Articles Posted in Multi-vehicle Accidents

Five people were taken to the hospital early Monday after a Metro Bus and two other vehicles were involved in a Washington DC car accident. According to police, the traffic crash happened when one of the cars, a Camaro, ran a red light and struck the bus, which caused the commercial vehicle to hit a tree and a parked auto. The Washington DC injury accident occurred at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Intersections are one of the most common places where a car accident is likely to occur. Drivers who run a red light, fail to stop at a stop sign, fail to yield the right of way, neglect to wait for a pedestrian to finish crossing the street, speed, text or talk on the cell phone are at risk of causing serious injuries to themselves or others. Poor road design and traffic sign defects are another common cause of traffic crashes at intersections.

Our Washington DC car accident lawyers are familiar with the high emotional, physical, and financial toll that becoming a victim of a traffic crash can cost the injured party and his/her family. Recovering from a catastrophic injury can take months or even years. Often, one’s own car insurance policy is not enough to cover the costs of medical bills, recovery expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other damages.

According to a new report, the local governments in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia are doing a good job in their efforts to crack down on distracted driving. The report from the Governors Highway Safety Association is called “Curbing Distracted Driving: 2010 Survey of State Safety Programs.”

The report notes that combating distracted driving has become a priority for many states, with many of them enacting tougher laws and coming up with more education programs and media campaigns to educate people about the dangers of driving while distracted. The District (along with Maryland and 42 other state) also now make it a point to collect distracted driving data when Washington DC motor vehicle crashes occur. Also, Washington DC now includes the issue of distracted driving in its driver education classes and driver’s license test, while using social networking sites to make known the dangers of cell phone talking and texting while driving.

The GHSA’s report, however, does note that more effort across the board needs to be made to get teenagers to become more aware that distracted driving is dangerous. Seeing as multi-tasking while driving is dangerous for even the most experienced drivers, it is important that teens, who have the least amount of experience when it comes to operating a motor vehicle, have their full attention on the task at hand so that they don’t increase their chance of injury or death.

Distracted driving has fast become a leading cause of US car crashes—especially with the so many people using cell phones to talk and text while driving. According to AAA, distracted driving is a cause of about 3 million auto accidents each years.

Our Washington DC car accident lawyers know how devastating it is to lose someone you love in a motor vehicle crash that could have been prevented were it not for other parties’ negligence.

Region’s Distracted Driving Crackdown Gets High Marks, WJLA, June 16, 2010
Curbing Distracted Driving: 2010 Survey of State Safety Programs, GHSA
Related Web Resources:

District Department of Transportation

AAA Exchange

Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog

Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog

Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog

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US News & World Report has just put out its first Best States for Teen Drivers ranking and the District of Columbia tops the list. One reason for this is that Washington DC has some of the strictest laws governing teen drivers and their driving requirements. The state of Maryland placed 4th. This is good news for Washington DC and Maryland teen drivers, considering that car accidents are considered the number one cause of fatalities to teens in the 16-19 age group. Over 4,000 teenagers die every year.

That said, there is always more that can be done to prevent the number of Washington DC car accidents involving teen drivers.

Per a recent study about teen drivers by Allstate Foundation:

• 61% of teens are concerned they might get involved in a car accident
• 82% of teen drivers say that they use a cell phone when operating a motor vehicle
• 42% say that they text message and instant message when driving
• 65% of teenaged drivers think that they are good motorists that pay attention when driving
• Parents are the #1 influence when it comes to teenage drivers

It is so important that teens aren’t distracted when driving. Learning how to drive safely and correctly is challenging enough without the dangers posed by cell phone conversations, text messages, alcohol, or drugs.

Washington DC has a graduated licensing program (Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers) that imposes certain temporary restrictions on young drivers so that they can gradually gain experience. Also, DC drivers with a learner’s permit are banned from using any kind of cell phone while driving and all Washington DC drivers are prohibited from texting and talking on a handheld cell phone.

D.C. Tops New Ranking of Safest Places for Teen Drivers, US News & World Report, March 18, 2010
U.S. News Media Group and Allstate Insurance Company Release 2010 Best States for Teen Drivers, PR Newswire, March 18, 2010
Related Web Resources:
Teen Drivers, CDC
The Graduated Licensing Program, District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles
Allstate Foundation

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According to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of US traffic fatalities dropped to 33,963 in 2009. That’s an 8.9% decrease from 2008 when there were 37,261 highway deaths. This is also the lowest that the US traffic fatality figure has dropped down to since 1994, and the 15th quarter in a row that there has been a decrease.

