Pedestrian
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Have you noticed how the behavior of Maryland pedestrians has changed in recent years?

Used to be people walked down the street, looked around at the buildings and scenery, and thought about the day’s activities. They walked to and from work, school, and the store, pushed babies in carriages, and trotted their dogs on leashes. The main pedestrian activity in Md. was getting where you needed to go. The biggest distraction was the honking of car horns and of course navigating safely across busy Baltimore City and other Maryland streets.

Now the technological devices that bring a world of information and entertainment to our fingertips are in fact posing a risk to life and limb for not only Maryland distracted drivers — but for distracted pedestrians, too.

Today’s wired walkers aren’t just juggling briefcases, backpacks, shopping bags, and cups of coffee. Drive through downtown Baltimore or any busy Maryland community today, and you can count on one hand the number of pedestrians who aren’t engaged in some sort of technology fueled activity. Pedestrians are talking on cell phones, surfing the Internet, texting their friends, and listening to music on headsets. With their heads down and their hearing muffled, these multitasking distracted pedestrians are at risk for being involved in serious or even fatal pedestrian traffic accidents.

Walking to the Wrong Tune in Baltimore, Maryland : Pedestrian Accidents Waiting to Happen
A new study out of Maryland shows that motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians wearing headphones plugged into devices such as iPods and MP3 players are in fact on the rise. Richard Lichenstein, director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center, led research conducted with his University of Maryland colleagues to look at traffic crash incidents involving pedestrians wearing headsets.

As a Baltimore County pedestrian accident injury attorney knows from work with clients in Maryland — it only takes a split second for a fatal, devastating pedestrian traffic crash to happen. Md. researchers conducting the study on pedestrian traffic accidents and people wearing headsets looked through databases in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), as well as reports appearing in the Google News Archives. Their findings were alarming:

  • Of 116 reports of pedestrian traffic accidents found where the walkers were wearing headphones, 81 of those crashes resulted in death.
  • Nine out of 10 of these cases occurred in urban areas.
  • Two-thirds of pedestrian accident victims were young men under age 30, and one-third were boys under 18.
  • More than half of these accidents involving headset-wearing pedestrians (55 percent) involved trains, with about 3 in 10 cases involving train horns blowing which were reportedly not heard.

Life has become more complicated. As experienced personal injury attorneys in Baltimore County MD, we see how driving and pedestrian distractions can lead to serious and fatal vehicle accidents. The findings of this University of Maryland study should be heard loud and clear by anyone walking OR driving on Baltimore City or other Maryland streets. Please keep your head up and your eyes and ears open.

Related Maryland Accident Injury Attorney article:

Maryland Hybrid Drivers : Pedestrian Accident Injury Liability Claims Up, Insurance Report Says (Jan. 31, 2012)

Sources:

INJURIES TO HEADPHONE-WEARING PEDESTRIANS STRUCK BY CARS AND TRAINS MORE THAN TRIPLE SINCE 2004, ACCORDING TO UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND RESEARCHERS
University of Maryland Medical Center News Release, Jan. 16, 2012
Hazards: Pedestrians Are Advised to Keep Ears Open
The New York Times Jan. 24, 2012

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

According to local media reports, a Baltimore, Maryland grand jury has indicted a man and woman in a hit and run pedestrian accident that left two young people dead.

The Baltimore Sun reports that a man and woman from Anne Arundel County, Md., have been indicted in the deaths of two teenage girls. The teenagers were struck by an automobile while attempting to cross Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near I-395 in Baltimore City. A 28-year-old Maryland man has been charged with two counts each of automobile manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death, as well as one count of driving under the influence of alcohol. A 26-year-old woman has been charged as an accessory after the fact.

Families may consult with Baltimore County accident injury lawyers when loved ones are injured or killed in auto or pedestrian accidents — including those cases that are tried in criminal court. In Maryland, civil lawsuits may follow car accident cases where criminal charges have been filed against the drivers and other parties. Suing for damages in the Maryland Civil Court System allows families who have been hurt to seek compensation from those held responsible. (See link to related Maryland accident attorney article below for more on how civil lawsuits apply to criminal cases in traffic accidents in Md.)

