March 31, 2014

Preventing Pedestrian Accidents: New Rule Requires Auto Backup Cameras by 2018

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.

Other at-risk groups: Pedestrians listening to music or preoccupied with texting may not notice a vehicle that is about to back up in their path. (See link to our related story on "Distracted Walking" below.) Busy parking lots can be risky places for back-up pedestrian accidents, with so many cars and shoppers moving about in tight spaces. The elderly are also at higher risk for being in serious or deadly pedestrian accidents.

The new rule has been a long time coming. CNN reports that a 2008 law required NHTSA to create rules to prevent backup accidents. It's taken until now for the rule to be proposed—something public and traffic safety advocates are applauding. The proposed rule would require all new cars, sport utility vehicles and minivans, as well as some new small trucks and buses, to carry rear visibility technology by May 2018. Many luxury model automobiles already come with backup cameras installed.

NHTSA estimates between 59 and 69 deaths a year could be prevented by drivers using backup cameras. The rear-facing cameras will cost about $140 per vehicle to install. Opponents object to government regulations of this nature, though laws governing seat belt use have proven to save lives. Until rear-view cameras are required in all vehicles -- it's best to back up slowly and turn around and LOOK to make sure you know what's behind you.

Related Maryland Accident Injury Attorney Article:
Distracted Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise Due to Texting While Walking (Aug. 2013)

Sources:
U.S. requires new cars to have backup cameras
CNN Money March 31, 2014

NHTSA to require backup camera on all vehicles
USA Today March 31, 2014

October 30, 2013

Risks for Child Pedestrian Accidents Rise on Halloween

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

August 31, 2013

Distracted Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise Due to Texting While Walking

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

February 15, 2012

University of Maryland Research : Pedestrians Wearing Headphones at Greater Risk for Traffic Accident Injury and Death

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

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


October 5, 2011

Baltimore Grand Jury Indicts Two in Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Traffic Accident Deaths

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

September 29, 2010

Cecil County Pedestrian Traffic Accident Fatality : Driver Gets 2 Years Jail in Fatal Hit and Run DUI Case

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

August 10, 2010

Anne Arundel County & Western Md. Car / Pedestrian Accidents Leave 3 Dead, Others Injured

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

January 6, 2010

More States Follow Maryland Ban on Texting While Driving

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

December 21, 2009

New Year's Eve and Other Holiday Drunk Driving Car Accidents in Maryland

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

December 10, 2009

Pedestrian Killed in Baltimore County, Maryland Tanker Truck Accident at I-695

A fatal pedestrian accident took place this past weekend in Baltimore County, Maryland, involving a tanker truck.

Maryland State Police reported that on Saturday morning, a pedestrian stepped into the path of an Exxon tanker truck at Harford Road and Interstate 695. The man, a 57 year old resident of Parkville, Md., died of his injuries at the scene. The Baltimore Sun reported that alcohol was not a factor in this fatal Maryland truck accident. No further details were available.

Baltimore County truck accident attorneys are familiar with regulations in place governing the safe operation of commercial vehicles, such as tanker trailer trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, works to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

The FMCSA reports on its Safety Tips for Pedestrians website that pedestrians are at "a major disadvantage" when crossing roads and intersections where large commercial trucks and buses travel. Pedestrians may not always be visible to drivers of large commercial vehicles, which take longer to brake and stop than automobiles.

Police identify pedestrian killed by tanker truck
BaltimoreSun.com Dec. 7, 2009

Related Web Resources

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

FMCSA: Safety Tips for Pedestrians

Maryland State Police

December 3, 2009

Maryland Chain Reaction Car Accident Kills Pedestrian, Injures 3 Others

Anne Arundel County, Maryland, police reported that a fatal car pedestrian crash occurred Mon. Nov. 30 in Severna Park, Md.

The deadly car and pedestrian accident took place around noon on Ritchie Highway near Cypress Creek Rd. According to news reports, a Chestertown woman, age 64, and a man, age 43, from Arnold, Maryland, were standing next to a minivan that had stopped because of a motor vehicle accident. A Jeep Cherokee driven by an 18-year-old man crashed into a vehicle stopped at a traffic light, setting off a four-vehicle chain reaction that pushed into the two bystanders. The woman pedestrian died of her injuries and three other people suffered personal injuries.