While National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland called the continued decrease in traffic deaths encouraging, he says that the government will keep working hard to keep bringing the death toll down. The NHTSA took aggressive action last year to stop motorists from drinking with its Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest campaign. It’s Click It or Ticket campaign cited people for not putting on their seat belt. The federal government also made great strides toward discouraging distracted driving—especially cell phone use and text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.

Our Washington DC personal injury lawyers applaud the government’s effort to lower the number of traffic deaths. We also are in agreement that there is more than can be done to encourage drivers to operate their cars responsibly so that more vehicle occupants and pedestrians don’t get hurt or die unnecessarily.

Just last week, US Senate majority Leader Harry Reid’s wife and daughter were injured in a semi-truck crash near Washington DC. Landra Reid, 69, and Lara Barringer, 49, received medical attention after they were struck by a tractor-trailer.

Landra suffered a broken back, nose, and neck, while Lana, who sustained cuts, was examined by a neurologist because she has been experiencing dizziness. Trucker Alan W. Snader was charged with reckless driving for his role in the tractor-trailer crash.

Traffic Fatalities for 2009 Reach Record Low, NHTSA, March 11, 2010
Reid’s wife, daughter recovering from truck crash, Associated Press, March 16, 2010
Related Web Resources:

Early estimate of motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2009, NHTSA (PDF)

District Department of Transportation

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The US Department of Transportation and the National Safety Council have created FocusDriven. This is the first national advocacy group focused on supporting distracted driving victims and raising awareness about the dangers this very bad driving habit presents to motorists and pedestrians. The group was developed as a result last year’s Distracted Driving Summit in Washington DC. On its Web site, FocusDriven states that its vision is to save lives and prevent injuries by eliminating the use of cell phones while driving.

For awhile, motorists and lawmakers thought that using a cell phone wasn’t too dangerous as long a driver kept both hands on the wheel and used an earpiece or Bluetooth device. While there are accident statistics that indicate a higher crash risk when a driver uses a handheld cellular phone, rather than a hands-free device, the mounting data which proves that talking on any type of cellular device while operating a motor vehicle is just plain dangerous can no longer be ignored. Like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), FocusDriven wants everyone to fully comprehend that there is no doubt whatsoever that talking on a phone while driving can injure and kill people.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the NSC chose to announce creation of the advocacy group on Tuesday, exactly one year after the NSC called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. The US government also recently launched a federal Web site called Distraction.gov, which focuses on raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. LaHood says the Obama Administration is committed to “putting an end” to distracted driving.

Washington DC Car Accidents

In a busy city like Washington DC, it is not uncommon for motorists and pedestrians to multi-task while trying to manage busy careers, social calendars, and personal lives. Many people are wedded to their cell phones and PDAs, so it is not uncommon to make calls and send messages while commuting to and from work. Unfortunately, multi-tasking while operating a motor vehicle is a bad idea and can be considered negligent driving if someone is killed or hurt in a Washington DC motor vehicle collision as a result.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the National Safety Council Announce FocusDriven, January 12, 2010, (PDF)

Related Web Resources:

FocusDriven

Distraction.gov

National Safety Council

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According to AAA, about 87.7 million people in the US are expected to travel at least 50 miles away from home this holiday season—77.7 million travelers by motor vehicle. In Washington DC, approximately 2.5 million people are expected to leave town and most of them plan on doing so by car. That’s 4 out of 10 Washingtonians, says AAA.

With many roads and freeways undoubtedly more crowded than usual, our Washington DC car crash lawyers would like to remind motorists to drive safely so that you aren’t involved in an auto collision. Common bad driving behaviors that cause Washington DC motor vehicle accidents and can be cause for personal injury claims or wrongful death lawsuits include:

• Drunk driving

According to the 2009 Sleep in America poll by the National Sleep Foundation, about 1.9 Million Drivers are involved in drowsy driving car crashes or near miss accidents each year. Unfortunately, many people underestimate the power sleepiness can have in causing Washington DC car accidents.

Per the poll, 105 million US drivers have driven while sleepy in the last year. 54 million drivers drive while drowsy at least once a month.

National Sleep Foundation chairman Thomas Balkin says that while motorists are good at recognizing when they are tired, this doesn’t stop them from getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and driving. Balkin says that people mistakenly think that they can will themselves to stay awake but they often don’t even realize that they are falling asleep. Balkin notes that just one moment of “reduced awareness” can cause a motor vehicle crash.

Drowsy driving slows reflexes, reduces alertness, and impairs one’s ability to think clearly and rapidly respond to an emergency situation. A person who is sleepy or very tired while driving might inadvertently lane change, let go of the steering wheel, fail to notice traffic signs, not see other vehicles or pedestrians, drive off the road, or drive into oncoming traffic.

Drowsy driving can be grounds for a Washington DC injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit if another person is injured as a result.

