Articles Posted in Statistics

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Distracted Driving Lawsuits.jpgCalifornia has a new law on cell phones. There, hand-held cell phone use was banned for drivers in July, 2008. According to data kept by the University of California, Berkeley, overall traffic deaths decreased by 22%, and hand-held driver cell-phone related deaths went down by 47%.

Certainly, it can’t all be related to the law, but some of these saved lives are because of the public perception that driving while using a cell phone is just dangerous. But, California offers a big stick–in 2011, there were 460,487 Californian convictions for hand-held cell phone use. The data and the California press release are visible here.

In Maryland, it is illegal to talk on a cell phone (unless it is hands-free), and to text or e-mail from a cell phone while driving. These are all primary offenses, and a police officer can give a citation to any driver who engages in this activity without evidence of other offenses. It will be interesting to track the Maryland conviction statistics, to see how aggressive our police officers are. Anecdotally, it doesn’t take long to see someone driving down the road, talking on a cell phone without the hands-free device.

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Backup Camera.jpgI am fortunate that I’ve never had to litigate a case involving a driver who backed up into a child or a person. Statistically, about 16,000 of these accidents happen every year, with about 300 deaths. The drivers are most often (70%) the parents or family members of children who are injured.

There have been proposals since at least 2008 to require all cars to feature backup cameras. Many thought the rule on rear visibility standards was going to pass this year, but it has been delayed once again. The automobile wants lawmakers to consider other alternatives.

One proponent likens backup cameras to airbags–prevailing wisdom was that the public didn’t want them, but they did. Now, we accept that the cost of an airbag is built into the car, and if it increases the price a bit, that’s the price for safety. Backup cameras could increase the costs of cars by $200.

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Statistics (12-13-11).jpgWhile doing some other research, I happened upon the Maryland Judiciary’s Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Statistical Abstract (it covers July 2009 to June 2010). Whenever I see something law-related with statistics, I stop to take notice. I just have to look. There’s a lot of great data here. For example in the Circuit Courts:

  • 107,814 new civil cases filed (5,698 of these (5.3%) were automobile accidents
  • 2010 featured 16,768 more cases than 2009, which was itself 6,129 higher than 2008
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