Maryland pedestrian accident lawyers are well versed in state driving laws and issues surrounding driver liability, when a serious car or truck accident occurs and someone is hurt or killed on our state's roads and highways.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), though car-pedestrian fatalities decreased by 13 percent from 1997 to 2007 -- still 4,654 pedestrians lost their lives on U.S. roadways in 2007. Most pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas, at night, under normal weather conditions, and where walkers are not in crosswalks. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2007 Data: Pedestrians)

No further details were available on this fatal Anne Arundel County, Maryland car and pedestrian accident.

MARYLAND: Pedestrian killed in 4-car crash
Associated Press Dec. 1, 2009

Related Web Resource
NHTSA Pedestrian Portal

November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Traffic Accidents a Concern for Maryland Police: Add Increased Travel, Alcohol & Wildlife to the Mix

This Thanksgiving, as is the case every holiday season, law enforcement will be on the lookout to pull over speeders, reckless drivers, and drug- and alcohol-impaired drivers to prevent Maryland car accidents.

Though 2008 saw a decline in Thanksgiving travel, gas prices have stabilized to a level more drivers can live with, and the AAA predicts an uptick in holiday travel this year. That means more cars on Maryland's roads and highways as people travel to and from our fair state to visit family. Other factors contributing to danger on Maryland roadways this holiday season:

> County and wildlife experts report that deer-vehicle collisions in Maryland occur in the thousands every year. Exact numbers are hard to gauge, as it's unknown how many deer-car crashes occur that don't get reported. Deer in the roadway are a concern for holiday drivers, particularly as dusk comes earlier with the days getting shorter, and animals are active at dawn and dusk.

> Thanksgiving, football, and alcohol go together like turkey and stuffing. Unfortunately, all that merry-making can turn lethal when someone who's had too much holiday cheer picks up the keys and hits the road. Fatal drunk driving accidents ended the lives of 179 people in Maryland in 2007 (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2004 - 2007).

As Baltimore County car accident lawyers, we've seen how families can be torn apart when someone drinks and drives on the holiday or any other time in Maryland. A serious motor vehicle accident doesn't just ruin someone's holiday dinner. It can end a life or cause permanent, debilitating injury, such as brain and spine injury.

Whether you drive a motorcycle, car, truck or SUV -- be safe out there this holiday season and avoid accidents. Take your time, drive defensively, be aware of what's around you, and don't give Maryland police a reason to pull you over.

AAA Thanksgiving travel forecast: Highways more crowded
CNNMoney.com on Yahoo! Finance Nov. 18, 2009

Earthspan.org: Assessment of Deer Vehicle Collisions in Maryland

Related Web Resources

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

St. Mary's County Dept. of Public Works, Maryland: Deer Safety

November 17, 2009

Johns Hopkins, Baltimore Student Hit and Run Death: Police Review 911 Call Made Before Fatal Pedestrian Accident

The Baltimore Sun reports that city police are reviewing a 911 call placed shortly before a Johns Hopkins University student was killed in a fatal hit-run pedestrian accident in Baltimore City, Maryland.

On Friday Oct. 16, 2009, in the mid-afternoon, neuroscience student Miriam Frankl, age 20, was attempting to cross St. Paul Street at University Parkway when she was struck by a pickup truck. The driver in this fatal Baltimore City pedestrian - pickup truck accident fled the scene. Ms. Frankl suffered serious head wounds and died of her injuries at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Police later apprehended and charged Thomas Meighan Jr. of Carroll County, Maryland, in relation to the death of Ms. Frankl. News reports state that Mr. Meighan has a lengthy history of drunk driving traffic violations in Maryland, including another DUI hit-and-run arrest in Northwest Baltimore this past summer.

Police are now reviewing a 911 call from a man who wanted to report a white pickup truck driving in Baltimore City erratically about 90 mins. before Ms. Frankl was struck and killed. The Sun reports the transcript reveals initial confusion between the caller and police dispatcher, then apparently a decision was made that a cruiser would not investigate (see link below to 911 call transcript).

Maryland Pedestrian Fatalities and Drunk Driving Statistics
Baltimore City wrongful death lawyers may be consulted by individuals and families who suffer personal injury or lose someone they love because a driver got behind the wheel intoxicated, without regard for public safety. Some sobering facts:

> 116 people in Maryland lost their lives in fatal pedestrian traffic accidents in 2007.

> Over one-third of all fatal Maryland car accidents involved alcohol-impaired driving in 2007 (179 out of 614 traffic deaths).

(Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007.)

