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Baltimore Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

Drowsy driving crash claims 5 members of family

Driving is an often made up of compromise. We may want to travel to a certain location, but know it will take too long because it is too far away, or because traffic is too congested. When it is for something extraordinary, we may make exceptions. While we would normally never consider driving long distances at night for something mundane, for a vacation, we may decide it is worth the risk and hassle.

Some in the Baltimore area, for instance, may consider driving to a place like Disney World, nonstop. Google maps tells us it is only little more 13 hours, and it save the overnight cost of a hotel and it gives you an additional day to enjoy the park.

Northeast leads the nation in car accidents

It may not come as much of a surprise to drivers from Baltimore, up the Northeast Corridor to Boston, are more at risk of a car accident than anywhere in the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the high levels of congestion on the roads and the omnipresent construction is part of the problem.

Distraction remains the top cause of crashes, which is why there is such an emphasis on the dangers of texting while driving. Other behavior can be equally distracting, but texting has been shown to be as distracting as being intoxicated with alcohol, and so warrant special attention.

AAA study estimates drowsy driving is serious problem

Drowsy driving is known to be a problem. Official federal crash statistics estimate that about 2.5 percent of all fatal car accidents involve a drowsy driver. But those estimates are not considered very accurate, as determining if a driver was sleepy before a crash is difficult.

In fatal crashes, the driver cannot answer any questions concerning his or her condition prior to the crash, and for drivers who survive a motor vehicle accident, they may not realize they were drowsy or may be to reticent to admit to a police officer that they fell asleep at the wheel. 

Is the cure worse than the disease?

Last week, we discussed the problems with the Takata airbags that have been installed in millions of Honda, Toyota, BMW, General Motors and other car manufacturer's vehicles. The airbags can explode in such a manner as to spray the passenger compartment with metal shards that can be deadly. Four individuals have died in explosions traced to these airbag explosions in car accidents.

The large number of vehicles involved in the has created another problem. Not enough airbags. Even though issues involving these airbags have been simmering for a decade, apparently no one expected it would eventually grow as large has it has. 

Airbag recall has prompted congressional questions

Airbags have been a great help in reducing vehicles fatalities. Thousands of lives have been saved since airbags became standard on most vehicles. The airbag is triggered when a sensor detects extreme deceleration. This causes an explosive charge to fill the airbag in milliseconds, and it inflates and surrounds the vehicle's occupants and prevents them from violently jerking forward.

The good news is they work in the vast majority of instances, as they should. But during the last 10 years, some airbags from the manufacturer Takata have exploded and injured or killed motorists in the vehicles during car accidents.

This has now led to an enormous recall by auto manufacturers, which now stretches to encompass 7.8 million vehicles. 

Oh deer, its fall driving season

As the end of October and Halloween approaches and the leaves fall from the trees, you should remember to exercise additional caution as you drive about Maryland. The coming of winter means the number of hours of daylight will continue to shrink and more of your driving will involve the use of headlights.

Also of concern is the fact that sunrise and sunset now coincide with many commuters' drives to work and back home. Glare caused by the sun on the horizon can blind drivers and lead to sudden slowdowns on every type of road. 

October brings stricter texting law to Maryland

Texting and driving is one of the issues that is sufficiently new that while we suspect that there is a problem, and we have some anecdotal evidence of the dangers, we do not have the vast numerical conformation that would allow us to recognize just how bad things really are.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at any given moment during daylight hours there are 100,000 drivers texting. They also estimate that 600,000 drivers are using a cellphone during that same period. Yet according to the hard numbers, there were only 3,328 highway fatalities linked to distracted driving.

The future sense of automatic v. manual

Here's the problem. Humans are not always very good in emergencies. We can be overwhelmed and often fail to react fast enough or in the right way. We drive down the highway, we hit a spot slick with ice. Most drivers have been told that you always need to steer into the skid to allow the wheels to regain directional stability and your ability to steer.

But how many drivers panic and forget, especially here in Maryland, where they may not encounter an icy road but once or twice every couple of years? 

I-70 closed for a time after 5-car crash

Driving really is a full time job. As comfortable as vehicles have become, with plush, heated and cooled leather seats, sound systems that rival the best home stereos and electronics that at times can be overwhelming, it is easy to forget as you are whisked along an interstate highway in Maryland that you are in a vehicle moving at nearly 100 feet per second.

But you are, and at 100 fps, you are covering the distance of a football field every three seconds. If you are daydreaming, lulled into a state of highway hypnosis, are chatting with a passenger or worst, texting on a cellphone, how long will it take for your mind to recover its focus on the situation in front of your vehicle should something go wrong?

If I'm a passenger, can I sue my driver after an accident?

In most car accidents, a driver is responsible for their negligence in the accident. They may have been drunk, speeding or texting, and ran an intersection, lost control and crossed the centerline or hit a car stopped at a stoplight.

And you were hit by them, you would expect to be able to collect some compensation for your damages, whether they are minor physical damage to your vehicle, or the compensation necessary to replace your totaled vehicle and cover your medical expensed from various personal injuries.

But what happens in less straightforward situations? What happens if you are in a car as a passenger and the driver is texting or driving too fast for conditions? If they crash in a single-car accident and you are injured, can you sue the driver?

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