Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accident

According to Maryland lawmaker James Malone, the state’s law regarding handheld cell phones while driving is not tough enough. Delegate Malone, a Democrat from Baltimore County, is supporting a bill that would make using a handheld cell phone while operating a motor vehicle a primary offense. Hopefully, such a bill will stop more people from distracted driving with their phone or PDA so that they don’t cause a Maryland car crash.

Under the current law, talking on a handheld phone while driving is a secondary offense, which means that the ban can only be enforced if the driver is being cited for another violation. Also, although drivers are banned from sending text messages, they are allowed to retrieve and read them. Malone and others also want to make the text messaging ban tougher. Sen. Jim Brochin, D-Baltimore County is sponsoring a bill in the Senate that would make it illegal to also read texts while driving.

According to the Maryland State Highway Administration, in the past five years, there have been over 380 distracted driving fatalities in the state. Distracted driving, as described by US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is an epidemic. It was the cause of 5500 fatalities in the US in 2009—yet many people, when they can get away with it, continue to text, talk on the phone, send emails, surf the Internet, or play games on their cell phone while driving. Although talking on a handheld device is not safe either, at least the driver has both hands on the steering wheel.

A distracted driver can be held liable for Baltimore County personal injury or wrongful death if his/her failure to pay attention caused a catastrophic Maryland car accident. There are steps that an experienced Baltimore personal injury law firm can take to prove that a driver was distracted when the Maryland traffic crash happened. For example, there may be phone records that can be obtained to match up when the crash happened and when a call was taking place. A witness may have observed the distracted driver texting.

Md. Bill to Tighten Cell Phone Use While Driving, ABC News/AP, February 16, 2011
Distracted driving epidemic: U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood calls issue a ‘personal crusade’, Sea Coast Online, October 24, 2010
Related Web Resources:
Cellphone Laws, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Related Blog Posts:
US DOT Holds Second Annual Distracted Driving Summit in Washington DC, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 22, 2010
Maryland Injury News: Distracted Driving Blamed for Increasing Number of Fatal Teenage Automobile Accidents, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, July 17, 2010
Maryland Auto Injury News: Distracted Driving Blamed in Baltimore Woman’s Death following Fatal Howard County Crash, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, June 26, 2010

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Washington Irving Wheeler died in a Carroll County motorcycle crash on June 10. The 41-year-old was riding his bike south on Md. 30 when he was involved in a traffic collision with a Chevrolet Cavalier whose driver was attempting to make a left turn. According to police, Wheeler was not at fault in causing the Maryland motorcycle accident.

His death is the third Carroll County motorcycle fatality this year—an increase from the two Carroll County motorcycle deaths in 2009. On March 31, Westminster resident William Parry was killed after his bike and a motor vehicle that was also making a turn collided. In an unrelated traffic crash, motorcyclist Brian Ecker, died on May 15 when his motorcycle struck a fence and a mailbox.

In another recent Carroll County, Maryland motorcycle accident, two local residents suffered injuries on June 12 when the motorcycle they were riding and a car collided at the intersection of Broadfording Road and Md. 63. The motorcycle struck the driver’s side of the 2004 Chevy Monte Carlo as it pulled out from the stop sign. The two riders were thrown from their bike.

Police are saying that there is a huge tree at that intersection that obstructs the view from both roads, which makes it likely that both drivers couldn’t see each other. The motorcycle driver, 41-year-old Michael Destefano, was flown to University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in critical condition. His girlfriend, 45-year-old Christine Biddinger, was treated for a collapsed lung, chest injuries, and a broken arm.

Carroll County man in critical condition after motorcycle accident, Herald Mail, June 12, 2010
Md. 30 crash is Carroll’s third motorcycle fatality this year, Carroll County Times, June 16, 2010
Related Web Resources:
2010 Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program , Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration
Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports even though more car accidents happened in urban areas, 56% of the 37,261 traffic deaths that occurred in 2008 took place on rural roads. There were 20,905 rural traffic deaths last year.

