Robert Clark of the Laurel, Maryland Personal Injury Law Firm, Clark and Steinhorn, has been focusing on car and truck crash prevention as envisioned by the Maryland Highway Safety Office. The first article considered strategies for dealing with impaired and aggressive drivers and the second concerned distracted driving reduction and increased occupant protection.
In essence the articles discussed effective mechanisms for dealing with drunk, stoned, texting and aggressive drivers and encouarging people to use seat belts. All are good ideas and will save lives and reduce the incidence of crash injuries
Today's chapter focuses on pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle safety.
Maryland reports that the average number of pedestrian deaths per year for the period 2009-2013 is 107. The average yearly pedestrian crash related injury totals are slightly less than 3,000 per year. These numbers constitute 20% of all such crashes annually in Maryland. Bicycle crashes yield 7 deaths yearly and 624 personal injuries.
These are sizable numbers and are not surprising as bicyclists and pedestrians are unlikely to fare well when involved in crashes with trucks and cars which weigh minimally 3,000 pounds and maximally several tons.
So what is the state of Maryland doing to prevent such collisions? Unfortunately not so much. The so-called "Street Smart" campaign provides "educational materials" and funds for "enforcement of crosswalk laws". The MHSO annual report says little else altough there is a passing mention of the four Es of traffic safety.
What are the four Es of trafiic safety you ask? It is hard to tell as the only E suggested by the MHSO report is "Engineering". Engineering is important in providing safer crosswalks, and intersectional designs but the tragic death trap that is downtown College Park, Maryland has cried out for some "Engineering" to reduce deadly encounters between the vast, sometimes intoxicated, student population and motor vehicles that are often piloted by intoxicated individuals.
The state reports 3,804 citaions being handed out along with 483 warnings but one would be hard-pressed to find officers in College Park or Ocean City handing out many citations when they can be off arresting people for possesion of pot. Oh well, that misplaced priority is ebbing with the tide of change and perhaps saving lives will be enhanced as a result.
Motorcycle crashes kill on average 74 people per year and injure 1,542. The top two cited causes of such crashes is excessive speed and failure of motorists to yield right of way to bikers. The state has focused on a media campaign and an outreach program to motorcyclists through bike clubs and dealers. The "Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month" in conjunction with rider safety courses is purported to also have been beneficial.
The problem remains that car and truck drivers are often oblivious to motorcyclists and motorcyclists are often overly aggressive in operation of their bikes. This combination has proven volatile and no amount of media outreach is likely to make a big difference. Perhaps, the most effective way of making car and truck drivers more aware of bikers is the dynamic messaging used overhead on highways stating "Share The Road With Motorcycles-Look Twice For Bikes".
Tomorrow, dealing with older and younger drivers and the issues that they present. Be careful out there.