Police to review 911 call in student's death
BaltimoreSun.com Nov. 13, 2009

Driving down the road to ruin
BaltimoreSun.com Nov. 1, 2009

Related Web Resources

JHU family celebrates student’s life
The JHU Gazette Nov. 9, 2009

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

October 23, 2009

Student Killed in Baltimore Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident; Carroll County Truck Driver Questioned

Baltimore City Police have questioned a Carroll County, Maryland man regarding a truck involved in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident that killed a Johns Hopkins University student. According to news reports, the 20-year-old victim was crossing the 3500 block of St. Paul Street at University Parkway when she was struck by a white Ford F-250 pickup truck traveling at a high rate of speed. She later died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The vehicle involved in this Baltimore hit-run truck accident sped off, however a witness took down the Maryland license plate number. That and news reports informing the public to keep a lookout helped police locate the vehicle. Police have questioned but not arrested a Carroll County, Maryland man, who has a lengthy history of traffic offenses, including 4 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests going back to the mid-1990s.

The individual being questioned has another DUI trial coming up in Dec. for an incident that occurred in July. He is charged with multiple offenses, including reckless driving and failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury or death.

Maryland Pedestrian Traffic Accident Statistics
Baltimore pedestrian accident lawyers often work with individuals and families when someone is injured or killed due to negligent, reckless and/or impaired driving. In 2007, pedestrian traffic accidents took the lives of 116 people in Maryland -- the highest number in five years. Of the total 614 Maryland traffic fatalities for 2007 -- 179 involved alcohol-impaired driving (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007).

Baltimore City Police continue to investigate this fatal Maryland traffic accident and have not arrested the Carroll County truck driver, who remains "a person of interest."

Police: Owner of truck in hit-and-run is 'person of interest'
Carroll Eagle, Oct. 21, 2009

Hit and Run Death Reveals Disturbing Past
ABC2News.com Oct. 21, 2009

Hopkins student dies of injuries
BaltimoreSun.com Oct. 18, 2009

Related Web Resources

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore Police Department

WalkingInfo.org

October 7, 2009

Deterring Baltimore County Traffic Accidents: Speed Camera Laws Go Into Effect

The Baltimore County City Council passed an act concerning speed cameras designed to thwart motor vehicle accidents and pedestrian accidents that occur in school zones. Bill 61-09 Speed Monitoring Systems, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2009, authorizes county law enforcement, in consult with other agencies, to use and enforce citations issued by speed monitoring systems in school zones.

The bill defines "speed monitoring systems" as "a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors producing recorded images of motor vehicles traveling at speeds at least 12 miles per hour above the posted speed limit." Drivers will be subject to a $40 fine. An amendment to the bill limits the number of cameras to 15. The one councilor who dissented felt that more police -- not speed cams -- was a better way to address the problem.

In addition to the county bill targeting speeders in school zones, a separate state law now allows speed cameras at work zone sites; two have been placed in Baltimore County -- one on I-695 at Charles Street and another on I-95 between I-895 and White Marsh Blvd.

Baltimore County car accident lawyers may provide legal assistance in cases where serious car crashes, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents occur due to drivers speeding through school and work zones -- where people on foot are moving in and out of the roadway.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that school zones as well as construction work sites are particularly hazardous areas when motor vehicles travel too fast. The Council estimates that every year, some 15,000 people perish and hundreds of thousands suffer personal injuries due to motor vehicles speeding in these high foot-traffic areas. Children getting on and off school buses are especially vulnerable, as are road workers and police who direct traffic at work sites.

Two speed cameras will operate in Baltimore County starting today
ExploreBaltimoreCounty.com Oct. 1, 2009

School speed cameras get Balto. County nod
BaltimoreSun.com Sept. 9, 2009

Related Web Resources

COUNTY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND
Legislative Session 2009, Legislative Day No. 13
Bill No. 61-09 (PDF file)

Safe Speed - Automated Enforcement Program
Baltimore County, Maryland

Baltimore County Police Department: Speed Cameras

September 29, 2009

Baltimore Pedestrian Accident Prevention: Are Hybrid Cars a Walking Hazard?

Now that students are back to school and working people have all but forgotten their summer vacations, we're seeing the usual uptick in fall foot traffic. As Maryland pedestrian accident attorneys, we've handled many unfortunate cases where someone walking to or from school or work was injured or killed by an errant driver. Now we have to wonder if some technologies are making walking even more dangerous.