One reason for the number of deaths that occur in rural areas is that people tend to drive faster on roads that are not as designed and engineered as well as they are in urban areas. Two of the other reasons that rural auto accident deaths happen is people failing to use seat belts or driving drunk. It can also take longer for medical help to arrive at a rural car accident site. 222 of the 591 Maryland traffic fatalities in 2008 occurred in rural areas.

Findings from another traffic accident study, recently discussed in, affirmed the NHTSA’s findings that driving in rural areas is not safer than driving in urban areas. The study, conducted by researchers abroad, reports that:

Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs continues to destroy too many lives. Drunk driving and drugged driving are both careless acts that can be grounds for a Maryland car accident lawsuit if someone gets hurt or dies. On a positive note, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new roadside survey reported that the decline in the percentage of legally intoxicated drivers is continuing. Per the new survey, just 2.2% of drivers had a BAC of .08 or greater—compare this figure to 1973, when 7.5% of motorists had BACs registering at the legal limit or exceeded it.

The survey, gathered from roadside locations in 2007, also screened for other substances. 16.3% of nighttime weekend motorists tested drug positive for marijuana (8.6%), cocaine (3.9%), as well as prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs (3.9%). Drivers for the survey were chosen at random and given the opportunity to volunteer while remaining anonymous.

Out of 11,000 motorists, 90% gave breath samples and 70% gave saliva samples. Any motorist that was impaired or appeared to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs was not arrested. However, he or she wasn’t allowed to get behind the steering wheel of the vehicle.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted that while he was pleased that the fight against drunk driving is making headway, it was imported to remember that 13,000 people a year still die in US drunk driving crashes. He also emphasized the importance of reducing drug abuse and drugged driving.

The NHTSA wants to figure out how drug use is connected to driver impairment—especially as some drugs can stay in the body for weeks.

Other survey findings:
• There were 42% more male drivers than female motorists with illegal BAC levels.
• Motorists were more likely to be driving with a BAC greater than the legal drunk driving limit between 1am and 3am than during other hours of the day.

• Motorcycle riders were two times as likely to be drunk than the drivers of passenger vehicles.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, drugs are a factor in 18% of motor vehicle driver fatalities.

Driver Survey Finds Less Drinking, More Drugs, NY Times, July 13, 2009

Results of the 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, NHTSA (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
Impaired Driving, CDC
Drugged Driving

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Baltimore County police say that two people were sent to an area hospital after they were involved in an Owings Mills multi-vehicle collision on Friday that ended when one car drove into an M & T Bank branch. The Maryland traffic accident occurred when a Hyundai Sonata struck a Toyota RAV4 that was at a red light, which then hit a Lincoln Navigator. Meantime, the Hyundai drove over a curb and into the bank. Fortunately, no one inside the bank was hurt.

In a Baltimore car accident that also occurred on Friday, police are looking for the driver of a van that fatally hit a man riding a dirt bike on Chatham Road. The van’s driver failed to stop at the crash site. Police are asking for any information that could lead to the capture of the driver involved in the deadly hit-and-run Maryland motor vehicle crash.

Also on Friday, Clinton resident Franklin Trowell sustained critical injuries in Howard County when a car hit him on eastbound Route 32 close to Interstate 95. Trowell had been standing on the shoulder of the road examining another accident when the catastrophic Maryland car crash occurred. The driver of the car, Leonard Supsic, 55, reportedly lost control of the 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier that struck Trowell.

Maryland Personal Injury

It can take some time to determine how much financial recovery you are entitled to receive after you’ve been injured in a Maryland motor vehicle accident. This is why it is important that you don’t rush to settle your car accident claim immediately. Your injuries may be more serious than you think, which means they could cost significantly more to recover from than what original estimates suggest. There also may be other parties that can be held liable for your Maryland personal injuries.

