COVID-19 Notice: We are providing FREE consultations via phone or video conferencing for your safety and convenience. Learn More »

Articles Posted in News Stories

More states are joining Maryland are creating laws against using handheld devices in cars. In turn, automakers are rapidly developing new hands-free technology to assist drivers with texts, calls, and navigation by using voice commands or touch screens.

Is this a good thing?  Certainly, these interactive programs in vehicles are supposed to make it easier for drivers to multitask without losing their focus on the road. However, a new study has come out that suggests these new “infotainment” systems may increase the risk of car accidents in older drivers by limiting their response time and causing distractions while driving.

The New Report

Police in Layton, Utah are investigating a crash they believe was connected to the “Bird Box Challenge.”  If you have been sleeping under a rock, this challenge comprises of covering one’s eyes while performing tasks just like Sandra Bullock’s character must in Netflix’s hit movie “Birdbox”.

The crash happened on the evening of January 7, 2019. The driver, a 17-year-old girl, was driving a pickup truck with a 16-year-old passenger. She pulled her beanie over her eyes while driving. The girl then lost control of her car and skidded along the road into oncoming traffic. Her car ended up hitting another car and a light pole.

At first, she told police that her conversation with her friend had distracted her from the road. Nonetheless, police could connect the crash to the Bird Box challenge after conducting a few follow-up interviews. The driver of the other vehicle, a 56-year-old man, was one of the other people interviewed by the police.

The recent technological advances in car safety are nothing short of dramatic.  The result is lives are being saved on our highways.  The pros of these technologies far outweigh the cons.  But that does not mean there will not be bumps in the road.

One bump is people do not understand the technologies they now have access to in the vehicles. According to a September 2018 report conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, most drivers do not realize the limitations of using advanced driver safety systems in their car. It also shows that people are becoming dependent on technology to drive safely.

What was the study?

In every state, there is a stretch of the highway or an intersection where car accidents commonly occur. We certainly have them in Maryland.

A group of folks got together (let’s be honest, a creative car accident lawyer got them together) and filed a class-action lawsuit against the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The lawsuit claimed that a particular stretch of highway on Interstate 44 was dangerous and the state should have made the road safer.

The trial judge certified a class action, finding that there were common questions of fact as to whether the pavement surface lacked proper skid resistance and was otherwise dangerous.

The Maryland Court of Appeals will jump into the battles of whether it is reasonable to allow speed and red light camera merchants to receive a “commission” every time the camera catches a violator. A group of Prince George’s, Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick County residents says the payments, made by Montgomery County, Gaithersburg, and Rockville, are illegal. [2018 update: the court found it reasonable.]

This is the latest in a long, long battle between libertarians and their brethren and the photo enforcement technology industry, that operates speed cameras and red light cameras for local municipalities. The two most common photo enforcement systems are red-light cameras, designed to detect motorists who enter an intersection after the light has turned red, and speed cameras, designed to detect motorists going a certain amount over the posted speed limit. There is no question that people die in Maryland because people run red lights and drive too fast.  The purpose is to discourage this activity.  Are companies and the government profiting off this effort?  Of course they are.

One stunning example of this is the case of the former CEO of Redflex.  This company is one of the leading providers of traffic cameras in the country. She pled guilty to bribery in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Chicago. She apparently posted a help-wanted ad for a bagman in Chicago.  This is the kind of stuff that drives libertarians, and most of us, crazy.

Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving although the recommendation is not, as it probably should be, for hands-free phones (or passengers). Maryland already had passed a similar law.

This recommendation underscores that the federal government is growing increasingly concerned by statistics that show cell phones are killing people in massive numbers. What would have been more impressive is asking for a ban on cell phones for drivers. Period. But regardless of the death toll, that is not in the political cards, at least not now.

A wrongful death suit has been filed in Utah, stemming from a horrific boating accident.

The facts here are rather unbelievable. The suit contends that the driver of a boat negligently struck the decedent while she was swimming, causing critical injuries, as the propeller “tore” into her torso and lower abdomen. It gets worse from here. According to witnesses, after striking the swimmer, the boat turned around and the boat’s occupants were overheard calling to the woman. They were heard yelling, “Hey lady, are you all right?” The witnesses said that the defendants talked to the decedent, but did not offer aide and left the scene, leaving her in the water bleeding and severely injured.

In addition to five John Does, three men were named in the suit, claiming that the men failed their “duty” to use “reasonable care” to avoid an accident. The suit further claims that the power boat was operated in a negligent and reckless manner. The driver and at least one other occupant had smoked marijuana prior to the accident, and at least three of the occupants had been drinking alcohol.

According to the National Safety Council, a person’s risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 88. The risk of being killed by lightning is roughly 1 in 84,000. The risk of being killed in a fireworks discharge is about 1 in 386,000.

A tow truck driver was struck and killed this morning by a hit-and-run driver on Route 100 in Glen Burnie during rush hour. He got killed near where I work. He lives in the same town I do.

Certainly, there is a desire for all of us to sigh a bit of relief and say, “Okay, I would not be helping a sewage truck on the side of the road. That couldn’t have been me.” But have you ever been pulled over on the side of the road? Of course you have. This could have happened to you, me, or any one of us.

The next step is to find creative ways to blame the victim. Why was he so close to the road? Shouldn’t he have seen it coming? We all have this attribution bias, to varying extents. When you peel that away, what you have is a poor guy who was probably trying to feed his family and while doing so died for no good reason.

The Baltimore Sun reports today on the tragic death of a Glen Burnie man who died after a car accident with an SUV being driven by an unsupervised teenager on a learner’s permit. Apparently, the at-fault driver, a nineteen-year-old who lived in Millersville, was driving on her learner’s permit with another 19-year-old.

This is the 19th fatal car accident in Anne Arundel County this year. Not every story gets a lot of attention. The angle the media is taking on this one is that the supervising driver was not old enough.

Easy narrative, but I doubt it would have made a difference here. Police said they had no evidence that drugs, alcohol or speeding contributed to the crash. Some people just don’t pay attention to where they are going. When this happens, people can die. If my mother and her spotless 50-year driving record had been in the car seat next to this young girl, I doubt it would have made much of a difference. The scary reality is what happened to this man could have happened to your kids or mine if they were in the same place at the same time in Crofton as this man tragically was on Sunday.