Figures released in April by the Maryland Department of Transportation revealed deaths from traffic accidents rose 7 percent year-on-year in 2017. Last year, 557 people lost their lives in Maryland, according to provisional statistics.
Alarmingly, the increase in fatal accidents is consistent with a longer-term trend. Traffic deaths have been rising on Maryland’s highways since 2014. The increase in 2016 was 17 percent. Fatalities increased in Maryland last year at a time when they fell 1 percent nationally, noted the National Safety Council.
The rise in deaths from traffic accidents in Maryland spurred the announcement of a highway safety summit to address the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) to combat roadway fatalities and serious injuries. The aim is to cut fatal accidents by 50 percent by 2030.
Risky behavior such as drunk, distracted and aggressive driving is highlighted in the plan. However, there are many other causes of traffic accidents in Maryland.
The number of traffic accidents at a time when cars have additional safety features is staggering. In 2016, Maryland recorded 120,120 vehicle crashes. Of these wrecks, 34,682 involved injuries and 84,955 involved property damage. When another driver is responsible for your injuries, an experienced Maryland car accident attorney can help you recover what you deserve.
Traffic accidents can be caused by a wide range of factors. Most of them are linked to poor driving.
Common Causes of Traffic Accidents in Maryland
Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to react to hazards on the road or traffic slowing down suddenly ahead. A recent study by the National Transportation Safety Board looked at crash data from 2005 to 2014. It found speeding was the main factor in 112,580 deaths or approximately 31 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Speeding is not always driving faster than the speed limit. If you are driving too fast for conditions such as fog or icy roads, your excess speed may cause a wreck.
Driving too close to the vehicle in front is a significant cause of rear-end traffic accidents in Maryland. Many defensive driving experts advocate the three-second rule. Identify a fixed object on the road like an overpass. When a vehicle ahead of you passes the object you identified, slowly say “one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand.” If you reach the object before you have completed the count, you are tailgating.
Alcohol and Drugs
Every day, 28 people on average in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes caused by an alcohol-impaired driver. About 29 percent of all deadly crashes are caused by an intoxicated driver, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Research suggests drug-impaired driving is becoming a factor in an increasing number of traffic accidents as more states legalize marijuana. The Governors Highway Safety Association noted drugs were present in 43 percent of drivers who were tested after their deaths in traffic accidents in 2015.
The smartphone revolution and the increased popularity of social networking and apps have fueled a distracted driving epidemic in the United States. Every day, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured in distracted driving crashes, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis.
There are many types of distracted driving. Distractions like eating at the wheel, talking to children and other passengers pre-date the Apple iPhone. However, texting while driving is especially dangerous. Sending or reading a text message while driving takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at a speed of 55 mph.
In Maryland, lawmakers have become increasingly frustrated that a ban on texting at the wheel is failing to stop the distracted driving crashes. They have proposed fines of $500 for drivers caught texting – one of the highest penalties in the country.
Drivers Running Red Lights and Stop Signs
The failure to stop or yield causes many serious traffic accidents in Maryland. Red light running is a form of aggressive driving and is more common in urban areas like Baltimore. Intersection accidents may cause serious injuries because they are often T-bone accidents in which a car, pickup or truck is hit from the side where it has less protection.
From 2011 to 2015, more than 83 percent of all aggressive driving crashes in Maryland occurred in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas. Baltimore County accounted for nearly 19 percent of Maryland’s aggressive driving crashes, according to the Motor Vehicle Administration.
Drowsy drivers may be inattentive and fall asleep at the wheel with devastating consequences. A study released this year by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found about 9.5 percent of all crashes involved drowsy drivers. Researchers studied dashboard video from 700 accidents.
The study considered the portion of time the drivers’ eyes were closed in the minutes before a crash. The portion increased to 10.8 percent in more severe crashes. About a third of all drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours per night, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The AAA study suggests there are few quick fixes to drowsy driving. The organization concluded drinking coffee, singing or rolling down a window will not override the body’s need for sleep.
Some of the most serious traffic accidents in Maryland are caused by the drivers of commercial vehicles who have been on the road for many hours before a wreck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets out Hours of Service Regulations.
For many safety advocates, the regulations are too lax. Trucking companies may flout these rules and medical conditions like sleep apnea are serious problems in the trucking industry. Under the FMCSA’s rules, truckers may drive up to 11 hours at a time as long as they have had 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Wrong-way drivers can cause horrendous wrecks. A wrong-way crash is defined as an accident in which a vehicle travels in a direction opposing the legal flow of traffic on a divided highway or access ramp.
Drunk drivers are the most significant cause of wrong-way crashes but motorists can also become disorientated and end up going the wrong way. Wrong-way driving crashes are more likely to occur at night.
Left Turn Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 36 percent of all accidents occur at intersections or when drivers are making left turns. Statistics from New York City found pedestrians and cyclists are twice as likely to be killed by vehicles making left turns than those making right turns.
Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable in left turn scenarios. Often a driver making a turn fails to see an approaching motorcyclist with serious and potentially-fatal consequences to the rider.
Defective Vehicles and Parts
On occasions, a defective vehicle or a component may cause serious and fatal traffic accidents. An ignition switch failure on certain General Motors vehicles caused sudden deceleration and 124 deaths. Tire failures are also linked to deaths. In product liability cases, a lawsuit is typically brought against a manufacturer of an automobile or a part.
Types of Traffic Accidents in Maryland
A rear end collision occurs when one vehicle hits the rear of the car in front of it. Typical injuries seen by our Maryland auto accident attorneys include whiplash and back injuries.
Rear-end collisions are the most common types of crashes on the highways of Baltimore. In most cases, the driver who hits the vehicle in front is to blame for the crash but there may be exceptions such as when a vehicle pulls out or stops abruptly with no reason.
Side Impact Collisions
Side impact or T-bone crashes usually occur at intersections. The side of a vehicle is struck by the front or rear of another vehicle. These traffic accidents may cause serious personal injuries and property damage because the side of a car affords less protection than the front or the back.
Head-on collisions may be caused by a wrong way driver or a driver who crosses a center line. They are typically extremely serious because the force of both vehicles is combined. According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, just under one in five fatal accidents are head-on collisions. The serious nature of these crashes is highlighted by the fact they cause 20 percent of deaths but only 2 percent of accidents are head-on collisions.
Rollover accidents are the most deadly kind of wreck on the roads of America. They account for about 7,500 deaths a year. More than 80 percent of rollover accidents are also single-vehicle wrecks. Certain types of vehicles like high-sided trucks and SUVs are more prone to rollover accidents. Almost 70 percent of people who lose their lives in rollover accidents are not wearing a seatbelt.
Sideswipe collisions occur when two vehicles are on a parallel course. One may veer across the road or attempt a lane change without realizing the other car is in the driver’s blind spot. Typically, sideswipe collisions cause minimal injuries and damage unless the accident causes one of the drivers to lose control.
Traffic Accidents in Maryland – What To Do After a Wreck
If you or a family member has been hurt in a traffic accident or you have lost a loved one, your life will likely have been turned upside down. You should contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer as soon as possible.
There are many inherent dangers associated with dealing with an insurance company directly before you talk to an injury attorney. Please contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice for a free and confidential consultation if you have been hurt in a Maryland car accident.