Maryland Motorist Safety : Is What’s Parked in Your Driveway Safer than the Car Your Father Drove?

How many modern safety features does the car you own and drive in Baltimore County, Maryland have? We’ve come a long way in motor vehicle safety features since our parents first herded us kids into the back of the family sedan.

All passenger cars since 1967 are required to have seat belts. Go to an antique car show and you’ll be amazed at the beauty of vintage car interiors — and the absence of seat belts. Dual air bags are a required automotive safety feature to diminish driver and passenger injury in event of a car crash (on cars made since 1998 and light trucks since 1999). Infant and child car seats and restraints — which I didn’t have growing up — are now required by law. In Maryland, children under eight years old must ride in an appropriate child restraint, unless the child is 4’9″ or taller or weighs more than 65 pounds.

Other safety features such as as all-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes are common on many makes and models of today’s cars, trucks, and SUVs. And the automotive innovations keep coming. Manufacturers seek to make their cars studier, smarter, and more crash worthy…to help drivers avoid traffic accidents and minimize motorist injury and fatality, when traffic accidents do occur.

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation is hosting the 22nd International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles in Washington, D.C. Auto manufacturers, engineers, and vehicle safety experts from the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Korea, China, and Austrialia will testify on a wide range of auto safety enhancement topics. These include automotive advancements in …

Front-end, side impact and roll-over vehicle crash avoidance and passenger protection Pedestrian traffic safety features Driver assistance systems for heavy trucks and buses Motorcycle safety
Protection for child passengers, older adults, and other vulnerable occupants
…and many other topics. It’s true, automotive safety has come along way since my parents piled us into the family car (no seat belts or child seats, thank you) for a leisurely Sunday drive through the Maryland countryside. And thanks to automotive innovations, changes in traffic laws, and driving safety education and advocacy efforts — lives are being saved. NHTSA reports that in 2009, a total 33,808 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. — the lowest number since 1950. But we still have a long ways to go. One death on the roads is one too many.

As Baltimore County car accident injury lawyers, we know that serious and fatal car accidents can still happen. In many ways, driving has become far more challenging in recent decades. People are driving faster and more furious, on roads, highways, and bridges that are handling far more traffic volume than they were designed for. Now distracted driving — people on cell phones talking and texting — has become a deadly national epidemic. No matter how many high-tech safety features your car, truck, or SUV has — no one is accident proof in Maryland or anywhere else in the country. Be aware of what’s around you and always drive defensively.

2nd International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles
NHTSA June 13 – 16, 2011, Washington, DC
What Are Maryland’s Child Passenger Safety Laws?

Highlights of 2009 Motor Vehicle Crashes (PDF)
NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Aug. 2010
Related Web Resource:

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Top Safety Picks 2011

Related Maryland Accident Injury Attorney Articles:

Maryland Drivers Among Worst in U.S. for Knowledge of State Driving Laws May 27, 2011
Baltimore County Democrat Pushing Maryland Bill to Toughen Distracted Driving Law Feb. 17, 2011