Clinton man in critical condition after being hit by car, Baltimore Sun, May 30, 2009
Police seek van driver who fatally hit man on dirt bike, Baltimore Sun, May 30, 2009
Three-vehicle accident sends car into bank, Baltimore Sun, May 30, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Car Accidents Overview, Justia
Personal Injury, Nolo

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According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, about 83% of the 609,000 Marylanders traveling 50 miles or more over the Memorial Day weekend will travel by car—that’s 508,000 motor vehicle riders. A decrease in local gas price is one of the reasons cited for an increase in road travelers from last year. Air travel is also expected to increase this year by 7%. Another reason cited for this rediscovered travel bug is that a poor economy has forced hotels, cruises, airlines, and car rental companies to lower their prices.

With more people getting into their cars and heading toward vacation destinations and family reunions, the roads will likely be more crowded this weekend. Traffic and the excitement and rush to arrive at a specific location can create a less relaxed travel climate that can increase the chances that a motorist might become involved in a catastrophic Maryland car accident.

Here are a number of safe driving tips to help you navigate your way through the Memorial Day weekend:

• Make sure you have your maps organized and travel routes planned before leaving.
• Check the Internet, listen to the radio, or watch TV to see where there may be traffic backlogs that you can avoid.
• Make sure that your car is in proper working condition before you head out.
• Have a roadside emergency kit with you.
• Get plenty of rest before you drive.
• Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination.
• Take periodic breaks while driving so you don’t get lethargic or drowsy.
• Don’t speed.
• Obey traffic laws.
• Don’t talk on the cell phone or text message or read maps while driving.
• Drive defensively.
• Don’t drive drunk.

• Keep emergency numbers at your disposal.

More Marylanders to hit the road this weekend, Baltimore Sun, May 21, 2009
Related Web Resources:
AAA Mid-Atlantic
MD Roads

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Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a time when law enforcement and highway safety officials throughout the various US states, along with the federal government, take steps to remind motorcyclists and drivers that they must share the roads safely with one another. The month of May kicks off a period of the year when more Maryland motorcycle riders will get on their bikes now that the weather is getting warmer.

Other groups also getting behind the efforts by traffic and safety officials to prevent Maryland motorcycle accidents are the Maryland Motor Truck Association and the Abate of Maryland. Together, they are reminding car drivers, truck drivers, and bus drivers that due to a motorcycle’s smaller size, this type of vehicle can easily get lost in a larger motor vehicle’s blind spot or get covered behind trees, bushes, and fences.

Of the 5,154 US motorcycle deaths that occurred in 2007, 88 of them were Maryland motorcycle deaths—a definite increase from the 58 Maryland motorcycle fatalities that happened in 2003. One reason for this is that motorcycle use has grown in popularity throughout the state.

According to a 2008 news article, more than 1,000,000 motorcycles have been sold in the last six years. The higher cost of gas over the past couple of years may be one of the reasons that more people have opted to ride motorcycles. A motorcycle averages 50mpg, which is twice the mpg of many cars.

AAA Offers the Following Safety Suggestions for Motorists Sharing the Roads with Motorcycles:

• Be on the look out for motorcycles, as well as cars and pedestrians.
• Allow motorcyclists the same driving privileges that you have, including letting them have a full lane to themselves.
• Always signal to indicate when you are turning.

• Give motorcycle riders plenty of space to maneuver.

AAA’s Safety Awareness Suggestions for Motorcyclists Sharing the Roads with Other Drivers:

• Wear protective gear so that other drivers see you.
• Give yourself plenty of space to maneuver your bike in the event of an emergency.
• Try not to ride in a driver’s blind spot.
• Don’t share a lane with other vehicles.
• Signal and indicate.

• Make sure you are properly trained to ride your motorcycle and that you have enough experience to operate one safely before you get on a Maryland freeway.