According to media reports in this case, it is unclear who was behind the wheel when this fatal car crash and pedestrian accident occurred in Baltimore, Md. Both individuals charged in this case reportedly had prior speeding offenses. Police reportedly stopped the auto in question after it fled the hit and run accident scene, when police noticed the vehicle was damaged. The teen pedestrians killed were reportedly friends and neighbors.

Speeding and driving under the influence are major causes of fatal motor vehicle accidents in Maryland. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2009, of the total 547 traffic crash deaths in Maryland — 162 were alcohol-related driving fatalities and 184 were speeding-related traffic fatalities. The combination of alcohol and speed is deadly on our Baltimore streets and surrounding highways. For 2009, there were 113 pedestrian accidents in Maryland.

The issue of hit and run traffic accidents has been studied by law enforcement and psychologists, to determine the reasons why people flee the scene of an accident. Maryland motor vehicle law requires drivers to remain at scene of traffic accidents resulting in bodily injury or death (2010 Maryland Code TRANSPORTATION, TITLE 20 – VEHICLE LAWS – ACCIDENTS AND ACCIDENT REPORTS, Section 20-102).

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Baltimore, Maryland Auto Accident Liability : Civil Lawsuits vs. Criminal Cases

Sources:

Indictments for pair in Md. hit-and-run that killed two
Associated Press in The Washington Post Sept. 20, 2011
1 arrested, 1 indicted in hit-and-run that killed two teens
The Baltimore Sun Sept. 20, 2011
Related Web Resource:

NHTSA Pedestrian Safety Portal

A judge has sentenced a local man to two years in jail for a fatal Cecil County, Maryland pedestrian traffic accident.

This fatal pedestrian and truck accident occurred in the Elkton area of Cecil County, Maryland on the evening of June 14, 2009.

According to local news reports, a 57-year-old Cecil County man was driving his truck when he struck a pedestrian, age 44, who was on the roadside helping another man load a moped onto a parked truck. The victim was crushed between the driver’s truck and the parked vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver fled the scene of the Cecil County, Md. auto accident and was later apprehended walking a short distance away, having abandoned his disabled vehicle. The driver’s blood alcohol concentration level tested at twice the legal limit in Maryland. He was not taken into immediate custody and fled authorities as a fugitive, but was later apprehended by U.S. Customs at the Canadian border. A judge sentenced the driver to five years in prison for vehicular homicide before suspending three of those years.

Cecil County auto accident injury lawyers may be consulted by families who have lost loved ones or suffered injuries in Maryland motor vehicle crashes. In 2008, 152 people lost their lives on Maryland roads and highways in drunk-driving traffic accidents. (Source: Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2004 – 2008, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)

Drunk driver gets two years in jail for killing pedestrian
CecilWhig.com Sept. 27, 2010
Elkton-area man crushed to death in hit-and-run
CecilWhig.com June 14, 2009

It was a deadly weekend on the roads in Anne Arundel County and Western Maryland. According to The Baltimore Sun, two traffic accidents involving cars hitting pedestrians occurred on Sunday, leaving three people dead and several others with serious injuries. Details on these Maryland pedestrian accidents are as follows….

The Sun reported that in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, a car went off the road and struck three members of a family who were resting on the roadside from a bicycle ride. The family members were taken to area hospitals with injuries and the car driver died.

A second weekend traffic accident occurred in the Western part of Maryland when a car reportedly drove into a crowd of people who were lingering after church. In that Maryland car – pedestrian accident, two people were killed and a third hospitalized.

When questions of liability arise in Md. pedestrian traffic accident cases, families may consult an Anne Arundel County accident lawyer to determine whether they have a case.

Maryland & U.S. Pedestrian Accident Statistics

In 2008, 116 Maryland pedestrians died in traffic accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that pedestrian fatalities caused by traffic accidents have declined over the past 10 years: Nationally, 4,378 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in 2008, a 16 percent decrease from 1998. Young children and seniors (over age 65) are at particular risk, as are pedestrians who cross the street at night and/or not in a crosswalk. In a large percentage of pedestrian traffic fatalities, alcohol may be involved for either the driver or the person(s) on foot. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Data 2008 : Pedestrians)

Police continue to investigate the cause of both fatal Maryland traffic accidents involving pedestrians.