A research report from earlier this year noted that Japan is making strides to build hybrid cars that make more noise. Now the U.S. is also looking at the issue of hybrids being too quiet for pedestrian safety. Apparently these energy-saving vehicles are so much quieter than conventional cars and SUVs that pedestrians may simply not hear them coming. This presents a challenge for the motor vehicle industry, which has always strived to make vehicles quieter, the ride "smoother," and reduce noise pollution.

Researchers suggest auto manufacturers should "add engine noise" to hybrid vehicles to avoid pedestrian accidents. Hybrids running in electric mode on low speeds may be difficult to hear. Older people with hearing loss, vision-impaired people -- as well as distracted pedestrians wearing headsets, iPods, or talking on cellphones -- may simply not hear a nearly silent hybrid car approaching as they step into the street or intersection.

Traffic accidents in Maryland involving pedestrian fatalities numbered at 116 in 2007. That's a five-year high, up from a low of 95 in 2006. While Maryland's total number of traffic fatalities are down, the number of pedestrians who lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents is up (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Maryland 2003 - 2007).

Nationally, a total of 4,654 pedestrians were killed and more than 70,000 were injured in 2007. It will be interesting to see how safety advocates and the motor vehicle industry respond to the issue of vehicles that are now too quiet.

Noise -- the lack of it -- a problem with silent hybrid autos
DelawareOnline.com Sept. 27, 2009

Japan may add noise to quiet hybrid cars for safety
PhysOrg.com July 3, 2009

Hybrid cars too quiet for pedestrian safety? Add engine noise, say human factors researchers
PhysOrg.com Nov. 17, 2008

Related Web Resource

NHTSA Traffic Safety: Pedestrian Safety Program

August 18, 2009

Swimming Champ Phelps Hit in Baltimore Car Accident; Other Driver Cited

A 28-year-old woman driver faces charges of running a red light in a Baltimore, Maryland traffic accident last Thursday involving Olympic gold medal swimming champion Michael Phelps. According to the Baltimore Sun, the accident occurred Thurs. Aug. 13 around 9 p.m. at East Biddle and North Calvert Sts. The woman, driving a Honda Accord, allegedly ran a red traffic light, striking a Cadillac Escalade driven by Phelps.

The woman suffered slight personal injury in the Baltimore traffic accident and was treated for neck and shoulder injuries at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. She must have been even more embarrassed when she learned that she struck the vehicle of one of the world's most famous Olympic athletes.

Phelps and his three passengers were not injured, though the driver's side airbag deployed and the front of his Escalade was damaged. Phelps was raised in Rodgers Forge, Baltimore County, and now lives in a condominium in the Baltimore waterfront neighborhood Fell's Point. The Baltimore Police Department told the Sun that Phelps presented an invalid Michigan driver's license to officers. Phelps was given a $40 citation and will need to appear in court. He also told police that he had one beer an hour before the accident. No Breathalyzer test was given. A car or truck accident with an outsized SUV like Phelps' Cadillac Escalade could have been a lot worse. Luckily no one was seriously hurt in this traffic accident involving a driver running a red light.

Aggressive Driving: Running Red Light Traffic Accident Statistics
Baltimore injury lawyers like us know that running a red light can result in serious injury and fatalities for the drivers and passengers of the vehicles involved, as well as for innocent pedestrians involved in such careless traffic accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers "running red lights" to be a most dangerous form of aggressive driving: In 1998, NHTSA estimated that motorists running red lights caused some 89,000 crashes across the country, resulting in 80,000 injuries and 986 fatalities. NHTSA says that running a red light is the number-one cause of traffic accidents in urban areas. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Digest, REGION I New England Stop Red Light Running Workshop; see link below to the Federal Highway Administration's Stop Red Light Running Program.) This Baltimore crash involving Mr. Phelps is now part of those red-light running traffic accident statistics. Fortunately everyone survived, this time.

Woman to be cited in Phelps accident
Driver of other car to face charge of running red light
BaltimoreSun.com Aug. 15, 2009

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps involved in car accident in Baltimore, Maryland
Associated Press, NY Daily News Aug. 14, 2009

Related Web Resources

Stop Red Light Running Program

Michael Phelps, U.S.A. Olympic Swimming Team

Fell's Point, Baltimore

August 12, 2009

Maryland On Foot: Avoid Pedestrian Accidents with These Safety Tips

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the 614 Maryland car accident deaths that occurred in 2007, pedestrian deaths numbered at 116. That's 116 people who died trying to get to where they were going on foot -- whether it was to school, to work, to the store, to walk the dog, or to visit a neighbor or friend. Maybe some were just trying to get home. They didn't make it.

