Indian Head Highway Continues to Be a Problem

As many Marylanders know, Indian Head Highway/Route 210 is notorious as one of the state’s most dangerous roadways.  Over the past 11 years, 65 people have lost their lives in horrific crashes there. An illegal drag race that took advantage of the straight highway ended in horror in 2008 when eight people died. Last year, in 2018, five people were killed on the highway, according to figures from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration. Among the tragic fatalities were three young children from the same family who died just weeks ago on December 30 when the car they were riding in was rear-ended. The investigation into that accident is ongoing. Increased Law Enforcement There has been a larger police presence on the highway, handing out tickets for speeding and other dangerous driving violations in recent years. But in spite of increased law enforcement, the number of accidents has not changed significantly, the data shows.  In 2016, there were 336 crashes; in 2017 there were 329; and last year there were 354. Nevertheless, local police and lawmakers are vowing to add even more police to the route this year. A speed camera was put in place on the highway[…..]

Maryland Drivers Are Ignoring School Bus Safety

A 2018 survey in Maryland shows that the state has a serious problem when it comes to drivers’ ignoring school bus safety rules. A significant number of drivers disregard the law that requires them to stop when a school bus has its red lights flashing and stop-arms out to indicate children are getting on or off. The survey was conducted this past spring with participation from over 80 percent of the state’s bus drivers from 24 school systems. In total, the drivers counted 3,812 violations of red flashing light and stop-arm rules in a single day. Baltimore City had 64 violations, which is down from last year when there were 152. Among counties, the violation leader was Montgomery, with 1,038 recorded. Baltimore County was second. Bus drivers in the county recorded 688 violations. Violations for other nearby counties included 385 in Anne Arundel and 97 for Carroll, which were both lower than last year’s numbers. However, in both Harford and Howard counties violations were higher than last year—they counted 196 and 290 respectively. While the number of violations rose in some areas in 2018, statewide school bus violations were much lower than in 2011, the year the survey was first[…..]

Is Your Vehicle Ready for Winter? Here’s a Checklist.

With winter come rain, sleet, ice, snow, slush, and just plain old cold and dangerous driving weather. Seventeen percent of crashes nationwide occur in winter weather conditions, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. While you probably won’t step outside when temperatures begin to drop without first donning appropriate cold-weather clothing, is your car, truck or other vehicle also safely prepared for the upcoming chill? If it isn’t, you still have time to get it done. Winterizing your vehicle will help keep it operating safely throughout the season and keep you from possibly being stranded in plummeting temperatures or, even worse, injured in an accident. In addition to avoiding potential mechanical problems by staying on top of tune-ups and maintenance all year long, here are steps to take to get your vehicle ready for winter: Ensure that tires are inflated to correct psi levels for your vehicle. Your owner’s manual can advise you as to the correct level. As temperatures get colder, tires lose air, and tires that are not adequately inflated can affect maneuverability. Check tire tread for wear. Balding tires lose traction and are dangerous on icy and snow-covered streets. Do the penny test—with Lincoln’s head pointing[…..]

If You Own a Kia or Hyundai, Read This

Certain Kias and Hyundais from model years 2011 through 2014 are vulnerable to spontaneous fires. Vehicles affected include the Kia Sorento SUV and Kia Optima sedan, as well as the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV and Hyundai Sonata sedan. While the fires have not been associated with any crashes, it’s estimated that six persons have suffered injuries from the fires. Petition Submitted to NHTSA The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) has petitioned Deputy Administrator Heidi King of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) because of the fires. The petition, submitted June 11, 2018, noted that the NHTSA has on file 120 complaints of fires where no crash occurred, as well as 229 filed complaints that mention melted wires, smoke, and odors indicating something was burning. When the number of Hyundai and Kia reports was compared with other competing makes and models, the CAS discovered only 22 reports on file that mentioned fires without collisions for all other competing vehicles. The Hyundai Sonata had the most complaints at 47, with 10 for the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Sixty-three fires were reported to the NHTSA for the two Kia models. Dangerous Fires The CAS petition mentioned several fires, including the following ones:[…..]

Still Hurting After the Accident? It Could Be a Herniated Disc

After a car crash, are you still suffering from back pain that is not getting better? You’ve received medical attention and do not have any fractures, but the doctor did say you might have a herniated disc. Further testing was recommended to determine the cause of your pain. All types of back and neck injuries are common after motor vehicle collisions. While an injury might appear to be minor at first, as the hurt grows and other symptoms set in, you realize you need help to stop the numbness, the muscle weakness, and, of course, the pain. A study done by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine indicates that, after a car crash, more than 70 percent of those who sought emergency treatment were still suffering from pain. Not all of the pain reported was from a back injury, but a review of the hospital records for 948 patients determined that, six weeks following a motor vehicle accident, the most common injury for those admitted to the hospital was neck and back pain. What is a Herniated Disc? The sudden, strong forces exerted on your spine during a crash can injure the cushions between the bony vertebrae; these[…..]

Do You Know Maryland’s Right-Of-Way Rules?