Keep an eye out for motorcycles, Frederick News Post, May 10, 2009
Area motorcycle deaths disproportionate,, June 18, 2008
Related Web Resources:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Congress Highlights Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

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The winter time can be a deadly time for Washington DC and Maryland motorists if they aren’t careful. Poor visibility and icy roads can only make the outcome of an auto accident, caused by negligent or careless driving, worse. To help prevent fatal auto accidents from occurring in snowy weather and icy conditions, offers a list of 10 common driving mistakes that can prove fatal in the wintertime:

1) Not checking the weather before you get in the car.
2) Driving too fast under current weather conditions. This can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle on slippery roads.
3) Following too closely behind the vehicle or snowplow equipment in front of you. Allow greater distance between you and the other motorist than you would when there isn’t snow on the road. Do not drive using cruise control when the conditions are wet.
4) Overcorrecting your car on ice.
5) Driving while you’re tired.
6) Driving when there’s poor visibility.
7) Failing to get the car winter ready. Also, make sure you have an extra key that is easily accessible in the event that you get locked out of your vehicle.
8) Driving on back roads.
9) Not carrying an emergency tool with you, such as jumper cables, a spare tire, water, dried food, a cell phone, and warm clothing.

1) Leaving your vehicle if your car stops, which could be the warmest place for you to be.

According to a University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health study:
• Poor weather is a factor in 1.5 million of the car accidents that occur every year, resulting in 800,000 injuries and 7,000 deaths.
• Almost 20% of highway deaths involved poor weather as a factor.

• Driving the day after the year’s first winter storm is the most dangerous day of the year to operate a motor vehicle.

The National Safety Council recommends a number of safety tips for winter driving, including:
• Tune your engine.
• Check your battery.
• Make sure the fluids in your car are at the correct levels.
• Make sure your car is equipped with the proper equipment, including tire chains, a snow scraper, and a snow shovel.

• Have first-aid supplies and a compass with you.

In Depth: 10 Deadly Mistakes Of Winter Driving,

Safe Winter Driving

Related Web Resources:
All-Weather Driving Tips, Road & Travel Magazine
Baltimore, Maryland Weather, Maryland Weather

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In Maryland, a Washington County Circuit Court judge has ordered the man convicted of Debra Reed Fields-Jordan’s manslaughter by vehicle death to pay her family $2,084,076.31 in restitution. Fields-Jordan died in a May 2008 motor vehicle accident when a pickup truck ran a stop sign and struck her motorcycle on Md. 77.

The driver of the pickup truck fled the motorcycle accident scene. Police, however, apprehended Harry W. Shrader a few days later because the truck was registered in his name. In November 2008, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter and is now being held at the Maryland Correctional Training Center. Shrader was intoxicated at the time of the deadly traffic crash.

In August 2008, Fields-Jordan’s husband, Stephen J Jordan, sued Schrader for his wife’s wrongful death. Jordan sought $2 million in punitive damages and $4 million in compensatory damages. He accused Schrader of causing emotional trauma, mental anguish, loss of companionship, society, marital care, comfort, protection, advice, attention, training, guidance, counsel, education, and his wife’s love. Last month, Jordan filed documents accusing Schrader of trying to defraud his family from any wrongful death compensation they could be owed when the inmate transferred more than 44 acres of land to his girlfriend.

A bill that is calling for a Maryland reckless driving law would make it easier to prosecute reckless drivers if passed. The proposal calls for drivers who were responsible for causing a motor vehicle fatality because they exhibited negligence leading to “substantial risk” of safety to be charged with a misdemeanor crime. The penalty would be up to three years in jail.

Maryland Delegate Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Montgomery) has been pushing for this law for five years. He claims that the state’s standard for proving vehicular homicide is too high.

Currently, some 30 US states have laws that allow reckless driving charges even if the driver did not exhibit “gross negligence.” The bill has died every year so far because the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Del. Joseph F. Vallario, has not called for a vote on the matter.

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