In an attempt to decrease the number of drowsy driving accidents, the National Sleep Foundation has declared November 2 – 8 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

Ways to Avoid Drowsy Driving:

• Get a good night’s driving.
• Take periodic brakes (every 2 hours or every 100 miles).
• Don’t drink alcohol or take medications that cause drowsiness before driving.
• If necessary, stop and take a nap.

• Take caffeine if necessary.

.9 Million Drivers Have Fatigue-Related Car Crashes or Near Misses Each Year, Reuters, October 29, 2009
Drowsy Driving: Reduce Your Risk of Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel, Associated Content, June 27, 2006
Related Web Resources:

National Sleep Foundation

NHTSA

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President Barack Obama has signed an executive order banning federal employees from texting while driving a vehicle when on official business even if the vehicle being driven is not owned by the government. The order, issued last week, is an attempt to lead the charge encouraging people to stop texting while driving.

Lawmakers, ordinary citizens, safety advocates, and police attended a two-day Distracted Driving Summit in Washington DC that the US Department of Transportation organized. Already, the District of Columbia has a ban on texting or talking on a hand-held device while driving. Unfortunately, there are District of Columbia motorists who still engage in this dangerous habit that can lead to catastrophic Washington DC car accidents. Not only is texting while driving against the law but, like drunk driving, this popular form of distracted driving can kill people and lead to DC injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits.

The Obama administration has given each of the federal agencies 90 days to figure out how to enforce his order. He also wants the agencies to ban subcontractors and contractors from texting while driving. Federal employees working in national security or law enforcement are exempt from the ban.

For purposes of his order, President Obama defines “driving” as operating a motor vehicle. Drivers that are stopped at a traffic stop or traffic light or for any other reason that requires them to engage with the flow of traffic even if they are in “pause” mode with the engine running are still “driving.” However, Mr. Obama says it is acceptable for a federal worker to text message if he or she has pulled over to the side of the road.

Distracted Driving Facts from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

• Driver distraction is the cause of 1 million North American traffic accidents each year.
• Although, per the 2009 Index, 95% of drivers think that texting while driving is unacceptable behavior, 18% of them still do it.
• More than 50% of the time a motorist is driving, he or she is engaged in at least one other task.
Obama enacts texting ban on federal employees, The Washington Times, October 2, 2009
The Facts about Distracted Driving – Know the Dangers/Avoid the Risks, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Related Web Resources:

The White House

US Department of Transportation

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At the opening of the Distracted Driving Summit, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that texting while driving has become an “an endemic” and a “menace to society.” Over 300 people are taking part in the conference, including law enforcement officials, lawmakers, and safety experts.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,780 people died (16% of all deadly traffic collisions) and 515,000 people sustained injuries in distracted driving accidents last year. Many of these auto crashes are a result of people using cell phones and PDAs.

Distracted driving is reportedly a big problem among young drivers, especially those under age 21. Distracted driving was a factor in 16% of deadly crashes involving drivers in this age group.

Residents of Washington D.C., Maryland and surrounding areas are still reeling from news of a tragic commuter train crash that killed at least seven people and injured dozens more last night. For reasons not completely known, a Metrorail Red Line train collided at what appears to be a high rate of speed with a second, stopped train during Monday’s peak evening commute. The violent crash caused the moving train to jackknife, throwing several of its cars up and onto the top of the other train. According to reports, this “mass casualty event” is the worst train accident in the District of Columbia since 1982.

As a Maryland personal injury and car accident attorney, I have personally traveled on this particular Metro line many times in the past. As commuters, we all expect to travel in relative safety on subway trains and city buses. Ruling out any terrorist connection, this accident could have resulted from driver error or possibly faulty equipment on the tracks, or even the trains themselves.

Whatever the cause, the results are terribly sad for the families of those unexpectedly killed and painful for those hurt or hospitalized. Injuries from accidents like this can range from bumps and bruises to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries or damage to the spinal column.

News reports indicated that seven people have been confirmed killed and that more fatalities may be forthcoming. Initially, six people were confirmed dead, including the operator of the trailing train, Jeanice McMillan of Springfield, Virginia. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin said rescue workers treated 76 people at the scene and sent some of them to local hospitals.

So far, officials have no explanation for the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in charge of the investigation, while DC police and the FBI also have personnel at the scene. Normally, these trains should maintain a safe distance between each other, and it is not yet clear what went wrong.

There was also no official statement regarding how fast the one train was traveling before it hit the other waiting train, although the crash happened in a long stretch between rail stations where trains typically allowed to travel at higher speeds, according to a Metro spokesperson. Meanwhile, investigators are also searching the wreckage for the “black box” recording devices carried onboard these trains, which may hold answers to this horrendous event.

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