Cars plow into pedestrians in Arundel, Western Maryland
The Baltimore Sun Aug. 9, 2010
Related Web Resources

NHTSA Pedestrians Portal

Federal Highway Administration: Pedestrians & Bicycle Safety

Lawmakers and public safety advocates hope 2010 will be a safer year on our nation’s roads and highways, with more states adopting laws like the one in Maryland that prohibits texting while driving. For anyone who hasn’t jumped on board the wireless communications bullet train — texting is typing and sending “text messages” using a cell phone, Blackberry, or other hand-held device.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that despite advances in wireless communications, “Greater sophistication in these technologies may present greater physical and cognitive challenges for drivers than traditional information sources.” Texting while driving is considered by many states including Maryland to be a form of “distracted driving” that can lead to serious and fatal traffic accidents.

Maryland Ban on Text Messaging While Driving
Back in the good old days…reading the newspaper, eating a sandwich, tuning the radio, and applying makeup were the primary forms of driver distraction. Then came the new wireless technologies, bringing the convenience of mobile communications to the driving experience — and with them new traffic safety hazards. Now drivers talk on cell phones, send text messages, and fiddle with GPS devices. Car, SUV, truck accidents and pedestrian accidents can occur when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road even for an instant doing any of those activities.

Maryland is one of 19 states along with the District of Columbia and Guam that ban text messaging for all drivers. Illinois, Oregon, and New Hampshire are the most recent states to join Maryland in making texting while driving illegal. And with good reason: NHTSA estimates that in 2008 — 5,870 people died and 515,000 were injured in car accidents where at least one form of driver distraction was reported on the police crash report.

Maryland car accident injury attorneys are all too aware of how quickly things can go wrong out on our roads and highways. We applaud the other states that have joined Maryland in banning text messaging while driving.

2010 Laws Target Texting, Smoking, Cooking
CBSNews.com Dec. 31, 2009
An Examination of Driver Distraction as Recorded in NHTSA Databases (PDF document)
NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Sept. 2009

Related Web Resources

Maryland State Highway Safety Administration

Governors Highway Safety Association webpages:

Maryland Highway Safety Laws

Cell Phone Driving Laws 2010

With the holiday season in full swing, everyone is scrambling. There’s last-minute shopping, preparing for holiday parties and feasts, wrapping up year-end projects at work — and increased travel by air, rail, and road. Unfortunately, drunk driving car accidents are also part of the holiday picture in Maryland and around the country.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that state law enforcement across the country will be cracking down on drunk drivers this holiday season, with the “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign. People who overindulge in alcohol at family gatherings, work parties, New Year’s Eve celebrations, and other holiday get-togethers pose a risk of serious personal injury (including debilitating brain or spine injury) or death to themselves and others. Nationally, 13,470 people were killed in 2006 in alcohol-related traffic accidents.

Maryland Drunk Driving Statistics and Holiday Traffic Accidents
Baltimore County, Maryland car accident lawyers know the human stories behind the statistics. In Maryland, 189 people died in drunk-driving accidents in 2006. And while the Maryland state rate of drunk-driving accident fatalities has been on the decline in recent years (178 deaths in 2007 and 152 in 2008 — a decline of 12.5%), we know that even one death is one too many. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland, 2004 – 2008).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nationally, more fatal drunk-driving car crashes occur at night (36%) and on the weekend (31%) — just when holiday parties are most likely to be held. In Maryland, we have snow, ice, and the rest of winter’s fury adding to the hazards on our roads and highways.

So please: Drive sober, within the speed limit, and defensively this holiday season — and be alert if you’re coming home from a party. The night-time fatal drunk driving accident rate is four times higher than the day-time rate (9%). That’s a sobering figure to keep in mind when you’re driving to or from your destinations this holiday season. (Source: Traffic Safety Facts 2006 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving, NHTSA)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Intensive Holiday Drunk & Impaired Driving Crackdown & Advertising Blitz
NHTSA Press Release, Dec. 7, 2009
Fatalities and Fatality Rates in Alcohol- Impaired-Driving Crashes by State, 2007-2008 (download PDF)
NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Research Note, Dec. 2009
Related Web Resources

Over the Limit, Under Arrest 2009 Campaign
Maryland Department of Transportation: Traveler Alerts