For the same year (2007), across the U.S., 4,654 pedestrians died and an estimated 70,000 or more were injured in motor-vehicle related pedestrian accidents. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Maryland 2003-2007)

As experienced Maryland pedestrian accident lawyers, we know what can happen when walkers find themselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time -- in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

We've seen many different circumstances where car, motorcycle, SUV, and truck accidents turned even more tragic when people on foot got critically injured or killed in Maryland traffic mishaps. NHTSA recommends many of the same "common sense" methods our mothers taught us for keeping safe when traveling on foot:

1. Cross at intersections. Most people who are hit by cars are struck when they are not in a crosswalk. Some municipalities will fine drivers who fail to stop for and give right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

2. Use crossing signals. They're there for a reason. A stop light can be your best defense against being struck by a motorist who is on their cell phone with the stereo blaring, tearing down the road after a nerve-wracking day at work.

3. Look left, right, AND left again. THEN cross. Remember what mom said about looking both ways? Do it, then look left again before setting foot into the roadway. Motorists are in a terrible hurry these days. In a split second, particularly if you're crossing a curved road, a car can be fast upon you on the left -- a driver that doesn't expect to see a pedestrian in the road.

4. Make eye contact with drivers. Even drivers stopped at a stop light or stop sign. Some drivers who are not paying attention may try to make a right-hand turn after you've entered the crosswalk. There's also the problem of motorists running yellow lights or making "rolling stops" and going through stop signs. A crosswalk will not save your life if the driver still doesn't know you're there. Making eye contact is a smart safety measure.

5. Wear light-colored clothing. Have you ever had to slam on your brakes because you were driving at night, and suddenly a pedestrian appeared seemingly out of nowhere? Don't assume drivers can see you at night, even on city streets. Carry a flashlight if you have to walk on rural, poorly lit roads.

NHTSA reports that in 2007, most traffic-related pedestrian fatalities took place in urban areas (73%), in normal weather conditions (90%), at night (67%), and where people were not crossing in intersections (77%). Most victims were male. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2007 Data: Pedestrians) Children and the elderly are particularly at-risk populations for traffic pedestrian accidents -- topics we will cover in future blog entries.

Remember, even better than "walking away from an accident" is avoiding one in the first place. That's true for pedestrians as well as motorists.

NHTSA Pedestrian Safety Portal

Related Web Resources

WalkingInfo.org

Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee

August 4, 2009

Maryland Distracted Driving Alert: Texting Ups Car Accident Risk Significantly

Have you ever traveled on the Baltimore Beltway or another Maryland roadway and noticed your fellow drivers engaging in activities other than steering the 4,000-pound SUV beneath them? Car crashes caused by drivers reading the newspaper, fiddling with the stereo, putting on makeup, and chatting on cell phones -- only to lose control of their vehicles or miss a road obstacle and crash -- are sadly, nothing new.

Now we traffic-frazzled Maryland commuters can add texting to the list of distracted-driving activities that can cause serious car, SUV, motorcycle and truck accidents. Highways aren't the only places texting poses a risk -- a teenager texting a friend while driving down their quiet neighborhood street could cause a fatal car pedestrian accident.

A recent study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded that texting (i.e., typing and sending messages on a cell phone or wireless hand-held device) while driving is even more dangerous that previously thought, and that texting has indeed become the most dangerous of all distracted-driving activities.

Maryland traffic accident lawyers like us see the worst of what happens on the state's highways and roadways. We know too well that even normally good drivers can cause a car, truck, or motorcycle accident by being distracted, even for an instant. Some states, such as Virginia, have banned texting while driving.

Though the Virginia Tech study focused on long-haul trucks (outfitted with video cameras for research purposes), they believe their findings apply to all drivers -- not just commercial truck drivers. Over 18 months, the video cams recorded that in the moments before a crash or near-miss traffic accident, the truck drivers looked down at their texting devices for nearly 5 seconds -- enough time at highway speeds to cover the length of a football field. We've said it before, and it's worth repeating: Drive carefully out there. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road -- and your fellow drivers.

Texting Raises Crash Risk 23 Times, Study Finds
The New York Times in Yahoo! Finance July 28, 2009

Related Web Resource

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute