News From NHTSA

Fastening Seat Belt

It’s time for some good news… In January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the results of their research into the effectiveness of the many life-saving technologies that have been introduced in motor vehicles in the 50+ years between 1960 and 2012. In summary, they found that the fatality rate per vehicle mile of travel for occupants of cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, mini-vans and full-size vans dropped by an amazing 81 percent! NHTSA credits improvements in four areas: Seat belts, air bags and other vehicle safety innovations Safer roads, including the development of the Interstate Highway System and design elements such as guardrails and medians Educational programs aimed at improving driver behavior Better emergency transport and trauma medicine, which make crashes more survivable. Technology + Cars = Improved Safety Vehicle safety technologies — such as seat belts, air bags, and electronic stability control — saved an estimated 613,501 lives from 1960 through 2012. Also in this category are instrument panel improvements, head impact protection, side impact protection, roof crush resistance, and disc brakes, as well as things like door locks and reflective markings. The largest gain was the result of seat belt use, particularly in the mid- to[…..]

“It Was A Dark And Stormy Night . . .”

Night Driving

We’re barely past the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. On January 30, Baltimore will have only 10 hours of daylight, and even by the end of the first quarter that will increase to only 12.5 hours. That means a lot of us are likely to be doing most of our driving in low-light situations – dusk, dawn and night – when accidents are most likely to occur. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reflect the increased risk of nighttime driving, showing that almost half (49%) of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities occur during nighttime, and the after-dark fatality rate is about three times higher per vehicle mile of travel. Several factors are likely at play in the hazardous nature of nighttime driving: 1. Fatigue at the end of a workday 2. A higher incidence of alcohol use at night 3. Physiology, i.e., depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are compromised after sundown. Additionally, when a vehicle is not optimally maintained, the driver may be unable to see as well as he or she should. The Thing About High Beams… Typical low beams illuminate the road from 160 to 250 feet in front of a[…..]

Big Brother is Riding With You

Accident Tracking

George Orwell’s classic science fiction novel 1984 has in many ways come to seem prophetic. The recent controversy stirred up about the NSA’s tracking of cellphone usage has spurred comparisons to Orwell’s Big Brother, the entity controlling the populace by constantly reminding them that “Big Brother is watching you.” No matter which side of the political issue you come down on with regard to the NSA, you’ll probably be glad to know that certain functions of your car are being continuously monitored. That’s right – Big Brother is riding with you. A young woman in Anne Arundel County recently benefited from the information gathered by her Chevy’s air bag control module. Last year she pulled onto the highway from a shopping center, into the path of a motorcycle, killing the cyclist. A witness said he saw the woman texting and that she did not slow down before the crash. The data recorded by the air bag control module showed, however, that her car came to a complete stop. The manslaughter charges were dropped and she has been allowed to plead guilty to one count of negligent driving. I’d say she was glad to have Big Brother along for that ride.[…..]

Tired Of Potholes?

Do any of you remember a TV commercial that warned, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” We think somebody must really have ticked off the old lady, because she has certainly not been nice to us this winter. One source says that, as of March 15, Baltimore had gotten 30.7 inches of snow, compared to our usual average of 19.5; Washington, DC, was at 23.1 inches compared to an average of 15.1. And those figures were compiled before the St. Patty’s Day snowstorm. We’re tired of winter. And we’re tired of the potholes that winter weather causes. The unrelenting snow and ice in our area, and the salt and brine used to combat them, have made for some truly massive potholes: The Baltimore Sun reported that one such road hazard on North Forest Park Avenue blew out the tires of at least seven cars on one February afternoon. On the Hanover Street Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, some potholes expose rebar and a crumbling bridge deck. In early March, one lane of I-270 near Frederick was shut down due to a pothole measuring four feet across. It was credited with causing a number of flat tires. Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager[…..]


Whew!! I’ve certainly handed out a lot of tasks for you to do immediately after a Maryland Automobile Accident. Trust me, you’ll be glad you followed my advice. I’ve got one more thing for you to do. After you’ve hung up from talking to your lawyer pick the phone back up and dial your insurance carrier. But it wasn’t my fault Steve. Why does my insurance company need to know about the accident? Good question. Actually, there are several reasons why you need to put your insurance company on notice: 1) SPEED. No, not the speed of your car. The speed of YOUR insurance carrier to take care of your immediate needs should the at fault insurance company decide to investigate or deny your claim. There’s no guarantee that the other insurance carrier is going to see the accident the same way you do. The other driver may give a different version of what happened (actually other driver’s lie quite frequently about the events of an accident) or the other driver may not even cooperate with his or her own insurer. All the while, your car is sitting in front of your house or in the tow yard NOT REPAIRED.[…..]


If you’ve followed my advice regarding the necessary steps to take after a Maryland Auto Accident, you probably will need time to catch your breath. Have you settled down a little bit yet? Great. Now, the fact that you were able to get out of your car and complete the steps I recommended is a good indicator that you likely did not suffer a catastrophic injury ( I have seen instances in the past where an accident victim went undiagnosed with a severe injury such as a neck fracture or internal injuries but that is rare). Nonetheless, you still may be injured. If you are experiencing ANY type of bodily pain you need to notify the police officer right away. The officer will request that an ambulance be sent to the scene. The officer will also include the fact that you were injured in the police report, provided one is written. If the police fail to show, I advise you to let the other driver know that you are hurt and then to go directly to the nearest emergency room or medical clinic. Even if the pain is minimal, it is imperative that you get checked out as soon as[…..]


You’ve just been in a Maryland car wreck and if you’ve taken my advice, you’ve immediately written down the other driver’s tag number and have called the police. I now want you to safely exit your vehicle and approach the other vehicle. DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE UNTIL YOU’VE MOVED YOUR CAR OUT OF HARM’S WAY!! Be sure to move the car onto the shoulder, the grassy area, or the side of the road before exiting. Getting out of a motor vehicle that is sitting in the middle lane of a highway or busy intersection, especially at night, will get you killed!! When you approach the other vehicle, you want to calmly ask the driver if you can get his or her driver’s license and insurance information. Yes, I know that the police have been called. But what if the police don’t show (not uncommon in Baltimore City) or the other driver speeds off before the police arrive? The at fault driver might be driving uninsured or on a suspended license and may want to “get out of Dodge”. Or the other driver just might be in a hurry and not want to wait around (in non serious[…..]


In my last blog entry, I wrote that it is imperative to write down the other driver’s tag number immediately after you’ve been involved in a Maryland Automobile Accident. The very next thing I want you to do is to call 911. I know you’re saying to yourself, “Duh Steve, everyone knows to call the police after a car accident.” Well, you’d be surprised. Alot of people “freeze up” after a traumatic event such as a car crash and have a hard time just remaining coherent. They forget to notify the authorities. A number of people also don’t call the police because they’re in a hurry, not seriously injured or their motor vehicle is not totaled, or they think they just don’t need the police. All of the previous reasons may be valid but let me tell you why you MUST call the police. In my nearly 20 years of practicing Baltimore injury law, I have seen many people end up not being able to get compensated for their injuries and property damage from a responsible party because they simply had bad or no information about the defendant. You can have the most horrific injury in the world but if[…..]


The number one thing to do immediately after a Maryland automobile accident is to write down the other driver’s license tag number. I don’t care if you have to pull lipstick out of your pocketbook and write the number on a Styrofoam cup, scribble it in pen on your arm, or ask the paramedic to write it on his notepad while you’re being loaded into the ambulance. The simple fact is that failure to do this one thing could be fatal to any future claim you may want to pursue against the responsible party. Here’s why. If you’ve been in a Maryland car crash, you are going to need to get your property damage fixed as well as be compensated for any injury you’ve sustained. Provided the other driver is at fault, he or she is responsible to take care of those damages. Unfortunately, not every person you come across is honest. In fact, there’s a ton of people in this world that will look you straight in the face and lie to you. Especially if they think their insurance rates are going to go up because they were at fault for the accident. They may give you false information[…..]