Maryland Road Way Rules

Right-of-way laws bring order to traffic situations where it might be difficult to determine who should yield to whom. Failure-to-yield is the second-most common driving mistake, and it is the leading cause of fatal crashes in seven states. In Maryland, failure-to-yield will cost you one point on your driving record and a significant fine, even if no accident occurs. With that in mind, we are providing the right-of-way rules for Maryland; more information can be found in the Maryland Driver’s Manual. Intersections and Left Turns Intersections, especially if one or more drivers are turning left, can be dangerous places. Over 53 percent of intersection collisions are caused by drivers making left turns; for comparison, only 5.7 percent of intersection crashes are caused by right turns. In fact, left turns are so risky that UPS prohibits its drivers from making left turns unless no alternative exists. The right-of-way rules for four-way Maryland intersections are: You must yield the right-of-way to all opposing traffic (vehicles that are facing you) if you are trying to turn left at an intersection. Right-of-way belongs to anyone already in the intersection. This includes bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians. Right-of-way belongs to all other vehicles and to pedestrians[…..]

Look Out for Unsafe Lane Changers

Reckless lane changes cause a lot of crashes on our roads. While the danger is usually greater when a heavier commercial vehicle is part of the mix, the reality is that abrupt lane changes by any vehicle can be responsible for injuries and fatalities. Changing lanes unsafely, whether due to weaving and other aggressive acts or drifting caused by distraction, involves vehicles of all types and sizes. Two recent local examples in the Baltimore-Washington area were: According to Maryland State Police, on March 24, 2018, an Inner Beltway crash killed a man. Improper lane changing and failing to yield the right of way were the charges. Also in March, 2018, an unsafe lane change by a tractor-trailer caused an 18-vehicle collision that resulted in injuries to four people, two with life-threatening injuries. All four southbound lanes were shut down during rush hour for more than two hours. The large white semi that caused the crash sped away unharmed. The Numbers Unsafe lane changes cause a lot of crashes on our roads. Not staying in the proper lane causes about 11 percent of all passenger motor vehicle crashes. But when a tractor-trailer is packing more than 80,000 pounds, the chances of[…..]

Should We Lower the BAC to 0.05?

We’ve taken great strides to reduce drunk driving in the U.S. From the early 1980s to the early 2000s, we increased the drinking age to 21 and lowered the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to 0.08 percent across all states. These changes worked; alcohol-related traffic fatalities were cut in half, with the greatest decline in deaths seen among teenagers. Changes in drinking and driving laws saved at least 150,000 lives from 1982 to 2001—more than the total number of lives saved by airbags, increased usage of seat belts, and bicycle and motorcycle helmet usage. However, after the early 2000s, the achievement of further reductions in drunk driving slowed dramatically. Eventually, DUI figures began to rise again; currently, one-third of all traffic fatalities are the result of at least one person in a crash driving under the influence. Two out of every five persons who died in alcohol-related crashes are not even drunk drivers, but are victims. The most recent fatality figures for deaths caused by drunk driving are stubbornly stuck at slightly more than 10,000 each year. Because of the lack of continued progress, safety officials went back to the drawing board in an effort to find ways to[…..]

Should We Slow the Development of Autonomous Cars?

Are autonomous vehicles safe for our public roads? The March 2018, death of a pedestrian near Phoenix, Arizona, would seem to indicate they may not be. The victim was walking her bicycle across the road when she was struck by an Uber SUV. Autonomous vehicle data, which the public interest group Consumer Watchdog says was ignored by the NHTSA, show that self-driving cars truly cannot drive themselves for any length of time. Consumer Watchdog’s late March report, which used data released by the California DMV, states that autonomous vehicles can travel a maximum of 5,596 miles, at best, before needing human intervention. Human Intervention Once Every Mile Almost six thousand miles between interventions might not sound bad. But many other documented situations show that a number of autonomous vehicles need intervention at many fewer miles. According to one analysis firm, of the six companies testing autonomous vehicles in Arizona, Uber was by far the worst. Their vehicles experienced what’s known as a “disengagement”—meaning a human being is forced to take control of the vehicle—once for every mile driven, on average. At the top of the research listing was Waymo (a Google company), which experienced one disengagement every 5,128 miles driven.[…..]

Post-Collision Fires: An Escalating Threat

Serious car crashes often leave terrible injuries in their wake. But sometimes such crashes result in post-collision fires. The fire’s victims can suffer injuries such as life-threatening burns, extensive scarring, and permanent nerve damage. Problems arising from such devastating wounds often mean a lifetime spent adjusting to pain and disability. Data in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) FARS database indicates that, from 2002 through 2014, the percentage of those vehicles which caught fire went up, from 2.95 percent to 3.28 percent. Additionally, the percentage of all vehicular deaths occurring in vehicles that burst into flames increased from 4.54 percent to 5.36 percent. This happened while the total number of vehicles involved in accidents actually went down. In this case, the trend is not our friend. It is estimated that approximately one-third of the deaths were directly caused by fires. It is also estimated that as many as 88 percent of crash victims would have escaped serious injury if it were not for the post-collision fire. Local and Regional Fiery Crashes While the percentages mentioned may seem small, post-collision fires are not rare. Here is a sampling of crash-caused fires during September and October of 2017: October, 2017: In[…..]